Several former members of the Mackinac Bridge Authority joined with environmental groups Tuesday to oppose legislation that would give the Bridge Authority control of a utility tunnel beneath the Straits of Mackinac.
The bill is part of an agreement announced in October between Enbridge Energy and Governor Rick Snyder to give the Mackinac Bridge Authority control of a tunnel that would house the Line 5 pipeline.
William Gnodtke is a former member of the authority. He read a statement at a gathering of groups opposed to the bill. The statement was approved by seven other former bridge authority members.
“And I spent 22 years looking after that bridge and I don’t want it to end with a damn tunnel forced upon it because it doesn’t belong there,” he said.
Bryan Newland is the chairperson of the Bay Mills Indian Community. He says the five Chippewa-Ottawa Resource Authority tribes have been cut out of the negotiations of this deal.
“If this bill gets passed and this pipeline is routed under the Straits and operated in perpetuity in a way that doesn’t account for our treaty rights, then the tribes are going to stand up and protect our treaty rights by any means necessary,” says Newland.
Officials with Enbridge Energy say the Mackinac Bridge Authority “is the logical choice to have the responsibility of owning and overseeing the tunnel.”
Officials with the governor’s office did not respond to a request for comment.
Editor's note: Enbridge is one of Michigan Radio's corporate sponsors.