Governor Gretchen Whitmer has declared an energy emergency for the State of Michigan, citing the potential for a lack of propane and natural gas due to the winter storm chaos in the refinery-rich southern states of Oklahoma, Texas, and Louisiana. On Monday, Representative Greg Markkanen, who is vice chair of the House Energy and Natural Resources Committees, said the governor’s policies threaten to create that very problem in the year ahead, if she follows through with her threat to close Enbridge’s Line Five pipeline this May.
Line Five travels from Superior, Wisconsin across the southern Upper Peninsula where it veers under the Straits of Mackinac and ends in Sarnia, Ontario near Port Huron.
Propane and natural gas are byproducts of the oil it carries when it is refined into gasoline. EGLE has recently approved an Enbridge proposal to use a tunnel beneath the Straits, thought to be less environmentally risky. That project will not be completed before Line Five is turned off, unless the governor is flexible with the deadline.
The full statement is below.
State Rep. Greg Markkanen, of Hancock, today criticized Gov. Gretchen Whitmer for declaring an energy emergency in Michigan when northern portions of the state face the very real possibility of a greater long-term emergency later in the year due to her decisions regarding the Line 5 pipeline.
“The governor should know a thing or two about energy emergencies. She’s in the process of creating one for people and businesses in the Upper Peninsula by not having a sufficient plan in place of Line 5 being offline,” Markkanen said. “Having to issue this order – on top of events we have seen around the country recently – should be a dose of reality for the governor. Top-notch energy infrastructure is critical to lives and livelihoods in our area of the state. We need to protect and strengthen this infrastructure by constructing the tunnel which will house this vital pipeline.”
Late last year, the governor announced Line 5, which carries raw sweet crude oil necessary to produce propane, would be shut down by May.
Whitmer issued the recent energy emergency order to streamline propane delivery during an ongoing nationwide cold snap. It exempts motor carriers and drivers who transport propane and heating oil from compliance with maximum weekly driving and on-duty limits. The order is in effect through Feb. 28 and comes after many other states throughout the country declared similar emergencies.
Rep. Markkanen currently serves as vice-chair for the House Energy Committee and the House Natural Resources and Outdoor Recreation Committee.