Canada petitioned a US court Tuesday in a bid to keep the state of Michigan from shutting down an environmentally sensitive oil pipeline.
Known as Line 5, Canada contends that it is essential in feeding the country with energy – almost half the oil and natural gas liquids used by Canada’s two most populated provinces of Ontario and Quebec is carried through the pipeline.
“Line 5 is essential to our energy security,” Canadian Natural Resources Minister Seamus O’Regan said in a statement.
The Enbridge-owned 645-mile pipeline carries 540,000 barrels a day of crude and natural gas liquids that are refined into propane.
While Canada has gone to court to keep the line flowing, Enbridge said the line is crucial and it has no intention of shutting it down as demanded by Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, whose office labeled such pipelines “a ticking timebomb” whose “continued presence violates the public trust and poses a grave threat to Michigan’s environment and economy.”
“Shutting down Line 5, even temporarily, would have immediate and severe consequences on the economies of Michigan, Ohio, Ontario and elsewhere,” the company said in a statement.
The line runs from Wisconsin to Sarnia, Ontario and has been in operation for decades.
“Enbridge’s Line 5 has been a vital piece of energy structure since 1953 – not just for Michigan but for the entire US Midwest and points beyond,” the company said.
“The region [Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Ontario and Quebec] would see a 14.7-million-US-gallon-a-day supply shortage of gas, diesel and jet fuel [about 45% of current supply].”
But the line runs under the Great Lakes and the environmentally sensitive Straits of Mackinac, and Whitmer wants it shut down due to fears of an oil spill, reported the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation.
The issue has been under a court-ordered negotiation and O’Regan said that is the proper place to settle it.
“This [court filing] supports the continued mediation between Enbridge and the state of Michigan, underlines that Line 5 is a critical energy and economic link between Canada and the United States and conveys Canada’s belief that the US court is the proper jurisdiction to hear the case between Michigan and Enbridge,” O’Regan said.
The two sides are slated to continue negotiations on May 18.
By Barry Ellsworth in Trenton, New Jersey