If not Line 5, then what?

The “not in my back yard” syndrome is a real issue that problem-solvers face with any challenging situation.

Certainly, the controversy over the Enbridge Inc. Line 5 oil pipeline through the Straits of Mackinac contains a lot of “NIMBY” emotion, and understandably so.

The one question we consistently have asked in any story we’ve prepared on that subject is, “If not the pipeline, then what?”

The answer we most often hear is that some of the product could be moved by truck or train, at a much higher cost.

And we have always thought such transportation would come at an equal risk to the environment if an accident happened, or even a higher risk. The only difference would be the size of the spill.

A case in point recently would be the Canadian National railroad accident the beginning of July. About 40 cars derailed in the tunnel that runs below Port Huron and Canada under the St. Clair River, spilling over 13,000 gallons of sulfuric acid.

Talk about an environmental nightmare.

When it comes to Line 5, regardless of how any of us feel about the pipeline under the straits, our opinions do not erase the fact that there is indeed a need for the energy product that moves through the pipes each day.

If we close down the pipeline, as Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel is pursuing in court, then the question of, “If not that, then what?” still applies.

Obviously, the pipeline provides an important and needed product, otherwise the controversy wouldn’t exist. Enbridge officials need to meet the energy demand one way or another.

If Nessel wins in court, Line 5 will be shut down. It then would be up to Enbridge officials to decided to how to proceed, but we believe that, given the market that exists for energy, Enbridge officials would work hard to meet that need one way or another.

If that route to market is by truck or train, however, should we rest any easier?

Remember, sometimes the grass is greener on the other side of the fence only because it is over the septic tank.