Survey: Small Businesses Support Straits of Mackinac Line 5 Project

More than 70 percent of the members of the National Federation of Independent Business, Michigan’s largest organization of small businesses, support the planned upgrades to the Line 5 pipeline under the Straits of Mackinac between the upper and lower peninsulas, according to the results of a survey by the association.
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Mackinac Bridge
Most members of the National Federation of Independent Business support planned upgrades to the Line 5 pipeline. // File photo

More than 70 percent of the members of the National Federation of Independent Business, Michigan’s largest organization of small businesses, support the planned upgrades to the Line 5 pipeline under the Straits of Mackinac between the upper and lower peninsulas, according to the results of a survey by the association.

Results released Feb. 26 show that 73 percent of its Michigan small business members support moving forward with the Line 5 project.

Line 5 is a major oil pipeline that transports crude oil and natural gas under the Straits of Mackinac. It has been the subject of controversy with debate over whether it should be decommissioned or upgraded to make it safer.

In 2018, Michigan passed legislation establishing authority to allow the pipeline owner to invest $500 million to install a new Line 5 inside a concrete lined tunnel bored 100 feet below the lake. The existing Line 5 would then be decommissioned.

When asked if Michigan should shut down the Line 5 Pipeline, 73 percent of small business members said “no,” 11 percent said “yes,” and 16 percent were undecided. A copy of the question text and results can be viewed here.

“Small business owners understand the need to balance safety and environmental concerns while preserving a vital energy resource for the state,” says Charlie Owens, state director in Michigan of NFIB. “The Line 5 upgrade project will benefit Michigan’s economy by creating high-wage construction jobs for many years and small businesses will be an important contributor to the project.”

The project is expected to be completed in 2024.

Owens says he disagrees with environmental advocates who argue that the pipeline should be shut down completely.

“They claim to be concerned about the environment, but they offer up ridiculous and dangerous alternatives such as transporting the fuel capacity instead by truck or train,” he says. “That alternative would require several hundred trucks traveling over the Mackinac Bridge every day at enormous cost and even more environmental risk.”

Owens adds that Michigan is one of the largest consumers of propane for residential winter heating in the country, especially in the Upper Peninsula, and that the closure of Line 5 would have an immediate and crippling effect on the economy as prices skyrocket. “We need to move forward with the upgrade project and remove the existing pipeline from the waters of the Great Lakes as quickly as possible.”

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