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Walberg Leads Letter Highlighting Devastating Consequences of Shutting Down Line 5

November 5, 2021
Press Release

Washington, D.C. – Last night, Congressman Tim Walberg (MI-07), along with Congressmen Bob Latta (OH-05), Jack Bergman (MI-01), and 10 other House members, sent a letter to President Biden regarding reports of the Biden Administration exploring the possibility of taking action to terminate the Enbridge’s Line 5 Pipeline. This pipeline links Superior, Wisconsin, with Sarnia, Ontario.

“Every family in Michigan and throughout the Midwest should be deeply troubled by this new report that the Biden Administration is actively exploring shutting down Line 5,” said Walberg. “Halting operations of this energy pipeline would hurt our economy and cause home heating costs to rise even higher right as we enter the winter months. This irresponsible action will hurt farmers, businesses, and families. President Biden has already done enough to weaken America’s energy security and international alliances, and the consequences of terminating Line 5 would only heighten these growing challenges.”

“The devastating consequences of shutting down Line 5 cannot be overstated,” said Latta. “The pipeline is essential to the lifeblood of the Midwest. Should the Biden Administration move forward to shut down Line 5 tens of thousands of jobs would be lost across Ohio, Michigan, Wisconsin, and the region; billions of dollars in economy activity would be in jeopardy; and the environment would be at greater risk due to additional trucks operating on roadways and railroads carrying hazardous materials where that is even possible. The closure of Line 5 would cause uncertainty over the delivery of energy products, which would result in spikes in consumers’ energy bills and experience difficulties in powering their homes and businesses due to propane and other energy shortages. As the current supply chain is already struggling, this would be an added hardship on the people in the Midwest that is not necessary.”

“Reports that the Biden Administration is seeking to shut down Line 5 are extremely concerning for Michigan families,” said Bergman. “As energy prices skyrocket across the nation due to Biden’s dangerous energy policies, shutting down Line 5 would saddle constituents with unaffordable heating costs and propane shortages as we head into the winter months. If these reports are true, the Biden Administration must end this terrible policy and immediately put the needs of Michiganders first.”

BACKGROUND 

In light of the Administration’s decision to revoke the Keystone XL pipeline, earlier this year in March, Walberg, Latta, and Bergman led 11 House members in sending President Biden a letter to express their deep concerns regarding reports of pressure campaigns from pipeline opponents to shut down additional petroleum and natural gas pipelines. No response was received from the President.

Last year, Walberg, Latta, and Bergman led a letter with seven other House colleagues to the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) asking them to confirm that Line 5 is structurally sound and does not manifest an unsafe condition or constitute an imminent hazard that would warrant its closure for safety reasons.  PHMSA replied in January of this year confirming that “there are presently no integrity concerns” with the pipeline based on inspection data.

Along with the lack of safety concerns, any efforts to terminate the pipeline would trigger an international standoff with the United States’ closest ally and economic partner, Canada. The 1977 Transit Pipelines Treaty between the U.S. and Canada has ensured the uninterrupted transportation of energy products across the border for decades.

The complete text of the letter can be found here and below: 

Dear President Biden: 

We write to you today to share our deep concerns after reading recent news reports that your Administration is currently exploring the possibility of taking action to terminate the operation of Enbridge’s Line 5 pipeline that links Superior, Wisconsin with Sarnia Ontario. 

According to a November 3, 2021 article entitled, “White House Weighs Effects of Shutting Michigan Oil Pipeline,” sources indicate your Administration is “gathering data on whether shutting down the Line 5 oil pipeline in Michigan would lead to fuel price shocks in the region.”   The article goes on to assert the Administration is seeking to appease environmental groups by putting together “a menu of options on whether to allow the pipeline to stay in operation or to break the treaty with Canada and shut it down.” 

Line 5 is essential to the lifeblood of the Midwest.  Should this pipeline be shut down, tens of thousands of jobs would be lost across Ohio, Michigan, Wisconsin, and the region; billions of dollars in economy activity would be in jeopardy; and the environment would be at greater risk due to additional trucks operating on roadways and railroads carrying hazardous materials where that is even possible.  Additionally, 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. 

Last year, we sent a letter to the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) asking them to confirm that Line 5 is structurally sound and does not manifest an unsafe condition or constitute an imminent hazard that would warrant its closure for safety reasons.  PHMSA replied in January of this year confirming that “there are presently no integrity concerns” with the pipeline based on inspection data. 

Additionally, on March 10, 2021, we sent a letter to you describing our concerns regarding reports of pressure campaigns from pipeline opponents seeking to shut down petroleum and natural gas pipelines such as Line 5, and the devastating consequences such actions would have in our states.  While we have yet to receive a response to our letter, we were told by Secretary of Energy Jennifer Granholm that the Department of Energy, and thus your Administration, “does not have a direct role regarding the project.” 

Along with the lack of safety concerns, any efforts to terminate the pipeline would trigger an international standoff with our closest ally and economic partner, Canada.  The 1977 Transit Pipelines Treaty between the United States and Canada has ensured the uninterrupted transportation of energy products across the border for decades.  Given the strained relations between our two countries brought on by the termination of the Keystone XL pipeline and the prolonged shutdown of cross-border travel due to COVID-19, now is not the time to worsen this critical diplomatic partnership. 

We believe, absent any credible data showing that there is a real safety hazard to continue to operate Line 5, the intrastate, interstate, and international commerce implications of the possible shutdown of the pipeline should be overwhelming evidence that this path should not be followed.  

We thus ask you to clarify your Administration’s stance on Line 5 and would welcome the opportunity to brief you on the overwhelming benefits of maintaining its operation. 
 

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