The Detroit News. Nov. 18, 2020
Killing Line 5 is bad for Michigan
The best way to protect the Great Lakes is to move with urgency to build a tunnel deep beneath the Straits of Mackinac to carry vital petroleum products from Canada to Michigan and the Midwest.
Instead, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer continues to fight plans by Enbridge Inc., operator of Line 5, to build a safer method of transporting oil and gas.
Last week the governor announced plans to end Enbridge’s 67-year-old easement across the Straits.
At risk is not only the continuation of reliable energy supplies, but also the $500 million tunnel project that would bring hundreds of high-paying jobs to a region of the state starved for employment.
Efforts to suspend the easement will tangle the state of Michigan in a lengthy and expensive lawsuit it has no certainty of winning. Enbridge has met the terms of its right of way. The Line 5 pipeline has never had a spill in the Straits in its nearly seven decades of operation.
In addition, the company negotiated an agreement with the state under former Gov. Rick Snyder to build the tunnel to encase the pipeline, bringing the risk of a damaging spill to near zero.
Whitmer is refusing to honor that deal, even though it answers the environmental concerns.
The concrete tunnel would lie 100 feet below the lakebed. State-of-the-art technology would assure any leaks that should occur would never reach the water.
In our view, opposition to the tunnel is based less on concerns about a spill and more on an objection by renewable energy advocates to the use of fossil fuels.
Line 5 is a vital piece of infrastructure. It moves two-thirds of the propane used in the Upper Peninsula for heating homes. It also provides crude oil for the refineries in southern Michigan and northern Ohio, which supply gasoline, diesel and airline fuel throughout the Midwest.
Those products are going to move regardless of the fate of Line 5. Transporting them by tanker trucks or rail cars would increase the likelihood of a damaging spill.
Canadian and Ohio officials are protesting the governor’s threat, saying the pipeline is vital to their economies.
In addition, repealing the right of way sends the wrong message to those looking to invest in Michigan, that the state can’t be trusted to keep its bargains.
Line 5 in its current form could disappear from the lakes as soon as 2024 if Whitmer would honor the deal the state made with Enbridge build the tunnel.
Continuing to fight this sensible solution prolongs the timeframe and increases the risk to the Great Lakes.
The Mining Journal (Marquette). Nov. 20, 2020
Continued, equitable access to tech, nutrition key for students
It’s been a busy week for high school administrators, educators and students with the rapid shift to distance learning through Dec. 8 per an emergency order issued Sunday by the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services.
For example, in the Marquette Area Schools District, administrative teams from Marquette Senior High School and Marquette Alternative High School have worked quickly to put detailed plans in place for the switch to distance learning, according to a Thursday Journal article.
The shift to online instruction comes with many challenges, especially for students who may rely on school meals or lack an internet connection at home.
However, we were glad to hear that MAPS has plans in place to help students continue accessing the internet and meals through the district. MAPS food service will continue with the scheduled pick up times for breakfasts and lunches, while the district also has established WiFi hotspots at each building for students to use, officials said.
We believe some of the most critical aspects of a distance learning program are ensuring all students have access to the nutritional and technological resources they need to succeed and we are glad to see MAPS addressing these issues in its plan.
However, we hope to see a greater focus statewide on equitable access to technology for public school students, as educational achievement gaps are likely to be created or exacerbated when some students don’t have a computer or internet connection they can use at home for remote schoolwork.
Due to this, we urge state and local leaders to continue developing plans that will help all students access the resources they need to succeed if remote learning becomes a long-term situation.
It may be a cliched phrase, but our children truly are our future, and as a society, we need to ensure they all have an equal chance at a successful distance learning experience.
Traverse City Record-Eagle. Nov. 20, 2020
Workers, businesses face more restrictions
The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services on Sunday issued an emergency order putting a three-week pause on large indoor social gatherings and group activities, plus another round of restrictions on businesses with indoor services - all aimed at stalling the rapid rise of COVID-19 infection rates, which threaten to overwhelm hospitals.
Just Thursday, Grand Traverse County’s Health Department changed course as widespread community contagion no longer allows for contract tracing, except in high-priority cases. The county’s case count has risen by 500 since Nov. 1, our tested positivity rates tripling from 3.4 percent in October to 10 percent today. COVID-19 is insidious because many people carrying it don’t know they’re infected. But some people who breath in the virus get very sick, some die, and scientists don’t yet know if COVID-19 may leave recovered patients with long-term health issues.
Still, the restrictions can be a tough pill to swallow, especially for our businesses and workers that have already endured so much.
The Michigan Restaurant & Lodging Association on Tuesday filed suit to try and have the executive order declared unconstitutional. Without court intervention, the ban on indoor dining could lead to the “outright devastation” of restaurants and their thousands of employees, said Justin Winslow, association president and CEO.
It’s impossible to forecast how many restaurants and other businesses may end up teetering on the cliff of bankruptcy by the time the pandemic is brought under control.
The economic distress of thousands of Michigan service workers is tragic collateral damage from the effort.
But we balk at hopelessness, as there is much we can do, as individuals - and as a state - to brace against these losses, as we believe these measures are necessary to preserve the ability for our hospitals to treat the sick.
As individuals, we can take special care to shop local delivery options, as our businesses rely on this season’s sales. Ordering takeout and curbside from our restaurants will help them, too.
We also need to remind our state leaders of their responsibility to think creatively instead of kicking the can down the road, while blaming our woes on the federal government.
While it would be great if our national leaders would cooperate with each other on an aid package, Michigan leaders control many programs and funds that could help those in need of them this year. Let’s start there, and stop the blame game.
The Department of Labor and Economic Opportunity reports that more than $25 bill- ion in unemployment benefits has been paid to Michigan workers since March 15. Our businesses are workers will need more help.
We also need hope - remember we’ve flattened the curve before and can do so again.
American ingenuity is working at full speed toward an effective vaccine. But until most Americans are vaccinated against COVID-19, it’s essential to strike a balance between health and economy. We hope the state’s improved and better-staffed unemployment system will help workers and businesses navigate these next three weeks.
This bitter pill is hard to swallow, but it’s an integral part of the cure. Mourning our losses for three weeks will help Michigan avoid mourning more of its citizens in the coming months.
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