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Eighth northern Michigan county passes resolution supporting Enbridge's tunnel

Two sheets of paper, one with a meeting agenda, one with a resolution in support of Enbridge's Line 5 tunnel.
Kaye LaFond
Michigan Radio
The agenda for Tuesday morning's meeting of the Cheboygan County Board of Commissioners, as well as a copy of the resolution supporting Enbridge's tunnel under the Straits of Mackinac.

Cheboygan County passed a resolution to support Enbridge’s construction of a tunnel underneath the Straits of Mackinac at their board meeting Tuesday morning. 


Eight counties — Cheboygan, Delta, Dickinson, Houghton, Iron, Gogebic, Grand Traverse and Ontonagon — have now passed nearly identical resolutions.


The tunnel would house a replacement section of the Line 5 twin oil pipelines, which currently rest on the bottom of the straits. The resolution called for no interruption of service while tunnel work is completed. 


Twenty-two people, many of them Cheboygan County residents, spoke during public comment. All asked the board not to adopt the resolution or to postpone voting.


Commissioner Steve Warfield, who introduced the resolution, declined to discuss his reasons for doing so, other than to say that he believes the resolution speaks for itself. 


“I’ve certainly listened to both sides of the equation and this is the decision we’ve reached today,” he said.


Commissioner Mary Ellen Tryban said the board respects the waters, and that she personally feels that the tunnel is the best alternative. 


Commissioner Cal Gouine was one of two “no” votes. During the board discussion period, he asked about the chances of the tunnel project actually being completed. 


“I mean this is quite a feat,” Gouine said.


Several members of the public expressed their displeasure after the resolution was adopted.


“Shame,” yelled Karen Martin of Cheboygan. “We will remember who did this!”


Vince Lumetta, who lives in Cheboygan County and spoke during the public comment period, said after the vote that he was “very disappointed.”


“I don’t think that the commissioners served the needs of the public," he said. "I think they showed that they’re beholden to Enbridge.”


In 2015, Cheboygan County passed a resolution calling for a restriction of flow through Line 5.


*Correction: An earlier version of this story said that Cheboygan was the 5th county to pass a resolution. It was actually the 8th. The story has been corrected above.


Editor's Note: Enbridge Energy is one of Michigan Radio's corporate sponsors.

Kaye is an alumnus of Michigan Tech's environmental engineering program. She got her start making maps for the Traverse City-Based water news organization Circle of Blue, and, since then, she's been pretty devoted to science communication and data visualization.
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