Opinion | Michigan's energy future relies on Enbridge's Great Lakes tunnel

Mark Griffin

Mark Griffin is president of Michigan Petroleum Association & Michigan Association of Convenience Stores 

Continued arguments about the future of the Line 5 pipeline, particularly the small section operating safely in the Straits of Mackinac, seem to miss the main point of the issue: Michigan needs the energy and the jobs it provides. Those who want to shut down Line 5 also overlook the lack of meaningful alternatives for obtaining the affordable fuel that we rely on every day.  

There’s good news, though.  A high-tech solution is already in the works – building the Great Lakes Tunnel.  A private company – Enbridge – is already paying the full $500 million cost to build the Tunnel which means there is no cost to taxpayers, so let’s end the stall tactics, move forward with the project, and get Line 5 out of the water.  

Whether you’re gassing up your car, turning on the lights in the morning, or using a toothbrush before bed, you’re probably taking advantage of the fuel Line 5 delivers without even knowing it.   


The Michigan Petroleum Association and Michigan Association of Convenience Stores represents more than 15,000 Michiganders working at more than 400 small businesses in most of Michigan’s 83 counties that are connected to products that safely move through Line 5. Our members operate more than 2,500 retail locations across the state and rely on the energy from Line 5 to both run their businesses and make a living supplying that energy to Michigan residents.  

Those are big numbers, but they’re just a fraction of the jobs and families that are counting on the latest Line 5 infrastructure project to make a safe pipeline safer by getting it out of the Straits, and burying it deep below the lakebed in a state-of-the-art tunnel. 

Without energy from Line 5, the energy that Michigan residents and businesses rely on would be much more difficult to obtain and much more costly, as well. Cutting off this essential energy supply would be devastating to Michigan’s economy, and that includes Michigan’s gas stations and convenience stores.  

We don’t do ourselves any favors if we aren’t honest about the challenges the state will face without the Great Lakes Tunnel. 

Gas prices will go up.  Transportation costs will increase.  Families will pay more to heat and power their homes.  Manufacturers will see energy price-spikes, which means customers will pay more for the Michigan products they rely on.   

Efforts by some in Lansing to block the tunnel would also mean fuel being transported more expensively by truck and railroad, increasing pollution and driving up the risk of spills, accidents, and disasters across our communities. 

The alternative?  Lansing should get out of the way and let Enbridge build the Great Lakes Tunnel.  Let them pump $500 million into our state’s economy.  Keep energy prices affordable.  Support the union and local jobs the project creates and protects.  Make the risk of a spill in the Straits “unquantifiably low.”  Defend the local fish and wildlife by building the tunnel deep below the lakebed.

As our state works to recover from a global pandemic, we need every tool in the toolbox.  The tunnel is essential to Michigan’s economic comeback.  Instead of bigger bills, we need reliability and certainty. That’s why Michigan’s petroleum providers and convenience store owners urge state and federal regulators to move forward as quickly as possible with permitting for the Great Lakes Tunnel. Our energy future depends on it.

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Ronald Korzecke
Tue, 09/08/2020 - 5:53pm

The writer's contentions have no citations to shore them up.
Enbridge is buying property and paying high prices for it simply because the shutdown of the pipeline could bankrupt them.
They originally brought Line 5 through Michigan because it saved them money and if they lose the pipeline route it will be catastrophic for their profits.
I value the infrastructure more than I worry about increased energy costs.

Abe Bubush
Tue, 09/08/2020 - 6:48pm

It would be more convincing if he actually could commit to some numbers. "Up" and "increase" and "price-spikes" just come across as pandering. That way we could dig it up this article in the future and see if he was anywhere on the map.

leonard page
Tue, 09/08/2020 - 8:07pm

total B.S. Michigan has no need to serve as a permanent shortcut to get western Canadian oil products to Sarnia, Ontario. line 5 pumps 540,000 barresl a day with only 6% staying the the state. 1300 barrels of propane a day on average is stripped out at rapid river in the UP for 13000 Yooper customers. two studies show that propane can be delivered to rapid river by truck or rail for about 5 cents more a gallon (Dynamic Risk and London Economics International). another 20,000 barrels a day on average are delivered to Detroit Marathon for gasoline. this amount to about 1,5% of michigan's gas needs. Recent paper shows that current shutdown has no impact on retail gasoline prices https://www.metrotimes.com/news-hits/archives/2020/08/14/research-dives-... why take the slightest risk to our greatest natural treasure when benefits to michigan are neglible. stop the lies.

Thu, 09/10/2020 - 11:17am

Easy for you to say if you don't live in the UP and rely on propane to heat your home. If there was no alternative to the pipeline on the lakebed, then I would be in favor of a gradual shutdown as alternative methods of fuel delivery were put in place (NOT a sudden shutdown). But there is an alternative, and that is the tunnel. If not for the lawsuits and and so forth, Enbridge would probably be through the permitting process (assuming the permitting process does not find any issues with the tunnel) and starting construction by now. The longer the court battle goes on, with seemingly endless appeals and countersuits, the longer the pipeline sits on the lakebed.

Not a UPer
Thu, 09/10/2020 - 10:15pm

YOU don't need the lake bed for your propane. You live above the lake bed, that is why you call us trolls. They could use that pipe as a pig. You know, a propane pig, like the one you have in your yard..............but larger!

How many times will this line get damaged before it is fixed? How many times can this line be damaged before it fails? Will you and the UP gather donations to help alleviate the pain from the LP since they will the ones most effected? HA!

I want and need a story done on the business that is digging this tunnel. If you don't know, search engine them. They currently have a law suit in Macomb county for a tunnel failure.

Almighty Dollar
Wed, 09/30/2020 - 8:03pm

But, but.... a nickel! lol

David Barnosky
Tue, 09/08/2020 - 9:58pm

Your commentary hits all of the standard industry talking points, fails to supply hard economic data to support the value and costs associated with this plan, and completely disregards the safety arguments of your opponents. I want to hear an argument that makes the policy case. This is to my mind an argument to appeal to the predispositions of political factions.

Wed, 09/09/2020 - 3:30pm

Michigan doesnt need Enbridge...that's been proven.
So quit feeding us your lies.
Shut it down.

Russell Lauer
Thu, 09/10/2020 - 2:01pm

Because of the back and forth with lawsuits and politics, how long will it take to resolve this issue? Because of these delays, if a leak occurs, no matter the cause, I will be starting a class action suit, in excess of 12 figures, against the governments of USA and Canada! For less than 1/2 a billion dollars, many billions can be save. Politicians know nothing about economy!

Russell Lauer
Thu, 09/10/2020 - 2:01pm

Because of the back and forth with lawsuits and politics, how long will it take to resolve this issue? Because of these delays, if a leak occurs, no matter the cause, I will be starting a class action suit, in excess of 12 figures, against the governments of USA and Canada! For less than 1/2 a billion dollars, many billions can be save. Politicians know nothing about economy!

John Chastain
Thu, 09/10/2020 - 6:50pm

I understand it’s a propaganda piece disguised as “commentary” but the level of misdirection, exaggeration and outright dishonesty is amazing. How low are the fossil industry’s mouthpieces willing to go? Well if this piece of disingenuous nonsense is a good example I’d say there’s no bottom in that well.

Fri, 09/11/2020 - 10:46pm

Last century's fossil fuels are losing their appeal by leaps and bounds step into the next millennium. We owe it to our grandkids to protect one fifth of the world's fresh water.

Almighty Dollar
Wed, 09/30/2020 - 8:01pm

Let them move Canadian sludge through Canada around Thunder Bay, then down to Sarnia. No need for it to move through Michigan, and there is plenty of oil elsewhere. Supply of energy is not a problem. Global warming is. We need to move to sustainable energy. Just look at all the homes getting wiped out and dams collapsing. It's long past time to wake up and follow the science, not Republican dogma, paid for by the Koch Brothers and the Federalist society.