In the 19th century, Canada remained independent by building, at huge expense and great risk, the Canadian Pacific Railway along an all-Canadian route, rather than relying on shortcuts through the United States.
The same prudent routing strategy was applied to the construction of a natural gas pipeline from west to east in 1954, but not to oil pipelines. This vulnerability has finally come home to roost.
In November, Michigan ordered a key portion of the major pipeline carrying Canadian oil eastward — Enbridge’s Line 5 pipeline — to be shut down by the end of May. The key portion consists of 7.2 kilometres of twin pipelines that cross under the Straits of Mackinac.
Environmentalists have targeted this line for years, even though there’s never been a spill.
Just before the November election, however, Michigan’s Natural Resources Department ruled that the underwater easement should be cancelled because of “incurable” violations — i.e., fears of an oil spill.