On May 16th, Another long and heated Kalamazoo County Commission meeting preceded a vote to pass a resolution in favor of shutting down Enbridge Line
During the Comission of the Whole meeting at 3pm Enbridge Energy’s Manager of Community Relations, Jason Manshum, presented the case in favor of Line 5. He was invited to present to the Commission by Commissioner Gisler, who was absent. Kent County Water Conservation’s Stephanie Mabie presented many damning facts about Line 5 and encouraged Commissioners to vote in favor of the resolution.
One would think that County Commission meetings are pretty boring, mild mannered, and “orderly”- especially with issues as small as resolutions. This particular resolution has caused not only for the chambers of the commissioner’s to host intense debate, but also created a local media frenzy. In 2010, Enbridge Energy’s Line 6bv (now line 78), spilled 1 million gallons of tar sand oil into the Kalamazoo River. The company did not react or respond to the loss of pressure in the pipeline for 17 hours before shutting off the flow of oil. The spill contaminated the bed and shores of the river in Calhoun County and Kalamazoo County. Enbridge attempted to cover up the spill, and were caught in a lie. They were eventually forced to actually clean up what they could, bringing total costs and fines up to well over $1 billion.
When the resolution was to be voted on the first time, the Kalamazoo County Commissioner’s chose to remove the resolution from the agenda due to fears of missing out on a $47,000 grant from Enbridge Energy, as described by the agenda and commission chair, Dale Shugar, during the meeting in early April. This fanned the flames for supporters of the resolution, whose numbers continued to swell at each meeting. Nearly 2 hours of public comment were given on the night of May 16, as well as during previous meetings. No one opposed to the resolution gave an in person comment during the process.
During the recess between the Commission of the Whole meeting and the Public Meeting, a loud argument broke out between a city commissioner and a county commissioner outside in front of the Kalamazoo County Building. There are plenty of other places documenting that fued, let’s not give them much attention here.
The vote came up around 10:45 PM. The resolution went from not having enough support to bring to a vote, to passing with a 7-3 vote. Commissioner Quinn, who introduced the document said it was the peoples commitment that swung the vote.