Iron County Board backs pipeline tunnel plan

CRYSTAL FALLS — The Iron County Board gave support Tuesday to Canada-based Enbridge Inc.’s plan to construct a tunnel beneath the Straits of Mackinac for its Line 5 pipeline.

The board made its decision after hearing from Norway native Paul Meneghini, manager of community engagement for Enbridge.

“If you fill a gasoline tank up here in Michigan, there’s a 70 percent chance that that petroleum was originally crude oil transported in Enbridge pipeline,” Meneghini said.

The 66-year-old Line 5 pipeline begins in Superior, Wis., travels through the Upper and Lower peninsulas and ends in Sarnia, Ontario, Canada.

“Michigan, per capita, is the largest propane-consuming state in the nation,” Meneghini said, later adding “18 percent of the homes in the U.P. rely on propane as a primary source of heat, and that doesn’t include recreational properties.”

Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel filed a lawsuit June 27 to shut Line 5 down, arguing the risk of an oil spill poses a threat to the Great Lakes and the state’s natural resources.

But Meneghini said Enbridge felt it was on the “right side” of the law.

“Our plan is to continue full speed ahead,” with a concrete tunnel buried 100 feet beneath the deepest point beneath the straits, Meneghini said.

The board also:

— Accepted the Iron County Medical Care Facility Municipal Employees’ Retirement System Health Care Savings Program agreement, which allows employees to save for health care and retirement through tax-free contributions.

— Renewed a group life insurance package for Iron County Courthouse employees ahead of the Oct. 1 policy anniversary date.

— Hired Many Waters LLC of Iron River to remove Eurasian watermilfoil — an aquatic vegetation considered to be a highly invasive species — from Chicaugon Lake at a cost not to exceed $4,800 without written consent from the board.

— Allowed courthouse staff to participate in the Oct. 1 fundraiser for the Iron County Communities That Care coalition.

— Granted a $25 stipend for phone expenses to new Central Dispatch Director Vernon Jones.

— Contracted with computer networking organization Merit Network Inc. of Ann Arbor to provide internet service rated at 100 megabits per second for $598 a month.

— Authorized a quit claim deed to Angeli Foods Company for the Shopko Hometown Pharmacy property in Iron River.

— Increased the construction code budget to $11,842 for fiduciary fees and computer services.

— Approved up to $45,000 for two new water heaters in the Iron County Correctional Facility.

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