Time to stop playing politics with future of Line 5 in straits

Guest column

GREG MARKKANEN

The attorney general’s quest to shut down Line 5 before a plan is in place to meet the propane needs of Upper Peninsula families is alarming, to say the least.

Approximately 65 percent of the propane that heats homes and businesses in the U.P. is delivered through Line 5. Shutting it down before building a replacement is a dangerous move that would leave residents here struggling to pay soaring energy rates.

I understand the concerns people have with the aging pipeline running through the Straits of Mackinac. Some of the greatest treasures we have here in the Western Upper Peninsula are our pristine water resources. Lake Superior and the other freshwater lakes, rivers and streams that flow through our communities must be protected.

That’s exactly why the tunnel agreement state leaders struck with Enbridge last year is the best course of action. The construction of a multi-use utility tunnel under the Straits will allow a brand new pipeline with additional safety measures to continue delivering critical resources to U.P. homes and businesses. The $500 million project — to be paid for by Enbridge, not taxpayers — will also pave the way for improved, cheaper delivery of propane, broadband and electricity.

Energy is essential to our everyday lives. And the fact of the matter is that properly maintained pipelines are much safer than transporting gas and oil by truck or rail. Pipeline spills remain less catastrophic and less frequent than those likely during truck or rail transport. A new pipeline buried in a utility tunnel 100 feet below the floor of the Straits is the best and safest option we have for getting crucial energy resources where they need to go.

Rather than delaying construction with lengthy lawsuits paid for by taxpayers, the attorney general should focus on accelerating the project to protect our Great Lakes and the economy.

As always, please feel free to reach out to my office with any questions, ideas or concerns at 517-373-0850 or GregMarkkanen@house.mi.gov.

State Rep. Greg Markkanen, of Hancock is serving his first term in the Michigan House representing Baraga, Gogebic, Houghton, Iron, Keweenaw and Ontonagon counties, as well as Powell and Ishpeming townships in Marquette County.

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