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Michigan House of Representatives adopts resolution supporting Great Lakes Tunnel Project

 Enbridge tunnel plans (Enbridge Graphic)
Enbridge tunnel plans (Enbridge Graphic) (WLUC)
Published: Jun. 24, 2020 at 4:51 PM EDT
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Enbridge’s Line 5 was the subject of a Michigan House Committee hearing in Lansing Wednesday morning. Those in support and opposition of the Great Lakes Tunnel Project gave their testimony.

110th State District Representative Greg Markkanen submitted a resolution to the Michigan House on Tuesday that was then referred to the Committee on Natural Resources and Outdoor Recreation.

“Resolution 282 supports the construction of a tunnel under the Straits of Mackinac, the tunnel will support Line 5," said Markkanen.

Markkanen says that Line 5 is invaluable to the Upper Peninsula, by virtue of the jobs that it creates, and the energy it provides.

“As far as the Upper Peninsula goes, 65% of the households in the Upper Peninsula depend on propane from Line 5 for heating," said Markkanen.

According to a report from the UP Energy Task Force published in March, there are other cost affordable and safe options for these residents to get power, without Line 5.

"It won't be the end of the world if Line 5 is shut down,” said Shawn McBrearty, Michigan legislative and policy director for Clean Water Action. “There are plenty of other options to get the energy resources that Michigan needs."

Those in opposition feel the risk from Line 5 is too great, and outweighs the benefits of a tunnel.

"We believe that Line 5 is an immediate threat, and Michiganders do not have the luxury to wait for Enbridge to build a tunnel," said Nick Occhipinti, governmental affairs director for the League of Conservation Voters.

Those who support the project say, the risk is precisely why the new tunnel needs to be made.

"Placing the pipeline in a state of the art, concrete tunnel, deep under the lakebed also provides multiple layers of protection safeguarding the straits from the risk of an oil spill," said Jonathan Byrd, external affairs director for the Michigan Labors District Council.

The opposition disagreed.

"The replacement of Line 5 in a tunnel will not eliminate the risk to the public trust waters, the Great Lakes, because the inland portions will still remain and that crosses 400 waterways throughout the state, those are the greatest risk," said Jennifer McKay, policy director for Tip of the Mitt Watershed Council.

After hearing testimony, the committee did vote to pass the resolution 7-2. That resolution went on to the House where it was adopted.

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