VASSAR — Tuesday was a lucky day for folks who visited the Vassar Shell station.
They were greeted with free gas and free lunch.
Officials from Enbridge, a Canada-based natural gas distribution company, were at the gas station/convenience store handing out $25 gas cards to everyone who pulled up to a gas pump between 11 a.m. and 1 p.m.
“We just want to show our appreciation to the communities we live in ourselves,” said Candice Braddock, a senior community engagement adviser for Enbridge. “We have miles of pipeline that run through Tuscola County, the emergency responders have been great supporters, and we’re here today to lighten people’s pockets and wallets.”
The Shell station, 911 W. Huron Ave., is also home to a Subway sandwich shop. Employees premade hundreds of six-inch turkey and ham subs to give away to customers.
Radio station WKCQ (98.1 FM) of Saginaw was on air from the Shell store, inviting listeners to Vassar for free gas and lunch. Other than that, Enbridge’s appearance was a surprise.
“Sometimes we come to various locations throughout Michigan where we have assets,” Braddock said. “And this community is right in our backyard. We don’t do this often, but we want to be strategic about prioritizing places of importance, and Vassar is certainly important to us.”
Everyone who pulled to a gas pump was given a $25 Shell gas gift card, which was already loaded. Customers could use the card right then and there, or save it to purchase gas at a Shell station at another time. They also had the choice of grabbing a sub sandwich.
Enbridge’s No. 5 pipeline runs the entire length of Michigan’s Upper Peninsula and enters the Lower Peninsula near Mackinaw City. Near Bay City, the pipeline juts southeast through Tuscola County – running through Vassar – Lapeer County and St. Clair County before crossing into Canada near Sarnia, Ontario.
It pumps about 23 million gallons of oil and natural gas liquids through Michigan each day. Pipeline No. 5 has caused controversy as some worry an oil spill, especially where it crosses the Straits of Mackinaw, would be an ecological disaster.
The pipeline carries oil and gas from western Canada to eastern Canada, passing through North Dakota, Minnesota, Wisconsin and Michigan.
In October, the city of Vassar and Enbridge were in the news when activists shut down the pipeline about one mile northwest of the city in Tuscola Township.
Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer had asked a federal judge to halt Enbridge’s utilization of the twin, 68-year-old pipelines, but in November withdrew the suit to focus on a state suit against Enbridge.
“We also want to illustrate how important it is for us to continue to have Line 5 right here in Michigan, running through the state and providing that essential energy to this state and region,” Braddock said.