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Opposition to Line 5 hurts jobs

I’m concerned by the misinformation, exaggeration and just plain lies that have become commonplace in the Line 5 debate, and feel environmental movements — such as the one to shut down Line 5 — continue to ignore the voices of working men and women.

That’s where I fit in.

I’m a proud member of the Laborers’ International Union of North America, or LIUNA. As union laborers, we work on the construction and maintenance of energy systems, including work on pipelines, nuclear power plants, solar farms, wind turbines, and other jobs critical to the energy industry.

Environmentalist opponents are waging guerrilla warfare on a project-by-project basis, killing jobs and opportunities, and creating division as they move toward extremism without solutions. Many are opposed to all natural gas extraction. They are opposed to increasing domestic oil production, to dams that harness energy from water and nuclear power. Environmentalists are opposing wind farms because too many birds will be killed by the turbines. They oppose solar farms because their construction will cover some wildlife habitat. They don’t care about rising energy costs, or how many jobs they kill. Currently, Michigan’s renewable resources provide only 8% of its electricity net generation. That share will and should grow. But there is no scenario, no possibility in which renewable energy grows fast enough to replace oil and gas in the short term.

Given the massive investment and commitment LIUNA puts toward training, safety and renewable energy, it is insulting that many in the environmental movement have forgotten their purpose and have instead chosen to use high-profile energy projects such as the proposed tunnel project to agitate their base at the expense of workers’ livelihoods. This is not a battle between those who want to protect the environment and those who want to create good green jobs.

My point is this: we can believe in protecting the planet and the people on it. We can be for good jobs, for green jobs and for taking care of workers. It’s time to acknowledge the energy challenges we face. We need to build the infrastructure for renewable energy sources. We must expand domestic oil production and power our nation’s economy with thousands of good union jobs.

Michigan wins when we protect the Great Lakes. The Great Lakes Tunnel is a $500 million modern infrastructure project that will safeguard our precious natural resources, including fish and wildlife, while permitting Line 5 to continue powering Michigan’s economy by securing the jobs our families need. It’s a vital Michigan asset over the long term, and it’s going to be entirely paid for by Enbridge, the company that operates Line 5. In Michigan, we love our lakes, guard our paychecks, and work hard at our jobs. The proposed Great Lakes Tunnel protects all three.

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