PIPELINE SAFETY ADVISORY BOARD MEETING Dec 12. 1:30pm, 7109 West Saginaw Highway, Lansing MI. Time for public comments available. Get there and give it to ’em!
PIPELINE SAFETY ADVISORY BOARD MEETING Dec 12. 1:30pm, 7109 West Saginaw Highway, Lansing MI. Time for public comments available. Get there and give it to ’em!
While reading this, keep in mind that Enbridge is currently negotiating a 28% stake in the Dakoda Access Pipeline.
These are the final chapters in a long controversial story surrounding the largest inland oil spill in continental history.
Enbridge has filed another request for No Further Action (NFA) to the DEQ for a 1/2 mile reach on the Talmadge Creek. The DEQ did not hold a Public Information Meeting for this request, as they have with past requests. This is problematic for a number of reasons, but most importantly these meetings gave residents an opportunity to come together and ask questions about the thick documents. There has been no press coverage about this process which will give Enbridge permission to exit their remediation work in the area effected by the oil spill in 2010. The DEQ was kind enough to not link the NFA summary document on the DEQ calendar, a first in this process (click here for document).
If you want to know what the heck an NFA is, please visit https://fenvalleyearthfirst.wordpress.com/no-further-action-nfa/
This process includes an early out for the remedial monitoring of wetlands. According to the Wetland Remediation Agreement Enbridge has with the MDEQ, wetlands are to undergo maintenance phase monitoring for 5 consecutive years of successful maintenance. The monitoring is to be done and paid for by Enbridge, with annual monitoring reports. This includes the first year of remedial work (2013) plus 4 years of monitoring; effectively forcing Enbridge to keep their resources on the river until 2018. The NFA process gives them the written permission needed to cease the monitoring of dredged and contaminated wetlands prior to 2018. The first NFA filed (Segment 3) contained a large prairie fen, which is one of the most biologically unique natural features hosted by this peninsula. Additionally, 50% of the native plant species in Michigan are found in wetlands.
Your public comments will be documented along with the DEQ’s final decision. Maybe you can sit through 300+ pages of legalese and industry jargon and pick out a few things that contradict part 201 of Public Act 451 (NREPA), the Clean Water Act, one of Enbridges work plans, the DOJ Consent Decree, or the EPA settlement…
or… Maybe you just want to say “Fuck Enbridge!”, “fire yer boss”, or “DEATH TO THE FASCIST ROBOT THAT PREYS ON THE LIFE OF THE PLANET!”. Whatever it is, Chris Lantinga at the DEQ will have to read it. We need to relentlessly encourage him to adequately notify and thoroughly communicate information about each NFA to the press- including the time/date and location of each public information session. Demand that the DEQ communicate with the community, and not fall in line with a corporate government. The NFA request for Reach 4 did not come with a public information session, as Reach 3 and Reach 1 had. None of these were reported outside of small websites like this one, and the DEQ calendar. This is the exit from the clean up of the biggest inland oil spill in continental hisory… let’s here about it! (see below for NFA details)
Grether’s DEQ received a permit application which could potentially increase a Nestle’ owned wells’ pumping capacity to 400 gallons/ minute, yet every single press outlet seemed to be quite surprised to find out about it just days before the comment period ended. This is how shit operates under Heidi Grether and Rick Snyder. Water issues need more visibility and more transparency, yet the State of Michigan™ is continuing to suppress that information as they did in the heat of the Flint crisis. There has been little to no press coverage about this NFA process, which seems to be the final chapter in a long controversial story of disaster, coverup, cleanup, and expansion. A story which could easily unfold in the Straits of Mackinac, or any other body of water near a pipeline.
When you have completed your comment, please consider delivering a few copies to this meeting-
The PIPELINE SAFETY ADVISORY BOARD is scheduled to meet from 1:30 p.m. to 3:30 p.m. on December 12, 2016. The meeting will be held at 7109 West Saginaw Highway, Lansing, Michigan 48917, Lake Michigan Hearing Room, first floor. There will be an opportunity for public comment at the meeting. More information is available on the Website at http://www.michigan.gov/energy/0,4580,7-230-73789_74071—,00.html.
From DEQ Calendar
On November 7, 2016 more than twenty local watershed defenders went to a building owned and operated by Enbridge Energy in Marshall, Mi. We came to act in solidarity with the fight against the Dakota Access Pipeline in Standing Rock, ND. We targeted Enbridge Energy due to the current process of purchasing a 27% equity stake in the Bakken Pipeline system, which includes the Dakota Access Pipeline. As a people who live in the Kalamazoo River Watershed we have taken notice that people all over this continent wish to avoid the experience we had with the massive oil spill in 2010 . We feel that our struggle at home is intrinsically tied to the fight against DAPL in Standing Rock.
The morning of the 7th began in a public park on the Kalamazoo River, at the site of a controversial dam that may be removed in the near future. 25-30 people slowly gathered near the dams impoundment on the river as a song for the water was sung by a local indigenous activist. Everyone self organized a carpool with friends and “strangers no more”. We left the river and headed for the industrial side of town expecting to interrupt the normal day of an Enbridge location.
When we arrived at 455 Leggitt Rd. (Marshall, Mi) we came to an empty building, an empty parking lot, and locked gates. Enbridge had closed down shop for the day. We were suspicious about this being real, because on November 1st there were numerous vehicles and a lot of activity seen at the warehouse. Curious as to why we arrived to a vacant parking lot, someone from the demonstration took time to drive by the site on a following Monday around the same time that the demonstration occurred. They found Enbridge parking lot and employees going about business as usual.
We didn’t take any risks or break any laws to shut them down. Simply announcing that we would be there, with the press, to stand in solidarity with the water protectors at Standing Rock was enough to close business for a day!
After the demonstration, we went on a tour of the Talmadge Creek. Beginning near the point of the Line 6b rupture and ending at the confluence with the Kalamazoo River, we saw the wetlands which had been polluted and dredged. Monitoring wells in these wetlands only exist near surface water and not from boundary to boundary.
Aside from shutting down Enbridge, people from across southern Michigan were able to connect, share stories, learn from the words spoken by local indigenous activists, and stand together as a community in solidarity. After the demonstration and creek tour, some continued on to another solidarity demonstration at Chase Bank in Kalamazoo later that same day (organized by Kalamazoo Stands with Standing Rock).
You can take action! This thing was organized via Facebook, banner making, and a write up sent out to the local press. Whether you are trying to get the word out about Enbridge’s potential stake in the project, or want to give Enbridge hell for considering it- DO IT! The pro industry narrative takes a blow, the industry takes a small hit, and the DAPL is slightly weakened every time people take a stand.
If you don’t live near an Enbridge work site or location- there are other options to target companies involved in the DAPL project at THIS WEBSITE!
There are many ways to support the fight on the front line. Educating your own community is very important. Getting needed supplies and funds to the many groups on the front line is crucial. Consider donating to the Water Protector Legal Collective (formerly Red Owl Legal Collective).
***Special note to Enbridge***- Many participants said they were a little bummed out at how tame the Against Enbridge, With Standing Rock! demo was. You told the news reporter that you would be willing to talk with people in the area. So,
we will be back.
We could show up anywhere you have people doing work, at anytime we feel compelled.
No Deal in the Bakken Field! Shut Down Line 5! Remember the Kalamazoo!
Of course, the DEQ has been at the center of controversy for several years now, its director and spokesperson resigning in shame over the agency’s involvement in the Flint water crisis. The way public comment over Nestlé’s groundwater grab was invited by burying the notice in a little-read administrative document would appear to further tarnish the department’s already compromised reputation. And if not for MLive’s nick-of-time reporting, the people of Michigan may not have widely known that the comment period ends today, Nov. 3.
And, quite rightly, the situation has water preservation groups hopping mad. This morning, we heard from Jeff Ostahowski of Michigan Citizens for Water Conservation, and it sounds like Nestle and MDEQ are in for a fight.
We had estimated that “tens of thousands of people all over Michigan rely on groundwater for daily use.” Our conservative estimate was way off. Ostahowski says, “Four million people in Michigan get their drinking water from aquifers, and we all can be certain that if Nestlé is granted this huge increase, there will be far more than the 45 wells Nestlé states in their application that will be negatively affected.”
Ostahowski goes on: “We believe that there are literally tens thousands of Michigan citizens who are opposed to this new huge increase. These people in opposition come from everywhere, not just around the Muskegon watershed.”
“Nestlé has already taken more than a billion gallons of our fresh water and paid nothing for it. If they are granted this increase, they will have to pony up the tremendous sum of $200 per year, for a 250-gallons-a-second increase. This is a travesty. …”
Ostahowski says his group promises to perform a technical review of the Nestlé permit application, which he says, at first blush, “appears to be a terribly flawed document.”
That review will likely come some time in December. We’ll follow the issue into the future, but, for the next few hours, you can make your voice heard officially by commenting. Here’s how:
Through the end of Nov. 3, you can still submit written comments to Carrie Monosmith by email at email@example.com, or by mail to Michigan Department of Environmental Quality, Office of Drinking Water and Municipal Assistance, P.O. Box 30241, Lansing, Michigan 48909-7741. Comments received by November 3, 2016 will be considered in the decision prior to final action. Information Contact: Carrie Monosmith, Office of Drinking Water and Municipal Assistance, 517-284-6535; or firstname.lastname@example.org.
EVART, MI — Swiss giant Nestle plans to significantly increase the amount of Michigan groundwater it pumps from under the state in conjunction with a $36 million dollar expansion of its Ice Mountain bottling plant.
Nestle Waters North America is asking the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) for permission to increase allowed pumping from 150 to 400 gallons-per-minute at one of its production wells north of Evart.
The DEQ already issued a draft approval for the request in January and is accepting public comment on the proposal until Thursday, Nov. 3.
Nestle and the DEQ say an environmental review shows the aquifer can handle the more than doubled withdrawal and wont hurt the flow, levels or temperature of nearby surface waters, but a citizens group which previously fought Nestle over groundwater wants more scrutiny on the plan.
“It needs to be studied by all the best environmentalists, hydrologists and people acquainted with the science of where this water is actually coming from,” said Jeff Ostahowski, vice president of the Michigan Citizens for Water Conservation.
“There are many different hydrologists who can look at the same data and come up with different conclusions,” he said.
The citizen group fought Nestle for years in court to reduce the company’s allowed withdrawal; resulting in a 2009 settlement that reduced Nestle’s Stanwood wells to an average of 218 gallons per minute, about 313,000 gallons per day, with restrictions on spring and summer withdrawals.
“The issue is the privatization of a critical resource,” said Ostahowski, who objects to water bring diverted from watersheds that feed the Great Lakes.
“How much is too much?”
The group wasn’t aware of Nestle’s new plans until being contacted by MLive. The Nestle proposal was published last month in the DEQ Environmental Calendar, a bi-weekly clearinghouse for permitting decisions, new administrative rules and other official notices that is not widely read by the general public.
The DEQ Water Resources Division conducted a site review and signed-of on the pumping increase in January, but the Office of Drinking Water and Municipal Assistance is approving the permit.
“The DEQ should have sent us this information,” Ostahowski said.
The DEQ hasn’t received any public comment on Nestle’s proposal, according to Carrie Monosmith, environmental health chief in the drinking water office.
Nestle is the largest among handful of self-supplied water bottlers allowed to tap and sell Michigan groundwater. The company operates well fields in Mecosta and Osceola counties, and also sources water from the Evart municipal system.
Between 2005 and 2015, the company withdrew more than 3.4 billion gallons of water from its three well fields, according to state DEQ data.
Nestle could pump up to 576,000 gallons-per-day, (about 210 million gallons-per-year), under the proposed increase on White Pine Springs well No. 101 in Osceola Township. The well, built in 2001, is located southwest of the 9 Mile Road and 100th Avenue intersection, about 1,700 feet north of the headwaters of Chippewa Creek and about two-and-a-half miles east of Twin Creek. Both are coldwater trout stream tributaries of the Muskegon River.
The well is connected by pipeline to a loading station near US-10 in Evart, where the water is then trucked to the Stanwood bottling plant. A booster station along the pipeline would be built to aid the increased withdrawal.
In its proposal, Nestle claims average water levels in Twin and Chippewa creeks would “decline only minimally” from the increased pumping and wouldn’t exceed what might be expected from natural stream stage variability.
According to the proposal, “an incremental effect of the proposed increased withdrawal on wetland water levels may occur in five wetlands, but is not expected to cause adverse ecological effects. Observations of these wetlands did not find the presence of any threatened or endangered species.”
Nestle already increased the well’s daily pumping rate in 2015 and earlier this year, but needs DEQ drinking water office approval to max out the withdrawal capacity under the Section 17 of the Michigan Safe Drinking Water Act (SDWA).
Nestle is adding two new bottling lines and 80,000-square feet of production space to its 746,000 square-foot Stanwood plant.
Growth of the facility and the U.S. market for bottled water in general is driving the bid for more Michigan groundwater, say company representatives.
According to the Beverage Marketing Corporation, the U.S. consumed more than $14.2 billion, in wholesale dollars, worth of bottled water in 2015. Total bottled water volume grew to nearly 12 billion gallons.
Bottled water is the leading growth category in the domestic beverage market, with a U.S. per capita consumption average of 36.7 gallons per person last year, according to the trade group. Product marketing and advertising frames bottled water as a healthy alternative to sugary drinks.
The market potential led Nestle to Michigan, where the company owns wells that tap underground springs that feed iconic Michigan rivers. Michigan law allows any private property owner to withdraw from the aquifer under their property for free, subject only to a nominal $200 annual paperwork fee.
The interstate Great Lakes compact prohibits water diversions outside of the Great Lakes basin, but a bottling exemption within the law allows water to be sold outside the region if it’s shipped in bottles smaller than 5.7 gallons.
In Stanwood, Nestle is expanding its Ice Mountain Natural Spring Water and Pure Life brand products. Construction began this month. The first new line is schedule to begin operation next year and the second will open in 2018.
The company employs 250 people in Stanwood and said the expansion would add more than 20 new jobs. Nestle says water bottled in Stanwood is distributed in Michigan and the Midwest.
To comment on the Nestle capacity increase, email Carrie Monosmith at email@example.com, or send mail to Michigan Department of Environmental Quality, Office of Drinking Water and Municipal Assistance, P.O. Box 30241, Lansing, Michigan 48909-7741. Comments must be received by Nov. 3
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.