November 29, 2021

Report: Biden admin contemplating shutdown of key Michigan pipeline

In a stunningly tone-deaf development, news has emerged that the Biden administration is considering the possibility of shutting down a key Michigan oil pipeline just as rising energy prices continue to hit consumers at the pump and threaten the ability of millions to affordably heat their homes this winter, as Fox News reports.

According to the Detroit News, White House spokeswoman Karine Jean-Pierre confirmed the situation during a Monday briefing, saying that a possible shut down of the Line 5 pipeline is indeed under review and that the U.S. Army Corp of Engineers is in the process of preparing an environmental impact statement on such a closure as well as the potential construction of a replacement line.

The pipeline’s operator, Enbridge, Inc., says that Line 5 “is a critical source of 540,000 barrels per day of propane and crude oil supply for Michigan and surrounding areas, and its shutdown would lead to a serious disruption of the energy market,” the News noted.

Even so, environmental activists as well as Michigan’s Democrat Gov. Gretchen Whitmer have been urging the shut down of the pipeline, contending that it presents a potentially devastating risk of pollusion to the entire Great Lakes region, as Politico reported.

Once the story broke that the administration was contemplating a shutdown of Line 5, criticism from Republicans came down swifty and surely, with some arguing that such a decision would result in a worsening of propane prices that have already risen 50% from just one year ago, causing a crisis for upper Midwestern residents preparing for winter.

Indeed, a group of lawmakers representing the region that would be most affected by the shutdown sent a letter to Biden last week cautioning against such an outcome, saying, “As we enter the winter months and temperatures drop across the Midwest, the termination of Line 5 will undoubtedly further exacerbate shortages and price increases in home heating fuels like natural gas and propane at a time when Americans are already facing rapidly rising energy prices, steep home heating costs, global supply shortages, and skyrocketing gas prices.”

Attempting to counter that position was a letter from a group of 12 tribal nations to Biden, which said, “Given the strength and oscillation of the currents, over 700 miles of Lake Michigan and Huron shoreline would face serious contamination” if a spill were to occur.

Though the administration has gone to lengths to state that no decision on Line 5 has yet been made, the political calculus for Biden, who recently pledged to environmental advocates at the COP26 climate summit that his administration would lead by example, the political calculus for Democrats is a fraught one, indeed, given the mounting economic pressures facing everyday Americans, particularly those related to energy costs.

With his approval ratings continuing to nosedive, it remains to be seen whether Biden will yet display any fear of the political poison that further limiting energy supply would represent, or if he is simply so beholden to the demands of the radical environmentalist left that he will once again dance to their tune.

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