McBroom responds to lawsuit to decommission Line 5 pipeline

LANSING — Attorney General Dana Nessel has taken the first step toward shutting down the Line 5 pipeline in the straits of Mackinac.

“As Attorney General, it’s my role to protect the health, safety, and welfare of all our state’s residents,” Nessel said in a recorded statement Thursday afternoon. “Today, I’m upholding that responsibility by filing a lawsuit in Ingham County Circuit Court to take the first step to decommission the 66 year old dual pipelines that run through the straits of Mackinac in a responsible and orderly fashion.”

Shutting down the pipeline for environmental reasons was a campaign promise for both Nessel and Governor Gretchen Whitmer back in 2018, even after the state and Enbridge had begun plans to create a tunnel for the lines and other utilities. State Senator Ed McBroom voiced his frustration with the move, saying it will cause a crisis if the line is closed down.

“Well I think what the Attorney General, and even to some extent the Governor, are doing is at this point mostly comparable to what goes on at these flat earth conventions,” said McBroom. “People take just outlandish positions, you try to repudiate them with good facts and science, and ‘no, no,’ they come back at you with some other weird thing. And we have all of this evidence about just how necessary the line is, not just to the U.P. propane, but to fuel and gas and jobs all over the state of Michigan, how necessary this really is.”

When asked about any legislative measures that could be taken, McBroom said that he hopes they could defund these efforts within the budget, but also noted it would be difficult because the Governor will have to sign the budget. He also stated that the solution to the issue is also being ignored.

“It remains unfortunate, and my frustration is almost inexpressible at this point, that the real facts continue to be ignored and jeopardize the energy security of the entire state, along with the jobs,” McBroom said. “And meanwhile, the very jeopardy that they continue to talk about with the lakes is left behind when there’s a real solution out there. So many of the people that are making this happen, making these false arguments, meanwhile profit by their belly-aching about these lines. They’re raising millions of dollars for their organizations and not doing a darn thing for the people of Michigan who depend on the energy and the jobs all over the state.”

When asked if the Line 5 situation is similar to the wolf hunting vote in 2014, McBroom said it was much worse and emphasized the amount of people throughout the state that will be hurt by this, and said it’s more than just about the Upper Peninsula and the constituents that he represents.

“It’s not just the propane for the U.P., it’s the fuel for the airport, gas for cars, jobs at refineries, jobs at DOW, so many opportunites that this line provides that are jeopardized by organizations who want to make a buck by scaring people about this line,” said McBroom.

ABC10 also reached out to State Representative Sara Cambensy, who declined to comment at this time.

Enbridge also released a statement today in response which said: “Enbridge will need time to fully evaluate the Attorney General’s filing. We are disappointed the State chose not to accept our offer to advance talks on the Straits tunnel, a project that would make a safe pipeline even safer. The State also ignored our offer to suspend litigation and jointly appoint an independent, Michigan-based moderator to help facilitate the discussions. We also committed to making additional safety enhancements to the current line.

We remain open to discussions with the Governor, and we hope we can reach an agreement outside of court. Enbridge is deeply committed to being part of Michigan’s future. We believe the Straits tunnel is the best way to protect the community and the Great Lakes while safely meeting Michigan’s energy needs. Line 5 is a critical source of 540,000 barrels per day of propane and crude oil supply for Michigan and surrounding areas, and shutting it down would lead to a serious disruption of the energy market. Line 5 serves an estimated 55% of the state’s propane needs, including approximately 65% of the propane used in the Upper Peninsula and northern Michigan, for which no viable alternatives exist.

Line 5 also supplies Michigan and regional refineries that provide the state with various fuels its residents rely on in their day-to-day lives. Refineries served by Line 5 supply a large percentage of the aviation fuel at Detroit’s Metropolitan Airport, an important contributor to the state’s economy. Shutting down the line would impact the pocketbooks of Michigan residents, the competiveness of the state and could lead to job losses for those working at refineries.

Line 5 is critical infrastructure that Michigan residents depend on every day, and it would be irresponsible to shut it down. It is safe and well maintained, and we intend to continue to operate it for decades to come. Background information on Line 5 and the tunnel project is available here.”

ABC10 will continue to follow this story as it progresses through the court system, but you can go to our website to read those statements and for more information.