Plan to improve pipeline safety in Great Lakes

Three northern Michigan representatives have introduced a plan to better protect the Great Lakes by strengthening pipeline safety standards in the Straits of Mackinac.

State Reps. Lee Chatfield, Sue Allor and Triston Cole said the comprehensive plan ensures vessels and utility companies operating in the Straits are accountable to the people of Michigan.

“While the transportation of energy resources is essential to our daily lives, it’s our duty to take all of the precautions necessary to protect the water we drink, fish and swim in with our families,” said Chatfield, of Levering. “We must do more to ensure the critical infrastructure lines connecting our two peninsulas are properly maintained and inspected.”

Allor, who chairs the House appropriations subcommittee for the Michigan Department of Natural Resources (DNR), said the state must do more to protect the Great Lakes.

“There are common sense steps the DNR should take – like using buoys to clearly mark the ‘no-anchor zone’ in the Straits – to prevent reckless and irresponsible behavior around Line 5 until we reach a more permanent solution,” said Allor, of Wolverine.

The “Straits of Mackinac Safety, Protection and Accountability” package:

  • Improves reporting from pipeline operators to the state of Michigan.
  • Increases the safety and security of infrastructure lines that provide communities in northern Michigan and the Upper Peninsula with access to phone, cable, natural gas, oil and electricity.
  • Provides additional signs and buoys alerting boats not to use anchors in the Straits.
  • Establishes clear penalties for vessels that break maritime laws and jeopardize the safety of Michigan’s waterways.
  • Provides added accountability and increased penalties for those responsible for negligence or criminal damage to public utilities.

“These responsible reforms will protect the health and well-being of our families, natural resources and local economies while ensuring our communities can continue to benefit from the critical connections made by these infrastructure lines for many years to come,” said Cole, of Mancelona.

The plan laid out in House Bills 6187, 6199, 6200 and 6201 was referred to the House Michigan Competitiveness Committee for consideration.