Line 5 tunnel makes sense

To the Journal editor:

Pipelines are the safest, most economical, and environmentally safe way to transport hydrocarbons. Transporting hydrocarbons using rail, truck, or barging proposed by Gov. Gretchen Whitmer and the Upper Peninsula Propane Research Team is much less safe. Claiming that Line 5 is not safe is a mischaracterization of the technical facts.

Line 5 under the Mackinac Straits has operated successfully for over 60 years, despite anchor strikes and other hazards, and could operate another 60 years with little probability of failure. It can certainly safely operate for another four years during tunnel construction.

Gov. Whitmer and UPPRT are using “apocalypse forecasting” to try to shut down Line 5. This tactic is expected when the technical facts don’t support their cause. To understand apocalypse forecasting, please refer to the 2021 article by Rode and Fischbeck in “International Journal of Global Warming.” (Vol. 23, No. 2, pp.191-211) An apocalypse forecasting example might be:

“To limit the number of deer hunters coming to the UP, claim the Mackinac Bridge is unsafe. Bridges do collapse. The I-35E Bridge in Minneapolis is a recent example. It can be argued that the Mackinac Bridge is well past its design life, and the bridge’s steel is rusting, causing the bridge to eventually collapse.

“Further, the ferry system docks in St. Ignace and Mackinaw City were upgraded by Michigan in the early 1950s and are still available. The cost of a ferry crossing over the bridge toll would only be the price of a pasty per vehicle, but the collapse of the Mackinac Bridge will result in catastrophic environmental and economic damage to the state of Michigan.”

The problems mentioned are verifiably true but not likely, and no statement of uncertainly was provided to justify the collapse of the Mackinac Bridge. MDOT will make a solid technical case that the Mackinac Bridge is safe.

However, once the apocalyptic forecast takes root in the public mind and is sensationalized, it’s tough to refute. Rode and Fischbeck note that people are notoriously prone to biases and errors in tasks involving low-probability, high-consequence events.

Yes, bridges collapse and pipeline leaks yet efforts to stop the relocation of the Line 5 pipelines into the tunnel go against environmental values. The tunnel project is a common-sense solution to further protect our environment along with the existing utilities crossing the Straights. Gov. Whitmer and UPPRT solution to stop Line 5 is not environmentally sound.


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