64 year old pipeline to remain in operation
By Ken DeLaat
Despite recommendations from the Michigan Pipeline Safety Advisory Board (MPSAB) put forward at the Board’s meeting in December and dealing with the operation of the Line 5 pipelines in the Straits of Mackinac,Governor Rick Snyder responded by letter to their resolutions by declining to take action on any of the three.
Line 5 is the 64 year old pipeline that begins in Superior, Wisconsin, and ends in Sarnia, Ontario, Canada. The pipeline transports up to 540,000 barrels a day of light crude oil and natural gas liquids and passes through the waters of the Straits.
The PSAB was created by Governor Snyder through Executive Order in 2015 and tasked with:the following duties:
.Resolution 1: Shut down Line 5 operations in the Straits until all areas of the dual pipelines can be inspected for gaps in the external coating and all the gaps are repaired.
Governor Snyder-“I do not believe an immediate and extended shutdown of the pipeline in the middle of the winter is a proper approach that safeguards the health and welfare of Michigan citizens. An immediate and unexpected shutdown of the pipeline for several months would very likely create a propane supply crisis.”
“It is highly unlikely that Enbridge would agree to voluntarily suspend pipeline operation for months, pending further external coating inspections and repairs.”
Resolution 2: That the State seek to revise the “Sustained Adverse Weather Conditions” portion of the November 27, 2017 Agreement.
“There was no requirement for a shutdown due to any weather conditions prior to the November 27, 2017 Agreement. Given the amount of negotiating time and effort that went into that specific provision, a request to reopen that provision would be extremely unlikely to result in an agreement to move in the direction envisioned by the resolution.”
Resolution 3: Michigan should undertake a more thorough assessment of Michigan-focused alternatives, including alternative pipeline capacity re-routing options and ways to supply propane and oil to meet Michigan’s needs currently met by Line 5.
“The State is considering the possibility of obtaining the services of outside transportation consultants to better define the feasibility and costs of alternatives to meeting Michigan propane and Michigan-produced crude oil transportation needs that would not depend upon Line 5.”
The governor also felt the third resolution lacked clarity and he questioned what was being proposed due to lack of specifics.
He also questioned the results due to an issue regarding the voting rules for passing the three resolutions.
While the role of the MPSAB is advisory it seems the Governor has opted to brush aside the advice being delivered by the group he created.
While every day over half a million gallons of oil run through 64 year old pipes at the floor of the dividing line between two of the Great Lakes and hub of the tourist industry that supports so many of our Northern residents and businesses.
Look, I truly get it about what a pain in the behind it would be to shut it down. I’m certain when the Enbridge folks say on their site they are doing many things to protect the Great Lakes it is a sincere position.
But please don’t try to sell me on how the Kalamazoo River is better than ever since the Enbridge oil spill nor attempt to convince me that such a catastrophe in the Straits can be ‘contained’ because I cannot believe either.
To put it in perspective? I mean in the really, really big picture?
These are the freaking Great Lakes!
The largest bodies of freshwater in the World!
And water, with already incalculable value, is becoming more precious a commodity by the day.
Water has even begun to outsell carbonated drinks.
Think of that fellow baby boomers.
Because in those early days known as the 50’s (when those pipes were constructed) and for another several decades selling water would have been a colossal joke. Those of us who eschewed any attempt at appearing classy would sneer at a bottle of Perrier and wonder why anyone would purchase water.
Seems things have changed a smidge in those 60+ years.
The ecological devastation that would likely ensue from a malfunction would cripple the tourist industry as swiftly and significantly as a hurricane with lingering effects continuing well into any foreseeable future.
I understand the need for the oil. I get the cost entailed in getting it over to its Canada home if the pipelines were to shut down and how it will most certainly be passed on to customers in our state because the company sells a portion of its propane to Michigan customers.
And I know our Guv is a business guy so his stance is predictable if a bit disappointing.
But then don’t tout tourism as being such a priority and you might want to make sure the Pure Michigan folks have a backup name if the inevitable comes to pass.
Because this one is a total game changer and those involved will have nothing else attached to their legacy save the despoiling of this most precious natural resource.
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