by Bruce Walker
Consumers throughout the Midwest may face up to a combined $5.9 billion annual spike in gas and diesel costs if the administration of Democratic Gov. Gretchen Whitmer is successful in shuttering the Enbridge Line 5.
Over the next five years, the cost could exceed $23.7 billion in additional transportation costs across the region.
The estimates come from a study conducted by Consumers Energy Alliance released last week. Since then, prices at the pump jumped 42 cents per gallon to more than $4 per gallon, which is the highest price for gasoline in Michigan in 14 years. Meanwhile, nationwide inflation continues its upward trajectory above 7.5%.
On Monday, the national gas price average set at an all-time high of $4.104/gallon, topping 2008’s $4.103/gallon. That’s 65 cents higher than a week earlier. In Michigan, the average was projected to hit $4.25 by day’s end.
“At a time when consumer prices are rising at their fastest pace in more than 40 years, and Americans are suffering from the highest gasoline prices in over seven years, choking the region’s fuel supply by closing Line 5 would be economically ruinous,” CEA Midwest Director Chris Ventura said in a statement. “Midwestern families are already struggling to pay their bills, with many on fixed incomes or living below the poverty line having to choose between putting gas in their tank, buying groceries, or filling their prescriptions.”
The Whitmer administration has been attempting to close Line 5 since May 2021, arguing it presents a pending ecological disaster in the five-mile stretch beneath the Straits of Mackinac. Line 5 has been operable since 1953. During that period, the pipeline has been struck by a boat anchor but has never leaked oil into Lake Michigan. Enbridge was granted approval to move the pipeline into a tunnel 100 feet beneath the lakebed by the previous administration of Republican Gov. Rick Snyder in 2018.
CEA was founded in 2006 as a nationwide group to advocate for affordable and available energy resources for fixed-income households and low-income individuals. CEA also advocates for using every available source in the energy portfolio.
“From an environmental perspective, the proposal is just as careless,” Ventura said. “Line 5 hasn’t leaked in the Straits during its 68-year history, and it is inarguably the safest, most reliable method to transport the fuel our region needs,” he said.
“Recklessly raising energy bills on families and businesses by disrupting their fuel supplies – notably oil and propane – while harming the economy and the environment is irresponsible, especially when solutions like the Line 5 Tunnel Project have been proposed.”
“Enbridge Line 5 / Shutdown Impacts on Transportation Fuel” was written by Dr. Bernard L. Weinstein and Dr. Terry L. Clower.
“The jump in transportation fuel prices will not be borne evenly across all consumer groups,” wrote the study’s authors. “But given current macro-economic trends, most of these higher costs will likely be passed on to households. Based on research into broader energy price inflation, these cost increases will further push up food prices, especially for beef, pork, and corn. We estimate combined grocery and restaurant prices will rise an additional 0.2% to 0.3% on top of any other inflationary pressures in the economy.”
Brian Calley, Small Business Association of Michigan president and CEO, also warned a Line 5 closure would have a detrimental impact on the Michigan economy.
“As small businesses work to overcome inflation and staffing challenges, the last thing they need is to be burdened with additional costs that a Line 5 shutdown would bring,” Calley said. “This report once again shows how reckless the politically motivated nonsense around shutting down Line 5 would be for our economy, our small businesses and all of our residents.”
A previous CEA report concluded other economic impacts of closing Line 5 on Michigan, Ohio, Indiana and Pennsylvania, including:
- $20.8 billion loss in economic activity.
- $8.3 billion reduction in combined Gross State Product.
- $2.36 billion foregone labor earnings in salaries, wages and benefits.
- 33,755 lost jobs.
- $265.7 million lower annual state tax revenues.
“Gretchen Whitmer and Dana Nessel are more interested in serving big environmental groups than the people of Michigan,” Eric Ventimiglia, executive director for Michigan Rising Action, said in a statement. “Energy costs are skyrocketing for Michiganders, and our leaders should be championing solutions to address that issue, not exacerbate it.”
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Bruce Walker is a regional editor at The Center Square. He previously worked as editor at the Mackinac Center for Public Policy’s MichiganScience magazine and The Heartland Institute’s InfoTech & Telecom News.
Photo “Replacement Project” by Enbridge.