Enbridge May Face Tough Legal Battle to Keep 60-year-old Pipeline Running

Enbridge Inc may be set for a bruising legal battle in Wisconsin after a Native American tribe voted against renewing land use agreements on a major crude oil pipeline, potentially shutting down a conduit that has been in operation since the 1950s, legal experts said.

The vote last week has ratcheted up tension on Enbridge, which already faces questions about the safety of the line elsewhere in the U.S. Midwest.

The decision also opened a new avenue of opposition to North American energy infrastructure, as it was a notable use of tribal authority to move against an existing pipeline. Activists have mostly concentrated on halting new pipeline construction across the United States and Canada, most notably the Standing Rock Sioux’s fight against the Dakota Access line in North Dakota.

The Bad River Band decided that Enbridge should no longer be allowed to operate the Line 5 pipeline across its reservation, and is calling for the 64-year-old conduit to be removed because of concerns about potential oil spills.

Line 5 is a vital part of Enbridge’s Mainline system, which transports the bulk of Canadian crude exports to the United States. The line originates in Superior, Wisconsin, and ends in Sarnia, Ontario.

The 540,000 barrel-per-day pipeline is still flowing. Spokesman Michael Barnes said Calgary-based Enbridge is reaching out to the band to restart negotiations while also evaluating its long-term strategy.

But legal experts said that if negotiations fail, Enbridge is unlikely to be able to have state or federal authorities force the band to allow Line 5 to operate, a process known as condemnation, if it is on tribal lands.

“There’s not much you can do because tribes are sovereign; you cannot exercise the power to condemn,” said James Freeman, a partner with law firm Zabel Freeman in Houston.

Pipeline companies and public utilities can usually take advantage of eminent domain laws that grant them the right to build projects on land that is not theirs for the greater public good. They also reach easement agreements, allowing the pipeline company the legal right to use property owned by another party for a special purpose.

Much may depend on whether the tracts in question are on tribal land or on land allotted to individual tribe members, in which case condemnation might be viable, said Jim Bowe, a partner with King & Spalding law firm in Washington, D.C.

“Enbridge has got a real challenge here,” Bowe added. “If it’s out of easements, the pipeline is a trespasser.”

Bowe said the Bad River Band could file a lawsuit to try to have Line 5 removed or seek an injunction to force the pipeline to stop operating.

Dylan Jennings, a Bad River tribal council member, said the tribe was developing a plan of action with its legal staff and would go to court if necessary.

“We are not convinced that a 64-year-old pipeline is structurally sound enough to last even another few years and we are not prepared to leave that behind for another generation,” Jennings said. “No amount of compensation or negotiation will change our minds.”

The line has not leaked since it was built in 1953, according to Enbridge’s website. But the tribe’s concerns about the age of Line 5 echoed worries in Michigan, where in 2015 Governor Rick Snyder established a pipeline safety advisory board to address concerns that Line 5’s underwater crossing in the Straits of Mackinac, connecting Lake Michigan and Lake Huron, could leak.

That followed a 2010 leak of 20,000 barrels of crude into the Kalamazoo River in Michigan from Enbridge’s Line 6B, the largest onshore oil spill in U.S. history.

Michigan has ordered two independent reports, which Enbridge is contributing to the cost of, to examine the reliability of Line 5 and alternatives to the pipeline. Those reports are expected to be finished by June.

A 2015 report produced by the Michigan Petroleum Pipeline task force criticized Enbridge for lack of disclosure related to its inspections of the pipeline.

(Additional reporting Liz Hampton in Houston; Editing by Meredith Mazzilli)

 

Enbridge Oil Spill- Public Comment

Below is a write up you can copy and past into an email to submit a public comment about the NFA request for  a site of environmental contamination located on Talmadge Creek between I-69 and A Drive North, south of Marshall, Michigan. Contamination at the site was caused by the release of crude oil from the Enbridge Line 6B pipeline rupture on July 26, 2010. Crude Oil, contaminated soil, and impacted surface water were removed from the site during remedial activities.

Please send your email/ comment to lantingac@michigan.gov  TODAY (12/12/2016). Don’t forget to sign with a name! If you are seeing this after the 12th, feel free to send it anyways. Demand that the NFA requests are visible to the public!

For information about what an NFA request is- CLICK HERE

 

Chris Lantinga and MDEQ,

I am writing to you today to enter a few comments about Enbridge’s NFA request for Segment 4, located on the Talmadge Creek.

I am concerned that there was no publicized public informational session for this NFA request. There were public meetings for the NFA requests regarding Segment 1 and segment 3. The public meeting for Segment 3 took place prior to the date public comment was due. The public meeting for Segment 1 took place on the same day public comment was due. There seems to have been no public meeting for segment 4. The public meetings are crucial to any claims to transparency on the Department’s behalf, and important for the public to understand the remedial work that was done on the river.

I have become aware that this NFA comment period was not published in the Nov. 28, 2016 DEQ Calendar. The lack of a public meeting as well as the absence of the public comment period in the November 28, 2016 DEQ calendar is of great concern to any legitimate claims of this process being transparent.

I could not help but notice the Groundwater Aesthetic Impact section of the NFA request. Enbridge, in section 3.5 of the request, claims that there have been sightings of oil sheens in the ground water. Not only that, they go on to state that these sightings have occurred in “several areas”. Apparently Part 201 of Section 451 does not address any criteria for ground water aesthetics. The state law being used has no means to address this situation! Enbridge claims that the Groundwater Aesthetic Impact meets Drinking Water Criteria. According to Enbridge in this same request, none of the residents use groundwater as a drinking source. The lack of attention to these oil sheens is very concerning.

The Zoning/ Land Use for this NFA request was determined from the Marshall Township Zoning Map (dated October 2006). Is there not a more recent zoning map that could be used? Has the land use in this area changed in the past 10 years?

The lack of visibility to this process is very frustrating. Please make this information more accessible to the public.

Sincerely,

 

 

Send to: lantingac@michigan.gov

Observed Contaminates From 2010 Oil Spill Not Subject to Michigan State Law

Updates on the 2010 oil spill are coming out with each No Further Action request Enbridge Energy submits to the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality.

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This is in the NFA request for segment 4 of the Talmadge Creek. Although this is a perfectly legal move on Enbridge’s behalf we need to recognize that things like this exist. The observations are not actionable concerns because Groundwater Aesthetic Impacts are not in Part 201 of NREPA.

Legal maneuvering does not erase signs of contaminates left behind at several locations.

 

According to Enbridge, residents in the area do not drink the groundwater.  This is located between I-69 and A Drive North along the creek, north of Tau Rd.

Read full NFA law here-   https://fenvalleyearthfirst.files.wordpress.com/2016/11/mcl-324-20114d1.pdf

Read full NFA request for Segment 4 here- https://fenvalleyearthfirst.files.wordpress.com/2016/11/enbridge-nfa-segment-4_541293_7.pdf

 

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DEADLINE FOR PUBLIC COMMENTS REGARDING ENBRIDGE OIL SPILL SEGMENT
4 – NO FURTHER ACTION REPORT, MARSHALL, MI CALHOUN COUNTY.
Written comments are being accepted on an Intent to Approve an unrestricted residential No Further Action (NFA) Report for the Enbridge Oil Spill – Talmadge Creek, Segment 4 (Mile Post 1.00 to Mile Post 2.02) a site of environmental contamination located on Talmadge Creek between I-69 and A Drive North, south of Marshall, Michigan. Contamination at the site was caused by the release of crude oil from the Enbridge Line 6B pipeline rupture on July 26, 2010. Crude Oil, contaminated soil, and impacted surface water were removed from the site during remedial activities. Subsequent soil, sediment, and surface water remedial investigations indicate exceedances of Natural Resources and Environmental Protection Act (NREPA), Part 201 residential criteria do not remain. The proposed unrestricted NFA would not prohibit residential use of the property. The NFA Report is available for review at the Marshall District Library, 124 W. Green Street, Marshall, MI 49068, the Galesburg Memorial Library, 188 E. Michigan Avenue, Galesburg, MI 49053, and the Willard Library, 7 W. Van Buren Street, Battle Creek, MI 49017. A copy will also be available for review during normal business hours at the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality, Kalamazoo District Office, 7953 Adobe Road, Kalamazoo, Michigan 49009. Written comments should be mailed by December 12, 2016 to Chris Lantinga, DEQ, Remediation and Redevelopment Division, 7953 Adobe Road, Kalamazoo, Michigan49009. Information Contact: Chris Lantinga, Remediation and Redevelopment Division; 269 548-7182; email at lantingac@michigan.gov.

Limited Transparency in Enbridge Exit Strategy. Plus MDEQ Pipeline Meeting-Dec. 12

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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

DEADLINE FOR PUBLIC COMMENTS REGARDING ENBRIDGE OIL SPILL SEGMENT
4 – NO FURTHER ACTION REPORT, MARSHALL, MI CALHOUN COUNTY.
Written comments are being accepted on an Intent to Approve an unrestricted residential No Further Action (NFA) Report for the Enbridge Oil Spill – Talmadge Creek, Segment 4 (Mile Post 1.00 to Mile Post 2.02) a site of environmental contamination located on Talmadge Creek between I-69 and A Drive North, south of Marshall, Michigan. Contamination at the site was caused by the release of crude oil from the Enbridge Line 6B pipeline rupture on July 26, 2010. Crude Oil, contaminated soil, and impacted surface water were removed from the site during remedial activities. Subsequent soil, sediment, and surface water remedial investigations indicate exceedances of Natural Resources and Environmental Protection Act (NREPA), Part 201 residential criteria do not remain. The proposed unrestricted NFA would not prohibit residential use of the property. The NFA Report is available for review at the Marshall District Library, 124 W. Green Street, Marshall, MI 49068, the Galesburg Memorial Library, 188 E. Michigan Avenue, Galesburg, MI 49053, and the Willard Library, 7 W. Van Buren Street, Battle Creek, MI 49017. A copy will also be available for review during normal business hours at the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality, Kalamazoo District Office, 7953 Adobe Road, Kalamazoo, Michigan 49009. Written comments should be mailed by December 12, 2016 to Chris Lantinga, DEQ, Remediation and Redevelopment Division, 7953 Adobe Road, Kalamazoo, Michigan49009. Information Contact: Chris Lantinga, Remediation and Redevelopment Division; 269 548-7182; email at lantingac@michigan.gov.

Against Enbridge, With Standing Rock! A Report Back from #NoDAPL Solidarity action on 11/7/2016

 

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People from the area show up

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.

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Another Monday as usual with out water protectors present.

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!

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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).

What’s next?

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!

 

Press Coverage

WWMT’s coverage

Marshall Advisor/ Chronicle