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Build the Great Lakes tunnel

By Amy Clickner and Jim Holcomb

LANSING — Communities across Michigan are speaking out in support of the Great Lakes Tunnel. Their support isn’t surprising. The tunnel will protect the Great Lakes, is an urgent piece of energy infrastructure, ensures access to affordable fuel to heat our homes, and creates or supports the jobs families count on to put food on the table.

The project in the straits of Mackinac will make an already safe Line 5 pipeline safer by getting it out of the water and burying deep below the lakebed in a new state-of-the-art tunnel.

We’re thankful that most policymakers in Lansing continue listening to their communities back home, but despite overwhelming support for the project from across Michigan, a few prominent public officials keep trying to delay it. We encourage them to end the stall tactics.

We’re not alone. Local county governments are standing up and speaking out to protect the Great Lakes, Michigan jobs, and their local residents.

Every county in the Upper Peninsula that touches the current pipeline has passed a formal resolution supporting construction of the tunnel. So has county after county in the Lower Peninsula. In fact, the Great Lakes Tunnel has received formal support from 20 different county commissions, from the state’s western tip in Gogebic County through Cheboygan County at the tip of the Mitten, to Bay County on Lake Huron and all the way down to Lapeer County in metro Detroit.

The Michigan Association of Counties supports the tunnel. The Upper Peninsula Association of County Commissioners supports the Tunnel. Cities and townships have passed resolutions of support.

This broad support makes sense. The tunnel project is the result of a bipartisan 2018 law that experts say will reduce the risk of an oil spill in the Great Lakes to “virtually zero.”

From an economic development standpoint, the Great Lakes tunnel will make the already safe pipeline safer, protect and create Michigan jobs — it’ll take 2 million man hours of labor to build and operate – and protect our beautiful Lakes for generations to come.

The Great Lakes Tunnel is a win for union workers, for construction workers, for manufacturers, for local governments, for small businesses and family farms. It’s a win for the tourism industry. It’s a win for those who rely on the propane Line 5 delivers, and on the products it moves that can be manufactured into everything from jet fuel to tooth brushes.

The Great Lakes Tunnel will keep fish, wildlife, and the lake’s ecosystem undisturbed, and according to a non-partisan analysis performed by independent experts for the state of Michigan, the tunnel reduces the risk of an oil spill in the Straits to virtually zero. Honestly, isn’t that what we all want?

Some assume the Tunnel is just about energy “Up North,” but it’s not. That’s why county after county across the state formally support its construction.

In fact, most of the propane Line 5 delivers isn’t used in the Upper Peninsula. Wherever you live in Michigan, if propane is a part of your energy mix, you’re counting on this energy infrastructure project, too. It delivers the fuel that powers Michigan industries and keeps our cars on the road. Building the Great Lakes Tunnel means protecting access to that fuel for years and generations to come.

The courts have said — repeatedly — that the Tunnel project can move forward. Republicans and Democrats across the state back it. Michigan communities are counting on it. Workers, families, and conservationists are asking for it. Now it’s time to take the next step, and to end the stall tactics.

Our communities agree. Building the Great Lakes Tunnel just makes sense.

The Lake Superior Community Partnership and the Michigan Chamber of Commerce are members of Great Lakes. Michigan Jobs., a coalition of Michigan labor, business, industry and community organizations united in their support for construction of the Great Lakes Tunnel. For more information or to join the coalition, please visit www.GreatLakesMichiganJobs.com.

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Amy Clickner is chief executive officer, Lake Superior Community Partnership. Jim Holcomb is senior executive vice president & general counsel, Michigan Chamber of Commerce

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