Impending pipeline closure will have far reaching negative consequences
BROCKVILLE, ON, Feb. 12, 2021 /CNW/ – Urgent action is needed by Prime Minister Trudeau to protect the interests, livelihoods and security of Canadians. In 12 short weeks, on May 12, 2021, Enbridge Line 5 will be forced to shut down by the state of Michigan, leaving significant energy shortfalls in Ontario and Quebec. This issue has gone under the radar for too long and the majority of Canadians do not even know that this energy crisis exists. It appears that this issue is not getting the attention it deserves from the Federal government.
In November 2019, Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer moved to revoke an easement that allows for the ongoing Enbridge Line 5 operations. The line is a critical energy artery for Ontario – its shutdown will have devastating effects on the provincial economy causing fuel shortages, increasing energy costs and creating massive job losses across the province.
Energy shortages are a real concern for industry, but should also be a concern for the average citizen. Currently line 5 supplies about 45% of the petroleum refined in Ontario and Quebec. Ontario receives 540,000 barrels a day that is processed into gasoline, diesel and propane. To give an idea of the scale of this issue – Pearson airport relies on 100% of its jet fuel for Line 5. Moreover, from an economic development point-of-view this potential closing will lead to significant major disruptions in supply chains forcing rationing and ultimately driving up fuel prices for all businesses and the average citizen. Simply put, this line is critical for our daily lives and shutting it down will mean there won’t be enough fuel to look after our needs from personal driving, transportation of groceries and goods, heating fuel and the fuel needs of industry and farms. Of course, this will affect refinery jobs in places like Sarnia – which expects to lose almost 5000 quality high paying jobs but indirectly will affect an additional 23,500 jobs. Those jobs are held by real hardworking people. These jobs will be lost at a time that thousands of our neighbors, friends and family are already facing employment losses due to the pandemic.
There are no good solutions for solving for the energy shortfall through alternative sources. Transporting the same amount of crude oil and natural gas liquids as delivered by Line 5 would require 2,000 trucks or 800 rail cars going one-way each day. A recent study conducted on behalf of the State of Michigan found that alternatives to Line 5 would significantly increase the price of propane on both a wholesale and retail level and stress existing transportation infrastructure. As Canadians the shadow of Lac-Megantic is still very much in our collective consciousness. More ships in the St. Lawrence Seaway hardly feels like an environmental victory!
Our organization’s mission is to attract industry and support the expansion of industry in Eastern Ontario. This issue of closing Line 5 imperils our safe and reliable energy security. Unfortunately, this has far reaching implications including 2 chilling effects that make this mission more difficult:
It creates an environment of volatility and leads multinational firms that are looking globally for new industrial sites to question our energy infrastructure and reliability. The cost of our energy in Ontario is already high compared to other jurisdictions; however, the availability and reliability of energy has never been in question till now. This shutdown will affect site selection opportunities in the future.
It requires existing industries to develop energy contingency plans which are costly and are a distraction for organizations that are focused on COVID recovery, daily operations and customer satisfaction. Ultimately this will lead to higher cost for manufacturers that will be passed to consumers or lead to job losses as production is shifted to plants with reliable energy supply.
Enbridge’s Line 5 is a vital piece of our energy infrastructure and security and has been in operation since 1953. Our economic and energy security is at stake and deserves the highest priority attention from our government.
We ask Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to make this issue a priority and work with President Biden to avert this shutdown. Failure on this is not an option, thousands of jobs will be lost, it will undermine economic development and attraction activities, it will destabilize existing manufacturing firms and make it more expensive for Ontarians to drive their cars, feed their families and heat their homes.
Mr. Trudeau this issue requires your personal attention and action.
David Beatty, Chair, St. Lawrence Corridor Economic Development Commission
Shelley Bacon, Vice- Chair, St. Lawrence Corridor Economic Development Commission
About the St Lawrence Corridor Economic Development Commission
The St Lawrence Corridor Economic Development Commission is a collaboration of municipalities and business leaders from across Eastern Ontario. In cooperation with economic development partners, the organization markets the region as an ideal place to do business and assists businesses in their growth strategies; with the goal of creating quality jobs and fostering economic growth in the vibrant communities along the St Lawrence River.
SOURCE St Lawrence Corridor Economic Development Commission