by J.D. Davidson
The Ohio House has sent a message to Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, urging her to abandon her plan to force a company to close a pipeline that could threaten Ohio energy supplies and jobs.
Whitmer, Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel and Michigan Department of Natural Resources Director Dan Eichinger filed a lawsuit Nov. 13 in Ingham County Court demanding Enbridge Inc. cease Line 5 operations by May. The easement has been in place since 1953.
In a resolution passing the Ohio House, 73-10, on Thursday, lawmakers want every effort made to keep the line open. The resolution previously received unanimous support in the Transportation and Public Safety Committee.
“[Thursday’s] vote was a strong, bipartisan show of support for Ohio’s workers, and I hope that passage of this resolution will sway Governor Whitmer to reverse course on this issue,” Rep. Michael Sheehy, D-Oregon, said in a statement. “The closure of Line 5 not only threatens to disrupt the region’s energy supply, it threatens hundreds of good-paying union jobs. The effects of this decision will fall heavily on working-class families and communities.”
Line 5 provides petroleum products that have become essential to the energy needs of Michigan, Wisconsin, Indiana, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Ontario and Quebec. Enbridge warns that a disruption of this supply would result in “devastating consequences.”
The Line 5 pipeline services two Oregon refineries in northwest Ohio. Closing the line would cause a significant disruption in the supply chain, which serves as a source of jet fuel for several regional and international airports, particularly in Cleveland and Detroit, Sheehy said.
Whitmer and Eichinger said the administration’s actions are based on what they are characterizing as Enbridge’s violation of the public trust doctrine, which protects the state’s natural resources.
Among the violations cited by the governor are “the unreasonable risk that continued operation of the dual pipelines poses to the Great Lakes,” according to a November news release. Whitmer cited events in April 2018 and another in 2019 in which Line 5 was damaged.
The first event was an anchor strike from a commercial vehicle, and the second, reported by the company in June 2020, was from either an anchor or cable from ships. Although pipeline coatings and a support were damaged in these incidents, the pipelines did not leak any oil into the Great Lakes.
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An Ohio native, J.D. Davidson is a veteran journalist with more than 30 years of experience in newspapers in Ohio, Georgia, Alabama and Texas. He has served as a reporter, editor, managing editor and publisher. He is regional editor for The Center Square.