by Bob McEwen
Michigan’s Governor wants to make life more difficult for Ohioans and Toledo is directly in her crosshairs.
On November 13th Governor Gretchen Whitmer, along with her Attorney General Dana Nessel, issued a cease-and-desist order against construction of a $500 million dollar infrastructure upgrade known as the Great Lakes Tunnel. The tunnel will replace the Mackinac Straits section of the Line 5 pipeline, a 647-mile pipeline that carries 540,000 barrels a day of light crude oil, light synthetic crude, and natural gas liquids (NGLs) to the refineries of Toledo, and the Midwest. The order would not only stop this next generation infrastructure improvement, it would also force the permanent closure of the Line 5 pipeline by May of 2021, devastating the 1,200 Ohioans that work in these petrochemical facilities.
Governor Whitmer and Attorney General Nessel claim they are taking these actions to protect Michigan from adverse environmental impacts and spills. Nonsense. In fact, their order runs directly counter to the advice of the independent experts they hired. They found that the Great Lakes Tunnel is the best and most viable solution for meeting environmental protection, energy delivery, and economic prosperity policies.
Their standing against these upgrades prevents the pipeline from being moved out of the water flowing in the Straits of Mackinaw and into a safer fully encapsulated tunnel. This significant upgrade would reduce to virtually zero the potential for an oil spill. However, by ordering the abandonment of the pipeline – the safest and most environmentally friendly way to transport energy – and onto trains and trucks, they leave everyone much more susceptible to spills and the additional emissions of carbon.
Forcing Toledo’s refineries to close will push this capacity overseas to countries such as China and India with their much lower environmental standards. Unconcerned about the loss of jobs and added strategic vulnerability for our country, one would hope these women would have some concern that moving this oil and gas to distant refining facilities will require the emission of tons of additional pollution. They are, obviously, indifferent to the vastly greater carbon released into our atmosphere as these raw materials and finished products are unnecessarily shuttled back and forth between North America and Asia.
By stopping the pipeline Mrs. Whitmer is undermining America’s energy security. The United States has already lost 1.2 million barrels per day in refinery capacity due to the economic impacts of COVID-19. Now, she wants Toledo’s refining capacity to be next, as she cuts off the supply of oil and gas flowing to these facilities. This means returning to the days of relying on foreign imports for our necessary fuel products.
Fortunately, leaders in Ohio, such Governor DeWine and Toledo Mayor Wade Kapszukiewicz, along with a host of others have voiced their opposition to the order and have expressed their commitment to saving Toledo’s energy jobs. Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost has called Governor Whitmer’s actions what they are: a “fact-free political stunt.”
Unfortunately, as witnessed by her draconian coronavirus lockdowns, this is not the first time Governor Whitmer’s autocratic overreach has adversely affected local economies. This time though, she is not just abusing the citizens of Michigan, but injuring the job holders and taxpayers of Ohio, as well.
Governor Whitmer’s cease and desist order is not only very bad policy for our nation, but even she should comprehend that such capricious dictates are also bad politics and should be rescinded.
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Bob McEwen represented Ohio in the Congress of the United States for six terms