White House confirms it is reviewing impact of a Line 5 replacement

Washington — The Biden administration is reviewing the impact of replacing Michigan's Line 5 oil pipeline, White House spokeswoman Karine Jean-Pierre said during a Monday briefing.

Jean-Pierre said the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is preparing an environmental impact statement on the construction of a Line 5 replacement. She said the administration has not made a decision on the existing pipeline, which Gov. Gretchen Whitmer wants to shut down.

Jean-Pierre said the study will "help inform any additional action or position the U.S. will be taking on the replacement of Line 5." She added that this aligns with Biden's commitment that any pipeline/infrastructure project undergo a "full and fair review," including any environmental impacts. 

Enbridge Inc., which owns and operates Line 5, said  the environmental impact study is part of the permitting for Enbridge's tunnel project in the Straits of Mackinac that would house a new segment of Line 5.

"That was announced several months ago and is ongoing," spokesman Ryan Duffy said.

Politico, citing sources, reported last week the Biden administration was reviewing data on how closing the pipeline would affect fuel prices in the region. 

Enbridge says on its website the pipeline "is a critical source of 540,000 barrels per day of propane and crude oil supply for Michigan and surrounding areas, and its shutdown would lead to a serious disruption of the energy market."

Last month, the government of Canada invoked a 1977 treaty that it says would prevent Michigan or the U.S. from interrupting operation of the pipeline, drawing the White House into the dispute. The action came after after court filings indicated mediation talks between the state and Line 5 owner Enbridge over the future of Line 5 are largely at a dead end.