August 4, 2015

Press Release: Gov. Blanchard Asked To Act on Enbridge Line 5 Great Lakes Threat

Gov. Blanchard Asked To Act on Enbridge Line 5 Great Lakes Threat
Former Governor Is Now Enbridge Board Member

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Media Contacts:   David Holtz 313-300-4454 david@davidholtz.org
                               Anne Woiwode 517-974-2112 anne.woiwode@sierraclub.org

LANSING—Sierra Club today asked former Michigan Gov. James J. Blanchard, a member of Enbridge Inc.’s Board of Directors, to compel the company to publicly disclose safety inspection results and cooperate in an independent investigation sought by the state of the dangerous Line 5 pipelines through the Straits of Mackinac.

Blanchard chairs the board’s Committee on Social Responsibility which oversees Enbridge’s environmental stewardship policies and he was requested in a letter from Sierra Club to commit to getting the company “to permanently remove the threat of Enbridge Line 5 through the Straits of Mackinac by ending the flow of oil through the Straits pipelines. “

“As governor, Mr. Blanchard created the state’s first Office of the Great Lakes,” said Anne Woiwode, Sierra Club Michigan Chapter Conservation Director.  “We now need him to step up once again. We need him to make sure the company he now helps lead isn’t responsible for a Great Lakes disaster.”

Sierra Club’s letter to the former Michigan governor, who still maintains an Oakland County residence, follows the July 14 release of the Michigan Petroleum Pipeline Task Force report.  The report identified crucial areas where Enbridge failed to disclose pipeline safety information on Line 5 in the Straits, failed to identify critical pipeline safety threats, failed to maintain legally required pipeline infrastructure and provided inconsistent information about its liability in the event of a catastrophic oil spill.  The state government task force also concluded that Enbridge’s assertions that the 61-year-old Straits pipelines can be operated indefinitely without replacement plans are unreasonable.

Sierra Club, in its letter to Blanchard, said, “The documentation and conclusions in this task force report, reflecting the expertise and judgment of the state’s top environmental, legal and natural resources officials, point to a pattern of behavior on the part of Enbridge officials that is in conflict with Enbridge’s corporate environmental stewardship policies and authorized business practices.  Those fall within your area of responsibility as Chair of Enbridge’s Corporate Social Responsibility Committee.”

The letter, signed by Sierra Club Michigan Chapter Chair David Holtz and Woiwode, cited Enbridge’s Corporate Social Responsibility and Statement on Business Conduct policies.  Those policies were revised in the wake of the disastrous 2010 Line Enbridge Line 6B pipeline rupture, the largest oil spill on land in United States history.  The new policies pledged Enbridge to the “highest standards of business conduct” and directed its subsidiaries, including Enbridge Energy Partners, to “establish and maintain…operations in an environmentally responsible manner in accordance with applicable environmental laws, regulations and standards.” 

“Violating its agreements with Michigan about Line 5 and keeping pipeline safety data secret even from the state of Michigan violates Enbridge’s own stated policy of operating responsibly and following the law,” said Holtz.  “Governor Blanchard is not only in a unique position to protect the Great Lakes from an Enbridge catastrophe, as an Enbridge board member he is responsible to Enbridge shareholders for making sure the company stops behaving badly.”

Blanchard was asked to:
  •  Publicly commit to working within Enbridge, Inc. and its subsidiary, Enbridge Energy Partners, to permanently remove the threat of Enbridge Line 5 through the Straits of Mackinac by ending the flow of oil through the Straits pipelines.
  •  Require Enbridge to immediately and publicly disclose all pipeline inspection information for Line 5 dating to the pipeline’s construction in 1953.
  • Provide immediate access to all information and documents that would allow independent analysis of Enbridge’s pipelines through the Straits. 
  • Instruct all of Enbridge’s lobbyists, public relations consultants and corporate officials to withdraw from authoring and supporting proposed changes that undermine Michigan’s open records law by making pipeline safety and other vital data secret.
  • Require Enbridge to fully comply with the liability requirements of its Easement Agreement with the State of Michigan by providing a “worst case” estimate of potential damages resulting from pipeline ruptures instead of the “conflicting, incomplete, and inadequately supported estimates of its total liability under the Easement,” as the task force report stated.
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MICHIGAN CHAPTER
                

Sierra Club Letter to Former Michigan Governor Blanchard

August 4, 2015
Hon. James J. Blanchard
DLA Piper LLP
500 Eighth Street, NW
Washington, DC  20004

Dear Governor Blanchard:

We are writing to you in your capacity as a member of the Board of Directors of Enbridge, Inc. and Chair of Enbridge’s Corporate Social Responsibility Committee, which oversees the company’s environmental stewardship.

Governor, you are a longtime Enbridge corporate Director and the former Governor of Michigan so you are no doubt aware of Enbridge’s Line 5 operations through the Straits of Mackinac and the high risk these pipelines pose to the Great Lakes due to the potential for a catastrophic oil spill. We know you have a strong commitment to Michigan and care about the Great Lakes.  As an Enbridge Director with fiduciary responsibility to shareholders and for the corporation’s environmental stewardship policies, we are bringing to your urgent attention and requesting immediate action in response to a pattern and practice of Enbridge’s operations that puts the Great Lakes and Michigan at tremendous risk and violates Enbridge’s own Corporate Social Responsibility Policy[1] and Statement on Business Conduct[2].

As you may know, the Michigan Petroleum Pipeline Task Force issued a report[3] and recommendations on July 14 regarding Enbridge Line 5 through the Straits.  The report noted that “…in light of the massive 2010 oil releases from Enbridge’s Line 6B near Marshall, Michigan, the well- documented systemic failures there, the age of the Straits Pipelines, and location of those pipelines literally in the Great Lakes, there has been growing public and governmental concern about the Straits Pipelines. Their location makes them especially critical. Releases of oil from the Straits Pipelines could have a devastating ecological and economic impact. Water quality, fisheries, beaches, and the iconic center of Michigan’s tourist economy would likely all be gravely damaged[4].”
The report identified crucial areas where Enbridge failed to disclose pipeline safety information on Line 5 in the Straits, failed to identify critical pipeline safety threats, failed to maintain legally required pipeline infrastructure and provided inconsistent information about its liability in the event of a catastrophic oil spill[5].  Significantly, the state government task force concluded that Enbridge’s assertions that the 61-year-old Straits pipelines can be operated indefinitely without replacement plans are unreasonable[6].

The documentation and conclusions in this task force report, reflecting the expertise and judgment of the state’s top environmental, legal and natural resources officials, point to a pattern of behavior on the part of Enbridge officials that is in conflict with Enbridge’s corporate environmental stewardship policies and authorized business practices.  Those fall within your area of responsibility as Chair of Enbridge’s Corporate Social Responsibility Committee[7].  
In Enbridge Inc.’s Statement on Business Conduct, revised in October, 2012 following the disastrous Enbridge Line 6B pipeline rupture near Marshall, Michigan, Enbridge pledged itself to the “highest standards of business conduct” and directed its subsidiaries, including Enbridge Energy Partners, to “establish and maintain…operations in an environmentally responsible manner in accordance with applicable environmental laws, regulations and standards.” 
As documented in the task force report, Enbridge’s failure to comply with the conditions of its 1953 Easement Agreement with the State of Michigan for Line 5 through the Straits seem to clearly constitute a breach of appropriate business conduct as defined by Enbridge corporate business conduct policy adopted in the wake of the Line 6B pipeline disaster. 
As the former Governor of Michigan, current Enbridge Director and Chair of its Corporate Social Responsibility Committee, we respectfully request that you consider taking the following steps toward safeguarding the Great Lakes and putting Enbridge into compliance with its environmental stewardship and business practices polices:
  • Publicly commit to working within Enbridge, Inc. and its subsidiary, Enbridge Energy Partners, to permanently remove the threat of Enbridge Line 5 through the Straits of Mackinac by ending the flow of oil through the Straits pipelines.  For Enbridge to act in an environmentally responsible manner it must acknowledge the magnitude of harm to the Great Lakes from a “worst case” pipeline rupture in the Straits and immediately begin eliminating this as a threat.
  • Require Enbridge to immediately and publicly disclose all pipeline inspection information for Line 5 dating to the pipeline’s construction in 1953.  As the task force reported, “While Enbridge has publicly listed the numbers and types of pipeline inspections that it or its contractors have performed, it has not fully disclosed the actual results of most of the inspections or the limitations of the test methods used[8].”  As a result of Enbridge’s failure to disclose this information, there is no opportunity to subject the inspection regime and results to public evaluation and review by experts.  Enbridge’s failure to disclose this pipeline safety information as required in its Easement Agreement with the State of Michigan is in conflict with Enbridge policy requiring adherence to environmental laws.
  • Provide immediate access to all information and documents that would allow independent analysis of Enbridge’s pipelines through the Straits.  As the task force report concluded,  “Enbridge has pointed to its use of remotely operated vehicles as a means of verifying the continued integrity of the external coating originally applied to the Straits Pipelines. But Enbridge has failed to acknowledge that much of the Straits Pipelines are now heavily encrusted with invasive quagga and/or zebra mussels and that, where present, make it difficult or impossible to view or photograph the external surface of the pipe. 
Moreover, Enbridge has not addressed the potential for acidic secretions from these mussels to promote corrosion of metal where the pipeline coating has been compromised. 
Given Enbridge’s failure to maintain the legally required intervals for pipeline supports during an apparently extended period of time, and the very significant underwater currents at the Straits, there is a need to analyze the resulting stresses on the pipelines and potential impacts to their integrity[9].”
  • Instruct all of Enbridge’s lobbyists, public relations consultants and corporate officials to withdraw from authoring and supporting proposed changes that undermine Michigan’s open records law by making pipeline safety and other vital data secret.   Weakening Michigan’s Freedom of Information Act to prevent public disclosure of pipeline safety records is inconsistent with the environmental stewardship Enbridge claims its corporate policies support. 
  • Require Enbridge to fully comply with the liability requirements of its Easement Agreement with the State of Michigan by providing a “worst case” estimate of potential damages resulting from pipeline ruptures instead of the “conflicting, incomplete, and inadequately supported estimates of its total liability under the Easement,” as the task force report stated[10].   
We are grateful to present this information to you and hope that you will consider this an opportunity to, once again, serve your state by using your unique position as a member of the Enbridge Inc. Board of Directors to protect the Great Lakes. We look forward to your response and are, of course, available to discuss this with you at your convenience.

Sincerely,

   /s/                                                                                       /s/

David Holtz, Chair                                                     Anne Woiwode, Director
Michigan Chapter Executive Committee                 Michigan Chapter Conservation



CC:       U.S. Sen. Debbie Stabenow
U.S. Sen. Gary Peters
Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette
Michigan DEQ Director Dan Wyant




[2] October 2012 Enbridge Inc. and Its Subsidiaries, Revised Statement on Business Conduct  http://www.enbridge.com/AboutEnbridge/CorporateSocialResponsibility.aspx
[3] Michigan Petroleum Task Force Report July, 2015
[4] Page 43, task force report
[5] Page 44, task force report
[6] Page 47, task force report
[8] Page 44, task force report
[9] Page 44, task force report
[10] Page 46, task force report