As we have now passed the one-year mark of the COVID-19 pandemic, it’s an understatement to say that Michigan small businesses have been hit hard. From long-term shutdowns to mandated capacity limits, small businesses have faced more setbacks than anyone could have imagined. Now that we can faintly see the light at the end of the tunnel, it’s time to give small businesses hope, and ensure they have the resources they need to succeed. That’s why keeping Line 5 open is so important.
With the high level of uncertainty that still exists out there, the least the state can do is ensure access to reliable, affordable energy to keep small businesses running now and into the future. Michigan’s small businesses rely on the energy that Line 5 safely provides. That energy heats their businesses, keeps their lights on and also is used in the manufacturing of thousands of items essential to operations across the state. That reliability is needed now more than ever.
The great thing is that there is a common-sense plan in place to ensure that this energy is available well into the future. The Great Lakes Tunnel project will move a small portion of Line 5 in the Mackinac Straits safely deep below the lakebed, ensuring the energy we rely on and the environment are protected.
Unfortunately, a few outspoken politicians and political activists want to close down Line 5, without an alternate plan in place to deliver the energy the pipeline supplies. These moves are simply irresponsible and will hurt everyone in our state, including small and independent businesses. In the midst of a global pandemic, we need to be looking forward, not creating more problems.
The Great Lakes Tunnel project has the support of businesses, labor, local government leaders and Lansing lawmakers from both parties. Michigan’s small and independent businesses are among those supporters, with 73% of our members backing the Great Lakes Tunnel project. These businesses understand the need to both protect the Great Lakes and Michigan jobs, and to preserve a vital energy resource for the state. The Great Lakes Tunnel project accomplishes these goals.
Michigan winters offer another great reason to keep Line 5 open. Michigan is one of the largest consumers of propane used for residential heating in the country. Closing Line 5 would have an immediate, crippling effect on families and the economy as prices skyrocket. If the winter cold snaps have taught us anything, it’s that we are very lucky to have such a reliable energy source like Line 5. Building the Great Lakes Tunnel will make this safe, reliable pipeline even safer.
The pandemic has created real problems for real Michiganders. A Line 5 closure would be short-sighted and be an additional hit. Instead, it’s time to move forward with building the Great Lakes Tunnel.
Charles Owens is state director in Michigan for the National Federation of Independent Business.