I get the impression that our government’s policies and plans concerning fossil fuel supply – that’s gasoline, diesel, jet, bunker, and yes, even LNG – were inspired by a group of politicians just returning from another “Save the Planet convention”.

Of course, the final step at the airport from these far-off extravagant places is, the curse of the luggage carousel! Round and round it goes, ever so slowly. Sometimes we see the same suitcase three or four times. Heck, who knows? They all could have been going around for weeks. And sometimes we never see our bags at all.

But oh, look, here comes the Enbridge Line 5 bag again!

Last thing I remember about all the hubbub surrounding Line 5 was that Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer wanted it shut down for fear of a leak that may or may not happen – and hasn’t happened in over 60 years of operation. Governor Whitmer and many others forgot the fact that this pipeline crosses an international border and therefore comes under federal jurisdiction. Oh details, details! Midterm re-election points were made. Let’s just move on.

That piece of political luggage sure disappeared quickly after its circuit.

But wait. Here it comes again.

This week, the same governor declared a state of emergency. The reason? A refinery in nearby Indiana was shut down because of an electrical fire. This refinery, rated at 435,000 bpd, is the largest in the Midwest and supplies 25% of the gasoline, diesel, and jet fuel for Indiana, Michigan, and Wisconsin.

It produces enough gasoline to supply seven million cars a day.

The state of emergency allowed for increased hours of continuous driving for tanker truck operators and permitted the consumption of higher volatility gasoline – meaning higher emissions of carbon dioxide and carbon monoxide.

So, the environment takes a back seat to keeping cars on the road.

Now imagine if Line 5 were to be shut down.

If a state of emergency was invoked just because of one refinery’s short term shut down, try permanently cutting off the supply of Alberta crude to refineries in Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania as well as Ontario and Quebec. This would mean a 45% cutback in crude supply and a 14.7 million gallon (55.6 million litres) per day shortage of gasoline supply.

Michigan alone would have to fill a gasoline gap of six million gallons per day.

Even Prime Minister Justin Trudeau must agree that there is a solid business case for keeping Line 5 open.

Perhaps the governor of Michigan should grab this bag before it gets lost on the political luggage carousel forever.

– Roger McKnight – B.Sc., Senior Petroleum Analyst

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