Mackinac Bridge | Susan J. Demas
Gov. Rick Snyder on Tuesday vowed he would sign legislation that will keep Enbridge’s petroleum operation under the Straits of Mackinac up and running. And today, he made good on that promise.
The Republican governor announced via press release this morning that he had signed Senate Bill 1197 sponsored by state Sen. Tom Casperson (R-Escanaba). The bill is now Public Act 359 of 2018.
“This new law is the result of a tremendous effort by Sen. Casperson, my partners in the House and Senate leadership, and a diverse group of stakeholders, including business leaders and union representatives,” Snyder said in a statement. “We all understand the importance of bringing certainty to removing Line 5 from the waters in the Straits of Mackinac. By working together, they helped garner bipartisan support to ensure we are protecting the Great Lakes while securing better energy infrastructure for Michigan.”
Environmental groups and many Democrats have voiced repeated concerns about the safety of Enbridge’s aging Line 5 pipeline running beneath Straits of Mackinac. Both Gov.-elect Gretchen Whitmer and Attorney General-elect Dana Nessel want to shut down Line 5, as do many environmental groups. The new law is expected to wind up in court.
“The people of the Great Lakes State elected us as stewards of our state’s natural resources, responsible for preserving the safety and quality of our water for generations to come,” state Rep. Yousef Rabhi (D-Ann Arbor) said in a statement on SB 1197 on Tuesday. This legislation does nothing to mitigate the significant risks Line 5 poses to our environment and economy, and in their attempt to rush through the plan, Republicans failed to guarantee that the new jobs created will pay the strong wages Michiganders deserve. We cannot allow Enbridge to continue gambling with our state’s health and well-being as they rake in profits and neglect the potentially devastating costs of a spill.”
In his speech supporting the legislation on Tuesday, state Rep. Lee Chatfield (R-Levering), the incoming House speaker, said the Great Lakes are part of Michigan’s “heritage” and he vowed to protect them.
On Tuesday, the House and Senate took final action on the bill creating an authority to oversee the construction of a tunnel that could encase the Enbridge Line 5 oil pipeline. Snyder appointed his cabinet director to one of the slots on the authority. The governor negotiated the deal with Enbridge and has said this was a top priority before his term ends.
The new Mackinac Straits Corridor Authority (MSCA) will have members serving six-year terms expiring on Dec. 12, 2024. No more than two members can hail from the same political party. Snyder made these appointments today:
- Geno Alessandrini of Iron Mountain is the business manager for the Michigan Laborers District Council. 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 will represent Democrats.
- Michael Zimmer of Dimondale serves as Snyder’s cabinet director. Previously, Zimmer worked as director of the Michigan Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs. He will be resigning his appointment to the Mackinac Bridge Authority (MBA) and will represent Republicans on the MSCA.
The chair will be chosen by the authority members. The MSCA will be subject to the Open Meetings Act and the Freedom of Information Act, Snyder said. The board is required to enter into an agreement for utility tunnel construction by Dec. 31, 2018, providing an agreement is lodged by Dec. 21, 2018.
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