Letter: Michigan depends on Line 5

There has been a lot of recent talk from politicians about the need to “shut down Line 5” that runs beneath the Straits of Mackinac. This makes for a good sound bite. But these politicians are playing politics with Michigan’s energy supply and affordability — and they are risking Michigan jobs.

Recently, Gov. Rick Snyder called an Energy Emergency for the state of Michigan because of the shutdown of the West Shore petroleum pipeline and the Marathon refinery in Detroit. This short term crisis has created additional challenges: hauling that same oil over our highways by suspending rules for tankers, which means longer hours on the road and increased number of trucks hauling fuel. There has even been talk of shipping oil by barge through and around the Upper Peninsula.

These options would become permanent if we were to simply shut down a critical pipeline. This would be neither realistic nor responsible compared to pipelines, which have instead been proven to be the safest, most efficient means of oil and gas transportation.

These alternatives also fly in the face of the environmental community’s arguments for shutting down pipelines. The extra truck traffic leaves a larger carbon footprint. The increased hours for truck drivers mean that there is an increased chance of either an accident that causes a spill on land, or an accident that causes injury or death to truck drivers or Michigan families traveling over these summer months.

Many agree that our nation’s infrastructure is in dire straits. Whether it is the roads and bridges we travel, the water lines that we rely on to deliver safe drinking water, or the pipelines that safely deliver the fuel we require to operate in a modern society, we need to address this in a responsible conversation that is driven by solutions.

We need to shut down the dangerous rhetoric about the safest way to transport oil: pipelines. We need to rebuild our energy infrastructure, not retire it.

Douglas Stockwell, business manager

Michigan Operating Engineers