December 8, 2023 at 1:25 p.m.

Line 5 Essential to All of Wisconsin

Dear Editor,

We started Allegiant Oil because we wanted to provide families, farms, and businesses the products, prices, and services they deserve.  Nearly 17 years later, our family-run, small business now operates out of seven locations and we are proud to meet the energy needs of thousands of customers in nearly a dozen counties.

While our company is headquartered not far from our state's southern border, I am very concerned about what is happening over 300 miles away in Northwest Wisconsin where the Enbridge Line 5 pipeline is located.

Line 5, which originates in Superior, carries over 500,000 barrels of crude oil and natural gas liquids to refineries in Michigan, Ohio and just over the border in Canada.  The crude oil Line 5 carries is refined into gasoline, which most of us rely on to get to work, take our kids to school and generally live our lives.  Line 5 product also gets made into diesel fuel used on our farms to power equipment and by trucks to move products off the farm to a food processor and, ultimately, to market.

While the gas and diesel made possible by Line 5 are important to our energy supply, what makes Line 5 unique is it is the only pipeline in Wisconsin transporting natural gas liquids, which is refined into propane.  At Allegiant Oil we provide over 3 million gallons of propane each year that is used for heating homes and barns, drying crops, controlling weeds, cooking food and even to provide a nice fire for families and friends to gather around.

Being the only one of its kind, you can imagine Line 5 is essential to propane supply throughout the entire upper Midwest, including here in Wisconsin.  Which gets me back to my concern about the future of this important pipeline.  Some, who typically oppose all energy pipelines, have called for shutting down Line 5.  That simply makes no sense. Pipelines are proven to be the safest way to move energy - with an exemplary 99.99% safety record [1].  Line 5 is no exception to this, as the line has operated safely for 70 years now and is subject to constant monitoring and maintenance to ensure it remains safe.

There is also an ongoing legal case between Enbridge, the owner/operator of Line 5, and the Bad River Band of Lake Superior Chippewa.  A small portion of Line 5 - about 12 miles of the 645-mile pipeline - runs across the band's reservation in Ashland County.  While the band supported the pipeline for most of its existence, the current leadership wants Line 5 off the reservation and has filed a lawsuit to make that happen.

To accommodate the band, Enbridge has proposed a 41-mile reroute project that will move Line 5 off the reservation but still allow it to continue to operate and supply the energy we all need.  While all the land owners along the proposed relocation route have agreed to host the line, the state-issued permits for the project have been waiting for approval for nearly four years now.

My fear is that Line 5 is shut down either because those who want all pipelines shut down get their way or the Bad River Band's lawsuit is successful before the reroute is completed. If Line 5 were to stop operating, it would have a devastating impact on the supply of propane in the upper Midwest.  In fact, one of the leading manufacturers of propane has said it will close propane facilities in Wisconsin and Michigan if Line 5 is closed [2] - leading to propane supply shortages and price spikes that will almost assuredly hurt the farmers, families and small businesses that rely on the propane Allegiant Oil provides them.

So, that's why I am so concerned about a pipeline located a long way from where I live.  While Line 5 may seem really far away for most of us, there's no question it has a big impact on our entire state.

(Tina Hake is the owner of Allegiant Oil which operates in 11 counties in southern Wisconsin.)