Every Labor Day in Michigan, tens of thousands of people walk 5 miles across the Mackinac Bridge led by whomever the governor may be at the time. This year governor rick snyder led the mass of enthusiasts of the bridge crossing tradition the entire 5 miles; but was confronted by the MiCATS demanding the shut down of Enbridge’s Line 5.
And on 9/6/16 community members in the City of Kalamazoo successfully got the commissioners to pass a resolution against Line 5, nice!
As we reported last week, the Department of Justice and Enbridge have reached finally reached a settlement in the Marshall spill. For reasons we described in our post, we don’t think the settlement is at all satisfactory. And we’re not alone. In an excellent Smart Pig blog post, Rebecca Craven of the Pipeline Safety Trust also outlines some of the areas where the settlement appears to fall short. Our own view is that, in many ways, the settlement is quite advantageous to Enbridge.
However, there is one bit of good news in the settlement that we neglected to mention: it clearly prohibits Enbridge from ever re-using the original Line 6B. You might recall that this is something many of us in Michigan asked for repeatedly prior to construction of the new Line. But Enbridge always hedged. Now, that line will be decommissioned permanently, which is very good news indeed. Of course, even that injunction is less than ideal: it should have been part of the terms of approval of the new line and Enbridge should have been required to remove it, rather than leaving it in the ground.
Which brings us back to the consent decree. You see, as we mentioned in our last post, the proposed settlement contains a number of provisions relating to Enbridge’s Line 3 project in Minnesota, a project that might well induce in Michiganders a terrifying sense of déjà vu. Like Line 6B, Line 3 is old and deteriorating. The consent decree requires Enbridge to replace it and decommission the original Line 3. But this is in no way an onerous requirement for Enbridge and it certainly isn’t punishment. That’s because Enbridge already planned to “replace” the line. But as with Line 6B, they aren’t really “replacing” the line. Instead, they’re building a brand new one—an even bigger one—and they want to build it in a different location. Yes, you read that correctly: a larger diameter pipeline in a different location. To call that a replacement is an abuse of language. It’s also a very clever way of skirting the requirements of their presidential permit for that line—a replay of their Line 6B strategy.
But the Line 3 boondoggle is even worse than the Line 6B replacement. That’s because the consent decree does not require the permanent decommissioning of the original Line 3. Instead, it lays out a number of conditions that would allow Enbridge to continue to operate it. That’s deeply troubling. If that line is going to be decommissioned, we agree with our friends in Minnesota that it should be taken out of the ground, just as should have been done with Line 3 (in fact, you can support their efforts by signing this petition). But instead, the settlement leaves open the possibility of allowing Enbridge to operate both a new Line 3 in a new location and the old Line 3. As a result, Enbridge, cunningly, seems to have negotiated an agreement with the Department of Justice that essentially rewards them for the costliest inland oil spill in U.S. history.
But here’s the (potentially) good news: the settlement is not yet final. The public has 30 days to comment on it. We urge you to do so. In particular, we urge you to ask the DoJ to remove the Line 3 provisions altogether. After all, what do those things have to do with affairs in Michigan in the first place? You might also encourage DoJ to file criminal charges and to require Supplemental Environmental Projects that could benefit Michigan. Lastly, you might ask for some tougher requirements with regard to Line 5. Instead of giving them tacit permission to continue to operate those lines, Enbridge should have to generate a plan to shut down and remove those dangerous pipelines from beneath the Straits of Mackinac once and for all.
For more reasons you should oppose the Line 3 project and helpful links for commenting on the consent decree, visit this page from our friends at Honor the Earth.
An open Letter to Attorney General Spill Schuette
The tar sands oil spill that shocked the continent, and ignited contention over shutting down another pipeline. As the clean-up efforts on the Kalamazoo River continued to be proven full of fraud and insufficient, the concern for a potential crude disaster in the Straits of Mackinac grew. Enbridge, the company facing controversy, has continued to delay, omit, and lie about the details of their 63 year old Line 5 in the Straits of Mackinaw, as well as their ability to respond to a potential spill. Today is July 25th, 2016 and it has been 6 years since the tar sands oil spilled in the Kalamazoo River; the day Enbridge shuts down line 5 is near if we want it.
On July 25th, 2010 the procedures in place at Enbridge failed to respond to a significant loss of pressure in their line 6b in Marshall. The pipeline kept pumping, but the “garbage” crude (diluted bitumen or dilbit) didn’t reach the next pump station. The dilbit, product of refined tar sands, is heavy and gritty. Enbridge did not inform emergency responders about the true contents of the spill until nearly 1 week after initial contamination. The tar sands oil sank to the bottom of the river and became not only the largest inland oil spill on this content*, but also the most costly to clean up. Soon after the spill, Enbridge decided to “improve” line 6b, in which they instead replaced the old with a larger pipe, expanding its carrying capacity. The project to expand line 6b was met with resistance from community members through out the Kalamazoo River watershed, as well as along the pipelines path to a refinery in Sarnia, Canada. The summer of 2013 hosted multiple acts of direct action and civil disobedience, most of which carried out by the Michigan Coalition Against Tars Sands (MiCATS). The resistance to expose, delay, and halt the expansion project was heavily prosecuted by the State of Michigan. This effectively protected Enbridge’s extreme energy infrastructure, and enabled them to complete the project before the oil spill was fully cleaned up. A $177 million settlement between the EPA and Enbridge was just publicized. Enbridge has attempted to file a No Further Action request (NFA) as a means stepping away from parts of their responsibilities outlined in a settlement they reached in court with the Department of Environmental Quality (MDEQ) in 2013.
We are 6 years out of a previous spill, and the clean up process was an absolute nightmare full of cover-ups and major health disasters for some riparian communities. Attorney General Bill Schuette, you have been sitting on your hands waiting for Enbridge while they have dragged their feet with the information you say you need. Schuette, you are known to say, “the pipeline’s days are numbered”. You need to order the pipeline to be shut down now. After the information has been analyzed you can make a decision as to whether or not Enbridge can turn the pipe back on- NOT whether or not they should shut it off. The pipelines days are indeed numbered, and that number will become smaller as people continue stand up and demand to SHUT DOWN LINE 5!
-Fen Valley Earth First!
*The Line 6b spill held the title of largest inland oil spill until recently when a tar sands pipeline burst near the tar sands field in the Athabasca region of Alberta, Canada.
The people of Kalamazoo, Mi had their first up close introduction to the Black Lives Matter movement as an enormous rally, march, and shut down of the central shopping district took place Friday evening. Powerful words were spoken by organizers and community members at the rally about not only the recent death of James Dunigan (in KDPS custody), but also of persinal experiences and the blatant racial profiling practices conducted by the police department. Black Lives Matter Kalamazoo also unveiled their list of demands which include:
Demand #1: We demand that disciplinary action be taken against KDPS officers Derek Nugent and Eric Shaffer due to their negligence and abandonment that resulted in the death of James Dunigan.
Demand #2: We demand that KDPS eliminate the Broken Windows approach to policing and enforcement that has led to continued racial profiling, discriminatory enforcement and disproportionate policing of the North, East, and South sides of Kalamazoo. ( to learn what the origins of Broken Window Theory and its implications http://www.pbs.org/…/the-problem-with-broken-windows-polic…/)
We demand that
Chief: Jeffrey Hadley
Deputy Chief: Karianne Thomas
Deputy Chief: Donald Webster
Assistant Chief: Ryan Tibbets
agree to attend a community led forum addressing racial profiling, discriminatory enforcement and police brutality, where they will listen to the experiences, constructive criticism and advice of community members of color surrounding these issues. Within two weeks of the forum, they will need to meet again with community members to submit their report on the immediate action they will be committing to eradicate racial profiling,
We demand that
Commissioner Shannon Sykes
Commissioner Erin Knott
Commissioner Jack C. Urban
Commissioner Matt Milcarek
Commissioner David Anderson
Mayor Bobby Hopewell
Vice Mayor Don Cooney
agree to attend a community led forum addressing racial inequity and discrimination within the city. During this forum they will listen to the experiences, constructive criticism and advice of community members of color surrounding these issues. Additionally, we ask that they work with our team to address the concerns voiced during the forum and develop a plan of action.
In another egregious set up against the natural world, Michigan’s Governor Rick Snyder has appointed former BP America Executive Heidi Grether to be the next director of the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality (MDEQ). On August 1, 2016 current interim director Keith Creigh will step back into his role as the Director of the Department of Natural Resources as to make way for Grether. Currently Grether is the deputy Director of the Michigan Agency for Energy (MAE).
The State has attempted to greenwash the appointee by highlighting her membership in a few conservation groups, which can all be acquired with the stroke of a pen to pay a nominal fee (no further commitments necessary). Until we see otherwise, we don’t believe that shit for a minute. Bottom line culture fostered by the Snyder Administration invites ecological devastation and environmental disaster to the Great Lakes. This appointment comes as little surprise, this state will need an experienced disaster liaison to maintain a positive business environment while the real world is being destroyed and then neglected.
Let’s take a minute to remember the extra toxic Corexit used as a dispersant in the Gulf of Mexico, the problems that still persist, the lives still displaced. Enbridge is attempting to finalize their sham on the Kalamazoo River, who better to step into the role as director of the Department of Environmental Quality to help show them the way out?
From her Linked In profile, Grether’s past with the BP is:
– General Manager, Gulf Coast External Affairs BP America, Inc.
March 2012 – March 2014 (2 years 1 month)Houston, Texas Area
Manage external affairs activities in coastal Florida, Alabama, Mississippi and Louisiana in response to the 2010 Deepwater Horizon (DWH) accident.
Developed and implemented successful external relations strategies for the Gulf Coast in response to the DWH accident, thereby achieving no legislation adverse to BP being introduced in the Gulf states.
Developed and implemented the successful exit strategy for Gulf Coast external affairs activities, which obtained zero negative reactions against BP.
Member of Gulf Coast Restoration Organization and Governemnt and Public Affairs leadership teams.
Manage $14.2M budget, 30+ staff, plus government and public affairs consultants.
Staff development and review.
- General Manager, Mississippi External Affairs BP America, Inc.
August 2010 – March 2012 (1 year 8 months)
Managed overall direction of external relations engagement and staff for BP in Mississippi for the 2010 Deepwater Horizon spill response, including Community Relations, Media Relations and Communications, Government Relations.
Supervised all aspects of state outreach, with state and local government officials, community and business organizations, and local media.
Managed the team to develop, nurture and maintain stakeholder relationships, external activities and funding requests, communicate approved messages and deliver agreed objectives.
Managed large BP sponsorships events, such as the $1.5M, 3-year commitment to the Mississippi Gulf Resort Classic Champions tournament.
Managed $4M budget, 15 staff, plus government and public affairs consultants.
Staff development, mentoring and review.
- Communications and External Affairs Lead, Deepwater Horizon Response BP/Swift Worldwide Resources
May 2010 – December 2010 (8 months)
Senior member of the BP Mississippi Deepwater Response Team, responsible for handling flexible assignment depending on the team’s needs.
Spearheaded the implementation of various communications and external affairs activities, which included government and community outreach, media relations, funding requests, public
Managed consultant oversight and event planning.
Despite her inflated credentials as an environmentalist, the unfolding of the BP oil spill clean up tells a tale of negligence and PR stunts which merits our concerns to whom she will actually be serving while directing the DEQ.
See Flint Rising’s Press Release HERE
Midland, MI – Wednesday, July 6, 2016, 1:30pm – Over 60 demonstrators arrived at the home of Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette earlier this afternoon to demand that Schuette take immediate action to shut down the Enbridge oil pipeline Line 5. Demonstrators from Earth First! hung a massive banner between two trees in Schuette’s front lawn that read “No Line 5: Pipelines Equal Ecocide.” Others in the crowd chanted, held banners, and held a mock funeral for Enbridge. Down the street another group hung a massive banner that completely covered two billboards which read “No Line 5 Pipeline”. By the end of the action over 20 police cars had assembled to harass the protesters into ending the actions. The protesters are demanding that Schuette use his authority under the Public Trust Doctrine, Article 10, and shut down Line 5 immediately in order to protect the Great Lakes.
Line 5 is a 63-year-old crude oil pipeline that runs across the Straits of Mackinac, west of the Mackinac Bridge. The pipeline is directly exposed to freshwater for 5 miles and crosses through 11 tributaries in the lower peninsula. Studies by David Schwab, an expert on hydrodynamics at the University of Michigan, show that up to 720 miles of Michigan’s shoreline would be at risk if Line 5 leaked. The pipeline is owned & operated by Enbridge, whose crude oil pipeline 6B ruptured in 2010, resulting in 1 million gallons of diluted bitumen spilling into the Kalamazoo River.
Last April, an environmental coalition of over 20 environmental groups sent Attorney General Schuette a letter detailing multiple ways in which Line 5 is operating illegally, in violation of its 1953 Easement with the State of Michigan. Despite this, Schuette continues to delay action on the pipeline, citing the desire to wait for a risk and alternatives analysis for the pipeline to be completed, which is expected to take months to years. Additionally, the every tribe whose territory is occupied by the state of Michigan has demanded that the pipeline be shut down meaning that its continuing operation is a direct attack on tribal sovereignty.
“Schuette knows Line 5 poses an immediate risk to the Great Lakes each day it is allowed to continue to operate,” says Plantain, an organizer with Earth First! “and yet he’s choosing to stall for another 1-2 years. Schuette is directly threatening all of life in our region and is putting us all at risk and we are going to bring the fight to his front lawn until he is held accountable.”
Numerous demonstrations and shows of opposition have been conducted to raise awareness about this pipeline, including petition deliveries, over 183 Michigan business and organizational groups supporting Line 5 to be shut down, letters to newspapers, bills to address pipeline safety, over 50 municipal resolutions being passed to show public opposition to the pipeline, and confrontations at policy conferences and spill response demonstrations. However, this is the first demonstration associated with Line 5 conducted at the home of a politician with the power to shut Line 5 down.
Frida, a resident of Michigan present at the protest, commented on the escalation of tactics. “If public officials continue to threaten our safety, then we will continue to threaten their security.”