Line 5 or the Upper Peninsula and Canada’s climate battle against greenhouse gas absolutism


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The row on Line 5 of the oil pipeline from Superior, Wisconsin to Salina, Ontario, is the biggest climate battle in the United States. You have almost certainly never heard of it. Doomberg has a great post about its role and stakes, and we are freely digging into it.

We introduce this pipeline struggle not only because of its importance, but also because it illustrates several issues that climate change activists and politicians seem unwilling to consider. First, as we have said repeatedly, a sufficiently serious plan to prevent the worst climate consequences must include radical protection. The second is the unwillingness to take a serious look at existing conditions and find out where and to what extent it makes sense to create new “green” infrastructure. These infrastructures may be green in terms of carbon costs, but not in terms of other environmental costs. uncertain. The third is some elements of modern lifestyle. For example, there are independent single-family houses in the suburbs, which is not good for the environment (even if their energy needs can be met by solar panels, the people living in them need to provide their houses and drive to see Doctors) and schools often go to work, much more than if they live in different places) but no one wants to say bad things about this American mainstay.

Like yesterday, Oil prices highlight Biden’s climate hypocrisy:

But what happens when Americans are not ready to get rid of oil and the new domestic supply cannot meet demand?

This is where we are currently. The Biden administration can respond in one of two ways.

They can say that “high oil prices will accelerate the transition to renewable energy”-this is of course their private feelings. After all, US officials attended the COP26 United Nations Climate Summit in Glasgow this week, where they discussed plans to reduce carbon emissions. They can tell Americans to take medicine, tolerate higher gasoline prices, and then privately hope to accelerate the transition to green energy.

But people don’t like to pay higher gasoline prices. Therefore, the first irony is that the Biden administration asked OPEC to increase oil production, destroying its COP26 message to reduce fossil fuel consumption. At the G-20 meeting in Rome, President Biden complained:

For example, it is incorrect to think that Russia and Saudi Arabia and other major oil-producing countries will not produce more oil so that people can commute with gasoline.

Now go to the fifth row of the case study. Line 5 transports 540,000 barrels of oil per day, while the United States consumes 18 million barrels of oil per day. It has been in operation for 70 years and has an excellent safety record.

As Doomberg explained:

There are two main problems with Line 5. The first is the four-mile section it runs under the Mackinaw Strait that connects Lake Michigan and Lake Huron. In the event of a catastrophic leak, the pipeline may contaminate the priceless coastline and may threaten the Great Lakes themselves, which contain about 20% of the fresh water on the planet.The second one is [current operator] As early as 2010, Enbridge had a major (but unrelated) pipeline leak in Michigan. The incident was known as the Kalamazoo oil spill and caused significant damage to the local environment. In 17 hours, the company had difficulty understanding or even a leak, and was unwilling to believe what its sensors indicated. This slow response exacerbated the damage and undermined Enbridge’s credibility with local authorities.

There is a direct link from that incident to the main driving force of environmentalists who took the initiative to close the 5th line today. Unlike the objection to the never-completed project Keystone Pipeline, Line 5 is a pre-existing key artery of North American energy infrastructure. This seems to be an important precedent.

Doomberg also published Enbridge’s defense that the pipeline had never leaked, was built by Bechtel, and was over-designed and sited to minimize the risk of corrosion and was strictly monitored.

The small problem is that even if you initially think the pipeline is too risky to continue, you will face the fact that the alternative is worse. People in that part of the world, including Canada, need oil and related products. If the pipeline is decommissioned, a large amount of oil will need to be transported by rail or truck. Remember the explosion of the Lac-Mégantic railcar that killed 47 people? Moreover, transporting oil through existing pipelines is also more environmentally friendly than driving trucks and trains.

Doomberg uses the Upper Peninsula of Michigan to illustrate this problem. Doomberg noticed that the winter is really serious, although he used the lake-effect snow photos on the south side of Lake Superior to illustrate this point. They are not as bad as Rochester, New York, but most mortals will be impressed.

However, living only 60 miles south of Marquette (the largest town on Lake Superior) in Escanaba, Lake Michigan, the lake-effect snow quickly disappeared. The real problem is that the upper peninsula is very cold. In Escanaba in January, the temperature never exceeded zero, and the lowest temperature was 27 degrees or less. Then I learned that when the temperature is below 5 degrees, you will feel the nose hair freezing and thawing with each breath, and when it is below 15 degrees, you will feel the cold sting of the windpipe. Oh, and during most of the winter, we plug in the car to prevent the engine block from freezing overnight.

Compared with people in more remote areas, we are still soft. Remember, there are only 300,000 people on the upper peninsula, and the density is very low. Note the white propane tank in the picture below. That is for heat dissipation.

The proportion of households using propane for heating in Michigan is higher than in any other state. Doomberg’s chart shows the level of usage throughout the Upper Peninsula:

Line 5 supplies half of Xiazhou’s propane and two-thirds of the supply on the Peninsula.

Governor Gretchen Whitmer won by 10 points in 2018, and she promised to close Line 5 as part of her campaign. In cooperation with the Ministry of Natural Resources, she tried to crack down on the pipeline in November 2020 by revoking its easements operating under the Strait of Mackinac. The operator Enbridge did not act as ordered, but instead asked the Canadian government to work for them. From Doomberg again:

The story of Line 5 is important in Canada-but not for reasons you might think of, especially after listening to Trudeau’s noble speech at COP26. On the contrary, even Canada is shocked by the prospect of closing the pipeline. According to an agreement signed with the United States in 1977, Trudeau even invoked Canada’s treaty rights.

with Detroit news report from early October:

The Canadian government formally invoked a 1977 treaty on Monday, which officials said would prevent the U.S. government or Michigan from interfering with the operation of Onkyo’s Line 5 oil pipeline, effectively involving the Biden administration in the pipeline. In future disputes…

Gordon Giffin, the former U.S. ambassador to Canada under President Bill Clinton, is now an attorney for the Canadian government. He told U.S. District Judge Janet Nene in court documents on Monday. (Janet Neff) reported the rare invocation of the 1977 Transit Pipeline Treaty. Giffen asked the judge for the Western District of Michigan to suspend her review of the case during the treaty negotiations.

In the document, Canada stated that it had invoked the terms of the treaty “through diplomatic channels” earlier in the day and formally requested to start negotiations with the United States. The US State Department did not respond to a request for comment.

President Jimmy Carter and Trudeau’s father and former Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau reached an agreement in 1977 to restrict transit pipeline operations that could damage the energy supplies of the two countries. Monday marked the first time the treaty has been invoked since it was signed.

Canada’s letter to the judge was sent more than two weeks after court documents showed that the state and the owner of Line 5 Enbridge’s mediation negotiations on the future of Line 5 were basically at a dead end.

In March of this year, Canadian Minister of Natural Resources Seamus O’Regan told the parliamentary group that the continued operation of the pipeline is “no room for negotiation”??.

A statement from the Canadian company Enbridge thanked the “Canadian team”, which is understood to include the provinces of Alberta, Ontario, and Quebec for putting pressure on Whitmer.

The Jiu-Jitsu treaty came about when Enbridge moved the case against it from the state court to the federal court and Michigan tried to resubmit it to the state court.

Needless to say, the remote but apparently disastrous possibility of assessing the pipeline into the Great Lakes has exceeded my salary level (compared to what seems more likely, interruptions elsewhere will pollute groundwater and potential rivers and rivers) and Compared to the ongoing climate costs of transporting oil to the surface.

But as Doomberg pointed out, if the line 5 shutdown advocates prevail, it will be an important precedent. As Biden revealed that he is only willing to protect the environment without spending too much votes, opponents of Line 5 can also give Trudeau the same reason.

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