A spokesman for Enbridge said the decision could have “devastating” economic consequences.
“Enbridge remains confident that Line 5 continues to operate safely and that there is no credible basis for terminating the 1953 easement allowing the Dual Line 5 Pipelines to cross the Straits of Mackinac,” the spokesman, Michael Barnes, said. “Line 5 is an essential source of energy for not only Michigan but for the entire region including Wisconsin, Indiana, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Ontario, and Quebec.”
Opponents of the move also said they worried that an abrupt shutdown would disrupt oil supplies, forcing nearby refineries out of business and disrupting the propane supplies to Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, where many rural residents rely on propane to heat their homes.
“Shutting down Line 5 would kill thousands of jobs in Michigan, severely impact manufacturing and cost our economy hundreds of millions of dollars when the state is already reeling from a pandemic,” said Mike Johnson, the vice president of government affairs at the Michigan Manufacturers Association.
A study commissioned by the National Wildlife Federation, however, found that the economic impact for Michigan oil producers of shutting down Line 5 would be minimal and that other shipping methods like trucking would keep refineries running.
“There are alternatives to moving that oil,” said Margrethe Kearney, a senior attorney at the Environmental Law and Policy Center. “I think that we should be really careful and really skeptical of arguments by Enbridge that shutting this pipeline down will result in some dire circumstance and that the sky will fall.”
The decision came after nearly a decade of political pressure. According to Ms. Kearney, a 2010 oil spill on another Enbridge line in Michigan, which poured nearly 850,000 gallons of tar sand into the Kalamazoo River, piqued public interest in Line 5 and other pipelines.
“It’s a very iconic part of Michigan’s culture,” Ms. Kearney said of the area. “So when people realized there’s this oil pipeline down there, it was a really big deal.”