Give Line 5 tunnel project the green light

After a regulatory commission punted on a decision to approve the Line 5 tunnel under the Straits of Mackinac earlier this month, a scheduling conference Thursday could shed some light on the future of affordable energy in Michigan.

The Michigan Public Service Commission, which regulates utilities in the state, is determining approval of a project to put the current Line 5 pipeline inside a concrete tunnel deep below the lakebed.

They should give it a green light. The tunnel would assure reliable supplies of petroleum products, protect the lakes, and it wouldn’t cost taxpayers a nickel.

In fact, with inflation raging and energy prices surging, the project is more than ever a common sense undertaking to be welcomed and expedited rather than stalled.

The scheduling conference comes amid news this week that European nations that rely on the Russian natural gas pipeline Nord Stream are staring down the possibility of a shortage of heating fuel this winter if the Kremlin decides to end supply in retaliation for Ukraine war sanctions.

The looming crisis there should serve as a warning in Michigan, where Gov. Gretchen Whitmer and Attorney General Dana Nessel insist on shutting down the pipeline before the tunnel is finished. Nessel’s lawsuit is now tangled up in federal court and in negotiations with Canada, which argues shutting down Line 5 violates a 1977 treaty with the U.S. The line carries petroleum from the Canadian oil fields to refineries throughout the Midwest.

Enbridge Inc., which operates the pipeline, is also waiting for the Army Corps of Engineers to approve the tunnel project, a notoriously slow process.

While bureaucrats dither and Democrats continue to pander to their progressive base on shutting Line 5, most Michigan residents are dealing with outrageously high fuel costs that show no sign of abetting.

Earlier this year, an industry group pegged the cost to Michigan consumers of closing Line 5 at $1.8 billion to $2.2 billion in fuel and related products.

Losing an efficient means of transporting 23 million gallons of petroleum products a day would set the Great Lakes region scrambling to either find replacements for that energy or alternatives for shipping it.

Across the Atlantic, the European Commission is crafting a rationing plan to cope with a cut-off of the Nord Stream pipeline, and is stockpiling as much fuel as it can.

That’s not a place where Michigan ever wants to find itself. Enbridge should be given the green light to build the tunnel, and all the help it needs to get it done in a hurry.

— The Detroit News


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