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Great Lakes Oil Pipeline Bill Passes

On Tuesday, the Michigan Legislature voted to replace a 65-year-old oil pipeline on a main Great Lakes waterway, giving the state authority over the project to build piping.

What is Enbridge?

The Enbridge Line 5, which runs through Michigan’s Upper and Lower peninsulas, transfers commercial oil products to heat homes and businesses, transporting 85% of the total propane used. Enbridge is a Canadian-based commercial oil distributor whose primary focus is North America, but also provides services in Ontario, Quebec, and New Brunswick. 

Governor Rick Snyder making negotiations

A majority of GOP and democratic politicians agreed with Gov. Rick Snyder on passing this legislation, but it has been met with criticism about tying the hands of the Democrats when they take over the attorney general and governor positions. Snyder is in negotiations with the oil giant to reconstruct the underwater section running under the Straits of Mackinac. The bill passed with votes of 74/24 and 25/12, which creates the Mackinac Straits Corridor authority, which is composed of three members. The members of this authority will have until December 31 to authorize the construction and operation agreement once the governor assigns the members. 

This project is estimated to cost around $350 to $500 billion and it is expected to take ten years to finish. Republican Lee Chatfield said it is essential to inspect and maintain oil lines so that a commercial oil distributor, automotive oil wholesaler, or an automotive oil distributor has a safer way to transport commercial oil products. 

Opposition to the project

However, it has been met with opposition from Yousef Rabhi, an Ann Arbor Democrat. Rabhi expressed concerns that the reconstruction has not considered the health of residents, and there are alternative means of getting these resources to them. Rabhi said it just helps a foreign company transport foreign oil, which America does not support or encourage. Democratic governor-elect Gretchen Whitmer and attorney-general elect Dana Nassel plan to stop the project, but they may not be successful if the bill passes within three weeks. Synder has not discussed the issue with the newly elected officials but countered arguments the project is being rushed.

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