March 22, 2017

Line 5 Letter to the Editor, Detroit News, March 15, 2017

By Pat Egan, Emeritus Member of Sierra Club's Executive Committee

As a resident of the Upper Peninsula I need to take issue with a mis-guided and fact-challenged essay published here by Doug Stockwell of the Operating Engineers regarding the submerged old pipeline crossing under the Straits of Mackinac, and new job-ending pipelines in SE Michigan.

Mr. Stockwell calls a group of fact-finders, retired engineers, chemists, business people and serious academics “alarmists. “, connoting a cartoonish Chicken-Little. These are people who recognize the hazard of a 63-year old pipeline crossing lakes and tributaries in Michigan, and crossing under water and ice in the highest risk setting in North America. The threat of that pipeline is not just to clean drinking water, but to thousands of jobs and businesses and whole communities. 

Facts from Enbridge are hard to come by in any discussion of their Line 5. That is because the company does not have to publicly reveal what it is transporting in its pipelines, where it is eventually destined, and for what purpose. Not even the Operating Engineers know. Other, non-Enbridge facts are easier to know. We know about the currents in the Straits – twice the original design assumptions. We know about a clean up “success” of 35 to 40 percent. We know about metal fatigue and mussels. We know about easement promises and promises broken. We know that this pipeline was not designed to last over 60 years.

The Operating Engineers say that shutting off the risks posed by this aged, clunky pipeline jeopardizes warm homes, jobs and economic development.  The economic devastation of a significant spill in the Straits is obvious, it is real, and it trumps any number of jobs that Line 5 oil makes in Michigan.

We in the Upper Peninsula have several sources for home heating oils and gasses. We will live the same lives we are now living the day after the State of Michigan realizes its responsibility and shuts down oil transport in a pipeline that has been, and presently is, violating legal easement agreements

Enbridge has multi-billion dollar revenue every financial quarter. The Canadian-based company keeps that revenue unless it is fined, as it has been many times, or has to pay damages for its many spills. 

The Michigan Operating Engineers benefit from pipeline maintenance and construction, and yes, pipeline catastrophes. They do not mention the jobbers and truckers who will lose their jobs when new pipelines are built in South East Michigan. They would also suffer with the rest of us if businesses and the entire tourism economy of Michigan takes an ink-stained hit when oil blackens the Straits.

The people of Michigan are taking all the risk with this obsolete and dangerous pipeline. The oil Line 5 carries to a Detroit refinery is about 3% of its load, and that refinery has almost 90 percent of its supply from other sources. Instead of defending this high-risk pipeline, the Operating Engineers of Michigan should become “alarmists” as well, and recognize the significant hazard that is Line 5.

March 16, 2017

Sierra Club Statement on Trump Budget Cuts to Great Lakes Restoration Initiative

March 16, 2017

Sierra Club Statement on Trump Budget Cuts to Great Lakes Restoration Initiative

LANSING, MI - Today, the Trump Administration released its 2018 budget proposals for discretionary spending. Among those proposals, Donald Trump has proposed a complete elimination of the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative.

In response to today's news, Gail Philbin, Director of the Sierra Club's Michigan Chapter, released the following statement:

"President Trump's proposal to completely eliminate all funding for Great Lakes protection and cleanup programs is a shocking abandonment of crucial, successful efforts to protect our drinking water and the most important natural asset for our entire region.

"Budgets are much more than numbers, they are statements of values and priorities.  By hitting the delete button on all federal efforts to protect the Great Lakes, President Trump is telling our entire region that our health is not his priority.  By cutting Great Lakes protection, President Trump is cutting good jobs in water infrastructure projects, he is cutting the cleanup of toxic pollution in our drinking water, and he is cutting off hope for communities that rely on these resources.

"Protecting our Great Lakes has long been a bipartisan priority for our region's leaders.  Trump's Great Lakes cuts should be dead on arrival for all members of Congress from our region.  We are ready to work with all of the people and communities of our region to resist and reverse Trump's cuts, and continue the critical work to clean up and restore the Great Lakes that are so important to all of us."


February 27, 2017

FERC Rushes ET Rover Pipeline Approval Despite Widespread Opposition

Michigan Chapter

Friday, February 3, 2017

Contact:  Nancy Shiffler, (734) 971-1157

FERC Rushes ET Rover Pipeline Approval Despite Widespread Opposition
Approval Comes Just Prior to FERC Losing Quorum

Lansing, MI – Late Thursday evening just prior to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission losing a quorum on the resignation of one of its members, the commission approved the ET Rover pipeline, which would carry fracked gas from Pennsylvania and Ohio through Ohio and southeastern Michigan to Canada.

In response, Nancy Shiffler of the Sierra Club Michigan Chapter Beyond Natural Gas and Oil Committee released the following statement:

“FERC’s decision to rush this dirty and dangerous project is nothing short of reckless.  People across Michigan and Ohio are concerned about the significant health and safety risks the operation of a pipeline this size will pose to their families.

“Rover pipeline crosses major scenic rivers which feed Lake Erie and passes through the east side of Pinckney Recreation Area.  Crossing Lenawee, Washtenaw, and Livingston counties in Michigan and eighteen Ohio counties, Rover will result in the destruction of hundreds of acres of upland forest affecting migratory birds, the Indiana bat and significant plant life as well as damaging farmlands. In our view this fight is not over. We will stand strong supporting community safety, clean water and Michigan waterways.”


February 13, 2017

Spartan Sierra Club looking to halt crude oil flow from Line 5

Spartan Sierra Club looking to halt crude oil flow from Line 5


Spartan Sierra Club, an on-campus and student-run environmental group, is on a mission to stop the "dangerous" flow of crude oil through Enbridge’s Line 5 in Michigan’s Great Lakes, grabbing signatures for petitions and hoping for President Lou Anna K. Simon’s support with their mission.
“We have a three-fold approach,” said international relations senior Courtney Bourgoin, vice president and co-founder of the club. “We do environmental campaigning on environmental issues that affect Michigan, we do service and volunteer in Flint and recycle every weekend after basketball games and then the third thing we do is outdoor exploration, so like hiking and camping trips.”
Line 5 is a 645-mile petroleum pipeline, which is part of a larger system, that transports crude oil from Wisconsin, across Michigan’s Upper Peninsula and through northern Michigan to Ontario. Most notably and controversially, the pipeline moves through the environmentally sensitive Straits of Mackinac, which connect Lake Michigan to Lake Huron.

January 17, 2017

Sierra Club Response to Governor Snyder's State of the State Address

We are glad Governor Snyder acknowledged that the people in Flint have been without clean drinking water for over 2 years now. It is beyond time to fix this problem and the underlying issues that caused it” said Mike Berkowitz, Legislative Director of the Sierra Club Michigan Chapter. “We call on Governor Snyder and the state legislature to repeal the emergency manager law, improve Michigan’s Lead and Copper Rule, establish citizen oversight for the Department of Environmental Quality, and create jobs for Michigan workers by funding environmentally sustainable infrastructure.”

January 16, 2017

Sierra Club Southwest Michigan Group Supports Palisades Shutdown

News from Southwest Michigan Group,
Michigan Chapter, Sierra Club
Contact: Roger Taylor, Communications Chair,
January 12, 2017
Sierra Club Southwest Michigan Group Supports Palisades Shutdown
Environmental group strongly opposes bailout, favors programs to support workers.
KALAMAZOO – Sierra Club Southwest Michigan Group’s Executive Committee passed a resolution expressing strong support for the decision to permanently close the Palisades Nuclear Generating Station in Covert Township, Michigan.
The closure decision was announced last month by Entergy Corporation, Palisades’ Louisiana-based owner-operator. The December announcement followed completion of negotiations between Entergy and Palisades’ only customer, Consumers Energy. The companies agreed to terminate the power purchase agreement established in 2007 when Consumers sold Palisades to Entergy. The agreement, originally scheduled to last until 2022, will end four years early, in October, 2018.
The Sierra Club resolution enumerates the circumstances that made closing the plant financially advantageous for both companies and for Consumers’ customers. Spokespersons for Consumers say the shutdown will save their ratepayers $172 million, and that “energy reliability and affordability will not be affected.” A costly refueling shutdown, originally scheduled for October 2018, will become a money-saving permanent shutdown.
Pre-emptively opposing a possible bailout, Sierra Club’s resolution says that “officials and legislators must neither offer nor consider providing financial assistance…to keep Palisades operating or to cover decommissioning.” By regulation, before any nuclear plant opens, it must establish a fund that will eventually pay for its own decommissioning.
Bailouts of failing nuclear plants in Illinois and New York, says the resolution, have cost taxpayers and utility customers about $2.2 billion per plant. Rather than bailing out a failing business run by an out-of-state energy conglomerate, local Sierra Club officers urge Michigan officials to support newly unemployed Palisades workers at a tiny fraction of the cost of a bailout.
“No bailout for a business failure,” said Roger Taylor, who chairs the organization’s communications committee. “Instead, we should reward success! We all owe the dedicated and knowledgable Palisades work crew an enormous debt of gratitude for keeping us safe all these years, in spite of everything.” The resolution cites media coverage of allegations of mismanagement by Entergy and oversight failures by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission.
The resolution also highlights the nuclear energy industry’s eternal and intractable problem: “Convincing arguments abound against continued production and stockpiling of dangerous high-level nuclear waste at Palisades and elsewhere, as U.S. officials have developed no workable plan for safe and permanent disposal.”
Sierra Club’s Southwest Michigan Group, an affiliate of Sierra Club’s Michigan Chapter, has nearly 1400 members in nine Southwest Michigan counties. The Sierra Club is the nation’s oldest, largest, and most effective grassroots environmental organization, with more than 2.4 million members and supporters. Our mission is to explore, enjoy, and protect the planet.

Additional links:
Web version of this news release -

January 6, 2017

Enbridge Line 5 Rejected from Tribal Lands

Friday, January 6, 2017

In Kicking Enbridge Off Reservation, Bad River Band Tribe Prioritizes Protecting People
Line 5 Pipeline Ouster Carries Strong Message For Gov. Snyder

A Wisconsin tribal government’s rejection this week of a request to allow Enbridge’s Line 5 to continue operating on tribal lands sends a powerful message to Michigan officials, who are weighing the fate of Line 5 in the Straits of Mackinac, Michigan’s Oil & Water Don't Mix campaign said today.  

Citing the impact of a potentially damaging oil spill on tribal land, the Bad River Band Tribal Council directed that Line 5 pipeline removal begin on tribal lands, located just west of where the controversial pipeline enters Michigan and crosses the Straits of Mackinac.  Like the rest of the 645-mile pipeline, the Bad River portion of Line 5 was constructed in 1953.  In their decision to reject a renewal of several easement agreements with Enbridge, tribal officials cited the pipeline’s age and threat to the health and way of life of tribal members. 

In a news release, Bad River Tribal Chairman Robert Blanchard said, “As many other communities have experienced, even a minor spill could prove to be disastrous for our people.”

The Bad River Tribe’s decision was strong endorsed by the Oil & Water Don’t Mix campaign, including campaign steering committee member, Chippewa Ottawa Resource Authority (CORA).

“CORA commends Bad River on their courageous decision to deny the easement for Line 5, “ said Jane A. TenEyck, Executive Director of CORA. “The five CORA tribes have also called for removal of this pipeline that threatens the most productive fishing areas in the heart of our treaty waters of Lakes Huron and Michigan.”

CORA represents the Bay Mills Indian Community, Grand Traverse Band of Ottawa and Chippewa Indians, Little River Band of Ottawa Indians, Little Traverse Bay Bands of Odawa Indians and the Sault Ste. Marie Tribe of Chippewa Indians.

Enbridge’s Line 5 has come under increased scrutiny in recent years after an Enbridge pipeline near Marshall, MI ruptured in 2010, spilling more than a million gallons of oil along the Kalamazoo River in the largest inland oil spill in U.S. history.   The Chequamegon-Nicolet National Forest in Wisconsin is currently weighing whether to renew a permit for a 11.5-mile section of Line 5.  In Michigan state officials are expected to consider Line 5 alternative proposals this spring, including those requiring Enbridge to decommission Line 5 in the Straits.

“Michigan’s Great Lakes way of life is threatened every day by these deteriorating Line 5 pipelines,” said David Holtz, Sierra Club Michigan Chapter Executive Committee Chair.  “Gov. Snyder should show the same leadership as the Bad River Band Tribal Council, listen to other tribal voices here in Michigan, and stop the flow of oil through the Straits of Mackinac.”

With over 7,000 members, the Bad River Band of Lake Superior Tribe of Chippewa Indians is located on an over 124,000-acre reservation within Ashland and Iron Counties on the south shore of Lake Superior in Wisconsin.