February 26, 2018

PRESS RELEASE: Line Not Needed to Supply Propane to Michigan

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: February 26, 2018
CONTACT: Sean McBrearty, Oil & Water Don’t Mix, (616) 516-7758

Line 5 Not Needed to Supply Propane to Michigan
Snyder and Schuette Putting U.P. Residents and Great Lakes at Risk by Not Pursuing Alternatives
LANSING- Citizens groups gathered at the Michigan Pipeline Safety Advisory Board meeting today to call attention to new information regarding the Upper Peninsula’s propane supply from Enbridge Energy’s Line 5 pipeline. Both state authorities and Enbridge Energy representatives claim that decommissioning Enbridge’s antiquated and corroding Line 5 pipeline would significantly impact the propane supply in the Upper Peninsula. This claim is not accurate according to a recent study by retired Dow Chemical Facilities Engineer Gary Street released by Oil & Water Don't Mix.

“Enbridge currently claims that 65% of the propane in the Upper Peninsula is supplied by Line 5. In the recent past, they claimed as much as 85%. Data from the U.S. Census Bureau does not support either of these claims; the actual amount of propane supplied to customers in the Upper Peninsula that originates with Line 5 is about 45-50%. Nevertheless, whether it is 85%, 65% or 45%, the customers in the Upper Peninsula who rely on propane must be assured of an uninterrupted supply,” said Street.

“It is important to note that Line 5 will be shut down at some point in the near future. Whether that is by government edict or rupture remains to be seen. Either way, the fact remains that state authorities owe it to the Upper Peninsula propane customers to have a backup plan in place to ensure uninterrupted propane supply in the event that Line 5 is shut down,” said Bill Latka, co-founder of TC350, noting that Line 5 has previously ruptured at least 29 times in its history. “Instead of planning to ensure that the Upper Peninsula’s propane needs are met in the short term as we transition towards more renewable sources of energy, Governor Snyder and Attorney General Schuette have used the propane issue as an excuse to keep this old and dangerous pipeline operating for as long as possible.”

According to Street’s research, several prudent alternatives exist that could provide the amount of propane needed to U.P. customers in the event of a Line 5 shut down, including the following:
  • Installing a 4-inch propane pipeline from Superior, Wisconsin, to Rapid River, Michigan, along the current route of Line 5. A study prepared for MPSAB confirmed this conclusion.
  • Connecting the Plains All American Rapid River propane processing plant to a nearby rail line and moving propane from Superior, Wisconsin, by rail. Just 1-2 rail propane rail cars per day would be required.
  • Using 3-4 tank trucks per day to transport propane from Superior, Wisconsin, to the Plains All American Rapid River propane processing plant

Line 5 propane from the Rapid River plant is currently transported by truck from the plant to where the propane is needed in the Upper Peninsula, so that part of the delivery would not have to change at all.

“All that we are lacking now is leadership, and the political will to protect our Great Lakes by decommissioning this pipeline. So far Governor Snyder and Attorney General Schuette have acted as if they are beholden to Enbridge instead of the voters who elected them and trusted them to protect our water resources,” said Oil and Water Don’t Mix Campaign Coordinator Sean McBrearty. “Tens of thousands of Michigan residents from Detroit to Copper Harbor have been calling on our Governor and Attorney General to exercise their legal authority as public trustees to decommission this pipeline and prioritize our public waters. It is time for them to stop presenting misleading information about propane and start the process of protecting our water by decommissioning Line 5 immediately, before it ruptures. If they were really concerned about the U.P.’s propane supply, there would be a plan already in place in case Line 5 does rupture. The time for action is now.”

Oil & Water Don’t Mix recently released a Line 5 Decommission Plan, which can be found in full at www.oilandwaterdontmix.org/a_clear_plan_to_decommission_line_5 

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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.

February 21, 2018

Midterm Scorecard: State Lawmakers Receive Disappointing Grades in 2017-2018 Legislative Session

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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
February 21, 2018

Contact: Mike Berkowitz, (248) 345-9808, mike.berkowitz@sierraclub.org

Sierra Club: State Lawmakers Receive Disappointing Grades in 2017-2018 Legislative Session

Latest scorecard shows legislators continue to neglect Michigan’s environment and public health

LANSING - At a time when environmental leadership is more important than ever, the Michigan Senate received a failing grade on the Sierra Club Michigan Chapter’s 2017-2018 midterm legislative scorecard, while the Michigan House didn’t fare much better.

The midterm scorecard, which tracked environmental voting behavior of state House and Senate members during the 2017-2018 legislative session thus far, gave the Senate a failing score of 51 percent, while the House narrowly passed with a score of 67 percent.

The Scorecard showed that generally Democrats voted to maintain or strengthen environmental protections, while Republicans more often voted to weaken or eliminate environmental protections – actions that could have a devastating effect on Michigan’s economy. Meanwhile, the Trump Administration continued to roll back federal regulations aimed at combating climate change and fighting pollution. All of this occurred at the same time that 2017 was recorded as the third hottest year on record.

“The 2017-2018 state Legislature was regressive when it comes to environmental protection, rolling back many of the safeguards we’ve had in place for decades. It’s shameful that the environment has become a partisan political issue,” said Mike Berkowitz, the Michigan Legislative Director for the Sierra Club. “Environmental protections are a no-brainer for all Michigan residents. Our members find it hard to believe that so many of our lawmakers are voting against clean air, clean water, and public health – all of which are vital not only for healthy living but also for a healthy tourism industry, one of the state’s largest economic drivers.”

The Sierra Club’s Scorecard calculated the results based upon 11 votes in the House and 12 votes in Senate for the 2017-2018 Michigan state legislative session. According to the Scorecard, House Democrats scored an average of 91 percent, while House Republicans scored an average of 48 percent. Senate Democrats scored an near-perfect average of 98 percent, while Senate Republicans scored an average of 28 percent. Thirty-six lawmakers scored 100 percent, up from the 2015-2016 session when thirty-three lawmakers got a perfect mark.

A full list of “Environmental Champions” (90-100 percent), “Environmental Stewards” (78-89 percent), and “Pollution Promoters” (zero-35 percent) is included HERE.

“With little leadership coming from Washington, it’s vital that states take the lead in environmental protections,” Berkowitz said. “We hope that candidates running for office in 2018 and sitting lawmakers will see our scorecard and be motivated to get rid of this anti-environment attitude in the next legislative session.”

Sterling Heights state Sen. Tory Rocca (R-10) was the highest scoring Republican with a perfect 100 percent score. Two GOP representatives, Troy state Rep. Martin Howrylak (R-41) and Newaygo state Rep. Scott VanSingel (R-100), share the spot for second highest score among Republicans, both receiving a score of 73 percent. 35 Democratic Legislators scored 100 percent in 2017-2018, including 25 State Representatives and 10 State Senators (for full list, please look at our full scorecard). Representative Scott Dianda (D-110) was the lowest scoring House Democrat, receiving a 64 percent. Newly elected state Rep. Sara Cambensy received a score of 50 percent but it was based on a very small sample size including only 2 votes. The full scorecard with full descriptions of the bills is available here.

“This scorecard shows that our legislature has the wrong priorities when it comes to protecting Michigan’s environment,” said James D’Amour, a member of Michigan Sierra Club’s Political Committee who was once an active member of the Republican Party. “Clean air and clean water should not be partisan issues. We used to be leaders in making conservation a top priority, but no longer. The direction of the GOP is disheartening for people like me who care about protecting the environment while creating green jobs.”

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The Sierra Club is the nation’s largest grassroots environmental organization, with over 130,000 members and supporters in Michigan.