The Complex Line 5 Pipeline Situation, Explained

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The whole Line 5 pipeline situation under the straits of Mackinac, as I uncover more and more, seems to be a symptom to a larger, bi-national problem, including the lack of energy plan on either side of the border. 

Proponents say the pipeline critical to the economy and energy infrastructure. Opponents say a double pipeline under the Great Lakes — especially one that’s not buried – poses a special threat to the unique fresh water resource.

What if both concerns are true?

And what if I told you that it’s a pipeline that provides half of the province of Ontario’s fuel needs and two thirds of Quebec? That’s around 23 million people that are reliant on this thing. That’s not mentioned much in this conversation.

It turns out Michigan draws a small percentage of the product. Most of it – possibly more than 90% — is pulled out of the ground in Canada, then starts in Wisconsin, goes through Michigan — and back to Canada. 

So do we want to cut off our neighbor and ally without a backup plan? 

But also… should we as a state demand more for bearing so much environmental risk? Should we set a real plan in motion because we’re transitioning out of needing so much fossil fuel?

Spending the last week pouring over numbers, getting through the FUD – fear uncertainty and doubt. Going over pipeline maps, researching — made me question a lot about how fundamentally we’ve constructed our energy future.

Warren Mabee

My guest to help unpack this is Warren Mabee. He’s the Director of the Queens institute for energy and environmental policy of the Queens Institute, based in Kingston, Ontario.  You can listen in the player below.

As always, if you have feedback, guest ideas, or questions – my email is jer@dailydetroit.com.

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