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Friday, August 14, 2020

Research dives into impact of Line 5 shutdown on Michigan gas prices

Posted By on Fri, Aug 14, 2020 at 9:07 AM

click to enlarge In 2013, the National Wildlife Federation sent divers to look at Enbridge, Inc.'s aging straits pipelines, finding wide spans of unsupported structures encrusted with exotic zebra mussels and quagga mussels. - NATIONAL WILDLIFE FEDERATION
  • National Wildlife Federation
  • In 2013, the National Wildlife Federation sent divers to look at Enbridge, Inc.'s aging straits pipelines, finding wide spans of unsupported structures encrusted with exotic zebra mussels and quagga mussels.

Warnings that shutting down the Enbridge Line 5 pipeline would cause gas prices to go through the ceiling are not coming to fruition, according to a new analysis.

Both legs of the underwater pipeline at the Straits of Mackinac were shutdown June 19 by court order, due to a damaged pipeline support. The west segment of the line was allowed to restart on July 1.



Former Dow Chemical engineer Gary Street researched gas price data and other factors, and determined the shutdowns had little impact on retail gas prices in Michigan.

"Looking at the national price of gasoline and the Michigan price, our gasoline in Michigan is about 3.5 cents less than the national price," said Street. "So, Line 5 being shut down, or partially shut down, has not affected the price of gasoline."

An Enbridge spokesman dismissed the study, saying that while the line is operating at reduced capacity, it's still meeting demand — which wouldn't impact gas prices.

Enbridge, refineries, industry groups, and some analysts warned of gas shortages in the case of a Line 5 shutdown. Street said with the partial shutdown nearing 60 days, the research shows that argument isn't valid.

"The fact is whatever they have done, they're proving to us that we were right all along," said Street. "They don't need all that capacity. In a way, they've really made our argument."

According to an Enbridge fact sheet, a temporary shutdown would have severe consequences for Michigan's economy and result in about 45% less crude oil flowing to refineries in the region.

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