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Michigan labor is counting on Line 5, the Great Lakes Tunnel

Shutting down Enbridge Inc.’s Line 5 would be a disaster for Michigan and for workers across the region. That’s why today’s date is so important.

Late last year, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer announced her intention to shut down Line 5, and to shut it down by May 12.

Thankfully, Line 5 is still operating today.

Affordable energy continues flowing to Michigan, our neighbors in the Midwest, and our international partners because government pipeline safety officials have no safety concerns with the pipeline, and shutdown attempts haven’t been accepted by the courts.

We hope the state will rethink its approach and embrace a better solution.

Michigan labor and the unions that represent workers strongly back the continued operation of Line 5 and construction of the Great Lakes Tunnel.

In Michigan, we care deeply about our lakes and natural resources. We also count on affordable energy, and good-paying jobs. Construction jobs. Manufacturing jobs. Jobs in the chemistry industry. The tourism and service industries. You name it.

As workers fight and scrap and claw to build back better after the coronavirus pandemic, those jobs are more important than ever.

Line 5 makes them possible, and getting an already-safe four-mile section of the pipeline out of the water in the Straits of Mackinac by building a brand-new section and relocating it deep under the lakebed within a concrete-lined tunnel will make it safer than ever.

Line 5 heats our homes, powers our businesses, and keeps hardworking men and women employed.

And 55% of the propane used in the state comes from Line 5. It transports a variety of energy resources and fuels that Michigan motorists, homeowners, businesses, job sites, airports, and families rely on.

There’s no beating around the bush. Shutting down Line 5 would create huge energy shortages. A shutdown would create higher gas and fuel prices. Our region would see a 14.7 million-gallons-a-day supply shortage of gas, diesel, and jet fuel alone.

Pipeline opponents argue we could patch that hole by transporting the fuel via tanker trucks, but the suggestion is laughable. It’d take an estimated 2,100 new tanker trucks per day traveling across Michigan roads and highways to meet the need. Every one of them would be a public safety risk, a spill risk, and a pollution hazard. They’d further batter our roads.

That’s all an impossible hypothetical, though. Those trucks haven’t even been built, and, according to news reports, there’s a huge driver shortage for fuel trucks already.

A shutdown would also kill jobs.

I’m a proud member of the Laborers’ International Union of North America (or LIUNA) and our members depend on Line 5.

LIUNA is a Construction Union for Craft Laborers in Michigan, consisting of seven local unions with over 13,000 members. Many of those highly skilled workers specialize in construction and maintenance of energy systems, including pipelines like Line 5. We get pipes and we get pipelines.

Line 5 has been operating safely for more than 65 years. Despite its fantastic safety record in the Straits, Enbridge is working to make it even safer by building the Great Lakes Tunnel.

The Great Lakes Tunnel is a common-sense solution paid for entirely by Enbridge that will create and support jobs, protect our water, and ensure the energy you rely on remains affordable — and available.

Today offers us a chance to redouble our commitment to safe energy and building a stronger Michigan. It’s an opportunity for Lansing to back Michigan labor, to support Line 5, and to come together to build the Great Lakes Tunnel.

Geno Alessandrini is business manager of the Michigan Laborers District Council.

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