US to discuss Michigan pipeline with Canada


TRAVERSE CITY, Michigan (AP) – The United States and Canada will discuss the future of a pipeline that crosses part of the Great Lakes and is subject to mounting tensions over its closure, the White House said on Monday .

President Joe Biden is caught up in a battle over Enbridge Energy’s Line 5, a key segment of a pipeline system that transports Canadian oil through the US Midwest.

Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer, a Democrat and Biden ally, has demanded the closure of the 68-year-old line due to the risk of catastrophic rupture along a 6.4-kilometer-long section of the Strait of Mackinac, which connects Lake Huron and Lake Michigan.

Enbridge claims that this part, divided into two pipes crossing the bottom of the lake, has never leaked and is in good condition. The company rejected Whitmer’s order to stop the flow of oil last May and filed a federal complaint, which is ongoing.

The Biden administration has not taken a position but is under increasing pressure to do so. Last month Canada invoked a 1977 treaty which guarantees the unimpeded transit of oil between the two nations.

White House Deputy Senior Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre told a press briefing Monday that she expects the United States and Canada “to engage constructively In the threads on line 5.

“In addition to being one of the closest allies, Canada remains a key partner of the United States in energy trade, as well as in efforts to combat climate change and protect the environment. », Declared Jean-Pierre.

She noted that the US Army Corps of Engineers is preparing an environmental impact statement on Enbridge’s proposal to run a replacement segment through a tunnel that would be drilled under the straits. This study does not address the question of whether the existing twin pipes should continue to operate.

Line 5 transports approximately 23 million gallons (87 million liters) of crude oil and natural gas liquids used in propane daily between Superior, Wisconsin, and Sarnia, Ontario. It crosses northern Wisconsin and the Upper Peninsula of Michigan before reaching the Straits of Mackinac.

From there it continues south to Port Huron, Michigan, before crossing under the St. Clair River to Sarnia.

President Dwight D. Eisenhower in 1953 issued a permit allowing the pipeline to cross the international border there. The permit says it “can be terminated at the will of the President of the United States.”

Environmental groups and native tribes say the provision means Biden could order an immediate shutdown. Other options include filing a brief in federal court supporting Whitmer’s position or entering into negotiations with Canada, said Mike Shriberg, director of the National Wildlife Federation’s Great Lakes office.

“Because Canada invoked this treaty, the Biden administration is drawn into it whether they like it or not,” Shriberg said.

Twelve Michigan-based native tribes have requested representation at the talks.

“We have rights and interests in the integrity of the Great Lakes that date back to time immemorial and are protected by solemn treaties with the United States long before the agreement on which Canada is based,” said the tribes in a November 4 letter to Biden.

These rights include the protection of fish populations and cultural sites in the Straits of Mackinac, said Whitney Gravelle, president of the Bay Mills Indian community.

Enbridge, based in Calgary, Alta., And its supporters say a shutdown would lead to fuel shortages and higher gasoline and propane prices in the region while killing thousands of jobs.

“Billions of dollars in economic activity would be threatened and the environment would be more threatened due to the additional trucks traveling on roads and railways carrying hazardous materials,” a Nov. 4 letter to Biden signed by 13 Republicans said. in Congress, including Representatives Bob Latta of Ohio and Tim Walberg and Jack Bergman of Michigan.

Environmentalists say these claims are exaggerated. State and nonprofit studies have shown that “with an orderly shutdown and careful planning, there would be little or no noticeable impact” on the economy or fuel prices, said Beth Wallace of the National Wildlife Federation.


Associated Press reporter Joshua Boak in Washington, DC, contributed to this story.

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