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Michigan and small businesses can’t afford a Line 5 shutdown

April 11, 2022

Opinion piece by SBAM President & CEO Brian Calley
Originally featured in Bridge Magazine | April 4, 2022

We have record high energy prices and somehow there is still a debate about how critical Line 5 and the Great Lakes Tunnel are for our energy future, and our economy.

The reality is that there is no question: we need Line 5. Michiganders can’t afford a shutdown of this critical energy infrastructure that we all rely on every day. A report recently published by the Consumer Energy Alliance highlighted the significant economic harm that Michigan families, businesses and industries would face if Line 5 were to be shut down.

The report showed that if a shutdown occurred, Michiganders would have to pay more than $2.2 billion more in transportation fuel costs every single year. Gas prices are already skyrocketing, putting a heavy burden on Michigan residents and small businesses. The last thing we need is a shutdown of our key energy infrastructure causing us to pay billions more per year.

Small businesses are already working overtime to overcome inflation and staffing challenges during these difficult times. They don’t need to be burdened with additional costs that a Line 5 shutdown would bring too. Shutting down Line 5 would be disastrous for our economy, our small businesses and all of our residents.

For small business owners directly tied to fuel and transportation work, a shutdown would be even more devastating. David Rhoa, an entrepreneur from Kalamazoo, recently shared with me that fuel costs for his company’s fleet of vehicles increased more than 50 percent in the last year. He said a Line 5 shutdown would add to the significant pressure small businesses are already under and add costs during an already difficult economy. Small businesses are already under enough pressure, we don’t need to add more.

Line 5 is the safest and most effective way to transport energy products that all Michiganders rely on. We need Line 5 and there is no feasible alternative available for the energy and resources it provides. Efforts to shut down Line 5 are reckless and politically motivated and don’t take the needs of Michigan residents into consideration. Instead of looking for ways to shut down this essential resource, more action should focus on advancing the permitting process for the Great Lakes Tunnel project.

The permitting process is pending before the Michigan Public Service Commission and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. The longer these processes are drawn out, the longer it will take to get the true solution, the Great Lakes Tunnel, built and operating. Those who are concerned about the safety of Line 5 should be advocating to advance Michigan’s Great Lakes Tunnel project quickly.

The best way to make this already safe pipeline even safer is to move forward with the plan to get it out of the water and into the Great Lakes Tunnel, far below the Straits of Mackinac. The Consumer Energy Alliance report showed us just how costly doing anything else would be for Michiganders. Our residents and small businesses have already suffered enough over the last two years. Let’s not give them another unnecessary obstacle to face. Because for so many residents and small businesses, it would definitely be too difficult to bear.

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