Commentary: Michigan Governor’s War on Energy is Bad Policy and Bad Politics 

by Bob McEwen


Michigan’s Governor wants to make life more difficult for Ohioans and Toledo is directly in her crosshairs.

On November 13th Governor Gretchen Whitmer, along with her Attorney General Dana Nessel, issued a cease-and-desist order against construction of a $500 million dollar infrastructure upgrade known as the Great Lakes Tunnel. The tunnel will replace the Mackinac Straits section of the Line 5 pipeline, a 647-mile pipeline that carries 540,000 barrels a day of light crude oil, light synthetic crude, and natural gas liquids (NGLs) to the refineries of Toledo, and the Midwest. The order would not only stop this next generation infrastructure improvement, it would also force the permanent closure of the Line 5 pipeline by May of 2021, devastating the 1,200 Ohioans that work in these petrochemical facilities.

Governor Whitmer and Attorney General Nessel claim they are taking these actions to protect Michigan from adverse environmental impacts and spills. Nonsense. In fact, their order runs directly counter to the advice of the independent experts they hired. They found that the Great Lakes Tunnel is the best and most viable solution for meeting environmental protection, energy delivery, and economic prosperity policies.

Their standing against these upgrades prevents the pipeline from being moved out of the water flowing in the Straits of Mackinaw and into a safer fully encapsulated tunnel. This significant upgrade would reduce to virtually zero the potential for an oil spill. However, by ordering the abandonment of the pipeline – the safest and most environmentally friendly way to transport energy – and onto trains and trucks, they leave everyone much more susceptible to spills and the additional emissions of carbon.

Forcing Toledo’s refineries to close will push this capacity overseas to countries such as China and India with their much lower environmental standards. Unconcerned about the loss of jobs and added strategic vulnerability for our country, one would hope these women would have some concern that moving this oil and gas to distant refining facilities will require the emission of tons of additional pollution. They are, obviously, indifferent to the vastly greater carbon released into our atmosphere as these raw materials and finished products are unnecessarily shuttled back and forth between North America and Asia.

By stopping the pipeline Mrs. Whitmer is undermining America’s energy security. The United States has already lost 1.2 million barrels per day in refinery capacity due to the economic impacts of COVID-19. Now, she wants Toledo’s refining capacity to be next, as she cuts off the supply of oil and gas flowing to these facilities. This means returning to the days of relying on foreign imports for our necessary fuel products.

Fortunately, leaders in Ohio, such Governor DeWine and Toledo Mayor Wade Kapszukiewicz, along with a host of others have voiced their opposition to the order and have expressed their commitment to saving Toledo’s energy jobs. Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost has called Governor Whitmer’s actions what they are: a “fact-free political stunt.”

Unfortunately, as witnessed by her draconian coronavirus lockdowns, this is not the first time Governor Whitmer’s autocratic overreach has adversely affected local economies. This time though, she is not just abusing the citizens of Michigan, but injuring the job holders and taxpayers of Ohio, as well.

Governor Whitmer’s cease and desist order is not only very bad policy for our nation, but even she should comprehend that such capricious dictates are also bad politics and should be rescinded.

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Bob McEwen represented Ohio in the Congress of the United States for six terms




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One Thought to “Commentary: Michigan Governor’s War on Energy is Bad Policy and Bad Politics ”

  1. George J Kamburoff

    Being a former engineer for a large power company and having earned a Master of Science in Energy and the Environment, I had PV panels installed five years ago, with my estimated payback of 15-17 years, . . the right thing for an eco-freak to do. Before they could be installed, we acquired a VW e-Golf electric car. The savings in gasoline alone took the solar system payback down to 3 1/2 years. So, we added a used Tesla Model S, P85, and that took the payback down to less than three years, which means we now get free power for household and transportation.
    But that is not all: We do not need to go to gas stations, we fuel up at home at night with cheap baseload power. During the daytime, the PV system turns our meter backwards powering the neighborhood with clean local power, which we trade for the stuff to be used that night. If we paid for transportation fuel, the VW would cost us 4 cents/mile to drive, and the Tesla would cost 5 cents/mile at California off-peak power prices.
    No oil changes are a real treat along with no leaks. And since it has an electric motor, it needs NO ENGINE MAINTENANCE at all. We do not go “gas up”, or get tune-ups or emissions checks, have no transmission about which to worry, no complicated machined parts needing care.
    THAT is what will sell the EV, and the real problem is not powering them, (the power companies have been working on and praying for the EV for a generation), the problem will be dealing with an economy which has had a large portion taken out of it. Too much of our economy is dependent on the needs of the internal combustion engine, from mechanics to emissions checkers to the folk who make oil filters, and all the folk who support them. I see a rush to EVs, (go drive one, and see), and the implications of this advance as an impending wave of dislocation for this society for which we must plan now.