A DIFFERENCE OF OPINION: Line 5 can be used and still maintain clean environment

EDITOR’S NOTE:  This is the next installment in a monthly series that will pose a question or topic chosen by managing editor Michelle Graves, with responses presented by members of the Manistee County Democratic and Republican parties. The author is chosen by the respective party and may change from month to month. Columns will be published on the Thursday of each month. This month’s topic is Line 5. Writers were asked to respond to the following: Everyone can agree that the Great Lakes plays a major role in the economy of this area, as well as our way of life. Is a tunnel the right answer to Enbridge’s Line 5? What steps should be taken to protect the great lakes from pollution, diversion and invasive species (Asian carp is a large threat)?

By JEFF LAWRENCE
Guest Columnist

Enbridge Line 5 started to be known of and concerned about a couple of election cycles past. Saying that begs the question: Is this an environmental concern or political fundraiser issue that developed into a wedge issue. Very few people were even aware of Line 5 less than 10 years ago but the pipeline has been in service since 1953.

As more people are more concerned about our environment, portraits get painted that if you do not agree with groups that claim to have the environment’s best interest at heart, then you are portrayed as anti-environment. Nothing can be farther from the truth. It’s fair to say most everyone wants a clean environment but yet we still pick up trash on our roadsides. We can use the natural resources in the areas we live and work in and still maintain a clean environment.

Why weren’t most people aware of Line 5 before this current decade?

I think politics, fundraising and wanting to raise energy cost to make renewable energy more competitive with hydrocarbon-based energy.

Line 5 being built in 1953 makes for an easy target especially after the Enbridge flowline leak into Talmadge Creek, a tributary to the Kalamazoo River. Human error was a major factor in that incident. Yes, flowlines do develop leaks and no one denies that fact. If we can agree on that point then the obvious conclusion is why not be against Line 5 in the Straits of Mackinac.

There are many reasons but here are a few:

The assumption is a flowline that is old has to be close to leaking. Wrong. The age of a flowline is not the only factor in the length of a safe service using a flowline. The steal thickness of Line 5 is .802 inches thick. That is thicker than standards that are required in today’s standards. The flowline operates at less than 25 percent of its maximum working pressure capacity. Why is that important? The pressure at the bottom of the Straits where the flowline is located is greater than the pressure in the flowline. Water from the Straits actually would flow into the flowline at the beginning of a leak if one was ever to occur.

Are you aware that it is the highest monitored flowline in the country? Enbridge has put many safety devices in place to prevent and mitigate the possibility of leaking. Are you aware that Line 5 brings 65 percent of the propane to the Upper Peninsula and a great deal of propane to the Northern Lower Peninsula? Everyone benefits from lower energy cost, Democrat’s as well as Republicans. We all are concerned with our environment.

I’m mentioning some of these points especially for those who want the line shut down at any cost because the risk is too high in their minds. You may get the impression we are advocates for Enbridge, a Canadian based company. This definitely isn’t the case. We look at each issue and do our best to find solutions to problems. I have yet to hear one solution from anyone that wants Line 5 shut down. Pipelines are by far the safest, most cost-effective way to transport many types of products. Hydrocarbons are not the only products transported in pipelines.

Due to public concerns, Enbridge is engineering a new state of the art tunnel to be constructed under the Straits of Mackinac. A new flowline would be installed. This was agreed to by the last Michigan Legislature and former Gov. Rick Snyder.

Now a new governor and attorney general are in place and want to stop the tunnel and new line serving a huge percentage of the UP and northern LP. Again, I haven’t heard of a solution other than shut it down. The silence of solutions from people that want it shut down period, is deafening.

Jeff Lawrence, of Bear Lake, is an executive board member for the Manistee County Republicans. Find out more about the Manistee County Republicans by searching “Manistee County Republican Party” on Facebook.

 

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