Joint Senate panel hears testimony on Line 5 pipeline

LANSING, Mich. — The Senate’s Energy and Technology Committee and Natural Resources Committee heard testimony from several Canadian officials at a joint hearing Tuesday regarding the Line 5 pipeline.

Senate Majority Floor Leader Dan Lauwers, who chairs the Energy and Technology Committee, said the officials brought important perspective on the need to protect Line 5.

“The governor is directing the closure of line 5 for May of 2021. Her solution is rail and trucking to transport petroleum,” said Lauwers, R-Brockway Township. “If safety and environmental protection are what we are after, we need to weigh these things objectively instead of subjectively. I think we will find continuation of what we have now while we build an alternative to Line 5 is far better and safer than other considerations.”

The focus of today’s testimony was the health and safety of Michigan, Wisconsin, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Ontario, Canada.

Speaking before the committee were Minister Bob Bailey (Sarnia, Ontario), member of the Ontario Provincial Parliament; Joseph Mancinelli, international vice president and regional manager of Central and Eastern Canada, Laborers’ International Union of North America; and Rocco Rossi, president & CEO, Ontario Chamber of Commerce.

“We are only a few weeks away from the date our governor set to close Line 5, which would cause considerable economic disruption of Great Lakes states and Ontario,” Lauwers said. “The governor is proposing to withdraw from an international treaty — a decision she has no authority to make.”

In January, the Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy issued some of the permits required for the building of a tunnel for the replacement Line 5 pipeline beneath the Straits of Mackinac.

EGLE concluded that the proposed construction of a tunnel beneath the lakebed by the energy company Enbridge — the company operating Line 5 — can be done in compliance with Michigan’s environmental laws.

Enbridge has pending requests for approval of the tunnel project before the Michigan Public Service Commission and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

Once completed, the new tunnel could also be used to carry electric lines, broadband cables and other utility infrastructure.