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LANSING, Mich. (AP) — A webinar is scheduled to help keep the public informed about the application permitting process for Enbridge Energy’s Line 5 tunnel project.

The webinar will start at 6 p.m. Thursday, according to the Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy (EGLE).

Enbridge has proposed building a utility tunnel under the Straits of Mackinac.

The tunnel would relocate the portion of the Line 5 oil and natural gas liquids pipeline that currently rests on the bottom of the straits.

EGLE staff, including permitting specialists from the department’s Water Resources Division, will provide an overview of the process for the permit applications submitted by Enbridge related to the proposed project, outline the upcoming public participation and comment period for proposed permits, and share the current timeline for an expected decision on the permit applications.

“This is a complicated permitting process for a high-profile project, and the aim is to be as transparent as possible about the process,” said Teresa Seidel, director of EGLE’s Water Resources Division. “Our goal for this meeting is to educate the public on what to expect in the coming months so they can make their voices heard during the upcoming public participation period.”

EGLE is the regulatory agency responsible for environmental permitting for the tunnel project.

Enbridge is a Canadian company based in Calgary, Alberta. Line 5 carries oil and liquids used in propane between Superior, Wisconsin, and Sarnia, Ontario.

Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel has called repeatedly for the shutdown of Line 5, saying the 4-mile-long (6.4-kilometer-long) underwater segment is vulnerable to a rupture that could do catastrophic harm to the straits.

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Loeffler Peddling Bill to Change Federal Contracting Process Help Veteran-Owned Small Businesses

Senator Kelly Loeffler has introduced legislation to change the federal contracting process, a move she says will help veterans better access federal contract opportunities.

The Verification Alignment and Service-disabled Business Adjustment (VA-SBA) Act will streamline the federal contracting process for all veteran-owned small businesses and ensure that contracts reserved for service-disabled veterans are actually available for qualified entrepreneurs. Loeffler serves as a member of the U.S. Senate Committee on Veterans’ Affairs.

“Small businesses are the backbone of our economy, and today, more than 2.5 million of them are owned by veterans across the country,” Loeffler said in a news release. “While we continue to prioritize a certain number of federal contracts for our veterans, the current process to access these opportunities is overly complicated and full of red tape. This bill will help streamline the verification process and protect opportunities specifically designated for service-disabled veterans. The federal government should make it as easy as possible for veterans to grow their businesses and serve those who have served our country.”

The VA-SBA Act moves the responsibility for ensuring that a veteran-owned small business or service-disabled veteran-owned small business is in fact a small business—for the purpose of federal contracts—from the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) to the Small Business Administration (SBA), aligning such verification with other small business contracting programs. The VA will ensure that a business owner is a veteran, while the SBA will ensure it is in fact a small business.

It also requires that service-disabled veteran-owned small businesses receive front-end certification to qualify for federal contracts set aside for those businesses. Currently, service-disabled veteran-owned small businesses have to be certified by the VA for contracts through the VA but can self-certify for all other federal contracts. This has created confusion for business owners and opens the door for waste, fraud and abuse by allowing small businesses not owned by service-disabled veterans to take contracts away from actual service-disabled veteran-owned small businesses.

U.S. Representative Trent Kelly (R-MS-01) introduced an earlier version of the bill, which passed the House of Representatives in November 2019.

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