Dad showing daughter how to brush teeth

Plain and simple – energy is a necessity. For the most part, over the last several years, that necessity has been pretty affordable in the Midwest. In most areas of the region the low-prices for gas and electricity have allowed many families and businesses to use those savings and spend money on things important to them.

While this affordable energy has been a benefit to most in the Midwest, that isn’t as true for communities across Michigan. As many of our members in the state may know, our most recent Consumer Energy Alliance (CEA) whitepaper showed that the average Michigan household paid $265.75 more than the national average for their electricity.  This is money we’d all like to be able to spend on other necessities – like food or clothing – or activities – like a night at the movies or a dinner out with friends.

Because we’re paying more, our elected leaders should be helping us take steps to stabilize and lower all energy costs to help make Michigan more competitive. Yet small groups of vocal anti-development activists across the state are trying to increase energy costs on our families and small businesses for propane, diesel, and gasoline by calling for the shutdown of Line 5, a longstanding piece of critical energy infrastructure.

Line 5 is a 645-mile-long pipeline that has safely fueled Michigan’s energy consumers with crude oil since 1953.  This oil is refined into various forms of transportation fuels in Detroit. Every day, Line 5 delivers more than 540,000 barrels of crude oil, which is then refined to provide fuel for over 1 million passenger cars and trucks, 6,000 semis, and over 800 commercial aircraft. In addition to transportation fuels, Line 5 also supplies the state with 55 percent of the propane used by Michiganders every year.

To get an idea of what might happen if Line 5 was to be shutdown, the state of Michigan recently conducted an analysis that found the costs to consumers were staggering. In the event anti-development activists were to get their wish, Michigan families and businesses can expect to pay $121 million more per year just for transportation fuel. In addition, areas of the state most dependent on propane for home heating during frigid Michigan winters could face price increases between 10 cents and 35 cents per gallon should the line be decommissioned. This takes another $80 million per year out of family budgets.

That’s a lot of money. Is it really fair to take money from Michigan’s families and small businesses, pushing their budgets to the breaking point by increasing the price of gas and propane for home heating for no reason?

Is it fair to punish Michigan’s farmers who rely on propane to dry their crops and the rail system necessary to bring their crops to market by forcing higher energy and transportation costs?

Is it fair to put our environment at risk by shutting down pipelines – which are documented as the safest, most efficient, and most environmentally-sound way to transport liquids and natural gas – just because a vocal minority disproves of the type of energy families and businesses need? Have they truly considered the consequences, or are they only concerned with their own agenda?

For far too long, we have seen anti-development activists just like the ones here in Michigan present the same false choice – that you can either be for the environment or you can be for energy. But they offer no middle ground and continue to ignore both sound science and the effect their extreme policies will have on others within their communities. The simple fact is that we can simultaneously protect the environment and develop our energy resources by creating thoughtful policies that consider everyone and following the regulatory measures put in place to keep us safe.

We need to make decisions that serve all aspects of life here in Michigan.

Our families deserve lower energy costs so they don’t have to live paycheck to paycheck.  Our businesses deserve lower energy costs so they can expand and create a stronger, healthier economy.  And our environment deserves to be protected by employing the safest and most efficient way to transport energy. Abandoning Line 5 won’t do that, it will do just the opposite. It’s time to support ideas that help our community and stop letting the vocal minority dictate our lives and our wallets.