Does Michigan’s “Conservative” Energy Forum Oppose Line 5?

The Conservative Energy Network (CEN) is an umbrella organization for counterfeit conservative groups that are almost entirely funded by ultra-liberal foundations, like the Energy Foundation, to push conservative legislators to vote for liberal energy policies. I am often critical of the Minnesota Conservative Energy Forum (MnCEF) (see page 44),  but these groups exist in several states throughout the Midwest, including Wisconsin and Michigan.

Most of the time, these fraudulent conservative groups push for policies that increase mandates for renewable energy, but they do not vocally oppose conventional energy projects like pipelines. This is why the Michigan Conservative Energy Forum’s (MICEF), decision to co-host a panel discussing the future of propane delivery to the Upper Peninsula of Michigan without the Line 5 oil pipeline is so intriguing.

The panel is being co-hosted by the Superior Watershed Partnership, which has urged Michigan regulators to remove the entire Line 5 pipeline; the Groundworks Center, which opposes Line 5, even though the pipeline has never leaked in the Straits of Mackinac; and MICEF. It will be very interesting to see what MICEF has to say on the panel.

Will they advocate for the “All of the Above” energy strategy that is featured on their website, or will they talk about the need for the U.P. to find new ways to source their propane? Will they speak about the important role that propane plays in heating the homes of 23,000 families in the U.P., or will they push unserious solutions like converting these homes to electric heat?

These are the important questions that need to be answered if Line 5 is foolishly shut down.

Last summer, Jason Hayes of the Mackinac Center for Public Policy and I co-authored a paper investigating these very questions. Here is what we found:

  1. Closures of Line 5, even if only temporary in nature, will leave the Upper Peninsula vulnerable to price spikes and supply shortages in heating fuels.
  2. Laws designed to limit price increases during shortages are likely to prolong shortages.
  3. Alternate home heating options will cause a two- to three-fold increase in heating costs.
  4. Transitioning from propane to electric appliances, water heaters, and furnaces could cost more than $25,000 per household.
  5. Weatherization Assistance Program upgrades would be prohibitively expensive.

Given the indispensable role that propane plays in the lives of UP residents, we should expect a conservative energy group to take a firm stand supporting the pipeline because pipelines are the safest and most affordable way to transport the energy we all rely upon every single day.

However, if MICEF does not advocate for a true “all of the above” strategy that includes the safe operation of the Line 5 pipeline, we can assume it is probably because they received $215,000 from the Energy Foundation in 2017, which constituted nearly 70 percent of their revenue that year.