By MPP Toby Barrett
Imperial Oil’s refinery at the Nanticoke Industrial Park is a key anchor in our Haldimand-Norfolk industrial economy.
Since the early 1980s, our area’s refinery has provided around 300 full-time jobs in addition to a daily average of 200 contractor positions.
Locally, Imperial Oil in Nanticoke has already gone through tough times with the recent four-month shutdown of the CN Rail line between Caledonia and the Nanticoke refinery.
About 25 per cent of the petroleum products used in Ontario go through a supply chain, including Imperial Nanticoke. That supply chain consists of rail, road, water, and, of course, pipeline— moving diesel, gasoline, aviation fuel, asphalt, heavy oil and home heating oil.
The Line 5 pipeline running through the Straits of Mackinac from the West is crucial for the operation of the economy in Ontario and Quebec as well as Ohio, Pennsylvania and certainly Michigan itself.
If the Governor of Michigan were successful in shutting down the Line 5, it would jeopardize 65 per cent of the propane going to Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, and 55 per cent of the propane requirements across the state. A shutdown would put at risk half the jet fuel supply to Detroit Metro Airport.
The governor would know that Michigan is Ontario’s largest export market and the largest source of imports into our province, totalling $82.3 billion in two-way trade — the largest two-way trading partnership between the U.S. and Canada. Close to 600,000 jobs in Michigan, depend on trade and investment with Canada.
The only thing Michigan will accomplish with this political decision is to drive up the cost of living for millions of people. They will not make it safer because it has proven to be safe. They will not help their own economy with this chosen a political route as opposed to an economic route.
I have met with Imperial on this issue. They are supporting Enbridge in its advocacy for keeping the pipeline open and working closely with the trades. Imperial also engages regularly on this threat with our senior government officials as well as the federal government.
The goal is to see the operation of the pipeline continue. However, Imperial’s teams are also required to work on a combination of contingency plans involving marine, rail, and truck to help mitigate any potential impact. These alternatives are costlier and environmentally riskier and are incapable of replacing the lost pipeline supply.
Enbridge Line 5 crossing at the Mackinac Straits has been in service without leaking since 1953. That is a track record of success and environmental responsibility by everyone involved. In May 2016, under the Obama administration, the United States Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration, the federal regulator in charge of pipeline safety, commissioned an extensive safety review that found no serious problems with this operation. In June 2020, a follow-up report concluded that a reported displaced anchor placed no threat to the pipeline.
Preventing the shutdown of Line 5 requires a Team Canada and, in fact, a Team North America approach. Prime Minister Trudeau should intervene by upholding an existing international pipeline treaty that protects Line 5. We are all friends-and-neighbours and allies. Our great and close working relationship must continue, as must the flow of product through Line 5.
Toby Barrett is the MPP for Haldimand-Norfolk