By: Gage Percival
Summary. Line Five pipeline is an outdated financial investment for Enbridge Energy and an alarming risk to Michigan's economy. The pipeline pumps 23 million gallons of oil a day, running north and south throughout the state and across the Mackinac Straits. Enbridge continues to operate the pipeline illegally, despite orders from Governor Gretchen Whitmer given in November 2020 to shut it down in May '21. Should the 68-year old pipeline continue to operate, it could "generate $41 billion in climate damages between 2027 and 2070" according to a scientific witness for a court mediation between Enbridge and Governor Whitmer. Testimony from senior scientist and climate policy director Peter Erickson and Peter Howard, an economic policy expert, was provided who argued the continuation of the project would be inconsistent with the goals of the Paris Climate Agreement as well as the Michigan Healthy Climate Plan. Whitmer created the plan to develop new jobs and to set direction to making Michigan carbon neutral by 2050. Pumping oil throughout Michigan is no longer safe and sets us up for continued unnecessary reliance upon fossil fuel. Enbridge is likely to argue to the courts that there is no other alternative to fossil fuels, even though a study shows that Michigan could meet its energy needs from renewables and electrification. Recently the mediation between Enbridge and Whitmer ended without settlement, leaving the pipeline operational illegally and with expressed opposition to Michigan's future. In one act of collective action by the people, Water Protectors and activists took it upon themselves to temporarily shut down part of the line in Vassar Michigan. They notified the state and Enbridge prior and acted to turn the emergency shut off manually by hand and a wrench. The shut-off lasted only a day at most, however, is crucial to have occurred in demonstrating how people can take action and stand up to large corporations who put our safety and future at risk.
Why we should care? Michigan has many reasons to fear the black snake running through its land. These ecosystems are invaluable to us, and will easily be polluted should the pipeline burst anywhere along the 645 miles that it travels through the state.
This article is of interest because it highlights the blatant criminality of the energy companies. You can see how they operate illegally and are at odds with consumer interest, who will fight tooth and nail to ensure their continued operation and exploitation of the land. The article highlights a turning point in how this is a new direction for the state, having opposed the building and continuation of fossil fuel infrastructure.
Science in Action.
Peter Erickson is the Climate Policy Program Director at Stockholm Environment Institute US.
Peter Erickson has done a number of studies and projects. Recently he worked on greenhouse gas tracking in Seattle, the quality and quantity of potential greenhouse offsets in the US, and a study into the role of international offset in global climate mitigation. He takes interest in cap-and-trade programs, the contribution of consumption and behavior change to reducing greenhouse gas emissions, industrial policy, and cities. Peter is doing fine work in the ways of making it clear where our priorities should currently stand, in limiting the number of greenhouse gases that we put into our atmosphere.