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Opinion | A defense of Enbridge, its environmental record and Line 5

As another advocate for a clean energy future, Keith Cooley in his Aug. 30 opinion piece in Bridge clearly shares Enbridge’s commitment to the environment.  

Enbridge welcomes the opportunity to meet with Mr. Cooley. The meeting would offer a beneficial exchange of factual information regarding how Enbridge’s pipeline safety and environmental safeguards are intrinsic to the healthy energy future that Mr. Cooley and Enbridge envision.  

Enbridge is one of the largest renewable energy companies in North America. Since our initial investment in a wind farm in 2002, we've committed more than $6 billion in capital to renewable energy and power transmission projects either in operation or under construction.

And it is important to note that natural gas plays an extremely important role in lowering greenhouse gases. The U.S. has made strides in reducing greenhouse gasses while increasing natural gas usage and Enbridge plays an important role in this effort. Today, we move approximately 20 percent of the natural gas consumed in the United States and we own the second-largest gas utility in North America. 

Enbridge also is the largest pipeline operator in the United States, transporting 25 percent of the crude oil produced in North America. Area refineries process the crude oil that is used in the manufacture of thousands of products – from automotive parts to clothing to medicines to mobile phones – as well as the transportation fuels on which Michigan residents rely.

Much like the mission of Mr. Cooley’s company to use cutting-edge technology to address environmental issues, Enbridge also relies on numerous technologies to help ensure the ongoing safe, environmentally sound operation of its energy network. This network includes the oil pipeline system of which Line 5 is a vital part. 

Over the last decade, we’ve transported more than 24.6 billion barrels of oil, with a safe delivery record of 99.99971 percent. Most of the releases that occurred involved less than a single barrel and were contained within Enbridge facilities and readily recovered without environmental impacts.   

And we are continuously striving to improve our safety and reliability performance. Last year, we transported 3.9 billion barrels of oil, the highest volume in our 70-year history. We also established a new safe delivery record system wide. To put it in perspective, the total volume released from the Enbridge liquids pipelines system last year was less than one-third of one rail car. While that performance is noteworthy, we’re committed to continuing to drive to our goal of zero incidents.

As Mr. Cooley can appreciate, leaders are responsible for success, which comes first by setting an example. Residents and state leaders have voiced concerns; Enbridge is listening, responsively leading with constructive actions.

Most recently, Enbridge committed to investing $500 million to construct a tunnel 100 feet below the Straits of Mackinac. The tunnel will house a new Line 5 securely inside it, removing it from the waters of the Great Lakes as quickly as possible.

Supported by more than half of Michigan residents, the tunnel is the most pragmatic solution to continuing to protect the Great Lakes and delivering fuels safely and efficiently while creating long-lasting economic and infrastructure value for the region. Enbridge anticipates beginning construction as early as 2021, with a goal of completing the tunnel and installing a new Line 5 section inside it by 2024. 

History is a valuable teacher and has helped shape the responsive company Enbridge is today; fully committed to safety, investing in the community and striving for excellence at all levels. This includes doing what is best to preserve Michigan’s natural resources, supporting the economy and providing safely the energy on which families and businesses rely every day.

Bridge welcomes guest columns from a diverse range of people on issues relating to Michigan and its future. The views and assertions of these writers do not necessarily reflect those of Bridge or The Center for Michigan. Bridge does not endorse any individual guest commentary submission. If you are interested in submitting a guest commentary, please contact David Zeman. Click here for details and submission guidelines.

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