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Line 5 is no great benefit to unions

Re: “Opinion: Labor Unions are ready for the Great Lakes tunnel,” Feb. 17: 

I can respect the union representatives’ support of the Enbridge tunnel project on behalf of 13,000 members of the Laborers Union in their column. Unions should try to represent their industries.

But the Michigan State AFL-CIO is the federation of Michigan’s 59 labor unions — all union members (over a million strong in Michigan). And I was on the legal staff of the UAW for almost 30 years, and general counsel of the National Labor Relations Board during the Clinton years.

For the last five years, as part of the Straits of Mackinac Alliance, I have fought to keep Canada’s crude oil from devastating northern Michigan. The proposed trade of about 150 temp Michigan jobs for getting Canadian’s oil to Asia via this Great Lakes shortcut does very little to help Michigan, its people or its union members. This is much bigger than any number of temp jobs.

Line 5 runs about 645 miles through the Great Lakes basin, pumping almost 23 million gallons of western Canadian oil products a day with only about 6% staying in Michigan.

The pipeline has leaked 33 times, spilling over a million gallons of oil products since 1968. Thankfully, it survived an anchor strike in the straits on April 1, 2018. A 2.5 million-gallon worst case spill (Michigan Tech study of 2018) in the straits, oiling more than 700 miles of shoreline, would be an utter disaster for the upper Great Lakes. A 2018 study by Michigan State University’s Robert Richardson puts tourism damages alone at just under $5 billion. Cleanup costs, harm to fisheries, wildlife, property values and wetlands puts total damages conservatively over $6.3 billion. About 30,000 tourism jobs in the tip of the Mitten and the eastern U.P. would be impacted — some permanently.

Why risk our greatest natural treasure during an indefinite tunnel build for a few hundred temp jobs? Fortunately, both Gov. Gretchen Whitmer and Attorney General Dana Nessel are doing a much better job of representing Michigan interests. 

Leonard Page, Cheboygan

Poor choice, TCF arena

Re: “Farrakhan takes on America and Trump in Detroit speech,” Feb. 24: Detroit recently removed the name of the segregationist mayor Albert Cobo from its main convention center. It was hailed as a symbol of transition from racially divisive times, to a new era of inclusion.

So I was shocked to learn that notoriously anti-Semitic Louis Farrakhan would be speaking there. Over last weekend, the newly named TCF arena, which in the past hosted U.S. presidents and Martin Luther King Jr., featured the man who said, “I am not an anti-Semite, I am anti-termite.”

If the celebrated renaming was all about a new spirit of integration, why is the arena now giving voice to a racist?

Rhonda Mandel, Bloomfield Hills

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