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Report: Michigan doesn't need Line 5 for propane

map of Line 5
Enbridge Energy

According to anindependent report released Friday morning by the National Wildlife Federation, the Upper Peninsula does not need to use Enbridge’s Line 5 for its propane supply.

The Upper Peninsula currently relies on Line 5’s propane as a source of energy. But the report says Michigan can get propane via truck or rail for an estimated additional five cents per gallon.

Mike Shriberg, the Great Lakes regional executive director of the National Wildlife Federation, says, “to put that into context, the normal annual fluctuations tend to be about 30 or 40 cents per gallon for propane.”

The report was put together by London Economics International and funded by Charles Stewart Mott Foundation. It was commissioned by the NWF, which has advocated for Line 5 to be shut down.

Shriberg says Michigan lawmakers have expressed concern over shutting down Line 5 because of the Upper Peninsula’s reliance on propane, but that this report could change that.  

“What it shows is that we don't have to trade off energy security for protection of the Great Lakes, and we think that's something that our elected officials will be very happy to hear,” he says.

The Enbridge pipeline was built in 1953. It runs from Wisconsin to Canada and is primarily used as a way to transport oil and natural gas liquids. A section of it runs beneath the Straits of Mackinac, which connect Lake Michigan and Lake Huron. The NWF released a study last year that showed Line 5 had spilled more than 1 million gallons of oil on land since 1968. That study was based on federal records. The protective coating on the Enbridge pipeline is deteriorating and it was dented in April of 2018 by a ship’s anchor.

Astudy from Michigan Technology Universitycame out last week that estimated the worst case scenario of a Line 5 oil spill. That report said such a spill could impact over 400 miles of Michigan, Wisconsin and Canada shorelines. It said about 60,000 acres of habitat and 47 wildlife species of concern could be in danger. The economic and cleanup cost could be close to $2 billion. Enbridge — a financial supporter of Michigan Radio — funded that study.

This new report from London Economics International is the first in a series of three set to come out in the next month. The reports will show how the potential shutdown of Line 5 would affect Michigan.

“That hasn’t happened to date,” Shriberg says. “There has been some small amounts of information, but it’s been funded by or directly done by Enbridge, so there was a need for truly independent, high-quality analysis.”

Governor Snyder is set to make a decision on the pipeline's future by the end of September, at which point all three of the reports will have been released.