LANSING, Mich. — State Sen. Ed McBroom and all 18 members of the Senate Republican caucus on Wednesday sent a letter to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and Gov. Gretchen Whitmer urging them to expedite the state and federal permitting processes regarding construction of the Great Lakes Tunnel Project for Line 5 under the Straits of Mackinac ensuring energy affordability and stability in the state.
“The unreasonable delay in the permitting process and construction of the Great Lakes Tunnel is a tremendous disservice to the people of Michigan and the entire region,” said McBroom, R-Waucedah Township. “Stop stalling. The tunnel project was approved almost five years ago with bipartisan support to protect our Great Lakes and create thousands of good-paying, mainly union jobs in our state while also ensuring families continue to receive the propane they need to heat their homes and communities get the fuel needed to power our economy — yet we still have nothing to show for it due to government inaction.”
The letter was sent to Gov. Whitmer and Lt. Gen. Scott A. Spellmon, chief of engineers and commanding general of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. It urged the corps to end its permitting delays and urged Whitmer to direct her state agencies and the Michigan Public Service Commission to expedite their permitting processes so workers can begin construction.
The letter said, “In Michigan, Line 5 provides jobs to over 6,000 hardworking residents and over $464 million in labor income. Tens of thousands of jobs are dependent upon Line 5 in downstream industries such as refineries, manufacturers, airports and businesses that rely upon all the energy products coming from the line.”
It also said that construction on the critical project was originally scheduled to begin in 2021, and the tunnel was expected to be operational by 2024. Now, due in large part to the ongoing delay in permitting, the project has been set back several years. Most recently, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers indicated a decision is not expected until 2026. Additionally, the Michigan Public Service Commission has failed to take up the issue for months, even though Enbridge returned their requested information nearly six months ago.
“We should be having a ribbon cutting by now, and instead we are not even going to consider breaking ground until 2026,” McBroom said. “Michigan residents deserve better. They deserve affordable and reliable energy. State and federal agencies need to get their act together and work on getting this critical infrastructure project underway.”