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Enbridge punches back on Line 5 challenge: ‘Nothing but counter-factual speculation’

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This photo taken in October 2016 shows an aboveground section of Enbridge’s Line 5 at the Mackinaw City, Mich., pump station. The Bad River Band of the Lake Superior Chippewa wants a federal judge in Wisconsin to order the pipeline closed, fearing a rupture on its territory due to spring flooding. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP-John Flesher

By James McCarten in Washington

Michigan joined the Line 5 legal fray unfolding just across state lines Wednesday as lawyers for Enbridge Inc. and an Indigenous band prepared to square off over whether the controversial cross-border pipeline should be shut down.

The stage is set for oral arguments Thursday in the Wisconsin capital of Madison as a federal judge contemplates whether to order the taps turned off and the pipeline’s contents purged to forestall a watershed-fouling rupture.

That hearing will now also include lawyers fighting a similar legal battle with Enbridge in Michigan, where Attorney General Dana Nessel has so far been thwarted in her three-year campaign to seal off Line 5 for good.

The Bad River Band of the Lake Superior Chippewa, through whose northern Wisconsin territory the line runs, has filed a motion arguing that spring flooding along the riverbanks has rendered the risk of a breach too great to ignore.

Nonsense, Enbridge argues back in an opposition brief that takes direct aim at the band’s claims of a looming environmental emergency, as well as the “drastic remedy” its lawyers are requesting.

“Despite having to prove both liability and grounds for an injunction, the band has done neither. The motion must therefore be denied,” the brief reads, describing their argument as “alarmist” and “counterfactual speculation.”

“No release of oil is ‘ready to take place,’ ‘happening soon,’ or ‘real and immediate.'”

The 50-page filing includes among its exhibits an email exchange between Enbridge and the band’s natural resources officials to support its argument that the band has been unwilling to allow the company to do any remedial work.

“This court should contrast the evidence before it of Enbridge’s persistent efforts and overtures to reach a solution … with the band’s refusal to meaningfully engage or act.”

Even if the risk was high, shutting down the pipeline would not be the appropriate remedy, Enbridge says, pointing to a court-ordered contingency plan that spells out the steps it would take if the threat were indeed urgent.

“Enbridge will pre-emptively purge and shut down the line well in advance of any potential rupture,” the brief says, adding that the area remains under constant 24-hour video surveillance.

“Any flooding and erosion has not, and would not, catch Enbridge by surprise.”

Heavy flooding that began in early April washed away significant portions of the riverbank where Line 5 intersects the Bad River, a meandering, 120-kilometre course that feeds Lake Superior and a complex network of ecologically delicate wetlands.

The band has been in court with Enbridge since 2019 in an effort to compel the pipeline’s owner and operator to reroute Line 5 around its traditional territory — something the company has already agreed to do.

But the flooding has turned a theoretical risk into a very real one, the band argues, and it wants the pipeline closed off immediately to prevent catastrophe.

Line 5 meets the river just past a location the court has come to know as the “meander,” where the riverbed snakes back and forth multiple times, separated from itself only by several metres of forest and the pipeline itself.

At four locations, the river was less than 4.6 metres from the pipeline — just 3.4 metres in one particular spot — and the erosion has only continued.

Michigan, led by Nessel, has been arguing since 2019 that it’s only a matter of time before Line 5 leaks into the Straits of Mackinac, the ecologically delicate waterway where it crosses the Great Lakes.

“The alarming erosion at the Bad River meander poses an imminent threat of irreparable harm to Lake Superior which far outweighs the risk of impacts associated with a shutdown of the Line 5 pipeline,” she argues in her brief.

“Without judicial intervention, it is likely that this irreparable harm will be inflicted not only on the band, but also on Michigan, its residents, and its natural resources.”

The economic arguments against shutting down the pipeline — which carries 540,000 barrels of oil and natural gas liquids daily across Wisconsin and Michigan to refineries in Sarnia, Ont. — are by now well-known.

Its proponents, including the federal government, say a shutdown would cause major economic disruption across Alberta, Saskatchewan and the U.S. Midwest, where Line 5 provides feedstock to refineries in Michigan, Ohio and Pennsylvania.

It also supplies key refineries in Ontario and Quebec, and is vital to the production of jet fuel for major airports on both sides of the Canada-U.S. border, including Detroit Metropolitan and Pearson International in Toronto.

“The implications (of a shutdown) are significant — not only to Pearson airport, not only to the Detroit airport, but to our mutual economies,” Transport Minister Omar Alghabra said Wednesday on Parliament Hill.

Talks about possible contingency plans have been taking place, he added, though he hinted at something Enbridge and pipeline experts have been saying for years: there are no real alternatives.

“There’s been ongoing discussion,” Alghabra said. “But I can tell you that our focus is making sure that Line 5 continues operations.”

That was the idea behind a lengthy statement issued Tuesday by the Canadian Embassy, which warned of severe economic consequences as well as potential ramifications for bilateral relations were the line to close.

“The energy security of both Canada and the United States would be directly impacted by a Line 5 closure,” the statement said. Some 33,000 U.S. jobs and US$20 billion in economic activity would be at stake, it added.

“At a time of heightened concern over energy security and supply, including during the energy transition, maintaining and protecting existing infrastructure should be a top priority.”

Talks have been ongoing for months under the terms of a 1977 pipelines treaty between the two countries that effectively prohibits either country from unilaterally closing off the flow of hydrocarbons.

Nonetheless, the embassy’s statement and the Enbridge brief tacitly acknowledge that the prospect of a shutdown order is very real.

In Enbridge’s case, the brief pre-emptively asks the judge to grant a stay of 30 days, should an injunction be ordered, to give lawyers time to mount an appeal.

And if “this specific, temporary flood situation” results in a shutdown, the embassy says, Canada expects the U.S. to comply with the treaty, “including the expeditious restoration of normal pipeline operations.”

This report by The Canadian Press was first published May 17, 2023.

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Energy

Biden Talks Tough About NATO, but His Energy Policies Tell Different Story

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From Heartland Daily News

By Steven Bucci of the Daily Signal

That faction must decide which is the priority: stopping Putin and helping our friends in Europe permanently leave the sway of Russia’s energy extortion, or crippling American energy companies to virtue-signal how “green” America can become. You can’t really have both.

President Joe Biden, host of the 75th anniversary NATO Summit in Washington that ends Thursday, last week claimed to ABC News anchor George Stephanopoulos that he “put NATO together.”

Trying to find a charitable spin on this claim, let’s assume Biden means that he helped NATO stand stronger against Russian President Vladimir Putin in the crisis over Russia’s 2022 invasion of Ukraine.

Biden certainly didn’t put together NATO, founded in 1949, regardless of his recollection. In that context, it makes one wonder about the purpose and intent behind Biden’s energy policies and their implications for our NATO allies.

The president’s words imply one thing, but his actions are exactly the opposite. At this week’s NATO Summit, America’s allies should have denounced Biden’s energy policies for benefiting Russia.

For example, if we investigate the Biden administration’s policies on liquefied natural gas, we find that rather than supporting NATO against Russia, they clearly enable Russia and disadvantage our allies. Biden’s imposition this year of an export moratorium on liquefied natural gas, or LNG, has hampered U.S. companies that are trying to aid our allies by weaning them off dependence on Russian natural gas.

You can debate Biden’s words (and his faulty memory), but his policies are simply dead wrong.

First, let’s look at Biden’s disastrous pause in exports of liquefied natural gas. The Energy Department has stopped new permits for such exports to Europe and Asia, which has led to price volatility and no assurance of reliable sources for our allies to meet their energy demands.

federal judge in Louisiana recently reversed Biden’s moratorium. That action could eventually help allow private sector companies in the U.S. to support our allies in Europe and Ukraine.

One example of note includes Ukraine and Venture Global, an American company that wants to come to the rescue by supplying Ukraine and Europe with liquefied natural gas to help them reduce their dependence on Russian gas. Biden’s continued pause had stood in the way.

The judge in Louisiana noted that the Biden administration’s suspension of LNG exports conflicts with settled law such as the Natural Gas Act, which directs the Energy Department to “ensure expeditious completion” of permit reviews.

Biden’s LNG export moratorium also violates the Administrative Procedure Act, since there never was a congressional direction that the Energy Department impose it.

All of this is a clear conflict (again) between responsible policy and the extremist green faction of Biden’s Democratic Party and his administration. That faction must decide which is the priority: stopping Putin and helping our friends in Europe permanently leave the sway of Russia’s energy extortion, or crippling American energy companies to virtue-signal how “green” America can become.

You can’t really have both. And yet, ironically, new evidence demonstrates that U.S. exports of liquefied natural gas represent a climate-conscious solution. A recent Berkeley Research Group report found that these exports result in lower greenhouse gas emissions than does natural gas supplied by competing countries, and much lower emissions compared with coal.

The second example of this dangerous conflict is Biden’s support for a Middle East pipeline owned by the Russians. Here at least the president’s position seems to be nuanced, since a greater supply of oil could help lower energy prices.

Biden’s State Department has strongly supported restarting an oil pipeline that has been offline because of a political dispute among Kurdistan, Iran, and Turkey. Unfortunately, the pipeline is 60% owned by Rosneft, an oil company that itself is owned by the Russian state.

Oh, and a point I skipped above: We shouldn’t be helping Iran or a hostile Turkey to control or influence significant energy in any way. All this defies logic.

It’s obvious that Biden wants cheaper energy. Every president does in an election year. That said, why is the State Department supporting reopening a Middle East pipeline that’s majority-owned by the Kremlin after the Biden administration canceled infrastructure projects here at home?

The administration’s priorities are entirely misplaced.

There is a path forward. It involves reinforcing American leadership in domestic energy production.  Instead of playing into the hands of our adversaries (Russia, Iran, and Venezuela), the Biden administration needs to change course and open more access to American oil and gas production.

That starts by permanently ending the suspension on LNG exports, ending the moratorium of oil and gas exploration on federal lands, ending unprecedented restrictions on offshore oil and gas leasing, ceasing resistance to the Canadian Enbridge Pipeline 5, and restarting canceled pipeline projects such as Keystone XL.

America’s energy resources are the envy of the world and should be leveraged to protect our citizens and our allies.

U.S. energy exports strengthen our competitive edge against China, Russia, and other hostile regimes. They also produce high-paying jobs at home and lessen dependence on any foreign source.

If America really wants to help Ukraine and be a leader in NATO, this is a path that will be consistent, effective, and inexpensive compared with direct financial or material support.

The green energy activists will hate it, but simply put: They’re wrong.

Steven Bucci is a visiting fellow in the Phillip N. Truluck Center for Leadership Development.

Originally published by The Daily Signal. Republished with permission.

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We can and must adjust to climate change – and not kill billions

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From the Frontier Centre for Public Policy

By Paul Driessen and Ronald Stein

The futures of poor developing countries hinge on their ability to harness foundational elements: fuels, electricity, minerals and feed stocks made from fossil fuels and other materials that are the basis for all buildings, infrastructures and other technologies in industrialized countries.

We’ve always done so and have no right to tell others they can’t have modern living standards.

Earth’s climate has changed many times over four billion years, and 99.999% of those changes occurred before humans were on this planet. During that short time, humans adjusted their housing, clothing and agriculture in response to climate changes. Can we now control the climate?

Except for decades-long droughts or massive volcanic explosions that ended some civilizations, humanity generally adjusted successfully – through a Pleistocene Ice Age, a Little Ice Age, a Dust Bowl and other natural crises. Numerous state high temperature records were set in Dust Bowl years.

After putting our current “microsecond” on Earth into its proper perspective, we might therefore ask:

* With today’s vastly superior technologies, why would humanity possibly be unable to adjust to even a few-degrees temperature increase, especially with more atmospheric carbon dioxide helping plants grow faster and better, providing more food for animals and people?

* How dare the political, bureaucratic, academic and media ruling elites – who propagate GIGO computer predictions, calculated myths and outright disinformation – tell us we must implement their “green” policies immediately and universally … or humanity won’t survive manmade climate influences that are minuscule compared to the planetary, solar and galactic forces that really control Earth’s climate?

* How dare those elites tell Earth’s poorest people and nations they have no right to seek energy, health and living standards akin to what developed countries already enjoy?

Scientists, geophysicists and engineers have yet to explain or prove what caused the slight change in global temperatures we are experiencing today – much less the huge fluctuations that brought five successive mile-high continental glaciers, and sea levels that plunged 400 feet each time (because seawater was turned to ice), interspersed with warm inter-glacial periods like the one we’re in now.

Moreover, none of the dire predictions of cataclysmic temperature increases, sea level rise, and more frequent and intense storms have actually occurred, despite decades of climate chaos fearmongering.

Earth continues to experience climate changes, from natural forces and/or human activity. However, adjusting to small temperature, sea level and precipitation changes would inflict far less harm on our planet’s eight billion people than would ridding the world of fossil fuels that provide 80% of our energy and myriad products that helped to nearly double human life expectancy over the past 200 years.

Today, with fuels, products, housing and infrastructures that didn’t even exist one or two centuries ago, we can adjust to almost anything.

When it’s cold, we heat insulated homes and wear appropriate winter clothing; when it’s hot, we use air conditioning and wear lighter clothing. When it rains, we remain dry inside or with umbrellas; when it snows, we stay warm indoors or ski, bobsled and build snowmen.

Climate changes may impact us in many ways. But eliminating coal, oil and natural gas – with no 24/7/365 substitutes to replace them – would be immoral and evil. It would bring extreme shortages of reliable, affordable, essential energy, and of over 6,000 essential products derived from fossil fuels.

It would inflict billions of needless deaths from diseases, malnutrition, extreme heat and cold, and wild weather – on a planet where the human population has grown from 1 billion to 8 billion since Col. Edwin Drake drilled the first oilwell in 1859.

Weather-related fatalities have virtually disappeared, thanks to accurate forecasting, storm warnings, modern buildings, and medicines and other petroleum-based products that weren’t available even 100 years ago.

* Fossil fuels for huge long-range jets and merchant ships move people, products, food and medications to support global trade, mobility, health and lifestyle choices. Indeed, more than 50,000 merchant ships20,000 commercial aircraft and 50,000 military aircraft use fuels manufactured from crude oil.

* Food to feed Americans and humanity would be far less abundant and affordable without the fertilizers, insecticides, herbicides, and tractor and transportation fuels that come from oil and natural gas.

* Everything powered by electricity utilizes petroleum-based derivatives: wind turbine blades and nacelle covers, wire insulation, iPhone and computer housings, defibrillators, myriad EV components and more.

Petroleum industry history demonstrates that crude oil was virtually useless until it could be transformed in refineries and chemical plants into derivatives that are the foundation for plastics, solvents, medications and other products that support industries, health and living standards. The same is true for everything else that comes out of holes in the ground.

Plants and rocks, metals and minerals have no inherent value unless we learn how to cook them, extract metals from them, bend and shape them, or otherwise convert them into something we can use.

Similarly, the futures of poor developing countries hinge on their ability to harness foundational elements: fuels, electricity, minerals and feed stocks made from fossil fuels and other materials that are the basis for all buildings, infrastructures and other technologies in industrialized countries.

For the 80% of humanity in Africa, Asia and Latin America who still live on less than $10 a day – and the billions who still have little to no access to electricity – life is severely complicated and compromised by the hypocritical “green” agendas of wealthy country elites who have benefited so tremendously from fossil fuels since the modern industrial era began around 1850. Before that:

* Life spans were around 40 years, and people seldom travelled more than 100 miles from their birthplaces.

* There was no electricity, since generating, transmitting and utilizing this amazing energy resource requires technologies made from oil and natural gas derivatives.

* That meant the world had no modern transportation, hospitals, medicines and medical equipment, kitchen and laundry appliances, radio and other electronics, cell phones and other telecommunications, air and space travel, central heating and air conditioning, or year-round shipping and preservation of meats, fruits and vegetables, to name just a few things most of us just take for granted.

There are no silver-bullet solutions to save people from natural or man-made climate changes. However, adjusting to those fluctuations is the only solution that minimizes fatalities which would be caused by the callous or unthinking elimination of the petroleum fuels and building blocks that truly make life possible and enjoyable, instead of nasty, brutish and short. The late Steven Lyazi explained it perfectly:

“Wind and solar are … short-term solutions …. to meet basic needs until [faraway Ugandan villages] can be connected to transmission lines and a grid. Only in that way can we have modern homes, heating, lighting, cooking, refrigeration, offices, factories, schools, shops and hospitals – so that we can enjoy the same living standards people in industrialized countries do (and think is their right). We deserve the same rights and lives.

“What is an extra degree, or even two degrees, of warming in places like Africa? It’s already incredibly hot here, and people are used to it. What we Africans worry about and need to fix are malnutrition and starvation, the absence of electricity, and killer diseases like malaria, tuberculosis, sleeping sickness and HIV/AIDS…. We just need to be set free to [get the job done].”

Paul Driessen is senior policy analyst for the Committee For A Constructive Tomorrow (www.CFACT.org), and author of articles and books on environmental, climate and human rights issues.

Ronald Stein is an engineer, senior policy advisor on energy literacy for the Heartland Institute and CFACT, and co-author of the Pulitzer Prize-nominated book “Clean Energy Exploitations.”

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