Letters: Northerners debate Line 5 tunnel

The Detroit News
Enbridge provided this photo documenting damage to the east pipeline of Line 5 caused by an April 2018 anchor strike to a U.S. Senate committee.

Tilting toward windmills, renewables

A recent Detroit News editorial ("Voters blow back on windmills," May 15), argues that now is not the time to shut down Enbridge’s Line 5 running through Michigan and under the Straits of Mackinac because Michigan residents need the propane crude oil and propane for “heating its homes and the Lower Peninsula uses to keep its factories running, trucks on the roads and jets in the air,” and that renewable energy just won’t do the job.

This view is based on a false premise promoted by Enbridge that Line 5 is essential to Michigan’s economy. Only 5-10% of this oil stays in Michigan, the rest goes on to refineries in Canada and the propane provided to the Upper Peninsula by Line 5 amounts to only one to two rail cars per day.  

This view ignores two other critical concerns to the residents of Michigan. We are facing a climate crisis caused by global warming caused by burning fossil fuels that must be addressed immediately by reducing our use of coal and petroleum.  

Also a Line 5 spill, not just under the Straits, could cost the residents of the state’s billions of dollars in health-related costs, lost revenues, property damage and clean-up. These consequences are simply too great to allow the pipeline to continue.

The editorial suggests that wind turbines cannot replace the lost oil were Line 5 to be shut down and notes that some citizens are opposed to having them in their own backyards.  A lot of this resistance, according to Peter Sinclair in a recent talk in Petoskey, is promoted by representatives of the fossil fuel industry rightfully worried about their future.  But this hasn’t stopped the growth of wind turbines in Michigan. In a two-year period, the state’s two top wind energy counties, Huron and Gratiot, received $45 million in wind energy tax revenues to support townships and community programs involving education and other services. Other townships, despite these outside pressures are also drafting wind and solar friendly ordinances.

The transition to renewables is already underway. For the sake of our planet, our job as citizens is to facilitate this transition.

David Dwyer

professor emeritus

Michigan State University

Mackinaw City

We need Enbridge Line 5

As a resident of the Upper Peninsula and the manager of the U.P.’s largest propane retailer, preserving the quality of the Great Lakes is important to me as it is to many others. That’s why I’m disappointed that the governor and other politicians are slowing down Enbridge’s plans to construct a tunnel to house a new Line 5.

This project needs to move forward as soon as possible. Our region relies on Line 5 and the propane that comes from it. Propane heats our homes and offices, allows us to make hot meals and heat water for our showers. Michigan residents use over 150 million gallons of the propane that comes from Line 5 every year.

This tunnel, with extra safeguards, will allow the region to continue to benefit from Line 5. Building a new Line 5 at the Mackinac Straits crossing in a concrete walled tunnel 100 feet below the lake bed will eliminate the risk of anchor strikes as well as all but eliminate possibility of a release into the Straits.

For the sake of future generations, let’s invest in a safer, efficient Line 5 that will continue to deliver our energy while protecting the Straits that we all treasure.

Don Steckman

general manager