Neither Whitmer, Enbridge willing to budge as Line 5 pipeline shutdown deadline arrives

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LANSING, Mich. (WLNS) — Gov. Gretchen Whitmer says if Enbridge doesn’t shutdown the Line 5 pipeline tomorrow, the State of Michigan will consider them trespassing.

Additionally, she says if the company continues to use the pipeline, the state may begin to seize Enbridge’s profits.

Whitmer gave Enbridge 180 days to stop using the pipeline — a deadline which expires Wednesday.

One side says the pipeline isn’t safe and an oil spill would be catastrophic while the other says a pipeline is the most effective way to transport oil and a spill is highly unlikely.

If nothing else is clear — neither side appears ready to budge.

“These are not easy problems to solve,” said Jason Geer, President of the Michigan Oil and Gas Association.

Line 5 transports 23 million gallons of crude oil per day and supporters say th epipeline has been damaged twice in recent years but still didn’t link, meaning a worst-case scenario is extremely unlikely. They also say it will lead to thousands of people out of work.

“We’ve got these hard hats here behind me, there’s roughly 1200 hard hats and they signify a person for immediate job loss, direct job loss should that pipeline shutdown,” said Justin Donley, President of United Steelworkers Local 912, a refinery in Toledo.

Supporters also claim a pipeline is good for the environment — saying the alternative, which is tanker trucks and rails — would mean 500,000 more miles on Michigan roads each month as well as an increase in carbon emissions.

Furthermore, many places don’t have the infrastructure to handle changes.

“If you shutdown that pipeline right now, the facility that I work at and represent with my 350 members, our facility will not be able to continue to operate,” Donley said. “We cannot run off of trucks and boats — we’ve banned bringing oil in by boat because of the hazards that come with that and we don’t have enough infrastructure to bring crude oil in by truck.”

Opponents of Line 5 say the possibility of an oil spill in the Great Lakes is too much of a risk and shutting it down would help the state’s push toward renewable energy.

“Protect the Great Lakes, that’s the primary responsibility,” said Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer. “To make sure this source of drinking water, agriculture, tourism — it defines our borders, defines who we are in Michigan — and that we protect it and that’s exactly what we’re going to continue to move forward and do.”

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