State Sen. Wayne Schmidt, R-Traverse City, issued the following statement on Wednesday regarding the agreement in principle for a tunnel to replace Line 5 under the Straits of Mackinac:
“I am pleased that the state and Enbridge have reached an agreement that will protect the Great Lakes and also ensure residents in Upper Peninsula have access to reliable and affordable propane to keep their families warm.
“Michigan is home to some of the most beautiful natural resources in the world, and we must do everything we can to protect them. The tunnel being built under this agreement will help keep our Great Lakes safe for generations to come. Importantly, the construction and maintenance of the multi-use tunnel will be paid for entirely by Enbridge and not Michigan taxpayers.”
Speaker of the House Tom Leonard, R-DeWitt, today issued the following statement on the agreement reached to replace the controversial Line 5 pipeline with a new utility tunnel:
“This is a major announcement that will protect the safety and well-being of Michigan families, keep critical heating fuel flowing in the dead of winter, and safeguard our economy for the next several decades. A tunnel under the Straits of Mackinac is the best way forward to transport essential energy and communication resources safely to the people and places of Michigan. Everyone in the Upper Peninsula, Northern Michigan and our entire state will see the benefits of this next-generation solution.”
“Today’s tunnel announcement is an important step forward in safeguarding our Great Lakes and ensuring that Upper Peninsula residents still have access to propane to heat their homes. Creating a tunnel under the Straits means there is a timeline for shutting down the existing pipeline. This is the right path forward. I would like to thank Governor Snyder, and his team, including Assistant Attorney General Bob Reichel, for putting this agreement into place.”
Schuette first called for a tunnel to replace the existing Line 5 in August of 2017, and required Enbridge sign an agreement that banned heavy crude oil from moving through Line 5 in September of 2015. The new agreement in principle to build a tunnel includes a permanent ban on heavy crude oil.
State Rep. Beau LaFave today said an agreement reached between the state of Michigan and Enbridge will lead to major safety enhancements along Line 5 and ensure local communities continue to have access to reliable energy resources.
Under the agreement, Enbridge will permanently shut down the current segment that crosses the Straits of Mackinac and construct a multi-use utility tunnel beneath the Straits. The company will also install safeguards at 13 other places where Line 5 crosses bodies of water, including locations in Delta and Iron counties.
“Protecting the Great Lakes is something everybody cares about,” LaFave said. “This historic agreement offers the greatest possible safeguards to Michigan’s waters while maintaining critical connections to ensure families in the Upper Peninsula have access to the energy resources we need.”
Until the tunnel is complete, LaFave said safeguards included in an action plan he is backing will help protect the Great Lakes from the threat of a spill by strengthening pipeline safety standards in the Straits of Mackinac. The plan was approved today by the Michigan House with overwhelming bipartisan support.
The comprehensive plan holds vessels and utility companies operating in the Straits accountable to the people of Michigan.
“Right now, pipeline operators are not required to report spills or submit their spill response plans to the state,” LaFave said. “By moving forward with this plan, utility companies will be made more accountable through additional reporting requirements and increased penalties for those responsible for negligence or criminal damage to public utilities.”