By Paul Egan
Michigan’s attorney general and environmental groups are pushing back on claims that Michigan could see fuel shortages and price spikes if Enbridge’s hotly debated Line 5 through the Straits of Mackinac is shut down.
The debate is intensifying amid an Enbridge advertising and public relations campaign touting the benefits of Line 5 that is bumping up against stepped-up warnings from environmentalists about the catastrophic effects of a spill in the straits.
The issue is coming to a head as Attorney General Dana Nessel is expected to file court papers Thursday responding to an Enbridge lawsuit asking a judge to affirm its agreements with the administration of former Gov. Rick Snyder for the company to dig a tunnel beneath the straits to encase a replacement pipeline.
Gov. Gretchen Whitmer hinted earlier that Nessel also may initiate legal proceedings Thursday to begin the process of shutting down Line 5.
Recent studies have pointed to increases in the price of gasoline and propane if the flow of Line 5 crude oil across the states is cut off.
The impact on consumers of any potential Enbridge Line 5 closure will strongly depend on how much notice the Canadian oil giant and affected refineries receive, said an expert at the University of Chicago.
Ryan Kellogg, who studies energy economics at the Harris School of Public Policy, said Michigan can expect some impact from a closure, unless the state’s residents suddenly start driving less or using less propane for heating.
“If it happened tomorrow, I would have to think the price spike would be noticeable — double digits,” Kellogg said.
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