The State has announced a Third Proposed Agreement between Governor Snyder, the Department of Environmental Quality, the Department of Natural Resources and Enbridge. This agreement would supplement the two previous agreements between the state and Enbridge – the first in November 2017 and the second in October 2018.
This draft agreement would carry forward the safety requirements of the first two agreements and require Enbridge to construct a tunnel beneath the Straits that will provide secondary containment for a replacement Straits pipeline and be capable of housing multiple utilities. It also includes interpretations of the current 1953 easement for the dual pipelines and ongoing financial assurance requirements. Under the proposed Third Agreement, Enbridge would cover all costs for design, construction, operation and maintenance of the multi-use tunnel. The agreement would also establish more stringent inspection and safety requirements in successive years for the existing dual Line 5 pipelines on the bottom of the Straits as the tunnel and replacement line are constructed.
Comments on the draft document can be made by phone at 833-367-6713 or by email to DNR-StraitsTunnelComment@michigan.gov. Comments will be accepted through December 18. The agreement is posted on the mipetroleumpipelines.com website.
MSCA Members will serve six-year terms expiring Dec. 12, 2024. They are subject to the advice and consent of the Senate. The chair will be chosen by the authority members. The Board Members are as follows;
Geno Alessandrini, of Iron Mountain, is the business manager for the Michigan Laborers District Council where he is responsible for overseeing the affairs of over 13,000 construction workers in Michigan. He previously served as business manager for Laborers Local Union 1329 in Iron Mountain. Alessandrini attended the Harvard Trade Union Program and Harvard Law School. He will represent Democrats.
Anthony (Tony) England, of Ypsilanti, is the dean of the College of Engineering and Computer Science at the University of Michigan – Dearborn. England served as deputy chief of the Office of Geochemistry and Geophysics for the U.S. Geological Survey and as a senior scientist astronaut for NASA before becoming a professor at the University of Michigan. He holds a bachelor’s degree in earth sciences, a master’s degree in geology and geophysics, and a Ph.D. in geophysics from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He will represent Democrats.
Michael Zimmer, of Dimondale, serves as the cabinet director for Gov. Rick Snyder. Previously, Zimmer worked as director of the Michigan Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs. Zimmer earned his bachelor’s degree from Michigan State University and his law degree from George Washington University. He will be resigning his appointment to the Mackinac Bridge Authority (MBA) and will represent Republicans on the MSCA.
“I want to thank the appointees for being willing to serve on this authority that will have the responsibility of overseeing this critically important piece of infrastructure for Michigan,” Snyder said. “They have the expertise and the qualifications necessary to serve the state well as the MSCA brings an end to concerns over Line 5 continuing to operate in the Straits of Mackinac.”
"This pipeline and the energy resources that flow through it are utilized by hundreds of thousands of Michiganders every single day, and we need to protect these energy resources. We in this chamber with the plan that's before us cannot wait any longer, because doing nothing is not an option."
–Representative Lee Chatfield
Just after 12:45 P.M. on Tuesday, December 12, 2018 Senate Bill 1197 passed the House with a 74-34 vote. Several Democratic Representatives joined their Republican colleagues in support of the bill. This bill would create a new entity, the Mackinac Straits Corridor Authority, to assume oversight of a proposed utility tunnel.
Low energy prices enhance U.S. power at the expense of Moscow and Tehran.
Construction, operation, and maintenance of the proposed utility tunnel will be fully paid for by Enbridge
Clearing up questions on cost.
There have been a lot of questions about costs related to the proposed utility tunnel that would house a replacement for Line 5 under the Straits and rightfully so, as this is major infrastructure project in Northern Michigan. With the Mackinac Bridge Authority’s oversight, this project would provide an incredible economic boost for Northern Michigan, employee hundreds of skilled trade workers, and ensure our state’s vital, safe and well-maintained transportation infrastructure will continue to support our business needs.
So who will be paying for it? Enbridge.
The October agreement mandates that the construction, operation, and maintenance of the proposed utility tunnel will be fully paid for by Enbridge. The cost is estimated to be between $350 million to $500 million for construction and design of this large infrastructure project, all of which will be paid by Enbridge. No taxpayer dollars will be used for these purposes. You may have heard that separate from these costs footed by Enbridge, the state is asking for a $4.5 M Appropriation to pay for necessary independent oversight of the project. This appropriation is a fraction of the $630 million supplemental spending plan sent to lawmakers Nov. 14. As Kurt Weiss, spokesperson for the Michigan State Budget Office puts it, "This money is really for the oversight of Enbridge, if you will, and the administration to make sure the project is managed to the state's satisfaction”. The appropriated funds would cover the cost of installing radar in the Straits to provide real-time wave height monitoring and cover any additional staffing needs for the Mackinac Bridge Authority (MBA) to monitor Enbridge’s compliance. This funding would also ensure that no bridge revenues would be used for the tunnel project oversight.
"Because of proximity and history operating an important public asset, the MBA is the logical choice to oversee this tunnel, ensure its safe operation and continue to protect the Straits of Mackinac and the Mackinac Bridge, our state’s most iconic structure".
The recently retired Kirk Steudle, served 31 years with the Michigan Department of Transportation (MDOT), and spent the last 13 as MDOT Director. He was re-appointed to the Mackinac Bridge Authority (MBA), as a private citizen, effective Nov. 1st of this year, where he plans to continue to protect the Mackinac Bridge and the Straits. Kirk believes that the MBA is right entity to oversee the proposed utility tunnel. In a recent opinion piece featured in the the Traverse City Record Eagle, he shares his belief that the MBA should seize the opportunity to assist in safeguarding the Mackinac Bridge, the Straits, and our State. Capitalizing on its credibility and expertise to protect our state's critical infrastructure, rather than being a bystander as this project takes shape
Tunnel under the Straits is the best way to handle Line 5
The proposed utility tunnel under the Straits will;
Ensure Environmental Protections
Provide Energy Security
Create Good-Paying Jobs.
In a recent guest column, featured in the Free Press, Secretary-Treasurer of the Michigan Building and Construction Trades Council, Pat Devlin, reiterates the importance of maintaining Michigan's critical infrastructure. He, like many, believes that the tunnel would virtually eliminate the possibility of an oil spill in the Straits and provide a comprehensive solution to connect our peninsulas while protecting the Great Lakes. This substantial infrastructure plan would have an enormous positive impact on Northern Michigan communities. Providing years of high paying jobs, the tunnel plan would
The Great Lakes are essential to Michigan. So is safe, reliable energy. Agreements with Enbridge to build a utility tunnel deep in the bedrock will essentially eliminate the risk of an oil spill at the Straits, provide energy security, and better connect our peninsulas.
2018 Midterm Election Results
Democrat Gretchen Whitmer will be the next Governor of Michigan after defeating Republican challenger Bill Schuette. Whitmer, a former Senate Minority Leader will be joined by former Detroit city official Garlin Gilchrist II as the next Lieutenant Governor. Other notable positions include new Secretary of State Joceyln Benson (D) and new Attorney General Dana Nessel (D).
In the legislature, at the State level, Republicans maintain the majority in the State House and State Senate. Republicans will hold 22 of 38 MI Senate seats and 58 of 110 MI House seats in the next legislature beginning in January of 2019.
At the National level, while the Democrats have captured the majority in the House of Representatives, Republicans solidified their majority in the Senate. From Michigan, U.S Senator Debbie Stabenow (D) secured her 4th term in a tight race against Republican John James. In the U.S. House, Democrats flipped seats in Michigan's 8th and 11th congressional districts. In the 8th, Democrat Elissa Slotkin defeated Republican incumbent Mike Bishop and in the 11th district, Democrat Haley Stevens defeated Republican Lena Epstein.
Join the election update conference call next Wednesday, November 14 at 2:00pm for more in depth coverage on Michigan's new legislature and what it may mean for you. Register Now!
Wednesday Nov. 14 Join the Michigan Oil and Gas Association's Industry Advocates for a Post-Election Update with Bret Marr, Member of Muchmore Harrington Smalley & Associates (MHSA). Get an in-depth look at Michigan's new Legislature and what it may mean for you.
Bret Marr joined MHSA in 2003, and became a member of Muchmore Harrington Smalley & Associates, LLC in 2015. Prior to that, he successfully served as Director of Legislative Affairs for former Governor John Engler. Bret served as the primary contact between the Michigan Legislature and Governor Engler on legislative and appropriations issues. Bret coordinated Michigan’s electric restructuring plan in the Legislature as well as the rewrite of Michigan’s Telecommunications Act. He also shepherded numerous changes to Michigan’s tax structure, including a rewrite of the Brownfield program and streamlining of the tax reverted property process. He is consistently voted one of Lansing’s top lobbyists.
**Conference Call-in Information will be provided to Registrants prior to the event
2019 Michigan Oil and Gas Industry Legislative Education Day
Don't forget to mark your calendars for the Michigan Oil and Gas Industry's Legislative Education Day, set to take place on Wednesday, Feb. 20, 2019 at the Radisson Hotel Lansing at the Capitol. The event will provide a great opportunity to meet with new representatives and reconnect with returning ones.