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For Michigan unions, keeping Line 5 pipeline is a jobs issue

GENO ALESSANDRINI

Union jobs are on the line in Michigan. Thousands of them.

That was the conclusion from a new report by the Consumer Energy Alliance that dug into the damage that would be done by a closure of the safe and reliable Line 5 pipeline.

It’s just one of the reasons the Michigan Laborers Union and our members are so vocal about our support for construction of the Great Lakes Tunnel “up north.” It’s an energy infrastructure project that affects all of us, whichever part of the state we call home.

The Michigan Laborers District Council is an affiliation of seven local unions representing 13,000 Michigan workers. Those men and women are building Michigan’s future one project at a time, but the push from some to shut down the safe Line 5 pipeline threatens their good-paying jobs.

According to the new report from CEA, a shutdown would cost Michigan more than 6,600 jobs right away, $3 billion in economic activity, and tens of millions of dollars in tax revenue that funds our local schools and first responders.

Supporting Line 5 means supporting Michigan’s building trades and hard-working union members from metro Detroit to Lansing to Marquette.

That’s a no-brainer. The truth is, most people in Michigan get it. They understand there’s an alternative on the table that makes a lot of sense. Democrats and Republicans came together in Lansing to approve construction of the Great Lakes Tunnel, a building project that will get a portion of Line 5 out of the Great Lakes and bury it deep under the lakebed.

It’s a move that will protect high-paying jobs all across the state.

There are other reasons Michigan Laborers back Line 5 and the tunnel, too. Michigan is our home. We live in communities across the state and those communities depend on the safe pipeline. Line 5 pumps the fuel we use to heat our homes in the winter, and it delivers the fuel that gets turned into the gas and diesel that powers our equipment and the cars and trucks we use to get to work and get our kids to school, church and baseball games.

That study from CEA also took a look at the impact Line 5 has on gas prices. Shutting it down would raise gas and diesel prices by $2.2 billion per year in Michigan alone. Gas prices are already way too high. The last thing we need is to engineer a fuel crisis that sends them skyrocketing even higher.

Living in Michigan means we care about the Great Lakes, and the great outdoors, too. We fish. We hunt. We boat. Building the tunnel just makes sense.

Line 5 is already incredibly safe but getting a portion of it out of the water and burying it in a state-of-the-art tunnel deep below the lakebed would protect the lakes even more. The risk of a spill would be virtually zero. You can’t beat that.

For union workers across Michigan, this isn’t a tough debate. Line 5 creates and enhances tens of thousands of good-paying jobs. The Great Lakes Tunnel would protect those jobs and create even more. Line 5 is an important part of energy affordability. The Great Lakes Tunnel would help prevent huge potential price increases. Line 5 is already safe. The Great Lakes Tunnel would protect our environment, get the pipeline out of the water, and make it even safer.

Let’s support Michigan workers. Let’s protect their jobs. Let’s build the Great Lakes Tunnel.

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