Column: Wisconsin small businesses depend on Line 5
"The Line 5 relocation will provide economic benefits to small businesses, tax revenues to the state, create 700 good-paying Wisconsin jobs, and has been engineered to minimally impact the environment," writes Brian Dake of the organization Wisconsin Independent Businesses.
Like many families across Wisconsin, small businesses are struggling with the rising costs of energy. When the price of gas, diesel, propane, natural gas and electricity goes up, so does the price of everything else. So, while the price at the pump may provide the sticker shock, the impact goes far beyond what it costs to fill up.
It's not often a state can help an entire regional energy market as much as Wisconsin can right now. Line 5 is currently going through the approval process to relocate at the request of the Bad River Band of Lake Superior Chippewa.
Enbridge, the operator of Line 5, began this relocation approval process through the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources in 2020. Since then, the pipeline project has gone through multiple public hearings and public comments periods. In fact, the most recent public comment period included over 11,000 Wisconsinites showing their support for the project, based on a review of the comments submitted to the DNR by the Wisconsin Jobs and Energy Coalition. By a more than 2-to-1 margin Wisconsinites who submitted comments to the DNR supported this privately funded project.
But, as the permitting process for Line 5 lingers on, a dire warning about shutting down Line 5, like some have called for, has come to the forefront.
A public comment submitted to the DNR by major propane supplier, Plains Midstream, warned closing Line 5 would shutter its three propane facilities in the region, lead to propane shortages and price hikes worse than the propane shortage of the 2013-2014 winter that led to Wisconsin declaring a state of emergency. This is a scenario that would not only impact the 280,000 Wisconsin households that use propane to heat their homes, but the countless small businesses that need propane to keep their businesses operating.
Wisconsin has an easy win in front of it. The Line 5 relocation will provide economic benefits to small businesses, tax revenues to the state, create 700 good-paying Wisconsin jobs, and has been engineered to minimally impact the environment. As we go into year three of the DNR’s review, let’s hope regulators understand the urgency of this important decision and finally approve the construction of the Line 5 relocation project.
Brian Dake is the president of Wisconsin Independent Businesses — one of the state's largest small business advocacy organizations.