August 14, 2017

Sierra Club Statement on White Supremacist Terrorism in Charlottesville, Virginia

August 12, 2017

Contact: Trey Pollard

Sierra Club Statement on White Supremacist Terrorism in Charlottesville, Virginia

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- The Sierra Club’s Executive Director Michael Brune released the following statement after violence at a white supremacist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia left at least three people dead and 19 injured.

“The Sierra Club condemns this act of white supremacist terrorism in the strongest possible terms. Our thoughts are with those injured and killed and our hearts are with those who are peacefully speaking out to stop hate from gaining another inch in our country and those who are living in fear because of that hate. No one who took to the streets of Charlottesville fueled by bigotry and brandishing the symbols of fascism that so many Americans fought and died to tear down has any claim on the mantle of patriotism. Instead, it is more important than ever that they be called out for exactly what they are: vile and unacceptable racists preaching division and hatred that stands in opposition to the values of equality and justice that must drive our nation forward. Hatred and racism have long played a disgraceful part of American history, but there can be no doubt that those who spew white supremacy feel empowered right now when they see allies in the corridors of power. These bigots must be condemned, not coddled, and we are in solidarity with those elected officials, residents of Charlottesville, and people all over this country who are speaking out for an America that pushes forward toward justice, not slides backward into hatred and fear.”


About the Sierra Club
The Sierra Club is America’s largest and most influential grassroots environmental organization, with more than 3 million members and supporters. In addition to helping people from all backgrounds explore nature and our outdoor heritage, the Sierra Club works to promote clean energy, safeguard the health of our communities, protect wildlife, and preserve our remaining wild places through grassroots activism, public education, lobbying, and legal action. For more information, visit

Sierra Club President Blackford encourages Sierra Club members, supporters and staff to join the events being held in solidarity with those in Charlottesville tonight and tomorrow.  

August 11, 2017

Washtenaw County Road Commission Accuses Nexus Pipeline of “Bullying” Tactics

Complaint submitted to FERC urges denial of Nexus application

August 11, 2017
Contact:  Nancy Shiffler, (734) 971-1157

Lansing, MI – Just as a US Senate confirmation vote re-established a quorum on the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC), the Washtenaw County Road Commission Managing Director, Roy Townsend, submitted a comment letter to FERC urging the commission to deny the current application for the Nexus natural gas pipeline.  The proposed pipeline route runs through Ohio and into Michigan’s Lenawee, Monroe and Washtenaw County.

The letter notes Nexus’ refusal to honor the County’s safety, operational, and maintenance concerns for the numerous roads the pipeline would cross: “Nexus also insists on creating driveway access points at improper, unsafe locations, even where nearby, safe locations exist, and in violation of all published safety standards.”   While noting the company’s claims that a FERC certificate would allow it to pre-empt and override local regulations, Townsend states, “Nexus repeatedly and vastly overstates the breadth of pre-emption, to the point of literally claiming Nexus can do whatever it wants, whenever it wants.”  The full text of the letter can be found at

The Road Commission is not alone in receiving this kind of treatment from Nexus.  Kathy Schoen, owner of Washtenaw County farmland along the proposed pipeline route, states, “This is the same kind of arrogant and dismissive treatment landowners and local communities have received for their safety and property concerns.  Nexus does and says whatever it takes to get what they want.

The Road Commission letter also addresses the issues of road clean up and repair:  Most shockingly, Nexus has refused any responsibility even to assure that our public roads are cleaned up and repaired after Nexus’ construction is completed.  The Road Commission’s concerns about road damage are well founded considering the collapse of M-50 in Lenawee County during Energy Transfer Partner’s construction of the Rover pipeline.


August 10, 2017

Canada chooses to ignore Line 5 risk, omits dangerous pipeline from new report

Canada chooses to ignore Line 5 risk, omits dangerous pipeline from new report
Canadian agency removes any reference to Line 5 risk from key environmental planning report

LANSING – Oil & Water Don’t Mix voiced concern today that the Government of Canada omitted the massive risk posed by Enbridge Energy’s 64-year-old Line 5 pipelines from its Lakewide Action and Management Plan (LAMP), a comprehensive plan for restoring and protecting Lake Huron.

“It is clear that Canada is committed to maximizing profits for Canadian oil companies by skirting the facts about the Line 5 pipelines, regardless of the devastating impact of a Line 5 oil spill on our Great Lakes,” said David Holtz, chair of the Sierra Club Michigan Chapter and campaign coordinator forOil & Water Don’t Mix. “Michiganders bear all the risk of an oil spill while Canada keeps pumping oil through the aging pipelines, which is why we’re counting on Attorney General Schuette to stand up for Michiganders and shut down Line 5.”

The 2012 Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement between Canada and the United States requires both governments to work together to develop a protection plan for each of the Great Lakes that identifies threats to each lake. 

Environment and Climate Change Canada, a Canadian government agency, and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency are responsible for developing the LAMPs.  The draft report that omits Enbridge Line 5, follows a letter sent last week from the Ontario Minister of Energy to the state of Michigan requesting Gov. Rick Snyder keep oil flowing through Line 5 – a clear sign that Canada is working hard to keep Line 5 pumping, no matter the risk to Michigan.

The deadline for public comment on the Lake Huron plan is Sept. 5. Comments can be submitted at


Oil & Water Don’t Mix is a broad campaign of organizations, citizens and businesses across Michigan who are working to keep oil out of our Great Lakes by shutting down the dangerous, 64-year-old Line 5 Pipelines in the Straits of Mackinac. The campaign fights for clean water and air, Indigenous rights, reducing pollution, sustainable economies and protecting sporting, tourism and jobs that are dependent on our water and Pure Michigan way of life.

August 5, 2017

Sierra Club Line 5 Comments to MDEQ, Michigan AG and Michigan DoE

August 3, 2017
Director Heidi Grether Michigan Department of Environmental Quality P.O. Box 30458
Lansing, Michigan 48909-7958
Ms. Valerie Brader Executive Director Michigan Agency for Energy Attn: Line 5 Pipeline Study P.O. Box 30013
Lansing, Michigan 48909-7958
Director Keith Creagh
Michigan Department of Natural Resources
Executive Division
P.O. Box 30028
Lansing, Michigan 48909
Attorney General Bill Schuette
G. Mennen Williams Building, 7th Floor
525 West Ottawa Street
P.O. Box 30212
Lansing, Michigan 48909



We are writing to submit public comment on the Dynamic Risk Assessment Systems, Inc.’s June 27, 2017, Draft Final Report – Alternatives Analysis for the Straits Pipeline (“Line 5 alternatives draft report” or “draft report”) prepared for the State of Michigan concerning the Enbridge Line 5 pipelines in the Mackinac Straits. This submission is in addition to comments submitted on behalf of Sierra Club and other organizations by the Oil & Water Don’t Mix campaign.

In these supplemental comments, Sierra Club will focus on the following three errors and omissions in the report:

  1. Failure to recognize that decommissioning Line 5 in the Straits of Mackinac is the only alternative that will prevent an oil spill with catastrophic consequences for the Great Lakes and the State of Michigan.
  2. Unfair bias towards building a tunneled pipeline.
  3. Serious conflict of interest concerns and failure to provide the state with an independent, fair analysis of the alternatives to Line 5. 

Decommissioning Line 5 is the only alternative to prevent an oil spill

As stated in comments submitted on Sierra Club’s behalf by Oil & Water Don’t Mix, we believe the state must end its delay in taking action on Line 5 and exercise its authority through enforcement of its 1953 easement, an agreement that Enbridge has consistently violated. Moreover, the Alternatives Analysis itself makes a strong case for decommissioning Line 5 if the interests of Michigan’s citizens are a priority over the commercial interests of Enbridge.

Despite the study’s bias toward Enbridge’s interest, the draft report clearly documents the fact that less than 5% of crude oil and natural gas liquids transported through Line 5 remain in Michigan and that feasible options exist for Michigan to replace any loss of transport from Line 5. In other words, despite their apparent effort to downplay decommissioning as the best alternative, the report’s authors document how little Michigan benefits from Line 5 and that there are readily available and preferable options for Michigan to access energy through other means.

Moreover, the draft report ‘s analysis of risk supports Sierra Club’s position that immediate action is needed to decommission Line 5 because of the threat of an oil pipeline rupture. The draft report prepared by oil industry firms claims the risk of a Line 5 pipeline rupture in the Straits presents a 1 in 60 chance of a spill by 2053. The flaws in this analysis that result in the study’s lowered risk assessment are thoroughly discussed by Dr. Ed Timm and other commenters. Dr. Ed Timm, whose analysis takes into account the age and likely condition of the pipeline, documents a 46% likelihood of an oil spill in the Straits over the next 36 years. But the bottom line is that both estimates of the risk of a pipeline rupture are unacceptable to anyone whose primary interests are protecting Michigan and the Great Lakes. Which brings us to comment on a major flaw in the study that undermines its usefulness and purpose in comparing and analyzing alternatives.

In a March 7, 2017 letter we wrote to the governor’s Pipeline Safety Advisory Board, Sierra Club raised concerns with the Scope of Work for the Alternatives Analysis. Instead of comparing alternatives on the basis of impacts on Michigan and its energy economy, the draft report would undertake a regional analysis, which, we said, would “skew the analysis toward Enbridge’s interests.” It was as inexplicable to us then as it is to us now why the State of Michigan approved a Scope of Work for Dynamic Risk that required Michigan to take into account Enbridge’s vast regional transport network and needs using an analytic approach certain to favor Enbridge’s private interests over the public interest in protecting the Great Lakes and Michigan’s tourism economy. Predictably, the draft report clearly favors outcomes that would continue and potentially expand Enbridge’s transport capacity— something that is, at best, only incidental to Michigan’s interests. The study fails to objectively assess the availability of viable alternatives using the existing regional Enbridge pipeline infrastructure, instead relying on Enbridge's assertions that there is no capacity to offset the transport of products through Line 5.

If Michigan’s interests are paramount, the weight of evidence in support of decommissioning Line 5 is overwhelming. The State of Michigan must correct its original sin of allowing oil industry consultants to study what’s in Enbridge’s private interests by eliminating from consideration in any final decision-making on Line 5 any alternative that does not prioritize protecting Michigan and the Great Lakes.

Dynamic Risk also failed to fulfill the state’s scope of work by assuming that there was a requirement to study only alternatives that continued to allow the same amount of product to be moved from oil fields to refineries. A full range of alternatives would have required consideration of the time frame for continued production of oil and gas from the Bakken field and others that produce the light crude which the state of Michigan and Enbridge have agreed is the only type of oil allowed through Line 5. The Bakken field has already passed its peak production point, yet there is an assumption in all of the alternatives that comparable amounts of oil will be produced and shipped from there to the refineries indefinitely. An unbiased alternatives analysis demands fully factoring in the inevitable decline in products flowing through this regional system, and ensuring that Michigan is not seeing either the replacement of the existing pipelines nor alternatives such as a tunnel that would impose a burden on the state in the future when they would be abandoned. In addition, the state must request from Enbridge what their plans are for decommissioning any existing or proposed new pipelines and what other products they plan to run through the Line 5 pipeline when the Bakken field is played out.

Unfair Bias Toward Building A Tunnel

Dynamic Risk showed a bias toward building a tunnel in its original proposal to do the report, and its analysis of costs and risks appears to be both cursory and flawed.

  • They note in their report that a large risk to the project would be inadequate exploration of the subsurface along the excavation route. They admit their report was based on existing data, primarily from the bridge construction, and represents only a preliminary screening; they were unable to do an adequate study of the specific tunnel route. The report does identify a deep trough running through the middle of the Straits, either from a fault zone or an ancient river channel, but was unable to determine its actual depth. Even without this information and with limited knowledge of the rock characteristics, they advocate crossing the trough using extra grouting for support as adequate and less costly than tunneling under the full depth of the trough. Considerable more analysis is needed to determine the geologic suitability of a tunnel.
  • Tunnel construction is estimated to take 27 months, require 4 to 7 acres for the staging areas at each end of the tunnel, and will use both drilling and blasting to penetrate and remove rock and soil. The report notes that this process will require trucking the extracted material for disposal, impacting roads, traffic, noise, and air quality. However, beyond an extensive analysis of the impact construction crews would have on seasonal rental housing, there is little effort to actually quantify these community impacts. Nor is there any mention of the impacts blasting, noise and dust might have on historical sites such as nearby Fort Michilimackinac or on Native American fishing right protected by treaty.
  • A number of other risks are mentioned – construction accidents, groundwater intrusion during construction, breakout of drilling hydraulic fluids, leak detections during operations. However, the report simply assumes that proper safeguards will mitigate these risks, without quantifying the risks and the costs of mitigating them.

The report’s analysis of this alternative provides a very preliminary description of the process and issues and an inadequate and flawed quantification of its operation. The result is a rosy scenario in favor of a tunnel with cost estimates that lack credibility.

Conflicts of Interest and A Failed Process

Sierra Club believes two related, major barriers exist that may unnecessarily result in months or years of delay in addressing the threat of Line 5 pipelines to the Great Lakes. This is on top of what has already been more than three years of failure by Gov. Snyder and Attorney General Schuette to take action after the urgency of the Line 5 threat emerged. One barrier is the Pipeline Safety Advisory Board Line 5 study process. This process is without any criteria for decision-making, has no defined timeline for making a decision on alternatives and is being conducted outside any legal framework such as the Great Lakes Submerged Lands Act and Michigan Environmental Protection Act that could form a basis for evaluating alternatives. The other, related process failure is a conflict of interest.

In November 2015 Sierra Club wrote Gov. Snyder asking him to remove Enbridge Energy and Marathon from his Pipeline Safety Advisory Board. We pointed out that having Enbridge and Marathon as part of the official process of evaluating Enbridge’s Line 5 presented obvious conflicts of interest and threatened the credibility of the advisory board. We also asked the governor to ensure that Enbridge’s influence over the state’s Line 5 work would not extend to paying for studies. In a March 2017 letter to the Pipeline Safety Advisory Board Sierra Club also raised significant concerns about conflicts involving the project team working on the Line 5 draft reports.

Instead of removing these conflicts, the governor and state officials continued along a questionable path that has resulted in a failed process. The state allowed Enbridge to pay for the $3.6 million studies. In addition, the Line 5 risk analysis failed to be completed on time because of a conflict of interest involving an employee who was simultaneously working for Enbridge while being paid to provide an “independent” analysis of Line 5.

Moreover, the draft alternative report’s lead contractor, Dynamic Risk, was reportedly working for Enbridge on a related pipeline and doing the Line 5 “independent” alternatives study for the State of Michigan. Other questions have been raised regarding relationships between Enbridge, Dynamic Risk and other Line 5 study project team members and there is credible evidence that the draft alternatives report is biased in Enbridge’s favor.

Much or all of this could have been avoided if the state had chosen a more credible Line 5 study process—one reflecting the seriousness of the endeavor to protect the Great Lakes. One that certainly would have required funding from the state instead of Enbridge and one headed by one of Michigan’s premier research universities or other qualified, independent entities working with and holding accountable other project team members. One that was conducted within existing Michigan laws.

What would be a mistake is if state officials compound these errors by allowing this failed study process to slow if not stop progress toward removing Line 5’s threat. The best—perhaps only—way to do that is to bring Enbridge under the rule of law and evaluate risks and alternatives under the Great Lakes Submerged Lands Act for its current anchor permit request, and begin the process of decommissioning Line 5 in the Straits of Mackinac to protect the Great Lakes from a catastrophic oil spill.

Respectfully submitted,

David Holtz, Chair
Sierra Club Michigan Chapter Executive Committee

Anne Woiwode, Chair
Sierra Club Michigan Chapter Conservation Committee

Nancy Shiffler, Chair
Sierra Club Michigan Chapter Beyond Natural Gas & Oil Committee 

August 4, 2017

Detroit News: DNR Says Line 5 Study Flawed

Lansing — A company hired to look into alternatives and risks associated with running the Enbridge Line 5 oil and natural gas pipeline running under the Straits of Mackinac left out key environmental information, according to the Michigan Department of Natural Resources.

Environmentalists who want Line 5 shut down over the potential for a spill or leak were quick to highlight the state’s comments.
“Our state’s Great Lakes, shorelines and ecosystems are what make Michigan unique, and a catastrophic oil spill from the 64-year-old Line 5 pipelines poses a totally unacceptable risk to our natural resources,” said David Holtz, chair of the Sierra Club Michigan Chapter and campaign coordinator of Oil & Water Don’t Mix.
“The fact that a state agency has pointed out serious shortcomings in the study only reinforces the need for the state not to allow this flawed study to continue delaying action to decommission Line 5 in the Straits. Attorney General Schuette has the legal duty to protect our Great Lakes.”

Also reported on the OilandWaterDontMix press release

David Holtz
Mobile & Text: 313-300-4454

Exploring, Enjoying,
Protecting Michigan 

August 3, 2017

More than 21,000 call on AG Schuette to shut down Enbridge Line 5 in Straits

More than 21,000 call on AG Schuette to shut down Enbridge Line 5 in Straits
As state’s official comment period for Line 5 Alternatives Analysis closes, public demands immediate shutdown of oil pipelines in Straits

LANSING – Oil & Water Don’t Mix today announced it expects to submit more than 21,000 comments by a Friday deadline demanding Attorney General Bill Schuette shut down Line 5.

“The Alternatives Analysis downplays the massive risk and catastrophic impact of a Line 5 oil spill in the Straits of Mackinac, and Attorney General Schuette must act now to protect our Great Lakes,” said David Holtz, chair, Sierra Club Michigan Chapter and campaign coordinator for Oil & Water Don’t Mix. “The overwhelming response delivered by more than 21,000 people who care about protecting the Great Lakes sends a clear message: Line 5 must be shut down immediately.”

Comment in support of decommissioning Line 5 included 10,356 signed postcards collected by Clean Water Action and other groups as well as 10,000 online comments collected by groups including Clean Water ActionFor Love of Water (FLOW),Food & Water WatchMichigan Environmental CouncilNorthern Michigan Environmental Action Council and Sierra Club. In addition, businesses supporting the Oil & Water Don’t Mix campaign called on their customers to submit comment, including Cherry RepublicHopCat and Patagonia. More than 250 businesses support the Oil & Water Don’t Mix campaign.

Last month, the State of Michigan held public feedback sessions across the state, where hundreds of Michigan residents attended to call for a Line 5 shutdown.  Five of Gov. Snyder’s appointees to the Pipeline Safety Advisory Board signed a letter in July voicing concerns that the Alternatives Analysis was solely designed to support Enbridge’s interests.

“Responsibility for Line 5 falls on our elected leaders, and they must take full responsibility for the health of our Great Lakes by shutting down Line 5,” said Sean McBrearty of Clean Water Action. “Our Great Lakes are too precious to risk a catastrophic oil spill any longer, and the thousands of comments submitted by Michiganders should serve as a wake-up call to Bill Schuette.”

“The Alternatives Analysis was a missed opportunity to reveal to the public the dangers and risks of Line 5,” said Liz Kirkwood, director of FLOW. “The state should not waste any more time on this flawed alternatives study. Instead, it should conduct a thorough, independent analysis of the condition of Line 5 and immediately shut down the flow of oil through the pipelines in the meantime.”


Oil & Water Don’t Mix is a broad campaign of organizations, citizens, and businesses across Michigan working to keep oil out of our Great Lakes by shutting down the dangerous, 64-year-old Line 5 Pipelines in the Straits of Mackinac. The campaign fights for clean water and air, Indigenous rights, reducing pollution, sustainable economies, and protecting sporting, tourism and jobs that are dependent on our water and Pure Michigan way of life. Learn more at

David Holtz
Mobile & Text: 313-300-4454

Exploring, Enjoying,
Protecting Michigan 

July 31, 2017

With more than 200,000 Michigan jobs tied to tourism, future of Line 5 a major jobs issue

With more than 200,000 Michigan jobs tied to tourism, 
future of Line 5 a major jobs issue
Business leaders: Line 5 oil spill poses massive threat to local jobs

TRAVERSE CITY – Michigan business owners in the tourism and craft brewing industries today called on Governor Rick Snyder and Attorney General Bill Schuette to begin the process of shutting down Line 5 immediately, citing the tens of thousands of jobs put at risk every day by the 64-year-old pipeline. 

“A Line 5 rupture would be disaster for my company, my family, my 300 staff members and my community,” said Bob Sutherland, president and founder of Glen Arbor-based Cherry Republic, which also released a new video today highlighting the dangers of Line 5. “As owner of Cherry Republic, I feel a deep responsibility to protect the land, water, and air of Michigan for my family, employees and community. Enbridge has taken no responsibility for protecting the resources of this state and has lost the right to pipe one drop of oil through its obsolete, 64-year-old pipeline.”

According to Michigan State University Extension, the state of Michigan had 113.4 million visitors in 2014 and Michigan’s tourism industry sustains 214,000 jobs annually.  According to a 2016 University of Michigan study, a Line 5 oil spill could impact up to 700 miles of Great Lakes shoreline.

“An oil spill in the Great Lakes would have a tremendous impact on fresh drinking water, and many communities do not have an alternative water source,” said Rich Bergmann, owner of Lake Charlevoix Brewing Co. “Craft breweries like mine depend on this water as the number one ingredient in our beer. The Great Lakes are essential to our economy in Michigan and across the region, which is why leaders should take action now and shut down Line 5 to prevent a catastrophic oil spill in the Straits.”

More than 250 Michigan businesses support the Oil & Water Don’t Mix campaign, including Short’s Brewery and HopCat, which is spearheading its own campaign to encourage customers to support decommissioning Line 5. 

Click here for a complete list of businesses supporting Oil & Water Don’t Mix.

David Holtz
Mobile & Text: 313-300-4454

Exploring, Enjoying,
Protecting Michigan