The Enbridge site in Sarnia. June 2021. (BlackburnNews file photo)The Enbridge site in Sarnia. June 2021. (BlackburnNews file photo)

Shuffled cabinet ministers reaffirm feds support for Line 5

Two federal ministers overlooking the situation with Enbridge's Line 5, have reaffirmed their government's support for the continued operation of the pipeline.

Minister of Natural Resources Jonathan Wilkinson and Minister of Environment & Climate Change Steven Guilbeault spoke with Sarnia News Today about the issue this month.

Wilkinson said he was in touch with the CEO of Enbridge earlier in the week.

"I assured him that the government remains committed to supporting them through this process and working with them to ensure that we are trying to convince Michigan to ensure that this important piece of infrastructure continues to operate."

Wilkinson said he also raised the issue of Line 5 with the secretary of energy in the United States during the 2021 United Nations Climate Change Conference in Glasgow.

"We will continue to work to ensure that this is an important issue that will get resolved in the coming months. It's a critical piece of infrastructure, and shutting it down is not going to, in any way, affect the consumption of fossil fuels -- this will simply require that we replace that with oil that's going to be shipped from the United States or elsewhere."

Wilkinson was moved from environment minister over to the natural resources minister last month.  Guilbeault was moved from the minister of Canadian heritage over to the environment portfolio.

Guilbeault reiterated Wilkinson's stance on the impact of shutting down the pipeline.  The environment minister said in his home province of Quebec, they consume about 360,000 barrels of oil every day.

"And shutting down Line 5 tomorrow morning would still mean that Quebec would continue consuming 360,000 barrels of oil every day.  That oil would have to come from somewhere," said Guilbeault.  "If not from Line 5, probably from other pipelines between Canada and the U.S. Maybe import from other countries by ship through mostly the gulf and the St. Lawrence River."

Guilbeault said moving oil by ship could put belugas, right whales and other marine animals at risk.

"Does shutting [down] Line 5 help us reduce greenhouse gas emissions, does it bring us closer to our collective goal to reduce greenhouse gas emissions? And the answer to that is no," said Guilbeault.

Minister Wilkinson confirmed the federal government does have a contingency plan in the event that the federal government is not able to resolve the issue with Michigan and that the government is not successful in the courts.

"But I would say that that is a contingency plan that we hope never to have to use.  The focus for us is ensuring that this continues, and we're going to do everything we possibly can to ensure that happens."

Sarnia Mayor Mike Bradley said he has a planned Zoom meeting with Minister Wilkinson later this month to discuss Line 5.

Last month, the Canadian government invoked a 1977 agreement with the U.S. to keep Line 5 flowing. The treaty states that neither country can interfere with the operation of international pipelines.

Read More Local Stories