Schuette: science, technology, common sense should drive closure of Line 5

Following a review of the Dynamic Risk Line 5 Alternatives Analysis on Thursday, Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette  stressed the need for a comprehensive plan based on science, available technology and common sense to drive the timeline for the closure of the Line 5 petroleum pipeline that currently runs under the Straits of Mackinac.

“The safety and security of our Great Lakes is etched in the DNA of every Michigan resident, and the final decision on Line 5 needs to include a discussion with those that rely on propane for heating their homes, and depend on the pipeline for employment,” said Schuette. “One thing is certain: the next steps we take should be for the long term protection of the Great Lakes.”

5 POINTS FOR THE FUTURE OF LINE 5: To ensure the safety and protection of the Great Lakes, Schuette named five important takeaways from the alternatives analysis.

NOTHING LASTS FOREVER. The Draft Report states on page ES-10 that Line 5 could operate indefinitely. The Attorney General strongly disagrees. A specific and definite timetable to close Line 5 should be established. One viable option, a tunnel under the Straits, would create infrastructure and construction jobs in Michigan and would allow for continuous visual inspection.
LEGISLATIVE BAN ON HEAVY CRUDE AND TAR SANDS. Pending closure of Line 5, the Legislature should enact a statute to prohibit heavy crude and tar sands from being transported through the Straits. Currently, tar sands and heavy crude oil are prohibited from the pipelines by an agreement between Schuette and Enbridge.

PROPANE FOR THE UPPER PENINSULA. Propane processing in Rapid River, Michigan or a similar supply for families in the U.P. must be provided for heating purposes.

MICHIGAN ENERGY. The state energy industry and jobs associated with energy production must be encouraged and protected with closure of Line 5 under the Straits.

CREATION OF THE MICHIGAN PIPELINE AUTH-ORITY. Patterned after the Mackinac Bridge Authority, a Pipeline authority, appointed by Gov. Snyder and confirmed by the Senate, should be established to provide recommendations to the Federal Pipeline Safety Authority on behalf of Michigan residents. The authority would work towards the decommissioning of Line 5 and issues relating to propane and energy production.

RISK ANALYSIS On June 21, the State of Michigan terminated the contract with Det Norske Veritas, Inc., the firm preparing a risk analysis report on Line 5, prior to the draft report being delivered.

Within the past month, the state’s project team became aware that an employee who had worked on the risk analysis at DNV GL subsequently worked on another project for Enbridge, which owns Line 5 pipeline, while the risk analysis was being completed. This is a violation of conflict of interest prohibitions contained in the contract.

Line 5 is a 645-mile pipeline built in 1953 and runs from Superior, Wisc., to Sarnia, Canada. The line transports about 540,000 barrels of light crude oil and natural gas liquids per day.