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We still need oil and its pipelines

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Almost all of the major car companies have pledged to eliminate gasoline and other petroleum-based fuels from their new vehicles by the next decade at the latest, but until that happens most Canadians and Americans will be driving cars and trucks that depend upon the oil industry – and pipelines.

And even when the car industry becomes all-electric, there will still be millions upon millions of vehicles that require an oil-based fuel.

And so it’s naïve to believe you can snap your fingers and the oil industry and its pipelines will disappear.

Just look at the Colonial pipeline in the U.S. It sends oil from Texas to New Jersey but was shut down this month because of a cyber attack. There was mass panic among motorists. Some gas stations went dry. Prices increased at most others, and there were line-ups reminiscent of the gas shortages of the 1970s. The U.S. government even issued a warning regarding price gouging.

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This is the same Biden government, by the way, that cancelled the XL pipeline that would have sent Alberta oil to Texas.

The Colonial shutdown provides a vivid illustration of our dependence upon oil and pipelines. We still need both.

But Michigan’s governor’s doesn’t believe that. Gretchen Whitmer served notice last year that her government would not allow Enbridge’s Line 5 pipeline to continue operation in Michigan. Line 5 moves Alberta oil to Sarnia. It snakes through Wisconsin and Michigan. Whitmer says Line 5’s 7.2-kilometre stretch under the Straits of Mackinac is an environmental hazard.

Enbridge has already agreed to replace that part of the pipeline with a $500-million tunnel by 2024. It has been granted key permits by the Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes and Energy.

That’s not good enough for Whitmer. She has bought into the idea that pipelines are bad – even though Line 5 provides much of the feedstock for jet fuel, propane and gasoline for Ontario and Quebec, as well as Michigan, Ohio and Pennsylvania.

And, no matter what Whitmer believes, we would still need those fuels, even if Line 5 is closed. But they would be more difficult to obtain. It’s estimated that up to 800 tanker rail cars and 2,000 trucks per day would be needed to transport the 540,000 barrels of oil and liquefied natural gas now efficiently carried by Line 5.

If she wants to be known as an environmentalist, wouldn’t it be better if Whitmer allowed Line 5 to continue?

– Peter Epp

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