The Biden administration is looking at a shutdown of Michigan’s Line 5 pipeline, White House Deputy Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre confirmed to reporters Monday.
“The Army Corps of Engineers is preparing an environmental impact to look through this,” Jean-Pierre said in a press briefing, after denying reports that President Joe Biden is preparing to revoke the Canadian pipeline’s permit — as happened to the Keystone XL pipeline on his first day in office.
A new environmental impact under this administration, however, is often a precursor to the project’s cancellation. Jean-Pierre said the study would “help inform any additional action or position the U.S. will be taking on the replacement of Line 5.”
Politico broke the news Sunday that the White House was actively surveying the market consequences of a shutdown. The Line 5 pipeline operated by the Calgary-based energy company Enbridge transports about 540,000 barrels of crude oil and other petroleum products per day from western Canada through Michigan’s Upper and Lower Peninsula. The pipeline begins in Superior, Wis. and ends in Sarnia, Ontario.
Line 5’s shutdown would deal the biggest blow to Michigan residents, where the project supplies 65 percent of the Upper Peninsula’s propane demand and 55 percent of the entire state’s propane, according to Enbridge. As Americans approach winter with repeated warnings from the Energy Department of higher power prices, propane users will be hardest hit, already expected to pay up to 94 percent more than last year over the six-month heating season, according to season projections from the U.S. Energy Information Administration. By comparison, homes heated by electricity are expected to face up to a 15 percent increase and those heated by natural gas face as much as a 50 percent spike from the year prior. The price shocks could mean hundreds of dollars in higher heating bills.
The quiet deliberations inside the White House provoked more than a dozen Republican lawmakers on Capitol Hill to send a letter demanding the administration hold back.
“As we enter the winter months and temperatures drop across the Midwest, the termination of Line 5 will undoubtedly further exacerbate shortages and price increases in home heating fuels like natural gas and propane at a time when Americans are already facing rapidly rising energy prices, steep home heating costs, global supply shortages, and skyrocketing gas prices,” wrote lead author Rep. Bob Latta, R-Ohio, on Nov. 4, as reported by Politico.
Line 5’s shutdown would follow the late-summer completion of Russia’s Nord Stream 2 feeding natural gas into Germany with Biden’s blessing. The White House waived sanctions for the project’s construction in May enhancing Russian leverage over Europe with its supply of natural gas, as nations too reliant on wind and solar struggle in a low-wind season. The European Union reported in 2019 that 41 percent of member nations’ gas imports came from Russia.
President Biden has pledged to follow the same formula as European nations faced with an energy crisis after nearly half a dozen banned hydraulic fracturing. Within months Biden has suppressed oil and gas production with a cascade of taxes and regulation leading to high gas prices that the administration concedes it has no plan to bring down.
“At this time, I don’t have anything new to share,” Jean-Pierre said Monday.
The Biden Administration just admitted they have no serious plan to counter high gas prices. pic.twitter.com/btnoq5XSxK
— Daniel Turner (@DanielTurnerPTF) November 8, 2021
Biden himself conceded gas prices at seven-year highs are unlikely to come down until sometime next year.
“I don’t see anything that’s going to happen in the meantime that’s going to significantly reduce gas prices,” Biden said during a CNN town hall last month, placing blame on OPEC for refusing his request to raise oil output after the president’s destruction of domestic production.
President Biden says he expects gas prices will stay high until 2022.
— CNN (@CNN) October 22, 2021
In early October, Enbridge announced the nearly $3 billion-dollar completion of the Line 3 pipeline replacement project in neighboring Minnesota ending at Superior, Wisconsin. The project’s finish came after the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) and Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) ordered aging pipelines to be replaced.