by Bruce Walker
Shutting down the Line 5 pipeline through the Straits of Mackinac – even if only temporarily – will send adverse effects rippling throughout Michigan, other areas of the Midwest and, as well, Ontario and Quebec.
That’s according to not only Enbridge, which operates Line 5, but also the refineries that rely on the pipeline to supply the fuel provided to consumers at the fuel pump and such major customers as Detroit Metropolitan Airport.
Ingham County Circuit Court Judge James S. Jamo honored Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel’s request for a restraining order on Line 5, which last Thursday shut down both lines after Enbridge reported the previous Thursday an anchor support on one of the lines had shifted. The company immediately shut down both lines, but reactivated the unaffected line the following Saturday.
The reactivation prompted longtime Line 5 opponent Nessel to file a motion to cease operations of both lines, citing the company had not received permission from state of Michigan regulators to do so. Enbridge said regulatory jurisdiction over the pipelines belongs with the federal government while Nessel argues a 1953 easement agreement between Michigan and Enbridge grants the state authority.
Among the recipients of Line 5 products is the Marathon Petroleum Corp.’s Detroit refinery.
The facility is able to refine up to 140,000 barrels per calendar day, from which it produces gasoline, asphalt, distillates, fuel-grade coke, chemical grade propylene, propane and slurry.
“While MPC does not comment on the supply of our refinery feedstock, the current pipeline network provides a balance that directly dictates both the cost and availability of crude oil across the region,” Chris Kozak, MPC advanced communications specialist, said in an email to The Center Square.
“As such, any disruption to this network could have a corresponding impact on the supply and cost of available product,” Kozak continued.
“It’s too early to determine the full impact of the recent ruling to shutdown Line 5 on the operations of the Detroit refinery or gas prices across Michigan,” Kozak added. “The full scope and scale of this action will be determined in the coming days as the extent and duration of this shutdown impacts the Midwest distribution network.”
According to The Financial Post, an extended disruption of Line 5 would result in dire consequences for refineries and the customers they serve throughout Ontario and Quebec. The publication notes a significant shortage of jet fuel, diesel and gasoline will occur if the pipeline closure lasts more than a week.
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Bruce Walker is a regional editor at The Center Square. He previously worked as editor at the Mackinac Center for Public Policy’s MichiganScience magazine and The Heartland Institute’s InfoTech & Telecom News.