Legislator backs plan to bolster Great Lakes safety standards
State Rep. Pamela Hornberger recently signed on to a legislative plan to help protect the Straits of Mackinac from environmental disasters by strengthening safety standards.
Rep. Hornberger, of Chesterfield Township, said an April incident involving a tug boat dragging an anchor across the bottom of the Straits demonstrated the need for additional safety measures.
“The April incident involved the release of 600 gallons of pollutants into the Straits.” Rep. Hornberger said. “If oil and gas pipelines running beneath the Straits had ruptured, we would have an environmental disaster on our hands. It is estimated up to 56,000 barrels of crude oil would be released into the Straits, impacting more than 400 miles of shoreline in Michigan, Wisconsin and Canada. The clean-up cost is estimated at almost $2 billion.”
The “Straits of Mackinac Safety, Protection and Accountability” plan:
- Improves reporting from pipeline operators to the state of Michigan;
- Increases the safety and security of underwater utility lines and pipes that provide communities in northern Michigan with access to phone, cable, natural gas, oil and electricity;
- Provides additional signs and buoys alerting ships not to use anchors in the Straits;
- Establishes penalties for vessels that violate maritime laws and jeopardize the safety of our waterways; and
- Provides added accountability and increases penalties for those responsible for negligence or criminal damage to public utilities.
“I support this plan to protect our natural resources and make those who use the Straits accountable to the people of Michigan,” Rep. Hornberger said. “It’s imperative that we preserve the beauty and integrity of the Great Lakes for generations to come.”
The plan laid out in House Bills 6187, 6199, 6200 and 6201 is now under consideration in the House Michigan Competitiveness Committee.