In response to an outpouring of bipartisan public pressure to save the Mackinac Bridge from Enbridge, the shareholder-owned Canadian corporation, Michigan Senate Republicans today released yet another rushed version of their Senate Bill 1197 that makes matters worse for the Mighty Mac, the Great Lakes, and Michigan taxpayers.
Specifically, in a race to guarantee a private oil tunnel for Enbridge under the Mackinac Straits before January 1, when incoming Governor Gretchen Whitmer and Attorney General Dana Nessel – both of whom are Democrats and tunnel opponents – take office, Michigan Senate Bill 1197 (Click here for SB 1197, Substitute 2, Draft 3):
- Gives a shareholder-owned foreign company free access to the public’s Great Lakes water and bottomlands, untold millions of taxpayer dollars for state oversight and a legal defense fund, and some cover from liability as the state takes on ownership of infrastructure that poses a risk to leak and/or explode and pollute the drinking water for Mackinac Island, St. Ignace, and half of all Michiganders.
- Incredibly, still risks the Mackinac Bridge by creating a new state body to own and govern the proposed tunnel that would be housed as a sub-authority – the Mackinac Straits Corridor Authority – within the Mackinac Bridge Authority, continuing to extend liability for the private oil tunnel to the Mackinac Bridge. Exact language, with the newly proposed text underlined: “An act authorizing the Mackinac bridge authority to acquire a bridge and a utility tunnel connecting the Upper and Lower Peninsulas of Michigan…”. The bill also anticipates draining $500,000 a year from bridge revenue for allowing fiber optics access that would be moved to the tunnel.
- Increases the odds of a catastrophic oil spill in the Mackinac Straits, where Lake Michigan meets Lake Huron, by allowing the cracked and dented Line 5 pipelines at least another decade of non-stop oil pumping through 2028, when Line 5 would be 75 years old, while Enbridge considers, but is not required to build, a tunnel.
- Requires the as-yet non-existent Mackinac Straits Corridor Authority to approve by December 31 – less than four weeks from now – a series of agreements being negotiated by the Snyder administration in private with Enbridge for building the tunnel, deeding it to the state, and then leasing the tunnel back for 99 years. The secret process shuts out lawmakers, citizens, businesses, and tribes from the opportunity to review, understand, and oppose or strengthen the pacts to benefit the public.
“Michiganders know it takes more time to buy a house than the Snyder administration and Senate Republicans are allowing for drafting, reviewing, and signing this bill and the secret contracts,” said Liz Kirkwood, FLOW’s Executive Director. “The intended winner from this fast-and-loose process: Enbridge, a private foreign corporation. The loser: the Mackinac Bridge, the Great Lakes, and Michigan taxpayers. It makes you wonder who lawmakers are really representing.”