WASHINGTON — Canada’s natural resources minister is calling the cross-border Line 5 pipeline a “non-negotiable” element of talks with the United States.

Seamus O’Regan is vowing to defend the underwater pipeline as he testifies before a special House of Commons committee on Canada-U.S. relations.

Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer has pledged to shut down the Enbridge pipeline, which links Wisconsin and Sarnia, Ont., through the Straits of Mackinac between lakes Michigan and Huron.

O’Regan says the pipeline is a vital source of both jobs and energy for Northern U.S. states, as well as southwestern Ontario and Quebec.

He says a shutdown would instantly create an energy shortage in the region equivalent to 14 million barrels of oil a day.

O’Regan also says there are clear signs from the courts that a settlement between Michigan and Enbridge can be reached to avoid a shutdown.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 4, 2021.

The Canadian Press