The Environmental Protection of Canada, an environmental group, ordered report of experts in gas and oil. This suggests that Line 5 shutdown is manageable and that there are other options to meet Canada’s demand for oil and gas.


A report written by Martin Meyers of Meyers Energy Consulting, LLC, found that there are viable alternatives to Line 5, which runs from Wisconsin down through the environmentally sensitive Mackinac Strait through Michigan to Sarnia, Ontario.

For example, the Enbridge 78 line flows from Illinois through Indiana to Sarnia, the report said, and could run at greater capacity to help recover oil lost from line 5. In addition, rail and truck capacity is added, as well as another offshore tanker, can replenish the remaining deficit.

“The impact of these changes on consumer prices for petroleum products such as gasoline and diesel in Ontario and Quebec is likely to be very modest, and such changes are likely to go unnoticed,” the report concludes. [Disclosure: Research for the report was supported by the Charles Stewart Mott Foundation, which is a funder of The Center for Michigan, which includes Bridge Michigan. Mott had no role in the reporting or writing of this article.]

Line 5 is part of the Enbridge oil and gas pipeline system in western Canada. It transports oil from Superior, Wisconsin, across the Makinak Strait to Michigan, reaching refineries in Sarnia, Ontario.

Opponents of Line 5 and indigenous tribes want to shut down the pipeline, saying old pipes pose a risk of polluting the Great Lakes, the world’s largest available freshwater body.

Proponents argue that the pipeline is safe and well controlled and should remain open to support trade, jobs and the economy. They also argue that without Line 5 Canada and rural Michigan will face an energy crisis because there is no alternative to it.

Whitney Grewell, a lawyer and member of the Bay Mills Indian community, opposes Line 5 and believes the new report supports calls by tribal nations to close the pipeline and any additions to it.

“This only essentially confirms what we’ve been saying all along here in Michigan and from our tribal nations that Line 5 could be decommissioned and shut down with minimal consequences,” Gravel said.

Michigan Gretchen Whitmer has announced that the state will close Line 5 in 2021 but these efforts are now linked to the federal court of Enbridge. Canada supports the Canadian energy campaign and claims any efforts by Michigan the closure of the pipeline violates an international treaty between the two countries.

Robert Lady, Whitmer’s spokesman, said Tuesday that the governor intends to continue closing line 5, but he did not specifically comment on the report’s findings.

“Governor Whitmer has developed a plan to protect jobs, diversify and expand our renewable energy resources and meet Michigan’s energy needs, and has taken steps to get oil out of the water as soon as possible,” said Lady.

Line 5 can transport 570,000 barrels of oil a day to Sarnia. According to the report, the increase in capacity of line 78 will recoup 119,000 barrels daily.

Line 78 was built between 2011 and 2015 to replace another Enbridge pipeline that spilled more than 3 million gallons of oil into the Kalamazoo River in Michigan in 2010. According to Meers, no work on the pipeline itself will be required to reach line 78 at peak capacity if Enbridge upgrades and adds more pumping stations.

But Enbridge spokesman Ryan Duffy challenged the idea on Tuesday, saying line 78 is incapable of transporting liquid natural gases and is already “substantially filled”. Duffy said the company is not exploring any alternatives to closing line 5.

Michelle Woodhouse, head of the Canadian Environmental Protection Program, said there is always an additional risk of oil leakage when line 78 is running at full capacity, but she said it is more risky to keep line 5 open because of its age and wear.

Line 5 is 69 years old, making it 19 years past its intended service life of 50 years. According to the report, since the opening of line 5 in 1953. in the Great Lakes oil leakage 29 times, a total of 4.5 million liters of oil.

“There’s always a risk when running oil pipelines,” Woodhouse said. “But line 78 is a new pipeline. It does not pass through the hearts of the Great Lakes and is not in a state of emergency. “

In addition to increasing pipeline capacity, Woodhouse said there are other options for transporting energy if Line 5 is closed.

One of the options is trains. About 110,000 barrels are now delivered to Sarnia by rail every day. The report argues that adding more trains and increasing rail capacity will not be difficult.

But, according to Duffy, developing new rails would take years to allow and build. He also noted that more trains and trucks mean more emissions into the exhaust pipes.

“Replacing the energy supplied by line 5 with other methods, such as tankers or rail cars, is not in the interests of the environment or public safety,” Duffy said in a statement. “Based on the energy needs of Michigan, other Great Lakes states and Canada’s two largest provinces, it makes no sense to turn off Line 5.”

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