The following is a public comment made by Michigan Climate Action Network Director Kate Madigan on the recent U.P. Energy Task Force Draft Report and Recommendations on Propane Supply.
Dear Director Clark and U.P. Energy Task Force,
On behalf of the Michigan Climate Action Network (MiCAN), I am writing to provide comment on the Draft U.P. Energy Task Force Committee Recommendations, Part I Propane Supply. We support the fourteen Committee Recommendations, and we urge you to adopt and rapidly implement these recommendations. We also offer the following comment.
The Michigan Climate Action Network strongly supports shutting down the Line 5 pipeline in the Straits of Mackinac, and rapidly identifying and implementing affordable alternative propane supply and energy sources for U.P. residents.
The technical “Analysis of Propane Supply Alternatives for Michigan” in Appendix III identifies a number of alternative propane supply options to the UP in the scenario that Line 5 is shut down, and finds these would result in modest wholesale price increases. The report also finds these price increases can be further mitigated by optimizing storage capacity, and that propane use can be reduced through efficiency measures, which are reflected in the Committee Recommendations. These findings make clear that there are affordable alternatives to deliver propane to U.P. residents in the short term without Line 5.
There is no mention of climate change anywhere in either the technical report by Public Sector Consultants nor in the Committee Recommendations, and we urge you to acknowledge climate change in the final report. The scientific consensus that we must cut greenhouse gas emissions significantly within a decade made prominent by the 2018 report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, and the increasing commitment by policymakers, including Governor Whitmer, to take ambitious action that aligns with this urgency means that any evaluation of future energy supplies cannot leave climate out of the equation. The report could at least mention the increase in extreme weather because of climate change when referring to the Polar Vortex events, and consider likely climate policy that could disrupt propane supply or demand.
Also, we understand that the next report will focus on the broader issue of meeting U.P. energy needs, including renewable energy and efficiency, and we are looking forward to Part II. However, the propane supply question cannot be completely separated from this topic or from climate change and a rapid shift off fossil fuels. If, for example, many U.P. homes will switch from propane to renewable electrification in the not-so-distant future, then we should not encourage significant investment in alternate propane supply infrastructure.
It is also worth noting that many people showed up and made public comment at the Task Force meetings for Part I of this work, and the majority of public comments made were in support of shutting down Line 5 and moving off fossil fuels toward clean, renewable energy in the U.P.
Thank you for your work toward the charge identified in Governor Whitmer’s Executive Order 2019-14 to formulate alternative solutions for meeting the U.P.’s energy needs in a manner that is reliable, affordable, and environmentally sound, and for your prompt and thoughtful report and recommendations.
Director, Michigan Climate Action Network