State Rep. Sue Allor’s plan to better protect the Great Lakes by strengthening pipeline safety standards in the Straits of Mackinac was approved today by the House Michigan Competitiveness Committee.
Allor, of Wolverine, said the comprehensive plan ensures vessels and utility companies operating in the Straits are accountable to the people of Michigan.
“While I recently called for an immediate shutdown of Line 5, unfortunately I do not have the power to wave a magic wand to make that happen,” Allor said. “There is nothing in the easement agreement or in statute that gives the governor, attorney general or Legislature unilateral authority to order a shutdown of Line 5.
“Until the federal government acts, we must address the many concerns that arose due to the ‘near miss’ earlier this year when an anchor strike damaged both of the 20-inch pipelines spanning the Straits.”
The “Straits of Mackinac Safety, Protection and Accountability” action plan:
- Improves reporting from pipeline operators to the state of Michigan.
- Increases the safety and security of utility lines that provide communities in northern Michigan and the Upper Peninsula with access to phone, cable, natural gas, oil and electricity.
- Provides additional signs and buoys alerting boats not to use anchors in the Straits.
- Establishes clear penalties for vessels that break maritime laws and jeopardize the safety of Michigan’s waterways.
- Provides added accountability and increased penalties for those responsible for negligence or criminal damage to public utilities.
Allor introduced the plan alongside two of her colleagues.
“Our Great Lakes must be protected as a water resource on which our families depend, as a resource benefitting the fish, birds, deer and many other species whose survival depends on that water, and as a resource that allows residents and tourists to enjoy its many recreational opportunities,” said Allor, who chairs the House appropriations subcommittee on natural resources. “I cannot emphasize enough the enormous task the state, my colleagues in the Legislature, and all citizens are charged with in protecting the Great Lakes and all of our beautiful natural resources.”
House Bills 6187, 6199, 6200 and 6201 now move to the full House for consideration.