WASHINGTON – The federal government is urging the state of Michigan to abandon efforts to shut down the controversial Line 5 cross-border pipeline.
Natural Resources Minister Jonathan Wilkinson says the ban on energy imports from Russia means Canada and the U.S. need all the shipping capacity they can muster.
Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer has been trying to close Line 5 since November 2020, fearing a leak in the Straits of Mackinac, where the pipeline crosses the Great Lakes.
The state has been battling in court with Enbridge Inc., the pipeline’s Calgary-based owner and operator, ever since.
President Joe Biden announced earlier this week a ban on imports of Russian oil, coal and natural gas liquids, part of a punishing suite of economic sanctions in response to Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine.
The ban comes with the U.S. already battling record-high gasoline prices, part of an inflationary spike brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic.
But the war in Ukraine is only part of the reason why Line 5 needs to stay open, Wilkinson said in an interview.
“Given what’s going on, but just more generally, I think that it is an important piece of existing infrastructure,” he said.
“It is something that is not only important to Canada, but it’s important to parts of the United States. Canada has supported the proponent very actively … it’s now before the courts. And we obviously will have to wait to see the determination. But certainly, we are optimistic because the case is a strong one.”
Canada’s not alone in urging Whitmer to stand down.
Republican state senators in Michigan passed a resolution earlier this week urging the governor to embrace policies to foster energy independence, “including ending the state’s efforts to shut down Line 5.”
Biden, Whitmer, Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm and others “have pursued policies that have harmed our ability to achieve energy independence, including the president’s decision to halt the Keystone XL pipeline,” the resolution reads.
“We urge Gov. Whitmer … to immediately cease their efforts to shut down the Line 5 pipeline and instead work proactively to lower energy costs for the residents of this state.”