White House awaits Enbridge pipeline review before decision

Line 5 Source: Enbridge

The White House said it’s waiting on a study by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers before deciding whether to wade into a debate over the future of a controversial oil pipeline that carries Canadian oil across the Great Lakes into Michigan.

The idea that the Biden administration is considering shutting Enbridge Inc.’s Line 5 is “inaccurate,” White House Spokeswoman Karine Jean-Pierre told reporters Monday, in response to news reports. Instead, the White House noted that the Army Corps of Engineers is reviewing a proposal by Enbridge to build a tunnel to house the pipeline under the waterway for safety reasons. That review will help inform any U.S. position on the pipeline, she said. 

Speculation that President Joe Biden was considering killing Line 5, like he did with TC Energy Corp.’s Keystone XL project, prompted angry reactions among Republicans as the country grapples with surging prices for everything from propane to gasoline. Line 5 supplies crude and propane to Michigan homes, as well as refineries in the U.S. Midwest and Ontario    

Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer and Enbridge have been in a legal tussle for the past year over the fate of the pipeline. Whitmer has ordered the line shut down, arguing it’s a threat to the Great Lakes because it crosses the Straits of Mackinac.

Enbridge has defied the governor’s order and is instead seeking to build a tunnel to house the pipeline under the waterway, saying it will make the pipeline safer. Currently, the Army Corps is preparing an environmental impact statement on the tunnel project.

The Army Corps review “will help inform any additional action or position the U.S. will be taking,” Jean-Pierre said.

The fate of Line 5 has also turned into a source of contention between the U.S. and Canada, which has fiercely defended the line’s continued operation, recently invoking a dispute resolution provision of a 1977 treaty.

© 2021 Bloomberg L.P.

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