State’s attack on Enbridge Line 5 pipeline not good for business
MICHIGAN — Michigan farms and agribusinesses are hoping for a compromise in the ongoing dispute between the state and the Calgary-based Enbridge energy company over the use of the Line 5 pipeline. Both sides will continue mediation talks expected to last through September — after cancelling Aug. 11 talks — according to an update filed with the United States District Court in Michigan.
Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer wants the pipeline shut down immediately over environmental concerns — despite the line’s critical importance to her own state as well as neighbouring Ontario. According to Enbridge, Michigan needs the pipeline to deliver natural gas liquids used to make more than half the propane used in the state.
Michigan farm groups are not amused.
“The last thing farmers need right now is uncertainty in the energy marketplace that can only lead to increased expenses,” says the Bureau’s Andrew Vermeesch, legislative counsel for the Michigan Farm Bureau. “Shutting down Line 5 without having a reliable, safe, and efficient alternative would be irresponsible and would put the entire Midwest at risk.”
“We all need energy for drying grain and all the things that go into livestock production … certainly it’s something we have to keep on our radar here,” said George Quackenbush, who specializes in raising Holstein meat steers while serving as executive director at the Michigan Beef Industry Commission.
“For anybody in agriculture, the availability and affordability and certainty of energy supplies is incredibly important,” observed Chuck Lippstreau, president of the Michigan Agri-Business Association — which includes grain-handling facilities. “It’s a major issue for rural families, rural communities, and I think everybody in agriculture is tracking the news on Line 5, in particular on grain-drying operations.”
The standoff has also raised issues about the availability of propane to heat homes in Michigan, Lippstreau added.