Citizen Group Opposes Mackinac Utility Tunnel Bill

The fight for what is to be done concerning oil pipelines and the Straits of Mackinac have gone on for years. A new senate bill in Michigan will push through a utility tunnel to be built and the Mackinac Bridge Authority would manage it.

To say the least, many have issues with the lame duck proposal.

“This is not a matter of being anti-oil or anti-industry,” says Aaron Payment, Chairman of the Sault Tribe of Ottawa Chippewa Indians, “This is a matter of having responsible industry to protect our natural resources.”

The senate bill aims to move forward with a utility tunnel replacing Enbridge’s Line 5 and the Mackinac Bridge Authority would manage it, despite the Authority’s desire to stay away from a new responsibility.

“I spent 22 years looking after that bridge and I don’t want it to end with a damn tunnel forced upon it because it doesn’t belong there,” says former chairman of the Mackinac Bridge Authority, Bill Gnodtke.

The Friends of the Mackinac Bridge say putting it on the Authority would leave them liable for any litigation from a future spill and technically make the land state property.

“I believe the property is tax-exempt which means Enbridge gets another free ride,” says Dennis Hawthorne, former chair of the Mackinac Island State Park Commission.

Many on hand weren’t against any sort of pipeline, just one that is fair, safe and reliable.

“Oil pipelines are the safest and most efficient way to transport oil but you have to look at each one in context,” says Chairman of the Bay Mills Indian Community Bryan Newland, “This is a Canadian oil pipeline, that’s getting Canadian oil from Canada, back to Canada and it’s imposing risks on the people of Northern Michigan and the tribes of Northern Michigan.”

Those risks include the wildlife, resources and water quality we all rely on.

“As a brewer I’ll put it real clearly no water no beer, OK?” says Larry Bell, founder of Bell’s Brewery.

This bill would rush this decision through a lame duck administration without much chance to work it out.

“We need our governor to worry about our economy, our people, our businesses,” says Bell,  “Not a Canadian company.”