UPDATE - CPA raises Line 5 concerns with provincial premiers
In late June, the issue of replacing Enbridge Line 5 as it passes under the Straits of Mackinac in Michigan once again became subject to political pressure from the Michigan Attorney General who favours the discontinuation of Line 5.
Enbridge had identified and reported minor repairs that were required for the East and West lines. The Michigan Attorney General’s response was to file for a temporary injunction that shut down Line 5 for several days. The West line has since restarted, and the East Line will be back in operation once the minor repairs are finished. Nevertheless, the actions of the Attorney General raise concerns about the long-term survival of Line 5 and the need to highlight its importance to Canada’s energy supply chain.
In response to the Attorney Generals’ actions, the CPA reached out to premiers in Ontario, Quebec, (in conjunction with AQP), New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, PEI and Newfoundland and Labrador to alert them to the risk associated with losing that critical supply chain. In her letter to the premiers, CPA Chair Nancy Borden stated, “Our members are concerned that if a balance between responsible environmental stewardship and economic development is not found, Line 5 could be at risk.”
In her letter, Borden also noted that, “Line 5 is the only pipeline propane supply into Southern Ontario. Line 5 is the feeder pipe into the Sarnia Fractionator, which has over 100,000 of barrels capacity per day. Propane is approximately 70% of that capacity. The prolonged disruption of Line 5 would have severe and lasting consequences on the supply of propane to Ontario, Quebec and Atlantic Canada.”
Borden told the premiers that, “Safety is a fundamental priority for the CPA and we have long supported the safe continuation of Enbridge Line 5.”
Both the Governor of Michigan and the Attorney General have made the eventual discontinuation of Line 5 a political priority. This, despite the fact that the section of Line 5 beneath the Straits has operated safely for over sixty years and Enbridge has a comprehensive plan that will fundamentally address any environmental concerns.
In addition, there is already an existing agreement that Enbridge signed in 2018 with the previous Michigan administration that will replace existing Line 5 dual pipelines at the Straits of Mackinac with a pipeline secured in a larger underground tunnel, deep under the Straits. Once that tunnel is complete, Enbridge will permanently deactivate the existing dual pipelines at the Straits.
Borden concluded her letter to the premiers stating, “We believe that the plan outlined by Enbridge meets the important criteria of environmental safety while maintaining critical energy infrastructure. Unfortunately, Governor Whitmer and Attorney General Nestlé have taken the approach that Line 5 must be discontinued, whatever the cost. This includes court actions, as recently as this past June, which seemed to serve no other purpose than to try to delay the replacement of Line 5. We are asking for your support in ensuring that Enbridge Line 5 continues to provide safe, timely and affordable distribution of propane in Ontario and throughout Canada.“
The CPA has offered to meet with all premiers and their officials to further discuss this important issue.