Michigan's Gretchen Whitmer sticks a finger in Canada's eye

As Texans try to sort out who's to blame and what to do following their grid disaster, a man-made one appears to be brewing between the nation of Canada and the state of Michigan.  Michigan governor Gretchen Whitmer has issued what nearly amounts to a declaration of war against our northern ally.  Whitmer is threatening to cancel a permit on May 13 that could halt oil and natural gas flow through Line 5.  The line is critical to the energy needs of people in both Canada and America.

In a recent Calgary Herald column, former politician, journalist, and broadcaster Danielle Smith explained that Line 5 carries 540,000 barrels per day of oil (for gasoline, diesel, and aviation fuel) as well as natural gas for heating.  Line 5 supplies 45 percent of Ontario's energy needs and connects to Line 9, supplying Quebec with 40 to 50 percent of its energy.  It also produces 55 percent of the propane that Whitmer's voters use.  Nonetheless, back in November, Whitmer threatened to trash the 1977 Pipeline Agreement between the United States and Canada and shut down the line.  As Smith writes, the options are more dangerous to the environment than the pipeline.

A rail tank car carries 700 barrels, so a 100-car train would contain 70,000 barrels, meaning you'd need eight trains a day every day to keep full capacity. Barges on the Great Lakes have a 118,000-barrel shipping capacity, so five barges per day from Superior shipped through the Straits of Mackinac is the other option.  I guess eastern Canadians will just have to hope that the substantial ice coverage that appears on the Great Lakes each winter will be easy for barges to navigate daily to secure the supply year-round.  

But if watershed protection groups are freaked out about the danger of a rupture from a pipeline that has been in operation since 1953 and never had a leak, they aren't going to be thrilled with transporting the same volume where there is more potential for a spill on the ice-covered water.

Unlike Cuomo in New York, whose attorney general has become his nemesis, in Michigan Whitmer, has a partner in environmental crime in Attorney General Dana Nessel.  While COVID was spreading in the state last May, heavy rains caused a dam to give way.  At the time, Bridge Michigan pinned the blame on the Attorney General.

For decades, federal regulators demanded changes to the design of the Edenville Dam to make it more likely to withstand heavy rains and avoid flooding.

So when Michigan regulators assumed oversight of the dam in late 2018 after its owners lost their federal license to generate energy, they took action.

To protect mussels.

Three weeks before the 96-year-old dam failed this week amid heavy rains and caused the worst flood in Midland history, Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel sued its owner, alleging it illegally lowered Wixom Lake in 2018 and 2019, killing "thousands if not millions, of freshwater mussels."

"Defendants wrongfully exerted dominion over the freshwater mussels and caused their death which denies and is inconsistent with the state's right to them," state lawyers wrote in an April lawsuit.

Residents impacted by the massive flood say they are dumbfounded by the state's priorities, especially since federal regulators had warned since at least 1993 the dam failed to meet safety requirements.

"How we got to the point where environmental issues trumped public safety, I don't know," said David Kepler, a resident who lives off nearby Sanford Lake and is president of the Four Lakes Task Force, an association largely consisting of waterfront property owners that was in the process of buying the Edenville Dam and three others before this week's flood.

Democrats have crossed a Rubicon, showing that their policies are turning out to be worse than bad.  They're clearly dangerous.

Image: Gerald R. Ford School of Public Policy University of Michigan via Flickr, CC BY-ND 2.0.