In Michigan, we love our lakes and take pride in our jobs. The new, high-tech Great Lakes Tunnel planned for deep below the Mackinac Straits protects both. With the state emerging from a global health pandemic, it’s a project that couldn’t be more important.
That’s why the state’s leading labor, business, and industry voices are speaking out together in a unique coalition — Great Lakes. Michigan Jobs. — to support construction of the Great Lakes Tunnel.
As state and federal agencies review permit applications this summer, as they ask for public comment, and as state officials weigh the best next steps to kick-start Michigan’s economy, we encourage them to embrace the Tunnel project, and the lakes and jobs it protects.
The Great Lakes Tunnel replaces a portion of Line 5, the pipeline that crosses the straits along the bottom of the lakebed connecting Michigan’s two peninsulas. The Line 5 pipeline delivers the fuel that homeowners and worksites count on to keep Michigan’s economy moving.
Building the Tunnel will protect the lakes, make an already safe pipeline safer, create jobs and protect tens of thousands of other Michigan jobs when we need them most. Every one of those goals matters.
The Great Lakes are more than a natural resource. They’re Michigan’s way of life. Our state’s identity, our traditions, and our jobs depend on healthy Great Lakes, and we fight to defend them.
Placing the pipeline in a state-of-the-art concrete tunnel deep under the lakebed provides multiple layers of protection, safeguarding the Straits from the risk of an oil spill. An expert study commissioned by the state of Michigan examined the possibility of oil leaking into the Great Lakes from the proposed tunnel and found the risk “un-quantifiably low.”
The Tunnel is also a critical piece of the state’s economic infrastructure. Building and operating the Great Lakes Tunnel will require roughly 2 million manhours of labor – largely Michigan labor.
Just before the beginning of the COVID-19 public health crisis, Enbridge, the company paying to build the Tunnel, announced the selection of Michigan contractors to handle its construction.
Livonia-based Jay Dee Contractors, Inc. and the new Great Lakes Tunnel Constructors were selected to do the heavy lifting on the essential building project. And while the Tunnel itself will directly create hundreds of skilled trades jobs, its impact goes well beyond that.
More than ever as we emerge from the coronavirus pandemic, securing and protecting Michigan jobs matters, too. Building the tunnel protects tens of thousands of direct and indirect jobs that rely on the fuel that’s flowing today through Line 5, and keeps the state’s manufacturing, chemistry, tourism and service industries moving.
It's a project that means hundreds of millions in capital investment, tens of millions in local property, sales, and income tax revenue our local communities count on every day, too. What’s more, Enbridge Energy has agreed to foot the $500 million bill for the project.
With so much on the line, it’s no wonder this project is backed by Democrats and Republicans, business and labor, families “Up North” and across the lower peninsula.
This summer, regulators and agencies are reviewing permit applications for the Tunnel, and state officials are plotting out the state’s next steps to kickstart the economy. We’re excited to support a unique project that protects the Great Lakes, secures Michigan jobs, and will protect Michiganders’ access to affordable fuel.
Great Lakes. Michigan Jobs. We’re fighting together to defend them both. We hope you’ll join us.
Lee Graham is executive director, Labor Management Education Committee of Operating Engineers 324. John Walsh is president and CEO of Michigan Manufacturers Association.
The Great Lakes Tunnel coalition is led by a Steering Committee including the Michigan Manufacturers Association, Operating Engineers 324, Michigan Chamber of Commerce, Michigan Laborers, Michigan Chemistry Council, Michigan Building and Construction Trades Council, Michigan Oil and Gas Association, Michigan Propane Gas Association, Michigan Petroleum Association and Michigan Association of Convenience Stores, Lake Superior Community Partnership and API Michigan.