The Building Tradesman Newspaper

Friday, July 12, 2019

A new pipeline is the 'only viable and safest plan' for replacing the existing Line 5

By The Building Tradesman

By Sean McGarvey
North America's Building Trades Unions

The following letter was written last month by North America's Building Trades Union (NABTU) President Sean McGarvey to Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer and Attorney General Dana Nessel

Dear Governor Whitmer and Attorney General Nessel:  On behalf of the more than 3 million skilled craft professionals that comprise the 14 affiliates of North America's Building Trades Unions (NABTU), I write urging you to support Enbridge's Line 5 tunnel and replacement plan while ensuring the continued operation of the existing pipeline until the new one is in service. 

Keeping both the pipeline operational and the replacement plan on track is critical to protecting and creating jobs throughout the entire Great Lakes region. It is hard to believe that our members are still recovering from the devastating effects of the Great Recession and now they are being subjected to Michigan's misguided, politically-driven, decisions overturning the agreements which would have put NABTU members to work replacing Line 5. 

As you know, for the past 60 years, consumers have relied on Line 5 to provide necessary, reliable, and safe energy supplies for the entire Great Lakes region. The pipeline provides refineries in Michigan, Canada, Ohio, and Pennsylvania with approximately 42 percent of the resources needed to power the local economies. These refineries process a total of 1.3 million barrels per day of oil into fuels and other petroleum products that Great Lakes region consumers demand daily. Without Line 5, these energy manufacturers would lose a vital source of reliable domestic crude oil, leading to harmful economic impacts. 

The local gasoline and diesel market in both Michigan and the greater Northwest Ohio region would face the potential for significant refined product supply shortages, coupled with material price spikes that would likely be passed on to the consumer. As an example, one refinery in Ohio alone that relies on crude oil from Line 5 makes 15 percent of the state’s fuel supply. The refinery is also one of the more significant jet fuel suppliers for the Detroit Metro Airport and provides Michigan consumers with reliable, affordable gasoline and diesel fuel. 

Additionally, continued operation of the pipeline is crucial to protecting and creating union manufacturing and other jobs in the Great Lakes states. Regional refinery jobs represent millions of man hours for the building and construction workers and tens of millions of dollars in income to the regional economy. Additionally, the half a billion-dollar tunnel project will create thousands more union jobs. The retail, food, tourism industries will also benefit from the increased business that comes with such major projects. 

Finally, much independent analysis has concluded a tunnel for a new pipeline is the only viable and safest plan for replacing the existing Line 5. Ensuring the continued operation and safe replacement of this critical infrastructure is crucial for Great Lakes region. On behalf of all the NABTU members and affiliated unions, I urge you to support Enbridge's Line 5 replacement plan while also ensuring the uninterrupted operation of the existing pipeline.