Whitmer faces tough, lonely call on Line 5

Complicated issues require tough decisions.

Certainly, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer is no stranger to tough decisions, as she has made them all her career.

But, as governor of an important state like Michigan, those decisions become extra hard, and with a lot more scrutiny from the public. And when a tough decision means it is going to put you at odds with political backers, it becomes even harder to wrestle with.

Enbridge Inc.’s Line 5 oil and natural gas pipeline is a good example.

This week, Whitmer told reporters she would consider Line 5 going through a tunnel in the Straits of Mackinac, much like what former Gov. Rick Snyder had negotiated before leaving office, just so long as the current pipelines are removed as quickly as possible from that Straits.

The statement was a surprise, as it seemed to contradict an order from her to halt the tunnel construction after she asked Attorney General Dana Nessel a few months ago to issue an opinion on the legality of Snyder’s actions, and Nessel since had ruled them unconstitutional.

The Detroit News Wednesday broke a story saying Whitmer was not opposed to the tunnel option.

Immediately, environmentalists took to Twitter and email with statements of concern, questioning the governor’s stance. They had backed her in her election, and thought with her they had a kindred spirit regarding Line 5.

But Whitmer also had received a lot of support from unions, many of whom were hoping to see a lot of their members hired to work on a major construction project Up North with the Line 5 tunnel construction.

As with a lot of realities these days, Whitmer understands just how lonely it can be at the top.

We are confident she will make a good choice regarding the future of Line 5.

As she knows, however, there is no easy solution and whatever that decision is, it won’t please everyone.