Mackinac pipeline leak could torpedo Michigan economy

If our largest sources of surface freshwater on the planet were contaminated with traces of petroleum, drinking water could be shut off for millions of people, and breweries like ours would be severely impacted.

At 65 years old and in poor condition, the Line 5 pipeline poses a serious threat of an oil spill in the Great Lakes. A spill would be devastating for Michigan businesses. The decommissioning of Line 5 in the Straits of Mackinac is a way for many Michigan businesses to significantly reduce their risk.

Governor Rick Snyder’s recent deal with Enbridge fails to protect the Great Lakes and those who depend on it. By bypassing the public process and advancing measures that greatly benefit Enbridge, Snyder is only pursuing the business interests of Enbridge and ignoring the basic needs of Michiganders, including Michigan businesses. He’s helping this foreign oil company move its product, instead of doing its job: fighting for the Michiganders.

We deserve better.

In addition to relying on cold beer, HopCat partially relies on Michigan tourism. Beer tourism is a reality in the state of Michigan. We have more breweries per capita than almost any other state. These tourists come because of Michigan’s world-class brewing scene and natural attractions such as the shores of Lake Michigan.

Without these two things, tourism would practically cease to exist in Michigan. By the time the technical studies and regulatory procedures are completed for a replacement tunnel, this pipeline is likely to leak.

If this pipeline leaked, we would see an absolute torpedoing of Michigan’s tourism industry for years to come. In 2014, tourism generated $ 22.8 billion in direct spending, $ 2.4 billion in national and local taxes and over 214,000 jobs. A leak would result in the loss of tens or even hundreds of thousands of jobs. And guess what? The pipes are leaking all the time. It is not a remote probability, one in a million. A leak can occur at any time. It’s time to stand up now, before this leak occurs.

As a “State of the Great Lakes”, we must protect these waters. These are our greatest assets.

The onslaught of recent revelations about Enbridge is expected to elicit a serious backlash from state officials. As a business owner, I weigh the risks every day. When you look at the risks of decommissioning versus allowing this company to continue shipping oil to our Great Lakes, it’s easy to deduce which side of this equation is in order. The Michiganders can handle a 2 cent per gallon cost increase for their gasoline, and there are creative solutions to mitigate the increase in propane costs. It’s time to decommission this pipeline.

I am proud that HopCat is a founding member of the Great Lakes Business Network, a network of over 70 Michigan companies defending the Great Lakes. The member companies collectively employ over 3,500 people, and all recognize that this pipeline poses a serious threat to our business and the economy of our state.

We will continue to support the maintenance of a “pure Michigan”. And we will continue to advocate for the decommissioning of the Line 5 pipeline in the Straits of Mackinac.