Watching Whitmer Line 5 decision

We have to admit Gov. Gretchen Whitmer is full of surprises.

Sometimes, you never know what to expect, or when it it is coming.

Enbridge Energy officials learned that reality a week ago, when Whitmer announced the termination of a 1953 easement that allowed the energy company to operate dual pipelines in the Straits of Mackinac to transport petroleum and other products.

The company was ordered to cease all operations of the pipeline in six months — May 2021.

The decision, while it has been applauded by many, left other citizens wondering, what happens now?

The governor said in explaining her decision that the lines carry “millions of gallons of petroleum products each day.”

So, we wonder out loud, come June, how will those petroleum products be shipped?

Will the products be hauled by rail? Will they be transported by truck over the Mackinac Bridge each day? Can they be rerouted through other lines in the Enbridge distribution system without causing a strain on those lines?

Or, will this announcement end up being wrangled over in court for months and months?

It’s a question that, obviously, will be debated in the weeks ahead.

State Sen. Wayne Schmidt, of Traverse City, said he remembers that, just a few years ago — in 2014 — Enbridge officials closed down the line for a few months for maintenance. He called the experience an economic nightmare.

“Prices more than doubled, existing supplies were difficult to manage, and some businesses even closed their doors,” he said.

This story, and the governor’s action, could result in precedent-setting rulings that will shape the environmental future of the Great Lakes for decades.

It is a story of vital importance to our region and one that we will be following closely for our readers.



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