New Line 5 tunnel is best way to protect the Great Lakes and great jobs

Since I joined the state Legislature in 2011, I have tried to put my real-world experience as a small business owner, local government official and avid outdoorsman to use to improve our state, protect our outdoors and help create good jobs for workers.

These three goals were the main reasons I supported legislation last year to replace the aging Line 5 pipeline currently on the bottom of the Straits of Mackinac with a new pipeline housed in a multiuse tunnel 100 feet under the straits.

Construction of a tunnel to hold a replacement pipeline is the best long-term option to remove the existing 66-year-old pipeline from the Great Lakes and protect both our environment and our economy. The tunnel would virtually eliminate any risk to the Great Lakes while enabling the safe transportation of energy resources to homeowners in the U.P. and refineries here in the Toledo and Detroit areas.

Unfortunately, Michigan’s attorney general is trying to stop the construction of the tunnel and shut down the existing pipeline altogether. Closing the Line 5 pipeline without a viable replacement in place is irresponsible and could have a devastating impact to our state and region.

To transport energy without the pipeline would require tens of thousands more rail cars and trucks as well as oil-carrying barges and tankers on the Great Lakes — at a much greater risk to our water and our roads.

Officials at the Toledo Refining Co. have said that 550 jobs could be lost if Line 5 were to be shut down. Workers at the Toledo-area BP-Husky refinery and the Marathon Petroleum refinery in Detroit would also be affected.

In addition to the lost jobs, shutting down the pipeline without the tunnel to replace it would impact millions of other Michigan families through increased prices for gasoline, jet fuel at Detroit Metro Airport, and propane used to heat most homes in rural communities.

I regularly hear the concerns from local residents about the impact if the state shuts down Line 5 without the tunnel. Their concerns are shared by many area leaders, including Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine, who sent Gov. Whitmer a letter this summer urging her not to shut down the pipeline.

Sometimes the simplest solution is the best one. In this case, that is to let Enbridge construct a $500 million tunnel — at its own cost — below the Straits of Mackinac, put a new Line 5 pipeline safely in it, and remove the existing pipeline from the Great Lakes.