Whitmer should help replace Line 5 pipeline, not unilaterally shut it down

In May, a Russian cyber-attack on a major pipeline from the Gulf Coast to the New York region resulted in gas shortages in multiple states. When asked about using rail cars to transport fuel during the closure, former Michigan governor and current Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm said, “pipe is the best way to go.”

Meanwhile, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer continues her unilateral efforts to shut down the Line 5 pipeline without a viable and safer way to transport its energy resources to homeowners in the U.P. and refineries here in the Toledo and Detroit areas.

The governor announced she was revoking a 1953 easement that allows Enbridge Energy to run the dual pipeline through the Straits of Mackinac. Questions about her actions and if she even has the power to take those actions on an international pipeline are pending in both state and federal court.

However, if the governor is successful in her reckless attempts to shut down the pipeline, it would be devastating to our economy and the lives of millions of struggling families and small businesses.

It has been estimated that over 500 direct jobs at the Toledo PBF refinery could be lost and workers at the Toledo-area BP-Husky refinery and the Marathon Petroleum refinery in Detroit would also be affected. Union workers from the Toledo PBF facility came to Lansing in May to show their opposition to the governor’s efforts.

In addition to the lost jobs, shutting down the pipeline would affect millions of other Michigan families through increased prices for gasoline, products that rely on trucks to bring them to consumers and propane used to heat most homes in rural areas.

As a small business owner and avid outdoorsman, I understand the need to balance protecting our environment and supplying Michigan families with affordable and reliable energy.

In 2018, I supported legislation to replace the aging Line 5 pipeline with a new pipeline housed in a multiuse tunnel 100 feet under the straits. The tunnel would virtually eliminate any risk to the Great Lakes, and the Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy in January issued some of the permits required to build the tunnel — concluding it can be done in compliance with our environmental laws.

To transport these resources 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 people.

Instead of trying to unilaterally shut down Line 5, the governor should get out of the way and allow Enbridge to construct a tunnel — at its own cost — below the Straits of Mackinac as soon as possible and replace the existing pipeline with a new one safely in the tunnel.

As our former governor said, “pipe is the best way to go.”