We are currently living with the risk of rupture of 64 year-old twin oil and gas pipelines under the straits of Mackinac, a place with prolonged icy conditions and strong shifting currents, a place a University of Michigan study has called the “worst possible place for an oil spill in the Great Lakes.” Should we risk spoiling more than 700 miles of coastline in the middle of Michigan’s top tourist attraction? The question is not whether there will be a rupture or leak, but rather when will one occur.
Only 3- 5% of the oil that is transported in these pipelines is used in Michigan; the rest goes on to Ontario. As Senator Stabenow has asked, “Why not run the pipeline to Sarnia under Canadian soil?” We do not need to put our Great Lakes, our tourism and agricultural industries, and our drinking water at risk so that a Canadian company can reap increased profit.
The alternative is supporting more clean, renewable energy. Now is the time of climate change, and the worldwide effort to employ alternative sources of energy has both drastically lowered the cost of renewables and lowered the amount of fossil fuels we need to burn.
Michigan spends $22 billion a year importing fuel into the state, both for transportation and power. We get 100% of our fuel for coal and nuclear power plants and 80% of our natural gas from other states. Solar, wind and efficiency are fuel free; once installed, the cost of energy is zero. Instead of sending all that money out of state to import fuel, that $22 billion could stay in Michigan. Energy efficiency measures and increasing our use of renewable energy will save ratepayers money, give us cleaner air and water, protect our Great Lakes, reduce illness, and save lives.
More that 23 of the Forbes 500 companies have vowed to run on 100% clean, renewable energy and 43% have carbon emission reduction targets. The Switch Corporation, is building the largest Data Center in the eastern US in Grand Rapids, overall planning to invest $5 billion. It’s the largest investment in Michigan ever. They are not asking for oil and gas from Canada or the Dakotas, Rather, they demand 100% renewable energy, and they are bringing jobs and money that will be spent in our Michigan communities.
Bill Gittlen is a retired Emergency Medicine physician. He is a Climate Reality Project presenter and is on the Board of Directors of the Northern Michigan Environmental Council. He loves the outdoors and works to protect and preserve the well-being of all Michiganders and the environment on which we depend.
The next generation wants clean air and water and employment opportunities. If we want to keep our young people here and attract others to our beautiful state, we need to become leaders in the energy revolution. As we transition to renewable energy we will no longer need as much oil or gas. Instead of keeping Pure Michigan at risk, tell Governor Snyder to shut down Line 5 and show the world that Michigan is clean, resilient, and open for sustainable business.