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White House is ‘studying’ closing the Michigan Line 5 pipeline despite concerns

White House deputy press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre confirmed the administration is considering shutting down a Michigan oil pipeline, as President Biden finds himself caught between an environmental promise and looming gas price hikes.   

The administration is exploring the possibility of terminating the Line 5 pipeline – which links Superior, Wisconsin, with Sarnia, Ontario – and gathering data to determine if shutting down the line will cause a surge in fuel pricing.

‘Yes, we are,’ Jean-Pierre said, asked in a news briefing if the administration is ‘studying’ the impacts of a potential shutdown. 

‘The army corps of engineers is preparing an environmental impact to look through this,’ she continued.  

Biden is being yanked between environmentalists and Michigan’s Democratic Gov. Gretchen Whitmer who are worried about a potential spill and the government of Canada and the oil and gas industries that worry about the impact on jobs and energy prices.  

‘Where we are with this is Canada has decided to invoke dispute resolutions of the 1977 Transit Pipelines Treaty. We expect that both the US and Canada will engage constructively in those negotiations.’

Line 5 ships 540,000 barrels per day of crude and refined products through Wisconsin and Ontario, but the state of Michigan ordered it to shut down by May due to worries it could leak in a four-mile section beneath the Straits of Mackinac in the Great Lakes.

Natural gas company Enbridge ignored the order and kept operating. Canada invoked the treaty to prompt the Biden administration to get involved in the dispute. The treaty has never been invoked before. 

Enbridge has said in order to keep up supply if the pipeline were to shut down, it would need 2,100 trucks to drive the route from Superior through Michigan each day, at a time when truck drivers are in short demand and the US is looking to cut down on roadway emissions. 

But 12 tribal nations are calling on the administration to shut the pipeline. 

‘Given the strength and oscillation of the currents, over 700 miles of Lake Michigan and Huron shoreline would face serious contamination,’ they wrote in a Nov. 4 letter to Biden. 

‘In contrast to Canada’s vocal support of [pipeline owner] Enbridge, and despite what we understand to be the Governor’s requests for help, your Administration has thus far been silent regarding Line 5.’   

But gas prices have hit a seven-year high in the U.S., inflation is becoming one of the top concerns of American voters and OPEC has bucked Biden’s pleas to increase oil production. 

‘Biden wants to shut down another pipeline and increase your energy prices. Does he have any remorse for killing American jobs and families’ livelihoods?’ Sen. Marsha Blackburn, R-Tenn., wrote on Twitter on Monday. 

In a letter dated Thursday, 13 Congress members – led by Ohio Rep. Bob Latta – urged the president to keep the oil line in operation, saying: ‘Line 5 is essential to the lifeblood of the Midwest.’ 

‘Should this pipeline be shut down, tens of thousands of jobs would be lost across Ohio, Michigan, Wisconsin, and the region; billions of dollars in economic activity would be in jeopardy; and the environment would be at greater risk due to additional trucks operating on roadways and railroads carrying hazardous materials,’ the legislators wrote.

‘Furthermore, as we enter the winter months and temperatures drop across the Midwest, the termination of Line 5 will undoubtedly further exacerbate shortages and price increases in home heating fuels like natural gas and propane at a time when Americans are already facing rapidly rising energy prices, steep home heating costs, global supply shortages, and skyrocketing gas prices.’  

Biden told the COP26 conference in Glasgow this weekend that the U.S. will become world leaders in the climate change fight. He is fighting to close pipelines, setting up a conflict between Indigenous groups and environmentalists who want to block them and Republicans trying to stop a further spike in energy prices. 

He sparked backlash by closing down the Keystone XL Pipeline, costing thousands of American jobs, and has been accused of folding to Russia by allowing Europe’s Nord Stream 2 pipeline to remain open. 

President Joe Biden’s Administration is considering shutting down a Michigan oil pipeline despite warnings from Republican lawmakers who believe the move would result in fuel price shocks throughout the midwest

Line 5 is part of a network that moves crude oil and other petroleum products from western Canada to Escanaba, Michigan and transports approximately 540,000 barrels each day

Line 5 is part of a network that moves crude oil and other petroleum products from western Canada to Escanaba, Michigan and transports approximately 540,000 barrels each day

Those in favor of its operation allege shutting it down further exacerbate fuel shortages and price increases as citizens enter the winter months.

However, Energy Secretary and former Michigan Governor Jennifer Granholm argues that fuel prices are going to skyrocket this winter anyway.

‘Yeah, this is going to happen,’ Granholm told CNN on Sunday. ‘It will be more expensive this year than last year.’ 

‘We are in a slightly beneficial position, well certainly relative to Europe, because their choke hold of natural gas is very significant. But we have the same problem in fuels that the supply chains have, which is that the oil and gas companies are not flipping the switch as quickly as the demand requires.’ 

According to the lawmakers, the administration’s move to terminate Line 5’s operation is part of a move to ‘appease environmental groups’. 

Their claims are echoed by Jason Hayes, director of environmental policy at the Mackinac Center for Public Policy, who alleges that Biden’s energy policies and work on Line 5 is ‘just one more example of being divorced from reality.’

‘They’re planning to power an industrial nation like the United States on solar panels and wind turbines,’ Hayes told Fox News.

‘I hope it doesn’t end like this, but where I see it going is unfortunately the same thing that happened in February in Texas: People freezing in their homes. 

He continued: ‘Most of the time when it’s extremely cold or there’s a real bad polar vortex situation, typically it’s pretty cloudy and there’s not a lot of wind.’ 

Thirteen Congress members wrote a letter to Biden Thursday urging him to keep the Line 5 pipeline (pictured) in operation, saying: 'Line 5 is essential to the lifeblood of the midwest.'

Thirteen Congress members wrote a letter to Biden Thursday urging him to keep the Line 5 pipeline (pictured) in operation, saying: ‘Line 5 is essential to the lifeblood of the midwest.’

Ohio Rep. Bob Latta (pictured), who is among those leading the effort to keep the pipeline, argues terminating its operation will exacerbate fuel shortages and price increases

Energy Secretary and former Michigan Governor Jennifer Granholm (pictured) argues that fuel prices are going to skyrocket this winter anyway

Ohio Rep. Bob Latta (left), who is among those leading the effort to keep the pipeline, argues terminating its operation will exacerbate fuel shortages and price increases. Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm (right) argues that fuel prices are going to skyrocket this winter anyway

White House is 'studying' closing the Michigan Line 5 pipeline despite concerns

White House is 'studying' closing the Michigan Line 5 pipeline despite concerns

A group of lawmakers issued a letter to Biden on Thursday, arguing in favor of Line 5

A group of lawmakers issued a letter to Biden on Thursday, arguing in favor of Line 5

The energy expert also noted that production of solar panels and wind turbines still requires ‘oil, natural gas, nuclear and even coal’. 

Additionally, proponents of the pipeline allege that the negative impacts of its termination exceed access to fuel and energy prices. 

They claim its termination would ‘trigger an international spinoff’ with Canada.

‘The 1977 Transit Pipelines Treaty between the United States and Canada has ensured the uninterrupted transportation of energy products across the border for decades,’ Latta and his co-authors wrote.

‘Given the strained relations between our two countries brought on by the termination of the Keystone XL pipeline and the prolonged shutdown of cross-border travel due to COVID-19, now is not the time to worsen this critical diplomatic partnership.’

Biden’s administration canceled the Keystone XL pipeline – which ran from Alberta, Canada to Steele City, Nebraska and would have carried 830,000 barrels of oil each day – in January. The controversial move prompted uproar, especially when the administration waived sanctions against a pipeline for Russia to ship energy to Germany. 

The legislators believe terminating Line 5 and breaking another treaty with Canada would ultimately be detrimental to the countries’ relationships. 

House GOP leader Kevin McCarthy tweeted over the weekend: ‘President Biden wants to destroy America’s energy sector while giving Russia a new pipeline and begging OPEC to produce more oil. It’s totally backwards. This is what it looks like to put America Last.’ 

Meanwhile, all twelve of Michigan's federally recognized tribes also called on the president last week, urging him to move forward with the state's efforts to shutdown Line 5 (pictured)

Meanwhile, all twelve of Michigan’s federally recognized tribes also called on the president last week, urging him to move forward with the state’s efforts to shutdown Line 5 (pictured)

Whitney Gravelle, president of Bay Mills Indian Community, argues that the tribes were promised the right to fish, hunt and gather in the Great Lakes Anishnaabe area in 1836 when they ceded the lands. 

The tribes also argue that their treaty supersedes the Canada agreement.

‘We possess rights and interests in the integrity of the Great Lakes that date back to time immemorial, and that are protected by solemn treaties with the United States long predating the agreement Canada rests on,’ the letter states. 

‘We view Line 5 as an existential threat to our treaty-protected rights, resources, and fundamental way of life as Anishinaabe people of the Great Lakes.’   

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