The outgoing Republican Governor of Michigan, Rick Snyder, perhaps most famous for the Flint Water Crisis that occurred under his administration, is doing his best to sign legislation on his way out the door that goes against what the people of Michigan voted for. Among these bills was a law to allow a Canadian company to build an oil pipeline underneath the Straits of Mackinac that connect Lake Huron and Lake Michigan:
Gov. Rick Snyder signed a bill into law on Wednesday that will allow the state in partnership with Canadian oil giant Enbridge to build a controversial new oil pipeline planned for the Mackinac Straits.
The bill creates a Mackinac Utility Corridor Authority to work with Enbridge to build the $500 million tunnel 100 feet beneath the lake bed. The tunnel will replace Line 5, a pipeline originally installed in 1953 that runs along the bottom of the straits.
The old pipeline that will be replaced has been spilling millions of gallons of oil into the lakes, and the company responsible has been responsible for other oil spills within the state:
The current pipeline has already spilled 1.1 million gallons of oil into the lakes. Critics say there’s no need to replace the line because the infrastructure is in place to transport oil elsewhere, and the nation needs to wean itself of oil. The new plan comes with a risk of a major oil spill in the Great Lakes, but that doesn’t seem to worry Republicans.
Enbridge is responsible for a 2010 oil spill in the Kalamazoo River, what was at the time the costliest inland oil spill in U.S. history, made worse when the company misread alarms and boosted oil flow for 17 hours. Since then, Enbridge has missed line inspections and downplayed damage to its pipelines, causing Snyder to say he was “no longer satisfied with the operational activities and public information tactics that have become status quo for Enbridge.”
The new pipeline is to be built in the middle of the Great Lakes, which supply drinking water to tens of millions of people in Michigan and neighboring states. Not wanting to risk the further spillage of oil into such a precious natural resource, this new pipeline was opposed by Democrat Gretchen Whitmer, who was just elected in November by the people of Michigan to be their next Governor.
But, Republicans in the state legislature and the outgoing Republican Governor did not want the person the people of Michigan selected to be their next Governor to be able to decide on this issue, even though the public agreed with her:
Whitmer and Dems partly campaigned on decommissioning the current leaky pipeline, not building a new one. Dems swept state offices and won the popular vote in the state Senate and state House, indicating that voters approve of their plans. A poll released earlier this year found most residents want the line shut down.
This is not the only disgraceful addition Rick Snyder has decided to make to his already disgraceful legacy. Rick Snyder also signed into law a bill that will delay the minimum wage increase that was just passed a couple months previously so that the people of Michigan could be prevented from having their own say on the matter:
Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder on Friday signed controversial bills to weaken minimum wage and paid sick leave initiatives that had been headed toward the Nov. 6 ballot before intervention by the Republican-led Legislature.
Democratic minorities in the state House and Senate were unable to stop the GOP maneuver, which has no direct precedent and is likely to spur lawsuits.
Under the revised law, Michigan’s minimum wage will increase from $9.25 to $12.05 per hour by 2030, slowing the march to $12 by 2022 called for in the initiative. The minimum wage for tipped restaurant workers will rise to $4.58 by 2030 instead of $12 by 2024.
The paid sick leave law will exempt more than 160,000 small businesses that collectively employ more than 1 million workers from a mandate that would have otherwise applied to every company in the state.
“I look at legislation presented to me through a policy lens — is it the right policy for the state of Michigan and Michiganders as a whole? That’s what I did with these bills and have now signed them into law,” Snyder said in a statement. “I looked at what the potential impacts and benefits of the changes would be and decided that signing these bills was the appropriate action.”
As a result, the minimum wage will not increase to $12 an hour by 2022, as it would if the voters had been allowed to approve, and will instead only increase to $12 an hour in 2030, 8 years longer than the original proposal.
Michigan Republicans, led by a disgraced Governor who is leaving office, continue to show whose side they are on, and it is not the side of the people of Michigan.