With Line 5 closure, a ‘game of chicken’ over how to heat Upper Peninsula

David Naser, right, shakes hands with crews who delivered a propane storage tank to his family propane business. Naser said he relies exclusively on propane from Line 5 and has not yet begun to search for alternatives because he doesn’t believe the pipeline will close. (Photo courtesy of Naser Propane)

 

If the Enbridge Line 5 pipeline shuts down next spring, Michigan has a matter of months to find a new way to deliver propane to Upper Peninsula residents who collectively use tens of millions of gallons from the pipeline annually to heat their homes.

But one month after Gov. Gretchen Whitmer announced that she’s giving the Canadian oil giant until May to shutter the 67-year-old pipeline that runs beneath the Straits of Mackinac, her administration still won’t say exactly how Michigan will make up the difference.

Spokespeople for Whitmer did not respond to numerous calls, texts and emails asking about potential contingency plans. Spokespeople for key state agencies told Bridge Michigan they’re studying alternative ways to meet U.P. propane needs, but none identified  specific solutions that would be in place by next heating season. 

And while state officials and industry experts have said they expect the free market to adjust on its own, industry representatives said so far, they’ve made only tentative progress on the infrastructure investments necessary to wean the U.P. off Line 5. 

Experts who spoke to Bridge for this article said it’s possible to transition the Upper Peninsula to other propane sources using delivery methods such as truck or rail, but it will take money, time, and a clear strategy — with no guarantee it’s possible to achieve in a matter of months.

“A lot of things have to go right,” said Eric Pardini, a director with Lansing-based Public Sector Consultants, who led a state-commissioned study outlining pathways to transitioning the Upper Peninsula’s propane sector. 

“The number of potential solutions gives me optimism, but it doesn’t give me peace.”

In the absence of a detailed plan from the state, Upper Peninsula propane providers complain that they’re left to decide for themselves how they’ll serve their customers next year. Some are pursuing other sources of supply. Others are stalling as Enbridge and state attorneys wage a court battle that could determine whether the shutdown order sticks.

That, Pardini said, sets up a “game of chicken” between the industry and the Whitmer administration over changes that must happen to ensure a Line 5 shutdown doesn’t strand tens of thousands of U.P. residents without a reliable propane supply come next heating season.

Small volume, big impact

By volume, the propane siphoned from Line 5 to supply the Upper Peninsula represents just a fraction of a percent of the pipeline’s 540,000 barrel-per-day capacity. 

But nearly 1 in 5 Upper Peninsula households use propane to heat their home — almost quadruple the national average, and more than double the rate of propane-dependency in the Lower Peninsula.

And a large majority of that propane comes from Line 5, with few readily-available alternatives. Enbridge estimates that Line 5 satisfies 65 percent of Upper Peninsula propane demand; Public Sector Consultants estimated it’s even higher, at 87.6 percent. 

Fears that a shutdown would compromise Upper Peninsula energy security have been a key sticking point for Line 5 supporters who argue the lakebottom dual-span should remain in place until Enbridge can replace it with a new segment buried in a tunnel beneath the lakebed.

After Whitmer announced the shutdown, Sen. Jim Stamas, R-Midland, went so far as to publish a statement warning it will “freeze Northern Michigan homeowners and workers.”

Pipeline opponents, meanwhile, say those concerns are overblown scare tactics meant to justify keeping the pipeline open despite oil spill concerns arising from the aging pipeline’s exposed position below a busy shipping channel. The total volume of Line 5 propane used in the U.P. is relatively small, they reason, so replacing it should be possible.

“We’ve got 15,000 households that use it. That’s basically the size of Muskegon,” said Liz Kirkwood, executive director of the nonprofit advocacy group FLOW (For Love of Water). “There are challenges, but that doesn’t mean we can’t achieve them.”

And the economic damage from a possible spill, Line 5 opponents argue, would far surpass any economic impact of a shutdown. A 2018 analysis commissioned by FLOW valued the total economic and natural resource impact of a major spill at more than $6 billion

Natural gas liquids and crude oil destined for facilities in southeast Michigan, Ohio and Canada make up the bulk of the line’s freight, and Enbridge has warned that a Line 5 shutdown also threatens fuel security in the Lower Peninsula. But the Lower Peninsula benefits from better access to propane storage and more readily-available supply alternatives than the U.P., Pardini said. 

Natural gas liquids from the pipeline are offloaded at a terminal in Rapid River, near Escanaba, where they are processed to produce 33 million gallons of propane every year. Propane companies then buy the product and use it to fill the backyard pig tanks of customers throughout the region.

Although the terminal is upstream of the Straits portion of the pipeline that Whitmer has ordered shutdown, Enbridge spokesman Ryan Duffy told Bridge the company will not continue delivering petroleum products to Rapid River if Line 5 is shuttered at the Straits. 

“You're not going to run a whole pipeline, necessarily, just to deliver a tiny bit of propane, natural gas liquids, to a small market,” Duffy said.

Losing access to Rapid River would spell “disaster” for David Naser, who said his Naser Propane Company gets all of its supply from the terminal, a 40-minute drive from his company’s Powers headquarters. 

“We don’t have anywhere else to go,” Naser said, nor the ability to truck propane in from suppliers further afield. “The trucks are expensive. The tankers are expensive, and then you’d have to find drivers, too.”

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer has ordered Enbridge Energy to shutter the portion of Line 5 that runs beneath the Straits of Mackinac by May 13, a move that has increased the urgency of discussions about how to wean the U.P. from its dependence on the pipeline for propane. (Bridge file photo)

Several options, for a price

Naser’s predicament illustrates the crux of the challenge of weaning the U.P. from Line 5: It will likely require investment in infrastructure to move more propane by road or rail. 

Whitmer, who campaigned for office on a promise to shut down Line 5, appointed a task force in June 2019 to study alternative ways to meet U.P. propane needs. 

The Public Sector Consultants study created for the task force concluded there are myriad ways to offset the pipeline through investments in trucking, rail and additional storage capacity. Researchers found the lowest-cost supply alternative — which would involve shipping propane by rail from Edmonton, Alberta to Escanaba, then trucking it to be stored at Rapid River — would raise market propane prices by about 4 cents per gallon.

But it’s not clear how much work it would take to make that switch, in part because key information about existing fuel stocks and infrastructure capacity is kept private, leaving industry representatives in control of how much information they share.

Related stories:

“From all of our research and everyone we talked to, I’m not even able to say that the current rail capacity is insufficient,” Pardini said, because rail companies wouldn’t supply the information. 

The task force recommended 14 steps the state can take to diversify U.P. propane sourcing, from incentivizing storage and encouraging rail investment, to expanding assistance programs that help low-income families weatherize their homes and pay heating bills. The task force report noted that “many of the supply-related steps that the state could take would require significant lead time to implement.”

The state has begun taking at least some steps to carry out the recommendations. 

Jeff Cranson, a spokesman for the Michigan Department of Transportation, said the agency has secured a consulting firm to research infrastructure upgrades needed to deliver propane to the U.P. by rail. That study is expected to begin in early 2021 and take eight months to complete, meaning that if researchers begin in January they’ll finish their study just a month before the heating season begins. 

Matt Helms, a spokesman for the Michigan Public Service Commission, which oversees energy reliability, said the commission “stepped up its efforts to work with Michigan’s propane industry to identify any factors that might cause or contribute to a propane shortage or disruption.”

Because the propane market is largely unregulated, Helms said, “any response to changing conditions will be market driven.” 

The market has begun to respond in some limited ways. NGL Supply Co. recently purchased a rail-serviced propane storage facility in the Eastern U.P. community of Kincheloe, for instance, and plans to upgrade the facility. 

But Charles Robertson, a consultant who helps propane companies maintain a secure supply stream, said he believes it would take two or more years for the Upper Peninsula propane sector to secure the combination of trucks, trains and storage tanks necessary to fully offset Line 5. 

“It is possible, over the long run, to rectify this situation without the pipeline,” Robertson said, but trying to build out the necessary infrastructure in a matter of months “would be mayhem.”

Free market on the move?

Some suppliers are already working to reduce their dependence on the pipeline. 

Derek Dalling, executive director of the Michigan Propane Gas Association, said two of his organization’s members “are building out their own rail storage,” though that represents only a “scratch on the surface” of what’s needed to replace Line 5.

Don Steckman, a U.P.-based general manager for the national propane supplier Ferrellgas, said he is making plans to procure more of his propane from suppliers in other states. The company has contracts at “almost every terminal in the country,” he said, making it easier to absorb the blow of a shutdown at Rapid River. 

But many of his competitors are small independent retailers, he said, who don’t have a supply network outside of Michigan. For them, establishing contracts with out-of-state suppliers will be more difficult. 

It’s possible, Steckman said, but “could it be done between May and November? No.”

It’s not just a matter of purchasing equipment and securing contracts, said Sen. Ed McBroom, R-Vulcan. The Upper Peninsula lawmaker has long argued that there is no readily available substitute to Line 5 in his home territory because of logistical barriers that “you can’t buy your way out of.”

For example, he said, Michigan law allows heavier trucks on its roadways than neighboring Wisconsin, home of the Superior Propane Terminal, where many providers might get their fuel if Rapid River closed. That means Michigan propane companies may need to swap out their current fleet for lighter trucks. And because they would be driving smaller trucks further distances, they would need more of them.

Hiring drivers could also be challenging: The propane industry faces an industry-wide driver shortage.

“The question isn’t as simple as how many trucks is it going to take,” McBroom said. “It's also personnel, and policies, and all of these second- and third-tier wrinkles.”

Switching to rail is more possible in a short time frame, said Pasi Lautala, director of the Rail transportation Program at Michigan Technological University, who is helping MDOT with its rail study. 

Plenty of rail lines crisscross the U.P., with capacity to carry more shipments, he said, although rail transport of propane is only possible on those lines that can carry hazardous substances. 

Increasing shipments of propane would require investment in specialized rail tanks and new rail spurs where full tanks could be stored between deliveries, Lautala said. A single rail spur, he said, can cost as much as $1 million. A representative from The Greenbrier Companies, which manufactures railcars, told Bridge that high-pressure train cars used to ship propane cost up to $150,000 and lease for around $1,000 a month. 

State and industry leaders would have to decide who pays, Lautala said, and “it’s hard to believe that the private industries would be willing to foot all of the capital investment,” for infrastructure needs arising from a state-ordered shutdown.

McBroom said the Republican-controlled legislature is unlikely to pony up, either.

But it’s hard to come by clear estimates of just how many rail tanks or new spurs the U.P. might need, and supporters of a shutdown argue there may already be resources in the system that could be put to better use.

Jim Lively, program director at the Groundwork Center for Resilient Communities, a Traverse City advocacy group, has been studying potential impacts of a shutdown. He believes those who predict dire shortages and insurmountable barriers to truck or rail transport “are bluffing.”

“It’s just hard for me to imagine that this is that dire,” he said, noting that industry predictions of supply disruptions and rising fuel prices during a brief Line 5 shutdown this past summer never came true.

And there are other possible solutions, too, Lively said. Expanding programs that increase home energy efficiency in Upper Peninsula homes could reduce propane demand. And financial assistance programs could help low-income families absorb any price increase associated with a shift to truck or rail-based propane transport. 

Lively contends finding solutions before next heating season will require bringing key players together. He hopes to organize a meeting early next year with propane industry representatives, state officials and others to begin the discussion.

For now, Naser said his propane company is banking on the idea that Line 5 will still be operational next year. He wants more evidence that a shutdown will happen before he’ll start seriously considering alternatives to his pipeline-dependent propane supply.

“I have to go with the notion that Rapid River is going to stay open,” he said, “because [without it] we'd all be up a creek without a paddle.”

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Comments

Don
Wed, 12/16/2020 - 9:06am

BS The people of the UP get their gas from WI!!!!

Paul
Thu, 12/17/2020 - 3:17pm

If my calculations are correct, the addition of eight tank trucks per day (between Superior and Escanaba) will replace the amount of propane currently offloaded from Line 5. The number of trucks reduces slightly if an additional terminal is added between the two nodes.

Arjay
Wed, 12/16/2020 - 9:18am

How fast we forget. Just ask Lac-Magentic, Quebec, Canada how well a train load of tank cars worked the day the train derailed. Only 47 killed. Or ask Alberta, Canada how it went when just 4 propane cars burned and shut down the railways main line to the Pacific for a few days.

The governor is so thick headed that nothing can convince her that a pipeline buried within rock below the water is far safer than rail or truck transport.

George
Wed, 12/16/2020 - 4:59pm

"The governor is so thick headed that nothing can convince her that a pipeline buried within rock below the water is far safer than rail or truck transport."
And where is the pipeline located that you describe? Not in the Straights of Mackinac, for sure. Perhaps it was the one located adjacent to the Kalamazoo River.

Anonymous
Wed, 12/16/2020 - 5:56pm

“We’ve got 15,000 households that use it. That’s basically the size of Muskegon," and it's already being shipped by truck.

LH
Sat, 12/26/2020 - 8:19pm

First of all, the actual number is close to twice that, not including seasonal homes and businesses (yes, lots of UP businesses rely on propane too). Second, the area these households and businesses is located in is huge -- five hours east to west. The distribution network in the UP is vastly different from Muskegon.

Excellent
Tue, 12/29/2020 - 2:28pm

That's great! It provides a bigger incentive for entrepreneurs who want to compete for the business!

Henry A
Wed, 12/30/2020 - 3:49pm

Thanks for the insight. Sounds like a lot of business opportunities for people in the UP to deliver the propane.

leonard page
Mon, 01/04/2021 - 11:35am

14000 Yooper propane customers (both business and residential) are served by rapid river per at least s studies. enbridge says it makes on average a delivery of 2600 barrels of ngls to rapid river from which only 1300 barrels are stripped out. eastern up is served by kincehloe UP storage yard supplied by train from the SOO. western UP is served by wisconsin.

DS
Wed, 12/16/2020 - 9:35am

"Whitmer did not respond to numerous calls, texts and emails asking about potential contingency plans" Maybe this should have been looked at before ordering Line 5 to be shut down?

Anonymous
Wed, 12/16/2020 - 5:59pm

67 years old, the pipeline was meant to last 50 years. So Enbridge had 17 years to think about contingency plans. This is NOT socialist Canada. Have some faith in the free market!

mike
Wed, 12/16/2020 - 9:43am

So Rapid River terminal will be shut down just because? Enbridge is playing Michigan residents against each other. There is no reason that I can see for Enbridge to abandon its Upper Peninsula customers.

Anonymous
Wed, 12/16/2020 - 6:02pm

Enbridge is bluffing, being vindictive. Shut down Line 5 at the Straits of Mackinac! May is plenty of time to think about winter next year.

Ouchez
Wed, 12/16/2020 - 9:47am

Keep the pipe line open with increased safeguard until the new pipeline is completed!!! Save our U.P.!!

I call BS
Wed, 12/16/2020 - 6:03pm

You mean save your job as an Enbridge lobbyist.

Disagree
Thu, 12/17/2020 - 7:55am

YES. Save our U.P.!! But shut down Line 5. Keep the Rapid River terminal open! Or else, shut down Enbridge everywhere.

To Snowflakes
Wed, 12/16/2020 - 11:07am

Why does Enbridge want us to continue a nanny state? Let the free market solve the problem. Competition means lower prices, right? We don't need the governor to solve the problem Enbridge created. Have propane, will travel. Besides, don't exclude clean alternatives. Complain all you want about "no time" to change, but you are only employing delay tactics to preserve the dangerous status quo. Don't blame anyone, but yourselves if you are left without alternatives. Ever read Aesop's "Grasshopper and the Ants"? Even children over millennia know that you have to provide for the winter. Stop whining and delaying. You knew this was coming for at least a decade.

Geoffrey Owen
Wed, 12/16/2020 - 3:00pm

A decade? Line 5 predates the bridge.

UP Loon
Wed, 12/16/2020 - 10:14pm

The Rapid River propane facility wasn't there until 1996.; More propane got distributed in the U.P. before there was a Rapid River. This is a solution looking for a problem.

Christmas Miracles
Wed, 12/16/2020 - 11:09am

“The number of potential solutions gives me optimism, but it doesn’t give me peace.”

Sounds like the running theme of the presidential election, Trump's America, not much peace.

Matthew 6:24
Wed, 12/16/2020 - 11:16am

"Some are pursuing other sources of supply. Others are stalling as Enbridge and state attorneys wage a court battle that could determine whether the shutdown order sticks." This is why it took so long and a civil war to stop slavery. Freedom of the slaves meant less profits, hence the "conservative" thinking. Conserve exploitation of people to increase profits. Now the message is conserve exploitation of environmental destruction to increase profits. It's NEVER a good time to move forward for PEOPLE over profits.

You can’t serve both God and Mammon

Jeff
Wed, 12/16/2020 - 4:56pm

You had better reread a lot of history with regard to slavery and the Civil War, as you missed out on a lot of it.

I call BS
Wed, 12/23/2020 - 9:39am

Oh sure, the Civil War was really the "War of Northern Aggression" rooted in States' Rights.

Anonymous
Wed, 12/23/2020 - 9:45am

Jeff, you should read the Bible.

Just sayin'
Tue, 12/29/2020 - 10:48am

Starting with Matthew 6:24.

Anonymous
Wed, 12/16/2020 - 11:26am

Sen. Jim Stamas, R-Midland, Enbridge can continue to provide the UP with all the propane they want and need. They can do so with a competitive advantage since they already have Line 5 there. Enbridge is only prohibited from crossing the Straits of Mackinac. Do you understand?

People of the UP, homeowners and businesses, there is NOTHING to worry about, you will still have all the propane you want, if anything, competition will make it cheaper.

Jim Stamas, just wait until we end the GOP stronghold that gerrymandering created. 2022 is quickly approaching..... Is that why you seem to be applying for a job with Enbridge?

Anonymous
Tue, 12/29/2020 - 10:50am

Doesn't Stamas represent Midland where the dams failed?

Raise your hand!
Wed, 12/16/2020 - 11:31am

How many people in Jim Stamas' district want an Enbridge disaster washing up on Lake Huron beaches, favorite fishing spots, and lakefront homes? Remember that when you vote. Does he represent the UP or his district?

No surprise
Wed, 12/23/2020 - 10:05am

Crickets from Stamas!

Just sayin'
Wed, 12/16/2020 - 11:37am

Stamas should fix the damn Midland dams before he damns the Great Lakes.

With major environmental and economic failure on his hands and resume, he should think before he acts so carelessly. These politicians and their donors need to EARN our TRUST.

Anonymous
Wed, 12/16/2020 - 11:41am

Natural gas liquids from the pipeline are offloaded at a terminal in Rapid River, near Escanaba, where they are processed to produce 33 million gallons of propane every year. Propane companies then buy the product and use it to fill the backyard pig tanks of customers throughout the region.

Although the terminal is upstream of the Straits portion of the pipeline that Whitmer has ordered shutdown, Enbridge spokesman Ryan Duffy told Bridge the company will not continue delivering petroleum products to Rapid River if Line 5 is shuttered at the Straits.

----------------------------------------------------------------
So BLAME Enbridge, NO ONE else. And as far as claiming shipping by land is more dangerous, read the above: it's already being done and has been forever.

Jeff
Wed, 12/16/2020 - 5:00pm

That is because the cost to operate the pipelines would far exceed their profits on delivering just propane to Rapid River.

Anonymous
Wed, 12/23/2020 - 9:47am

Prove it.

Anonymous
Tue, 12/29/2020 - 10:53am

Jeff, how much will it cost Enbridge to remove the old pipelines it plans to close and pay the costs for land contamination mitigation?

Yooper 4
Fri, 12/18/2020 - 9:30am

From a technical/mechanical standpoint, you cannot operate a 30" NGL/crude oil pipeline that ends at a simple delivery point (Rapid River) that currently receives relatively low volumes. The amount of product refined at Rapid River is too low to maintain the necessary pressure in a 30" pipeline all the way from Superior, WI. Plus, only about 2/3 of the Natural Gas liquids are propane, the 1/3 is butane and other stuff which is typically put back into the pipe and piped to downstream markets. The pipeline needs to end at a petrochemical facility, not at a dead end in the middle of the UP. UP takes 'advantage' of having that large flow of NGL through it, without the large facility in Sarnia, L5 and likely now Superior, WI propane facility goes away.....

Anonymous
Tue, 12/29/2020 - 10:55am

Sounds like a great opportunity for smaller entrepreneurs.

Support USA!
Tue, 12/29/2020 - 2:35pm

So it looks like the small truckers will have even more incentive to fill the gap. What a job creator for locals and for Americans!

Play nice, Enbridge!
Wed, 12/16/2020 - 11:46am

Two problems, BOTH created by Enbridge:

1 Enbridge failed to maintain Line 5, along with other lines, lied, created environmental disater.

2 Enbridge refuses to supply propane to the UP, if Enbridge doesn't get its way.

Maybe it's time to shutdown Enbridge altogether, not just Line 5?

Anonymous
Wed, 12/16/2020 - 11:48am

"Researchers found the lowest-cost supply alternative — which would involve shipping propane by rail from Edmonton, Alberta to Escanaba, then trucking it to be stored at Rapid River — would raise market propane prices by about 4 cents per gallon."

Tough call for corporations, but not for Michiganders, are our Great Lakes worth the 4 cents per gallon?

Time for a referendum?

LH
Wed, 12/16/2020 - 3:34pm

As a Yooper who used to rely on propane until natural gas reached our subdivision, I know how volatile propane prices can be. In the winter of 2013-14 propane increased for a while to $6-$8 per gallon in many areas, and most households who use propane have no alternative other than possibly wood if they have a wood stove. By no means do I believe that propane prices will only increase four cents a gallon, especially in the short term. It will take years to get the infrastructure in place to supply propane to the UP. I'm not blind to the risks posed by Line 5 through the Straits, but I want the tunnel built and the line maintained. To shut Line 5 down in the spring with no plan in place for those who depend on it is short-sighted and punitive. Those who want it shut down can pat themselves on the back for their environmental stewardship all they want. It's tough to swallow for those who can't afford to heat their homes. BTW, the estimate FLOW used of 15,000 homes dependent on propane in the UP is laughable -- it's at least twice that many. Plus these homes are spread out over an area that comprises about a third of the state. It's not a compact community by any means. St. Ignace to Ironwood is a five hour drive, for those who have never been here, so those homes are scattered throughout a huge area. Additionally, there are thousands of seasonal homes, many owned by people from outside the UP, that depend on propane.

Get real!
Wed, 12/23/2020 - 9:57am

"I want the tunnel built and the line maintained." That's the problem. Enbridge has not been maintaining the line for decades and Enbridge lies. So what would you and everyone else in the UP do if Line 5 ruptures in the dead of winter? You would have all the problems you mention, no propane, freezing weather, no alternatives, PLUS a disastrous spill that destroys our state. Just fine an alternative now. If it helps, just pretend the worst has already happened. Free market isn't free. Everything has a cost. We don't owe you cheap propane at the cost of our Great Lakes. This isn't a nanny state. You do realize that you chose to live in the middle of an extremely rural area, right, kind of like Amish? Yet you want city amenities without the city costs?

LH
Sat, 12/26/2020 - 8:30pm

The quicker we can get the pipeline in the tunnel, the less risk there is of a spill. I do not expect or want "city amenities," and I don't have a problem paying a fair prices for the services I receive. I don't expect you or anyone else to subsidize my lifestyle or my choice of where I live. What I do resent is people who don't live here and don't understand the needs of the UP arbitrarily deciding that Line 5 should be shut down this spring with no alternative plan in place to meet the needs of thousands of Michiganders.

No thanks
Tue, 12/29/2020 - 11:02am

The fact is, based on the comments here, Enbridge will not give you what you want unless the REST of Michigan subsidizes your wishes. So if you want to live in a remote area, rely on what you have available there, without the rest of us having to pay the price. Think wind, hydro, solar, geothermal, hell even wood burning ovens. There are people in far less remote areas who are much more self sufficient than you UP snowflakes who are nothing but sellouts to Enbridge, a shady enterprise with a history of lies and malfeasance.

LH
Wed, 12/30/2020 - 12:53pm

How exactly is the rest of Michigan subsidizing Line 5 and the propane we depend on? Enbridge operates a pipeline that they own and make a profit from -- no subsidy there. Enbridge has asked to build a tunnel that they say they will pay for -- no subsidy there. Our household pays UPPCO for our electricity, paying one of the highest electric rates in the US, and no one subsidizes my electric bill. The city and townships that comprise our local school district send far more money to Lansing in taxes than we get back in foundation allowance for our schools, plus have supported our local district with a bond issue to keep our facilities in top shape -- no subsidy there. Where is the subsidy that you speak of?

Duh
Sun, 01/03/2021 - 10:54pm

The tens of thousands of unfunded toxic superfund sites that taxpayer are stuck cleaning is the subsidy along with all the other pollution that is derived from your dirty petroleum.

GOP Job Killers
Wed, 12/16/2020 - 11:53am

Sen. Ed McBroom, R-Vulcan: because they would be driving smaller trucks further distances, they would need more of them. Hiring drivers could also be challenging: The propane industry faces an industry-wide driver shortage. GOP Job Killers?

LOLs
Wed, 12/23/2020 - 10:01am

Hey Jeff, stumped by this?

LMAO
Tue, 12/29/2020 - 11:03am

What about LH?

George
Wed, 12/16/2020 - 11:59am

It has now been a while since Governor Whitmer and Attorney General Nessel campaigned and won on shutting down the pipeline. Propane distributors such as Mr. Naser hedged their bets that Enbridge would never shut down, more so since Whitmer and Nessel have been in office. Granted, the shutdown may still never happen, but contingency plans probably should have been in place long ago. And, is Enbridge not at all to blame? Maybe the pipeline will never leak. Maybe it will never be shut down. Maybe.

Jeff
Wed, 12/16/2020 - 5:05pm

There probably was a plan to replace it after so many years. However, laws and regulations made it virtually impossible. Enbridge has only owned the pipeline around 20 years or so. The shutdown may never happen as the federal and Canadian governments can overrule the Governor with just an announcement.

Anonymous
Wed, 12/23/2020 - 10:00am

Oh sure, when prince Snyder and king Trump have the power! States's Rights?

Sorry, not sorry
Tue, 12/29/2020 - 11:06am

Maybe Enbridge banked on getting a great deal thinking some GOP donations could circumvent the will of We the People.

Optimistic
Wed, 12/16/2020 - 11:59am

"Increasing shipments of propane would require investment in specialized rail tanks and new rail spurs where full tanks could be stored between deliveries, Lautala said. A single rail spur, he said, can cost as much as $1 million. A representative from The Greenbrier Companies, which manufactures railcars, told Bridge that high-pressure train cars used to ship propane cost up to $150,000 and lease for around $1,000 a month."

Didn't Trump promise to fix our infrastructure in addition to building his wall that Mexico was supposed to pay for????

Let's hope Democrats and reasonable Republicans cooperate to actually do something to improve our failing outdated infrastructure.

LH
Wed, 12/16/2020 - 3:38pm

And Gretchen was going to "fix the damn roads." But without a plan as to where the revenue was going to come from, she proposed a draconian gas tax increase that was unacceptable to residents and the legislature. Now the state and federal governments have dug themselves into such a deep hole due to the Covid pandemic it will be a long time before there's funding for infrastructure. Somebody's gotta pay for this, folks!

Anonymous
Wed, 12/23/2020 - 10:04am

So you agree the dumb unnecessary Trump tax cuts were a bad idea that did nothing to improve our infrastructure.

Wahl E
Tue, 12/29/2020 - 11:09am

LH, no one knew Trump was going to take our tax dollars meant to pay for the damn road and use it to pay for his wall that he said Mexico would pay for.

Anonymous
Tue, 01/05/2021 - 12:09pm

LH is a Trumpist. Truth doesn't matter.

Finally, the TRUTH
Wed, 12/16/2020 - 12:01pm

Jim Lively, program director at the Groundwork Center for Resilient Communities, a Traverse City advocacy group, has been studying potential impacts of a shutdown. He believes those who predict dire shortages and insurmountable barriers to truck or rail transport “are bluffing.”

Anonymous
Wed, 12/16/2020 - 12:02pm

"...industry predictions of supply disruptions and rising fuel prices during a brief Line 5 shutdown this past summer never came true."

Don't believe lying liars who claim we need pollution.

LH
Wed, 12/16/2020 - 3:41pm

It was summer, and the shutdown was brief. It's winter now, and there's another one coming next year. The impact will be huge.

Anonymous
Wed, 12/23/2020 - 10:07am

Then PLAN for it NOW. Don't be a welfare queen.

LH
Sat, 12/26/2020 - 8:39pm

Plan first, don't shut Line 5 down with no plan in place. Whitmer and her minions tried taking action through the courts and lost every time. So suddenly they decide Enbridge is in violation of the Line 5 permit. Why didn't they pursue that angle first, instead of wasting time and money in the courts? That money could have been used to develop a plan, one that is comprehensive enough to look at the realities associated with a lack of infrastructure, differing load limits for trucks, etc. Let's face it, our current administration is going to keep trying until they find something that sticks. Michigan is not the only player here, and the state does not hold all the cards. The federal government has a lot to say about what happens to Line 5. Quit wasting time and money and focus on building the tunnel NOW.

Can't always ge...
Tue, 12/29/2020 - 11:12am

You want socialism. We want the free market, not a monopoly with a dirty troll multinational soiling our state.

Stop whining!
Tue, 12/29/2020 - 2:31pm

Six months is plenty of time to plan. Besides you knew the governor would shut it down two years ago when she campaigned on it and won the election. Geez Louise!

LH
Thu, 12/31/2020 - 12:49pm

Just one of the many reasons I didn't vote for her.

LOL
Sun, 01/03/2021 - 10:57pm

Elections have consequences, as do referendums.

Pure Michigan Love
Tue, 01/05/2021 - 12:13pm

LH, whether you voted or not, your side lost the election. We the People, the majority, won. The majority wants Line 5 shutdown. Stop complaining and start making plans for next year! This is not a welfare state.

Big Gretch!
Wed, 12/16/2020 - 12:06pm

"For now, Naser said his propane company is banking on the idea that Line 5 will still be operational next year. He wants more evidence that a shutdown will happen before he’ll start seriously considering alternatives to his pipeline-dependent propane supply."

Maybe you should believe Big Gretch, she means what she says, she means business, she trusts science, she fights corruption. Move your lazy hiney and quit whining. Enbridge is done being coddled by corrupt politicians who care more about themselves than their constituents.

Jeff
Wed, 12/16/2020 - 5:08pm

Then when the feds or Canada overrules her, it will knock down her ego a bit.

Ha Ha
Wed, 12/23/2020 - 10:10am

More bluffing, wishful thinking. Jeff, get a real job. Enbridge will no longer be needing your services. Well, yes, Enbridge will continue to need your services, but will not have the cash to pay you. Joe and Gretch will be joined with Jennifer on this one.

Anonymous
Wed, 12/23/2020 - 10:18am

Canada will overrule her? What are you smoking?

Dang!
Tue, 12/29/2020 - 11:14am

Something potent!

Derek Dalling
Wed, 12/16/2020 - 1:39pm

Nicely done balancing the two sides, Kelly. One item of correction, Ms. Kirkwood could not be more wrong on the number of homes and businesses impacted. Over 600,000 homes, businesses, cottages and farms use propane throughout Michigan - in both peninsulas. In the Upper Peninsula alone, there are over 20,000 full-time, year-round homes and families that use propane, and thousands of more businesses and seasonal homes in the UP that use propane to stay warm. This is not an insignificant issue as FLOW seemingly believes, and it presents very real and very serious challenges.

LH
Wed, 12/16/2020 - 3:44pm

Well said, Derek! For those of you who come to visit the UP next summer and stay at a resort on a lake, look around and you'll see a nice big propane tank hidden nearby. Don't wonder why the price of a cabin or room just went up significantly.

Anonymous
Wed, 12/23/2020 - 10:14am

Good, less crowded with people crapping in the woods!

Anonymous
Wed, 12/16/2020 - 6:10pm

That's a red herring on your part. There are many sources for the propane and alternatives in the lower peninsula.

Geoffrey Owen
Wed, 12/16/2020 - 3:14pm

Several pages into the article it is finally mentioned that the propane is extracted far upline from the Straights of Mackinac. This seems to be the one place where there is an economic benefit for Michigan residents and the pipeline. Enbridge wants to play it their way for operating the pipeline and for replacing it. While a pipeline can be safer than rail and trucking they all face dangers. And propane is always trucked to its destination. Michigan might come up with a plan that includes natural gas to the 50% of the state that doesn't have any. With gas available in the UP and Northern Michigan we could experience population and economic growth. I would like to see reporting on Enbridge enterprises below the bridge. What are they involved in as they are likely the third largest energy company in Michigan? Where are the locations of Enbridge facilities? Where are they generating electricity and from what energy source? Would a line 5 shutdown affect the Grid in Northern Michigan? I live a few hundred feet from Lake Huron and while I don't want to see this great sea damaged from a spill, I don't want to go to woodfires and candles either.

LH
Wed, 12/23/2020 - 1:03am

Geoffrey, I agree it would be nice if natural gas was extended to more of Michigan, but the potential users in many areas are so spread out that it would take massive subsidies to entice utilities to extend that infrastructure. We moved to the UP in 1992 and live in a neighborhood of several hundred homes on 1/3 to 1/2 acre lots, so fairly closely spaced. The area is close to a small city, yet it was still several years after we moved there when natural gas became available. In more rural areas where homes are on large parcels at considerable distance from any gas mains, it remains prohibitively expensive to extend gas. In areas where development is dense, such as around many UP and Northern Michigan lakes, those pockets of development are almost always too far from gas lines to justify service. And since many of us "enjoy" extremely high electric rates already (UPPCO, anyone?), converting to electric heat is not feasible.

No to Enbridge CA
Tue, 12/29/2020 - 11:21am

Same goes for broadband. Either the UP is part of the US or not. Should it be treated like Somalia? Time to invest in alternatives. You can't move to a rural area and demand the rest of the state subsidize your lifestyle, without some compromises on your part, like development of clean renewable alternatives. Enbridge imperils all of us, reaping huge profits and socializing the costs.

LH
Thu, 12/31/2020 - 12:53pm

Lots of folks in rural areas use wood-fired boilers. But in areas close to cities and villages (where natural gas is generally not available), outside wood furnaces and the like are not permitted. The neighborhood I live in, where natural gas was just extended about 20 years ago, is one example.

Anonymous
Sun, 01/03/2021 - 11:01pm

Sorry, Charlie, maybe now you should move to Alaska. It's even more remote, plus you get the socialist subsidy payments you love so dearly!

Jeff
Wed, 12/16/2020 - 5:09pm

Everone forgets, the federal of Canadian government can counter Whitmer's demand. Meaning all this time has been wasted when they could have been building a tunnel for couple of years now.

Jenny B
Wed, 12/23/2020 - 10:16am

How many times are you going to repeat the same nonsense?

Marshall T
Tue, 12/29/2020 - 2:33pm

No kidding, since when are we, a sovereign nation, subjugated by Canada?

BP
Wed, 12/16/2020 - 10:07pm

One thing that is not being discussed in this debate is the apparent assumption that rail transportation, if even economically viable, is safe. Just about every transportation expert will confirm that rail transportation of highly flammable materials such as propane is far, far more likely to be unsafe (from a derailment) than the perceived danger from Line 5. If anyone thinks Line 5 is unsafe, try assessing the safety of rail transportation. The record of derailments of hazardous materials in and around communities is long and storied

Anonymous
Tue, 12/29/2020 - 2:37pm

Much less risky than the pipeline disaster potential.

Suspicious
Thu, 12/17/2020 - 2:44pm

Why was this story from yesterday buried and not listed chronologically with the other stories and why have further comments been blocked?

GREG DENNY
Thu, 12/17/2020 - 4:50pm

The pipeline already goes to Rapid River, so make it a dead - end to service the UP, as it does now. then re-route the main line through WI and IL as Enbridge already has a line going that way.

Jim
Wed, 12/23/2020 - 10:42am

That's got to be cheaper, not to mention safer, than drilling a new line under the strait.

LH
Wed, 12/30/2020 - 12:58pm

As has been pointed out elsewhere, Rapid River doesn't use enough product to justify keeping Line 5 open that far. It would be like having a 12" water main to serve one or two houses on a long, dead-end road.

No Socialism
Sun, 01/03/2021 - 11:04pm

Then just keep being unprepared for the inevitable. Free market rules.

Jake D
Mon, 01/04/2021 - 5:45am

Here's the thing: the governor notified everyone that Line 5 will be shutdown come this spring, fulfilling her campaign promises, and that anyone relying on it needs to find an alternative.

A Yooper
Fri, 12/18/2020 - 9:03am

Ferrell provides propane throughout Wisconsin and is already providing propane in parts of the U.P.
They would love to expand throughout the U.P.—-$$$$$$$$ in their coffers!

Vive la UP!
Tue, 12/29/2020 - 2:51pm

My guess is that Enbridge wants a monopoly with no effort.

Strange treatment
Fri, 12/18/2020 - 12:21pm

Why have comments been blocked and this article been buried for two days?

Geoffrey Owen
Sun, 12/20/2020 - 1:17pm

The propane dealers would have to swap out their fleet for smaller trucks to drive in Wisconsin? The photo showing Naser getting a delivery is not unique to Michigan. A little more research on this bit is needed, like a one minute search on Google. Well, maybe not that long. "Michigan has a unique system of truck-weight law based on maximum axle ... and the extra weight of an additional tractor at about ten tons. ... Ohio, Indiana, and Wisconsin issue permits allowing heavier Michigan-style trucks to travel on".... I am reminded of the lame argument that Michigan Roas are in worse condition because of load limits, as if Trucks swap out loads at the borders to Ohio, Indiana and Canada. (which also doesn't explaing the poor roads that do not carry truck traffic) Are you trying to make the argument for Enbridge?

Mike Hunt
Wed, 12/23/2020 - 10:22am

Just think of all those great paying new jobs! Any extra costs will be a net gain in economic prosperity for the UP!

Anonymous
Tue, 12/29/2020 - 10:46am

Funny/scary how this article got buried so quickly. Someone's not happy with shedding light on Enbridge.

Rodger A Kershner
Wed, 01/13/2021 - 8:39am

I suggest that the state condemn Line 5 from the western border to Rapid River and continue to operate that segment .