by Bruce Walker
Although there are many telling differences between Michigan’s 2022 gubernatorial candidates, energy policy may be the most significant from an economic perspective for families.
Democrat incumbent Gov. Gretchen Whitmer has led the charge to close the Line 5 dual pipeline that has spanned the Straits of Mackinac since 1953, whereas Republican challenger Tudor Dixon has pledged to keep the hydrocarbons flowing through the five-mile stretch of pipeline positioned on the lakebed of Lake Michigan.
Whitmer and Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel are also attempting to prevent the Canadian company Enbridge from removing the current pipeline to a concrete-reinforced tunnel 100 feet beneath the floor of the Great Lake. The bill for the $500 million project would be footed entirely by Enbridge.
The governor terminated the state’s easement agreement in November 2020, citing “the unreasonable risk that continued operation of the dual pipelines poses to the Great Lakes.”
According to Dixon’s campaign website, if elected, she would, “Enact stronger protections for Line 5 and similar critical infrastructure projects in Michigan to protect Michigan jobs, workers, and businesses.”
In a text message to The Center Square, Dixon said closing the pipelines would create enormous cost increases for Michigan homeowners and businesses.
“I oppose Gretchen Whitmer’s endless attempts to disrupt Line 5,” Dixon said. “The pipeline provides propane to heat our homes, gasoline for our cars, jet fuel for the Detroit airport, diesel for our truckers, and starter chemicals for plastics production. It is too important to our economy for liberal radicals like Gretchen Whitmer to sabotage it. When I defeat her, Line 5 will be safe from her attacks.”
The Consumers Energy Alliance estimated shuttering Line 5 could cost businesses and residences throughout the Midwest up to an additional $5.9 billion annually.
Permanently closing Line 5, warns Associated Builders and Contractors President Jimmie Green, is opposed by both unions and the organization he leads. ABC has endorsed Dixon’s campaign.
“It isn’t often that the laborers’ unions and Associated Builders and Contractors agree on policy issues,” Green texted The Center Square. “In fact, it’s a rarity. But we’re completely aligned on Line 5 and keeping it open. That Gov. Whitmer’s position on shutting it down aligns two competing organizations is a reflection on how wrong she is on this issue.”
Justin Donley, president of the United Steelworkers Local 912, told The Center Square last May that shutting down Line 5 would hurt the union’s 350 members, 600 contractors, 500 other full-time workers, as well as raise fuel and petroleum derivative prices for the general public. Michigan Oil and Gas Association President Jason Geer told the House Transportation Committee on May 10 that a Line 5 shutdown would “devastate” the industry. As reported last May by The Center Square, closing Line 5 could eliminate up to 1,200 union jobs.
The Center Square contacted organizations advocating on behalf of closing Line 5, including the Natural Resources Defense Council, the Sierra Club, and Oil and Water Don’t Mix for comments, but did not immediately receive statements prior to publication of this article. The Sierra Club has endorsed Whitmer’s reelection effort.
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Bruce Walker is a regional editor at The Center Square. He previously worked as editor at the Mackinac Center for Public Policy’s MichiganScience magazine and The Heartland Institute’s InfoTech & Telecom News.
Photo “Tudor Dixon” by Tudor Dixon. Photo “Gretchen Whitmer” by Gretchen Whitmer. Background Photo “Line 5” by Michael Barera. CC BY-SA 4.0.