Opinion: Enbridge Line 5 offers clean, affordable energy to Michigan businesses
As former chairman of the Michigan GOP I traveled the state and heard the personal stories of businesses from all over the state. In Michigan, small businesses come in every shape and size, and each has a particular set of policy issues that may determine whether they succeed and flourish or fail and close down.
Small businesses mean jobs. Energy availability and cost is becoming an increasingly important factor for Michigan businesses. For businesses that depend on propane, low energy prices have always been a top concern, particularly because Michiganders use more propane than any other state.
Farms, campgrounds, gas stations, and residents of the Upper Peninsula are dependent on propane, which is why the calls to close the Enbridge Line 5 pipeline that provides the Upper Peninsula with propane and other petroleum products concerns me.
At the end of this month Gov. Rick Snyder will be presented with a plan to keep the pipeline running which would ensure that Michigan residents aren't hit with a major spike to their energy prices. A vocal minority of environmental special interest groups are vying to close down the pipeline, however, eliminating the Enbridge Line 5 would be an unwise decision for small businesses and residents alike.
Just last month several Michigan suppliers spoke up about the potential negative effects of shutting down the line.
In an interview with the Michigan Daily news, David Nasar, owner of Nasar gas, pointed out the fact that there are simply not enough trucks or rail lines to replace the supply that comes from line 5. "It's not feasible to shut that line down" he told the paper on May 2.
Dan Harrington, owner of UP Propane, which supplies about 3,000 Michigan residents with propane, told the paper that when the line was shut down for only two and a half days, the price of propane increased by a dollar. Just imagine the effect on energy prices from shutting down the line completely. According to Harrington, currently "there's no feasible replacement."
Gov. Snyder and Michigan's policy makers should listen to propane suppliers and Michigan residents alike when considering the future of Enbridge Line 5, which supplies 55 percent of the propane used by Michiganders every year.
For Michigan businesses, the importance of propane extends far beyond heating. Over 10,000 Michigan vehicles operate on propane, which can be fueled at over 500 sites throughout the state. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency recognizes propane as a clean burning alternative fuel, and tests demonstrate that propane emissions have 93 percent lower carbon monoxide, 73 percent lower hydrocarbons, and 57 percent lower nitrogen oxides than even the federal Clean Air Act standards.
It's clear that the Enbridge Line 5 pipeline is critical to the Michigan economy. Policymakers should remember the tens of thousands family businesses that rely on affordable propane. Senselessly severing this artery of reliable, abundant energy will come at the detriment of Michigan's environment and economy.
I encourage Michigan's leaders to keep in mind the impact shutting down Enbridge Line 5 will have on Michigan businesses, jobs and residents.
Saul Anuzis is the former chairman of the Michigan Republican Party.