Ohio AG files brief in Michigan pipeline case

Larry Limpf

A recent court ruling that temporarily halts operations of a crude oil pipeline in Michigan will have an economic impact in Ohio that could put more than 1,000 Ohioans out of work - many at Toledo area refineries, Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost writes in an amicus brief filed with the court.
Judge James Jamo, of the 30th Circuit Court, has ruled against the continued operation of the Enbridge, Inc. Line 5 crude oil pipeline until a hearing is held on a request by Michigan officials for a preliminary injunction.
Line 5 is a 645-mile, 30-inch diameter pipeline that travels through Michigan’s upper and lower peninsulas and transports 22.7 million gallons per day of light crude oil, light synthetic crude and natural gas liquids to refineries in Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Ontario and Quebec, according to the company.
Yost contends with the redundancy in the layout of the east and west sections of the line, a complete shutdown of both have an unnecessary negative impact on Ohio refineries.
“Both Ohio’s economy and environmental safety are preciously important to me,” Yost said. “I believe that the designed redundancy of the two lines provides the company that ability to safely operate one line while the other is being addressed, which keeps the supply chain intact and Ohioans at work.”
The pipeline was the subject of much scrutiny after it was struck by an anchor in April 2018. The U.S. Coast Guard later approved a “no anchor” zone along the Straits.
Enbridge, headquartered in Calgary, Canada, announced in December 2018 it had reached an agreement with the Mackinac Straits Corridor Authority to replace its Line 5 with a pipeline in a tunnel bored under the lake bed at the straits.
But Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel issued an opinion, arguing that the legislation to allow for the tunnel was unconstitutional.
Last month, on June 11, a three-judge panel of the Michigan Court of Appeals ruled in favor of Enbridge in the ongoing legal dispute between the pipeline company and Michigan’s governor and attorney general.
Judge Jamo issued his ruling two weeks later.
In his brief, Yost notes the pipeline feeds both the PBF Toledo Refinery and the BP-Husky Toledo Refinery.
The PBF Toledo Refinery employs about 585 workers and an additional 600 contractors. The BP-Husky refinery employs about 625 workers.
“The economic impact of Line 5 halting complete production of both lines would cause significant economic hardship for the entire region,” Yost said.
In June 2019, Gov. Mike DeWine wrote a letter to Gov. Whitmer reflecting the same sentiment as the Yost brief.
“Ohio has two refineries near the border that supply a significant percent of gasoline, diesel and jet fuel to Ohio and Southeast Michigan. In fact, our refineries supply the majority of aviation fuels to Detroit Metro Airport that cannot currently be replaced in any significant capacity without Line 5. Our states have much at risk in terms of potential fuel price spikes, lost jobs, airline schedule disruptions and lost transportation project funding,” the letter says. “We ask that you please consider options to improve the safety of Line 5 that does not result in taking the pipeline offline.”
Lt. Gov. John Husted also toured the Toledo Refinery on Woodville Road that month.
Environmental groups, including For Love of Water, have been critical of agreements between the state and Enbridge that allow for the continued operation of the 67-year-old pipeline for seven to 10 years – the estimated time required to design and build a new pipeline.
Among other concerns, FLOW says the agreements don’t provide sufficient financial guarantees by Enbridge to mitigate the threat of a pipeline failure.


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