Representative votes to strengthen pipeline safety standards
State Rep. Beau LaFave today said an agreement reached between the state of Michigan and Enbridge will lead to major safety enhancements along Line 5 and ensure local communities continue to have access to reliable energy resources.
Under the agreement, Enbridge will permanently shut down the current segment that crosses the Straits of Mackinac and construct a multi-use utility tunnel beneath the Straits. The company will also install safeguards at 13 other places where Line 5 crosses bodies of water, including locations in Delta and Iron counties.
“Protecting the Great Lakes is something everybody cares about,” LaFave said. “This historic agreement offers the greatest possible safeguards to Michigan’s waters while maintaining critical connections to ensure families in the Upper Peninsula have access to the energy resources we need.”
Until the tunnel is complete, LaFave said safeguards included in an action plan he is backing will help protect the Great Lakes from the threat of a spill by strengthening pipeline safety standards in the Straits of Mackinac. The plan was approved today by the Michigan House with overwhelming bipartisan support.
The comprehensive plan holds vessels and utility companies operating in the Straits accountable to the people of Michigan.
“Right now, pipeline operators are not required to report spills or submit their spill response plans to the state,” LaFave said. “By moving forward with this plan, utility companies will be made more accountable through additional reporting requirements and increased penalties for those responsible for negligence or criminal damage to public utilities.”
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.
- Clearly establishes the Straits as a no-anchor zone.
- Requires 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.
- Protects people who report violations of maritime safety laws that threaten the Great Lakes.
House Bills 6187, 6199, 6200, 6201 and 6398 now move to the Senate for consideration.