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U.S. Sen. Gary Peters’ take on Line 5

U.S. Sen. Gary Peters

ALPENA — U.S. Sen. Gary Peters, D- Bloomfield Township, is serving as chair on the Senate Commerce Subcommittee on Surface Transportation, Maritime, Freight and Ports.

The subcommittee oversees federal agencies responsible for pipeline safety, and for autonomous vehicles and technology.

Peters said his role gives him a louder voice, and more sway, for future legislation proposed on those issues.

The pipeline safety debate is ongoing in Michigan over concerns about the age and condition of Line 5, which runs along the Straits of Mackinac. The pipeline, which is owned by Enbridge, transports up to 540,000 barrels per day of light crude oil, light synthetic crude, and natural gas liquids, which are refined into propane.

A study done by the University of Michigan in 2016 shows if there was a large leak, oil would pollute 152 miles of shoreline in lakes Michigan and Huron, and cause catastrophic damage to the environment and local economies that depend on the lake for commerce and tourism.

Peters said Line 5 is a state issue, but the federal government will help make sure the pipeline is subject to the most strict oversight possible. He said he would prefer shutting the 68-year-old line down until a new one is built.

“It’s an inexplicable risk, and that risk only goes up each day,” Peters said.

Peters said the plan to build a tunnel below the bottom of the straits could be a good idea, if proven safe, and is constructed quickly.

The proposed tunnel, as designed, has enough space for the two pipes, but also for things like fiber-optic cables.

Peters said the tunnel could help people who live in rural parts of northern Michigan receive access to high-speed internet.

“There is potential for that, and it may help connect northern Michigan and the Upper Peninsula to high speed broadband.” he said.

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