The Michigan House today approved with bipartisan support a plan hailed by State Rep. Roger Hauck as a major step forward for Michigan’s energy security and a win for Michigan workers.
Hauck, of Union Twp., said legislation to create an oversight authority for the construction of a multi-use utility tunnel would create thousands of jobs for Michigan workers and ensure that the energy resources Michigan families rely on continue to be delivered.
Under the plan, agreements with Enbridge Energy to build a multi-use utility tunnel will allow for the decommissioning of the current Line 5 segment in the Straits and significantly reduce the risk of an oil spill between Michigan’s peninsulas.
“The planned tunnel is a win-win for Michigan: It will ensure Michigan families continue to have reliable, cost-efficient access to energy resources and construction will create thousands of jobs,” said Hauck, a member of the House Energy Policy Committee. “And Enbridge, not taxpayers, will pay for 100 percent of the tunnel’s design, construction, operation and maintenance.”
The plan laid out in Senate Bill 1197 creates a new, independent authority to provide oversight and take ownership of the proposed tunnel. The new body will be called the Mackinac Straits Corridor Authority.
Hauck said the plan will increase transparency throughout the process, while protecting the Great Lakes. A 2017 study commissioned by the State of Michigan found that alternative means of transporting energy resources — such as by truck, barge or rail — pose a higher risk to the environment than an encased, underground tunnel.
Once the company reaches an agreement with the newly created Mackinac Straits Corridor Authority, the authority would own the tunnel and provide proper oversight, including a public, transparent process for ongoing operation of the tunnel.
“This is a critical infrastructure project that will put people to work, protect our natural resources and supply reliable energy resources,” Hauck said.