October 28, 2015

Gov. Snyder Should Remove Oil Industry from State Panel

For Immediate Release
Wednesday, October 28, 2015
Media Contact:   David Holtz 313-300-4454/david@davidholtz.org

LANSING—Sierra Club told a new state pipeline board that met for the first time today that oil industry executives who are participating as public officials weighing the future of Enbridge’s Line 5 through the Straits of Mackinac are compromising its work. 

The 15-member state Pipeline Safety Board, appointed in September by Gov. Snyder, includes Brad Shamla, an Enbridge Energy Co. Vice President, and Brad Pierson, representing Marathon Petroleum.  The Board will be making recommendations to Gov. Snyder on the future of controversial Enbridge Line 5, which carries 23 million gallons of oil a day in two pipelines through the turbulent Straits and supplies oil to Marathon’s Detroit refinery. The risky pipeline has been the subject of public scrutiny since 2014 when when researchers documented the potential catastrophic impact on the Great Lakes of a spill in the Straits. 

“Enbridge and Marathon don’t belong on a public body helping to decide the fate of pipelines that threaten the Great Lakes but earn millions of dollars in profits for Enbridge and Marathon executives and investors,” said David Holtz, Chair of the Sierra Club Michigan Chapter Executive Committee.  “The public is entitled to the best unbiased judgment from its officials on Line 5 pipelines and there’s no chance this will happen with the oil industry."  

Holtz said the Sierra Club would write Gov. Snyder and ask that he remove Enbridge and Marathon from the pipeline board and to also reject any potential funding from the oil industry of the pipeline board’s work.  Holtz said the oil industry’s conflict of interest on the pipeline board may be in violation of state ethics laws that prohibit members of public bodies with financial conflicts from making recommendations on public policy. 

“The state already has the authority to get whatever information it needs from the oil industry without giving them more leverage and influence than they already have,” said Holtz.  “Until this conflict of interest is eliminated, the pipeline board’s credibility will be in question.”   

The pipeline board's next meeting is scheduled for Dec. 14 in Lansing where it will consider how to evaluate risks posed by Line 5 through the Straits and begin examining alternatives.  One of the decisions the board will make is whether or not to consider recommending shutting down the flow of oil through Line 5 in the Straits.