Text & toon by John Auchter
On Wednesday this week, Governor Snyder signed a bill into law that will allow a tunnel for a new section of pipeline under the Straits of Mackinac to move forward. The intention is to resolve the status of the Enbridge Line 5 oil pipeline, which currently is laid across the bottom the Straights and poses a potential for catastrophic disaster.
Snyder for some time has been negotiating with Enbridge and other interests for a deal to keep the pipeline open. It’s a complicated set of environmental, economic, logistic, and (you guessed it) political issues. But it was mostly political that a bill was generated and fast-tracked to Snyder’s desk before the end of his term — an incoming governor Gretchen Whitmer almost certainly would not sign it.
For a number of reasons: Line 5 keeps operating as is for a decade or more while the tunnel is constructed. The questionable wisdom of making a huge infrastructure commitment to carbon-based energy. The trustworthiness of a health and safety issue involving Michigan water and Rick Snyder.
In any case, it’s not quite a done deal. There will be challenges to the tunnel and perhaps additional legislation. It may all work out fine. By the time it gets built (and fresh water becomes increasingly precious), Mackinaw City/St. Ignace might develop into a major metropolitan area that could use a tunnel for a subway link.