July 14, 2016

PRESS RELEASE: New MDEQ Director Ties to Big Oil Disqualify Her from Enbridge Line 5 Decisions

Thursday, July 14, 2016

Sierra Club Calls For Heidi Grether To Disqualify Herself 
From Involvement in Enbridge Line 5 Great Lakes Decisions
New Michigan Environmental Chief Who Bragged About Protecting BP Oil 
Would Lead State's Inquiry Into Controversial Pipelines

LANSING--Sierra Club said today that a former oil industry executive appointed as the state’s top environmental official should recuse herself from involvement in decisions about the future of Enbridge’s controversial Great Lakes pipeline in the Straits of Mackinac. 

“Heidi Grether’s ties to the oil industry should disqualify her from taking part in important decisions involving oil pipelines in the Great Lakes,” said David Holtz, Michigan Chapter Chair of Sierra Club  “Grether should make it clear she will recuse herself from being involved in the state’s evaluation of Enbridge’s Line 5 in the Straits of Mackinac.  Protecting the Great Lakes shouldn’t fall to someone with such close ties to an industry whose profits will be directly impacted by her decisions as a public official.”

Grether, who will take over as director of the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality on August 1, will oversee the state agency that is co-leading the state’s response to the threat of Line 5 in the Straits.   The MDEQ is also playing a key decision-making role in pipeline policy as co-chair of the governor’s Pipeline Safety Advisory Board.  

As General Manager of Gulf Coast External Affairs for BP America Inc., Grether oversaw the oil giant’s response to the massive 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill.  Her work in the oil industry dates to 1993, according to her LinkedIn page.  She took credit on her LinkedIn page for preventing “legislation adverse to BP being introduced in the Gulf states.”

“Grether, as director of MDEQ, may be tempted to help out the oil industry in Michigan, just as she did in 2010 in the Gulf when she lobbied against legislation impacting the industry,” said Holtz.   “It doesn’t make sense to have someone with those close ties to the oil industry overseeing protection of the Great Lakes from oil pipelines who in a few months may be looking for another job when Gov. Snyder leaves office.”