Biden remains silent on Line 5 as efforts to close it become complicated

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Efforts to shut down Enbridge Energy’s Line 5 oil and gas pipeline are becoming increasingly complicated.

At MichMash, Jake Neher and Cheyna Roth examine the latest move by the Canadian government to block Michigan’s attempts to stop the flow of oil into the Straits of Mackinac and speak with Crain’s Detroit Business editor, Chad Livengood, of the President Biden’s silence on the issue during his visit to Michigan last week.



Governor Gretchen Whitmer and Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel are scrambling to shut off the pipeline for fear that a leak could devastate the Great Lakes.

We take all the risk of a foreign company just passing it around for their product, and that’s ridiculous. We have to shut it down, ”then-2018 candidate Gretchen Whitmer said in an interview with WDET and its partners from the Detroit Journalism Cooperative.

Since then, the state has ordered Line 5 closed. But it is now in a protracted legal battle that appears to have stalled.

Canada depends on Line 5 to deliver oil and natural gas for heating homes and businesses across Ontario and Quebec. Last week, the Canadian government officially invoked a 1977 treaty to stop the efforts to close the line. The transit pipeline treaty guarantees the uninterrupted flow of oil and natural gas between the United States and Canada. He has never been invoked since his signing 44 years ago.

This move effectively pulls the Biden administration into this fight it really didn’t want to get involved in. Although this is an international pipeline, Michigan has fought for jurisdiction over the matter. So far, this has isolated Biden from the political tightrope it represents – trying to balance the burning concerns of environmentalists and many other members of the Democratic Party with the desires of some unions, who could win a lot of jobs. thanks to Enbridge’s desire to replace the pipeline with a new span that would be housed in a tunnel buried under the strait.

The President of the United States was standing here the day after Canada made this major gesture which has major implications for our Canada-US relations. And he didn’t say a single word about it. And he’s going to stand in the union hall of the union that has the most at stake in this whole fight. – Chad Livengood, Crain’s Detroit Business

Meanwhile, many environmentalists point out what we are seeing off California with the oil spill, which – the evidence suggests – may have been caused by the anchor of a ship that hooked, dragged and tore an undersea pipeline. This is the exact scenario that environmentalists have warned for years to impact Line 5. Indeed, in April 2018, the six-ton ​​anchor of a tug struck line 5, denting the pipeline and releasing 800 gallons of mineral oil into the strait.

Environmental groups say the devastation we see in California, including widespread wildlife deaths, the closure of popular beaches and untold environmental impacts, is what we could see if there was a similar oil spill in the Great Lakes.

All of this was happening while President Joe Biden was on a trip to Michigan to promote its infrastructure and its Build Back Better packages. Despite all of this Line 5 related news while he was in the state, Biden has remained silent about it.

The great irony here is that he was standing on the training grounds of Operating Engineers Local 324, ”said Chad Livengood, editor of Crain’s Detroit Business, who wrote a column last week on Biden’s silence on the issue. “It is the same union that would benefit from the construction of a new tunnel to house line 5.”


Related: Future of Line 5 Uncertain After Enbridge Ignored Whitmer’s Shutdown Order


The President of the United States was standing here the day after Canada made this major gesture which has major implications for our Canada-US relations. And he hasn’t said a single word about it, and he’s going to stand in the union hall of the union that’s most at stake in this whole fight, ”Livengood notes.

The direction this saga takes will probably depend on the reaction of the federal government. Until we know where the President himself is in all of this, we all wonder if there is a resolution in sight.


More MichMash:

Michigan’s largest environmental regulator defends the news PFAS Standards, line 5 license

Benton Harbor water crisis is finally starting to gain more attention after three years

Solutions to Worsen Plastic Pollution in the Great Lakes: “It’s Not Enough to Pick Up Litter”

Infrastructure bill can help fight Michigan flooding, but only if there’s a plan, says Dingell

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