Whitmer declares energy emergency; GOP cites impending Line 5 closure

Karen Bouffard
The Detroit News
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Gov. Gretchen Whitmer declared a state of energy emergency on Saturday to ensure adequate delivery of propane during the nationwide cold snap, the Governor's Office announced. 

The executive order exempts motor carriers and drivers who transport propane and heating oil from compliance with maximum weekly driving and on-duty limits. The order takes effect on Saturday and will remain in effect through Sunday, Feb. 28.

The emergency order drew a quick rebuttal from Michigan Senate Republicans, whose Twitter account reminded constituents that Whitmer in December ordered the spring shutdown of Line 5 under the Straits of Mackinac, which supplies propane to about 15,000 households in the Upper Peninsula, citing it as a risk.

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"Governor who issued executive order to shut down crucial source of propane issues executive order declaring a propane emergency," the tweet read.

The administration is expected to release a report next month on alternative methods for supplying the Upper Peninsula.

A press release from the Governor's Office noted that Michigan has experienced an abnormally high demand for propane from in-state and regional consumers, causing longer lines at propane distribution centers.

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer

The executive order temporarily suspends all restrictions on commercial driver hours to allow the immediate delivery of energy to homes and businesses. The order applies to all highways in Michigan, including the national system of interstate and defense highways.

“With a cold wave gripping the country, our top priority right now is ensuring that Michigan families and businesses have the home heating fuel we need to stay warm,” Whitmer said in the release.

“While I am confident that our state has the energy supply we need to get through these cold winter days, we aren’t taking any chances after what happened in Texas this week." 

Whitmer noted at all of Michigan’s neighboring states, and the majority of states in the nation, are under some form of federal or state energy emergency declaration.

"With today’s order, Michigan will allow expanded flexibility for drivers to ensure the supply of home heating fuel can be delivered across the state without delay or interruption.”

 kbouffard@detroitnews.com

Twitter: @kbouffardDN

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