‘Colonial on Steroids’: Refinery Reveals Economic Catastrophe if Gretchen Whitmer Kills Michigan Pipeline

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer speaks with reporters after inspecting the Elm Street bridge over the Red Cedar River, Monday, Aug. 12, 2019, in Lansing, Mich. Whitmer says it is important that the public knows the seriousness of the state's "infrastructure crisis." (AP Photo/David Eggert)
AP Photo/David Eggert

A company that owns several refineries in the eastern United States broke down the economic catastrophe that would unfold if Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer (D) successfully kills a crude oil pipeline that has been in operation for over 50 years.

Whitmer has ordered Enbridge to cease operating Line 5 by May 12, a pipeline that runs from Canada through Michigan. The company refused to comply with Whitmer’s demand. She has threatened to seize the company’s profits and claimed the pipeline is now “trespassing” on state property in the Straits of Mackinac.

Brendan Williams, a spokesman for PBF Energy, told Breitbart News the fallout from Whitmer’s attempt to end Line 5 would be “Colonial on steroids,” the pipeline recently knocked off line by hackers, sparking gas shortages along the eastern seaboard.

“It would be devastating for the region,” Williams said. The volume of crude oil that moves through Line 5, he said, is “the equivalent of 40 percent of the crude capacity of regional refiners. That’s not going to come from anywhere else.”

Williams said the crude is shipped from Canada to one of PBF Energy’s refineries in Toledo, Ohio, and then provides gasoline, diesel, and propane to significant portions of the Great Lakes region.

According to Williams, the Toledo area refineries alone supply:

  • 30 percent of Ohio’s gasoline,
  • 42 percent of southeastern Michigan’s gasoline,
  • 35 percent of Ohio’s diesel,
  • 14 percent of southeastern Michigan’s diesel, and
  • 100 percent of Detroit Metro airport jet fuel.

“If folks think that the gas lines and the pictures they saw from Colonial were bad, you’ll have that on steroids with the shut down of Line 5,” he said.

The region would need 2,000 trucks a day continuously to make up for the severe shortage created by a voluntary shutdown of the pipeline.

Williams predicted there would be “an immediate consumer cost impact that will be severe and negative” if Whitmer is successful. Refineries could shut down altogether “fairly quickly” which would impact gasoline for drivers, diesel for trucks, jet fuel particularly for Detroit Metro airport, and propane for winter heat.

The refineries do not just produce fuel, he said, but also chemicals used to create everyday products such as hand sanitizer, N-95 masks, cellphone circuit boards, paints, and other manufactured products.

“There is no alternative for the transportation of fuel for Michiganders or Ohioans right now,” Williams argued.

“It will really be putting a stranglehold on the Midwestern economy at large,” he told Breitbart News.

He pointed out Energy Secretary — and former Michigan governor — Jennifer Granholm admitted a pipeline is the safest way to transport petroleum products. On Friday, Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg agreed.

Canada has attempted to intervene, arguing a treaty between it and the United States prevents Whitmer from taking such action.

“We are very confident about our position here. We are very confident about where this is in the court’s proceedings,” Canadian National Resources Minister Seamus O’Regan told CTV this week.

O’Regan said an alternative to Line 5 would be “messy” and “take months to put in place.”

As for what played out along the east coast this week, Williams said Line 5 is of “similar if not great importance” to the Midwest than Colonial is to the eastern states. That pipeline provides 45 percent of the oil products to the eastern seaboard, he said.

Whitmer’s threats to the pipeline are “really perplexing,” Williams told Breitbart News.

Kyle Olson is a reporter for Breitbart News. He is also host of “The Kyle Olson Show,” syndicated on Michigan radio stations on Saturdays–download full podcast episodes. Follow him on Parler.

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