Opinion | Line 5 tunnel makes sense and saves jobs for Michigan

Mike Moeller is director of operations for the Great Lakes region for Enbridge.

Rebuttal: Opinion | Enbridge is wrong, and Line 5 is wrong for Michigan

For the last few years, there have been numerous, often impassioned, public discussions about the future of Line 5.  

Through these discussions, many of us have come to recognize that while Line 5 continues to operate safely, it is important to plan for the future. As such, Enbridge began working with the State of Michigan to determine options for Line 5.  

The options needed to be feasible to ensure they would advance safety and environmental protections without compromising the delivery of energy on which area families and businesses rely.

Extensive assessments and studies have shown that construction of a tunnel to house a new Line 5 is the best option to continue providing safe, reliable energy delivery while providing superior environmental protection.  The State of Michigan recently approved the tunnel replacement project and Enbridge has committed to paying all costs related to construction and operation.

Our commitment to the tunnel reflects an important investment in Michigan and the communities we serve. Such infrastructure investment will help ensure the reliability and affordability of the region’s energy supply by linking Michigan’s two peninsulas.

The tunnel project will make a safe pipeline safer in several ways: It will house a new Line 5 under the Straits and incorporate multiple layers of protection.

This includes constructing the tunnel with one-foot-thick concrete walls, reducing the chances of a leak into the Straits virtually to zero. The tunnel will be built 100 feet underground, making an anchor strike from a vessel in the Straits of Mackinac impossible.

Every day, the people of Michigan count on the energy that’s safely delivered by Line 5. This pipeline carries products necessary to heat homes and power industry and the state’s economy. More than half the state’s propane to heat homes and businesses is delivered from this pipeline alone.  

The tunnel replacement project will take several years to obtain the necessary permits and complete the construction.  

We recognize that many people want us to take action now to put additional precautions in place. We have listened intently and are taking responsive steps.  

As the tunnel project progresses and planning begins, we are implementing additional safety measures on the current dual pipelines in the Straits.

We are providing funding for cameras to give the U.S. Coast Guard capabilities to monitor in real time ships entering the Straits. As demonstrated over the last several months, we have - and will continue to - shut down Line 5 in the Straits during adverse weather conditions. We also are adding safety enhancements to other Line 5 water crossings.

Line 5 continues to safely provide the energy Michigan residents need. The time is right, though, to build for the future. The tunnel replacement project is the best option to help shape Michigan’s energy and economic future in a safe, environmentally responsible manner, and Enbridge is pleased to be part of Michigan’s next steps.

Bridge welcomes guest columns from a diverse range of people on issues relating to Michigan and its future. The views and assertions of these writers do not necessarily reflect those of Bridge or The Center for Michigan. Bridge does not endorse any individual guest commentary submission.

If you are interested in submitting a guest commentary, please contact Monica WilliamsClick here for details and submission guidelines.

Facts matter. Trust matters. Journalism matters.

If you learned something from the story you're reading please consider supporting our work. Your donation allows us to keep our Michigan-focused reporting and analysis free and accessible to all. All donations are voluntary, but for as little as $1 you can become a member of Bridge Club and support freedom of the press in Michigan during a crucial election year.

Pay with VISA Pay with MasterCard Pay with American Express Donate now

Comment Form

Add new comment

Dear Reader: We value your thoughts and criticism on the articles, but insist on civility. Criticizing comments or ideas is welcome, but Bridge won’t tolerate comments that are false or defamatory or that demean, personally attack, spread hate or harmful stereotypes. Violating these standards could result in a ban.

Plain text

  • No HTML tags allowed.
  • Web page addresses and e-mail addresses turn into links automatically.
  • Lines and paragraphs break automatically.
This question is for testing whether or not you are a human visitor and to prevent automated spam submissions.


Tue, 01/08/2019 - 8:17am

Sorry Mike but protecting the Great lakes from the minute risk from your pipeline isn't really what the opposition is about. If it was we'd hear just as much concern about Illinois infecting the great lakes with a flood of invasive carp - which unlike any oil spill, will NEVER be eradicated once released. Not to mention the massive unnatural diversion of Great Lakes Water!!! But no we get silence from the leftist faux environmentalists on this irreversible and catastrophic event. Is AG Nessel promising action against the Chicago canal? Has she ever? Did I miss it? But no, you are part of the evil petroleum industry and your opponents, rather than having courage to attack CO2 directly from the demand side through a Carbon Tax or such, you are their target, so get over it and have fun pointing out their dishonesty and lack of courage. I certainly do.

Tue, 01/08/2019 - 9:56am

Can you be an insufferable tool elsewhere?

Tue, 01/08/2019 - 11:18am

Where you been? I thought you left. As they say the truth hurts!

Wed, 01/09/2019 - 9:46am

My New Years Resolution was to stop arguing with propagandists and morons on the internet. Didn't last

Tue, 01/08/2019 - 11:44am

Thank you, Bones!

Tue, 01/08/2019 - 11:10am

Fake news, much?

Lynn Brown
Tue, 01/08/2019 - 11:16am

You did miss it. Nessel and the Dems ARE focused on invasive species, especially Asian carp!

Tue, 01/08/2019 - 3:18pm

Please be specific. What is she proposing? ...... Fill in the Chicago Canal? Don't tell me the Rube Goldberg electric and bubble fence. a big joke!

Tue, 01/08/2019 - 12:47pm

Hey Matty......if you tell me that you do not enjoy the evils and benefits each and every hour the day of what the petroleum industry bring to you... then I say , take your comments and stick them where the sun doesn't shine. stop being such a hypocrite.

Tue, 01/08/2019 - 10:33pm

Sorry Dave since your comments make no sense what so ever, and show a complete lack of intelligence and logic, I suggest some remedial rhetoric course?

Pat Nelson
Tue, 01/08/2019 - 8:47am

I'd like to know exactly where the fuel (& what is it exactly?) being transported is coming from, and going to. Why isn't investment in wind energy in the upper peninsula a better alternative?

Terri Wilkerson
Tue, 01/08/2019 - 1:36pm

You are absolutely right about there being better alternative energy sources for what little Michigan uses from Line 5 (90-95% goes back to Canada for export and Enbridge's profit). Even if we had to pay to truck a little more in, it would cost only 3-5 cents per gallon.

Since we can't post links here, google "Enbridge Line 5 route" or "Retire Line 5" to see the route and learn more. Be careful of your sources because Enbridge is spending a lot to push its tunnel agenda.

Dave Friedrichs
Tue, 01/08/2019 - 8:59am

In Section 4.2 of the agreement, the tunnel is to be a "utility corridor". Does this mean the tunnel's engineering will make it possible for the tunnel to convey electricity cables (power supply) between Lower and Upper Michigan - as well as fossil fuels?
If not, why not?
If YES, how will charges for use of the tunnel for electrical power conveyance be determined?

leonard page
Tue, 01/08/2019 - 9:44am

i think the law of supply and demand tells us all we need about how vital line 5 is to michigan. the dynamic risk study of june 2017 and the london economics international study of november , 2018 found that shutting down line 5 would cause an increase of only pennies a gallon in propane and gasoline prices. why risk the great lakes for this shortcut for getting canadian oil to canada. michigan has no duty to transport canadian oil thru the great lakes. by the way FLOW (FOR LOVE OF WATER) has advocated against the pending asian carp invasion and the great lakes water diversions

Tue, 01/08/2019 - 3:13pm

Sorry Leonard but just from going to FLOW's home page you will find Line 5 mentioned 5 times and no mention of invasive carp, the Chicago canal or any invasive species what so ever. The fact is FLOW is just another Socialist group wanting to use climate change and environmentalism as an excuse to re-work the US economy to conform with their ideology.

Susan Wheadon
Tue, 01/08/2019 - 7:36pm

I have to admit I am one of those environmental folks who are trying to counteract the billions of dollars that the fossil fuel industry is spending on the propaganda that we want to "re-work the U.S. economy" when all we really care about is you, and your family and future generations to have clean water, air, health, safety, and a good quality of life.

Mrs A
Wed, 01/09/2019 - 2:46pm

Or perhaps FLOW is focused on their mission (water) and not on extraneous though important issues (carp), and once again you have demonstrated you are merely a CRANKY OLD MAN who does not grasp that environmentalism is not an "ideology" but a way of dealing with reality, perhaps because SOMEONE IS ON YOUR LAWN!

Tue, 01/08/2019 - 9:56am

Based on the deceptive prior practices by Enbridge I have no faith of future actions.

Tue, 01/08/2019 - 10:13am

No, it makes zero sense. We need to be working to eliminate all fossil fuels, not spending more money on them. I wouldn't trust Enbridge, Snyder, or the establishment political parties to do anything but protect the big money.

Trudi Cooper
Tue, 01/08/2019 - 10:19am

Surprised you published this piece of blatant con jon without a disclaimer as to its merits. I expect Bridge to be more enlightened.

Tue, 01/08/2019 - 4:45pm

Calm down Trudi,
This is an opinion piece.
Give credit to Bridge for publishing another point of view.

Terri Wilkerson
Tue, 01/08/2019 - 10:21am

The Canadian company Enbridge uses Line 5 as a shortcut from Canada through Michigan and back to Canada as the quickest way to get most (90-95%) of its 22 ½ million gallons of petroleum products transported DAILY to export for their profit. Michigan benefits very little from Line 5. What small amount we use from it could be replaced for only 3-5 cents per gallon of propane or gas, as shown by independent studies done by London Economics.

Every day Line 5 operates, we allow an enormous risk of an oil spill which would poison our water and tourist economy. Our image would go from PURE MICHIGAN to PUTRID MICHIGAN in heartbeat - and take many years to recover. Enbridge is already responsible for the TWO largest inland oil spills in the U.S. The one in Minnesota in 1991 was much larger than the one in 2010 in Michigan which resulted in 35 miles of the Kalamazoo River being closed. I shudder to think of Mackinac Island and the surrounding counties being spoiled. The Great Lakes are our biggest asset and we need to protect them!

Michigan does not NEED a tunnel or Line 5. Let's use the 4.5 million dollar appropriation Gov. Snyder made for "tunnel infrastructure related projects" to spread wi-fi and solar up North, not support building a tunnel. This would bring jobs and long term benefit to us - as would the jobs created to disassemble the 65 year old, failing Line 5.

Jennie Hoffmann
Tue, 01/08/2019 - 10:24am

Yes Mr. Moeller, Director of operations for the Great Lakes Region of Enbridge. You did in fact "began working with the State of Michigan to determine options for Line 5." Options for Line 5 to keep it running. We never heard of the "alternatives" promised. What about running this product through other pipelines? Why do we need to run under the Straits. Alternatives to running your product away from the Straits! This was what the public was promised by Governor Snyder. Alternatives not options for Line 5. Let's be clear on this opinion/advertisement you are writing. This was all done behind closed doors and in secret! Your admission is telling. When did you "began" and who was in these secret meetings?

Jennie Hoffmann
Tue, 01/08/2019 - 10:33am

Yes, Mr. Moeller, Director of Operations for the Great Lakes Region for Enbridge, you did "began working with the State of Michigan to determine options for Line 5." Never the alternatives for Line 5 we were promised. No it was only options to keep Enbridge Line 5 open. Governor Snyder promised alternatives to Line 5. We never heard them. Your admission of "began working with the State of Michigan" is telling. When did you "began" these closed doored, secret meetings? We would like to know.

Dave Thomas
Tue, 01/08/2019 - 10:51am

I am in agreement with the tunnel approach. As a geologist and environmentalist, I too, feel it is the safest route to avoid potential contamination from accidents. The nice part is that it is far from the lake and Enbridge will pay for it. If you don't agree, give me a safer alternative route.

Tue, 01/08/2019 - 1:31pm

Mr. Thomas, please do more research. Michigan does not need Line 5 - or the risk to our environment and tourist economy. Gov. Snyder promised Enbridge would pay for the tunnel, then a few days after saying that put forth a 4.5 million dollar appropriation for "tunnel related infrastructure support" which means you and I are paying from our taxes to support a Canadian company's export shortcut - 90-95% of the product goes back to Canada for export. Please dig deeper.

Alex Sagady
Thu, 01/10/2019 - 6:06pm

You should dig deeper, Terri. In Marysville, MI, Line 5 has an 'off ramp' in
the form of a 190,000 barrel per day pipeline that transports crude oil
from the Line 5 off ramp to petroleum refineries in Detroit and Toledo.

Do the math.

190,000 b/d
----------------- = 35% of Line 5 crude oil flow diverted to that 16 inch crude oil pipeline.
540,000 b/d

Just because a refinery is located in Toledo does not mean that it does not
provide benefits to Michigan.

Andrew A. Paterson
Tue, 01/08/2019 - 6:22pm

I worked with a client in Marysville in the mid eighties getting one available line of the five(?) lines in a new tunnel, one of several(more than three), tunnels crossing between Sarnia and the U.S. side of the Michigan/Ontario chemical valley. The new line was to transport propane from one of the three(!) refineries in Sarnia.
My education gained in handling this matter taught me that the other tunnels had been there for a very long time and apparently had been (and apparently still are) a safe solution to getting petroleum products across a (international) river*. So I agree that a tunnel is the best replacement for line 5. And it seems to me that the environmental objection is, at the bottom, a timing issue. Clearly a ship's anchor poses a danger and to a lesser extent an aging pipeline could fail (although it is being inspected frequently) . A tunnel, sooner rather than later takes away those risks. I see danger to these legitimate environmental risks in any delay in constructing the tunnel. (I don't believe shutting it down altogether and immediately is a realistic alternative. It would cost the State hundreds of millions - if not billions- of dollars. And I don't see any political will to incur that kind of a cost). Lawsuits, if that becomes the environmentalists' choice, will only prolong this period of time while the tunnel is to be constructed and will prolong the dangerous time period. So I fear that by delaying the construction, well meaning environmentalists will prolong the dangerous period that we are in now.

* It is interesting to see a map/drawing showing all the pipelines in North America. Google it. It is looking at a plate of spaghetti.

Cliff Yankovich
Tue, 01/08/2019 - 11:38am

I do not see any real numbers or stats here. I have seen where the pipeline crosses over BACK into Canada to be refined there. As a Michigan resident, I see very little to absolutely no benefit to our state. I have heard that Line 5 delivers natural gas to people in the UP. Well, if that is the big benefit to MI, why the fuss over risking the Straits for customers in the UP. Shut it off at the Straits and let folks in the UP have their natural gas. I watched how Enbridge handled the spill in the Kalamazoo River - sad story there. I have absolutely no faith that you have our best interests at heart. Canadian Oil companies seem to thrive on pumping their oil over and under and around the US to sell to China or what ever - how about keeping that all to yourselves? Find a different way to get the tar sludge you are pushing though Line 5 over to Sarnia. Why the heck do Michigan politicians continue to prop up a CANADIAN oil giant?

Tue, 01/08/2019 - 12:06pm

From a director of Enbridge? Um, no.

Joanne Galloway
Tue, 01/08/2019 - 1:57pm

Bridge, you've disappointed me here. This man's opinion can't be considered neutral. He relies in Enbridge for his paycheck. That leaves him naturally inclined to believe every bit of rhetoric they feed him. Their big profits allow them to hire the best public relations and marketing available. Unfortunately, Mike Moeller is just another one of their tools. (And, you were dooped to have given them voice here.)

Jannan J. Cornstalk
Tue, 01/08/2019 - 3:24pm

1) Proposed Jobs will go to downstate Union workers not anyone in Emmet County or Mackinaw County
2) unacceptable to put ask risk the water supply for 40 million people for some jobs
3) male based worker camps do not have a good reputation and do not stimulate the area economy. Many construction workers travel back downstate.
4) The State of Michigan does not benefit from transporting Canadian oil.

Tue, 01/08/2019 - 9:14pm

Risk of what? How will that risk be caused to happen?
As for the jobs, if you are truly concerned about the safety and reliability of the pipeline, do you believe the work should be done by knowledgeable and experienced tradesmen? Where do you think those workers are, with it lower population do you think they are in the UP? Have you ever considered that just like the 'electrical' grid the fossil fuel system that supplies North America is a grid, it shift crude from north to south west to east, south to north. The crude is moved from in the ground to the refineries where it is split into the various products that fuel our cars and homes, from gas to propane, to feedstock for chemical plants the transformer it into medical product, fabrics, plastics for refrigerator liners, to containers for food, etc.
Do you know where we get out gas and propane when the refinery in Chicago shuts down? Do you ever wonder how much direct benefit those with pipelines passing through their states benefit from the oil bound for Chicago? You and so many others need to be honest with themselves and look around and realize we are dependent on the 'grid' and we need to ensure that the 'grid' is being supplied even when we do see how it directly impacts our life.
As for Enbridge, they have been disappointing in their slow response to public concerns, in how they have engaged the public, in how they have failed in opening up to the public and showing the knowledge and skills that they have drawn on to prevent the risks from happening. Enbridge has missed many opportunities to bring the public in, to educate us in the risks we are concerned about and be part of prevent those risks. The proposal they have made does suggest they will improve their pipeline, but they have made it agonizing watch how slowly they have gotten here.

Tue, 01/08/2019 - 3:44pm

Thank you to Matt and Dave Thomas for the two most sensible comments on this op/Ed.
Mr Mueller's plan sounds safe. Eco-fascists and anti-capitalists are Luddite obstructionists.
Kudos to Bridgemi for having the journalistic integrity to allow the expression of sanity on their site.

Wed, 01/09/2019 - 9:44am

'Ecofascists and anti-capitalists are Luddite obstructionists.' Yes, the people that want use a more technolically advanced energy source are the Luddites...

Anne Snudden
Tue, 01/08/2019 - 5:30pm

Are you kidding me, Bridge Magazine?
Line 5 needs to be shut down immediately to protect our Great Lakes and our water!
Allowing an Enbridge Company hack to use your forum to advance private corporate interests is abominable. Where is your recognition of the violation of Indigenous Treaty Rights?
I expect better from independent journalism!

Rita Mitchell
Tue, 01/08/2019 - 10:43pm

I'm disappointed, Bridge Magazine, the publication with the logo of the Mackinac Bridge. Please seek more informative writers. An Enbridge executive said what he was paid to say. The article provides no help to the people of Michigan, and a distortion of the use of fossil fuels within our borders. One would think that all of the 23 million gallons per day were used in Michigan. We know it's less, more like 5% of that amount. Michigan is being used as a pass-through space, and from the Enbridge perspective, we take the risk.

Tue, 01/08/2019 - 7:08pm

Michigan's waters are worth far more than Canadian oil profits. A simple risk/reward analysis on line 5 shows that there is absolutely no benefit to the pipeline. Why Bridge saw fit to publish Enbridge propaganda is beyond me. It should be shut down immediately.

Deb Hansen
Tue, 01/08/2019 - 8:44pm

According to the most recent U.N. study on climate, we have around 12 years to limit -- not avoid -- catastrophe. Unprecented action is needed to move away from fossil fuels. It will take, optimistically, 7 -10 years to complete a tunnel under the Straits. Enbridge's interests are obvious. However, for the State of Michigan to enable a massive investment in the very sources of energy that are destroying life is perverse. If Line 5 has a future, our species may not. #cleanenergyNOW!!!

Lauren Sargent
Tue, 01/08/2019 - 10:55pm

Bridge Magazine I am very disapponted that you gave this corporate mouthpiece a podium to spout propaganda. Even if this “utility tunnel” could be safely built immediately, (it will take 10 years) and even if it cost us nothing (already $4.5 million plus the cost of defending the new authority against legal challenges) and even if it did not infringe on treaty rights—it still makes ZERO sense to build long term infrastructure for fossil fuel technology. This dinosaur would be a burden to Michigan. Obsolete before it is complete. Meanwhile, decrepit 65 year old Line 5 remains an existential threst to our Great Lakes and economy.

John Machowicz
Wed, 01/09/2019 - 7:03am

Remember the disastrous oil spill in the Kalamazoo River during the summer of 2010. It was the same company, Enbridge who was responsible. Enbridge couldn't be trusted then and they certainly haven't given anyone reason to be trusted today. It's simple, Line 5 needs to be shut down immediately. If Enbridge is going to keep pushing this reckless agenda, they can expect a massive resistance that they have never seen the likes of before. You can count on it.

Vince Caruso
Wed, 01/09/2019 - 8:51am

Line 5 is a short cut through our great state of Michigan across and a danger to 20% of the worlds accessible fresh water. Michigan is the Saudi Arabia of Fresh Clean Water, is now worth more than oil - check the price on the bottled water you just bought.
This is a clear and present danger to Michigan, USA and Canada economic and environmental well being for a relative mear pittance for those who stand to gain from its continued assault on the rest of us.
Shut Down Line 5 Forever!

Frank N Koob
Wed, 01/09/2019 - 9:41am

Enbridge is flexible enough to decide to invest its money in the future of clean energy rather than in the transportation and sale of fossil fuels. In a few years line 5 will be a dinosaur in the history of the development of the use of energy in the United States. Why go down the way of Sears Roebuck and Company which failed to adjust to Changing Times? Or do the Enbridge investors just want to take as much money as they can earn short-term and run as we have happening in other sectors of our runaway economy?

Frank N Koob
Wed, 01/09/2019 - 9:41am

Enbridge is flexible enough to decide to invest its money in the future of clean energy rather than in the transportation and sale of fossil fuels. In a few years line 5 will be a dinosaur in the history of the development of the use of energy in the United States. Why go down the way of Sears Roebuck and Company which failed to adjust to Changing Times? Or do the Enbridge investors just want to take as much money as they can earn short-term and run as we have happening in other sectors of our runaway economy?

Kathryn Rudolph
Thu, 01/10/2019 - 11:05pm

#ShutDownLine5 #NoTunnelEither #WaterIsLife We don’t want a tunnel!