Doing the right thing for Michigan’s families, economy, environment and energy future

Earlier this month, I submitted this opinion column concerning the future of Line 5 and our economy:

I am committed to leading and supporting efforts that contribute to making Michigan the best place in the country for families, workers and job creators. Northeast Michigan’s economy took a beating from the pandemic and the business shutdowns that compromised our region’s many small businesses and family incomes.

As a recovery begins, we need to be sure the economic crisis is not worsened by an energy crisis the administration is on a path to create. The administration continues to pursue the reckless and irresponsible shutdown of the Line 5 pipeline that is an energy lifeline for northeast Michigan and our state.

If the governor is successful in shutting down Line 5, Michigan stands to lose more than $3 billion in economic activity, $56.8 million in state revenue and almost 6,700 jobs, according to a recent independent economic commissioned by Consumer Energy Alliance.

Line 5 pipeline is important to our state’s energy and economic security.

From Midland to Alpena, Gaylord to Tawas City, and the many towns, villages and rural stretches of Michigan’s Sunrise Coast that I am proud to represent, families and businesses depend on affordable energy to support daily activities and needs.

Our families, friends and neighbors rely on Line 5 to deliver the propane that heats homes throughout rural Michigan. According to the independent U.S. Energy Information Administration, Michigan has the largest residential propane use in the nation. That alone makes Line 5 essential. Read More

Line 5 delivers more than propane. The petroleum it delivers efficiently, safely and without imposing truck traffic on our roads to our regional refineries is processed into gasoline, jet fuel and many other fuels and products used through Michigan each day. Manufacturers, farmers, small businesses, hospitals, schools, utilities, and households throughout our area depend on these products to keep things moving and people safe.

We all agree that Line 5, which runs through the Straits of Mackinac, must be properly operated and maintained to prevent any kind of accident that could damage the waters of the Great Lakes and our Lake Huron shoreline. We also all agree that reasonable steps that can be taken to improve safety should be taken.

That’s why I support building the Great Lakes Tunnel, making the project a priority, and holding Enbridge and the state accountable to project agreements they signed.

Under the agreement, Enbridge is investing more than $500 million to build the Great Lakes Tunnel. When completed, the tunnel will encase the section of Line 5 that crosses the Straits of Mackinac deep below the lakebed, which will eliminate the risk of an oil spill in the straits. The tunnel is also planned to hold other public utilities, like broadband fiberoptic cables.

Between now and when the tunnel project is completed in a few years, extra precautionary measures are required by the agreements, and already are in place, to protect both the pipeline and the Great Lakes, while keeping the energy resources we need coming. Ships moving through the straits are prewarned of pipelines and other utilities that cross the area to make sure anchors are up and out of harm’s way. Weather conditions are carefully monitored, and other commonsense precautions are being taken.

While plans and permitting are well underway by Enbridge, legal challenges brought by the governor’s administration that could delay the project are moving through the court system. Meanwhile, Enbridge and the administration are working with a legal mediator; we need them to work together, resolve their differences and move the tunnel project forward.

The Great Lakes tunnel project will create good-paying jobs for Michigan workers and will boost business for northern Michigan’s small businesses. Construction of the tunnel will involve local suppliers, materials and employers, including those from Alpena County. It also will add to an important tax base for our local governments, schools and public services.

More than 30 county commissions throughout the region now have passed resolutions to urge safe Line 5 operations, and support moving the Great Lakes Tunnel project forward as quickly as possible. I encourage other counties to join the momentum.

I am proud of our communities and those with whom I share an unwavering commitment to protecting our shores while doing the right thing for Michigan’s families, economy, environment and energy future.