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Wednesday, October 4, 2023
Oct. 4, 2023

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Whitmer offers plan to supply propane after pipeline closes

Michigan governor ordered 645-mile line to be shuttered


TRAVERSE CITY, Mich. – Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s administration released a plan Friday to make sure Michigan will have enough propane if a controversial pipeline is shut down.

The strategy addresses a frequent objection to the Democratic governor’s demand that Enbridge Inc. decommission its Line 5, a leading carrier of natural gas liquids that are refined into propane to heat many Michigan homes.

It calls for more state investment in rail and propane storage infrastructure and pledges efforts to find new suppliers while working with the industry to deal with potential shortages. It proposes more energy efficiency and greater use of other sources, including renewables.

“Governor Whitmer has remained committed to ensuring the state’s energy needs are met when the Enbridge oil pipelines shut down, and this plan furthers that commitment while protecting consumers and their pocketbooks,” spokeswoman Chelsea Lewis-Parisio said.

Enbridge dismissed the proposals as “wholly inadequate for replacing the propane or energy supply Michiganders currently depend on,” adding that it would worsen pollution by requiring greater use of other transport methods that would increase customer costs.

Line 5 carries oil and gas liquids through northern Wisconsin, Michigan’s Upper Peninsula and a portion of the northern Lower Peninsula. A 4 mile section divides into two pipes that cross the bottom of the Straits of Mackinac, which connects Lake Michigan and Lake Huron.

Whitmer ordered the company last fall to close the 645 mile line by May, siding with environmental and tribal groups who say it’s vulnerable to a rupture that could devastate the lakes.

Enbridge, which is fighting the governor’s order in court, says the 68-year-old line is in good condition but that it wants to swap the underwater segment for a new pipe that would be housed in a tunnel beneath the lake bottom. The company has received state environmental permits for the project and is seeking others.

Enbridge says Line 5 fulfills 65 percent of propane demand in the Upper Peninsula and 55 percent statewide.