Letters to the Editor

Enbridge deal bad for Upper Peninsula

To the Journal editor:

News that Enbridge may build a tunnel under the Straits of Mackinac is not good news for the Upper Peninsula. A straits tunnel is being touted as a means of making Enbridge Line 5 safer for 23 million gallons of oil a day.

What it actually does is extend the life of the other 240 miles of 1953 U.P. pipeline. Would you park your 1953 Studebaker in a swamp and then depend on it as the family vehicle 60, 70, 80 years later, with little or no maintenance?

The pipeline across the U.P. was expected to work for 50 years. As it approaches 70 years it has endured decades of terrible conditions — water, frost, mud, salt, heaves and shifts from 64 years of burial and half burial.

It’s old and obsolete. Yet Enbridge is expecting more from their corroded pipeline. They have built new pumping stations and according to their corporate reports expect to expand oil transport through the Great Lakes. More oil flow requires more pressure. What could go wrong?

The tunnel idea does two things for Enbridge; it buys more years as the idea is studied, drawn, re-drawn and maybe built, and time means hundreds of millions of dollars for Enbridge; secondly it saves the rest of the pipeline from scrutiny, as if fixing the Straits fixes the whole 650 miles of Line 5 from Superior to Sarnia.

The tunnel is also a seductive call for politicians and for people who think jobs will be endless and oil money will flow — like water. It’s not so seductive to U.P. tourist owners and restaurants, health providers, universities and businesses building customer bases and jobs because we are an attractive place to be. Our land and water is fresh, beautiful, and available. Balance the number and importance of those jobs against a couple of seasons of huge machine boring.

Line 5 should go home. According to Minnesota, western oil owners have more capacity in pipelines nowhere near the Great Lakes. Our propane? We can get the propane they say they supply, and we need, from any number of suppliers through other gas pipelines already here. It would only take little time to replace Enbridge in the U.P.

Gov. Snyder didn’t do the Great Lakes any favors by giving Enbridge the deal they craved and supplied to him. He gives us the risk. They get the reward.