Your Hub for Environmental News from Southwest Michigan and around the State

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In the column on the right you’ll find links to lots of sources for information on environmental matters. These sites offer reporting and opinions about victories and setbacks in the battle to move Beyond Coal, Beyond Oil, and Beyond Natural Gas.

At the bottom of this page are news feeds from Sierra Club Michigan Chapter and the national Sierra Club.

To stay up to date on the water crisis in Flint, follow Sierra Club Michigan Chapter’s reporting and news feed on their Flint Water Debacle page.

See our “Palisades Chronology” page for news updates on Palisades nuclear Plant.

Environmental news we’ve come across lately

New report says conflicting interests have flawed both Line 5 studies. (July 11)

Of the two Enbridge-funded year-long Line 5 studies – one analyzing risk, the other looking at alternatives – Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette cancelled one two weeks ago. The risk analysis, said Schuette, was compromised due to conflicts of interest. A new investigation by DeSmog has disclosed that the analysis of Line 5 alternatives has the same flaw.

Public meeting fails to dampen calls for Line 5 shutdown. (July 6)

Two weeks after Attorney General Bill Schuette cited “conflict of interest” and announced the cancellation of the study analyzing the risk that Line 5 poses to the Great Lakes, officials met with the public at Holt High School to present a separate study of possible alternatives to Line 5. It was a “two-plus hour presentation” that MLive characterized as “dense” and “jargon-heavy.” Although the study of the risk had been cancelled, MLive reported that the panel that analyzed the alternatives to Line 5 nevertheless estimated that “Line 5 has a 1 in 60 chance of breaking by the year 2053.” This and the study’s estimate that the cost to close Line 5 would be “roughly $200 million…did little to dampen calls for the line’s immediate closure,” said MLive’s report. Enbridge’s pipeline break in the Kalamazoo River seven years ago cost the company more than $1.2 billion.

Headlines say Attorney General Bill Schuette is calling for Enbridge Line 5 “closure.” (June 29)

Website headlines for newspapers, TV channels, and radio stations around Michigan say Bill Schuette is calling for “closure” of Enbridge Line 5. The reports below the headlines say Schuette wants a plan that will drive a timeline for closure. None of the reports mention any appointments or orders from the attorney general or the governor that would lead to actually creating a plan. This development comes two years after Schuette’s tough talk about Line 5’s days being numbered.

Wind farms bring change to Michigan communities. (June 28)

There’s more to a wind farm than its role in the transition from fossil-fueled power to clean energy. An in-depth MLive report looks at the effects on people and their community.

City of Coldwater is getting a new solar park. (June 26)

A Coldwater Board of Public Utilities project, more than five years in the making, will bring a 1.6 megawatt solar park to a dead-end street in Coldwater, says The Daily Reporter’s website. NextEra Energy Resources, a subsidiary of American Municipal Power, is handling the project for CPBU.

Pipeline Safety Advisory Board announces public meetings and comment period on Line 5 studies. (June 6, updated June 12, June 21)

At 5:00 PM July 6, the Michigan Pipeline Safety Advisory Board will present its Line 5 Alternatives & Risk Analysis report in a public meeting at Holt High School, 5885 Holt Road, Holt, Michigan. To attend, please RSVP at Oil & Water Don’t Mix. (Important update: Public meetings will discuss Alternatives Analysis, but not Risk Analysis. See June 21 update below.)

MPSAB’s final business meeting before the July 6 presentation will be June 12 in Petoskey. The Petoskey meeting will include three hours of public comments in the morning, followed by a lunch break and MPSAB’s business meeting. The public may observe but not participate in the business meeting. To RSVP and sign up to make a five-minute comment, click here.

Following the July 6 presentation in Holt, the board will begin accepting comments from the public. Comment deadline is August 4.

In addition to the two meetings above, there will be three more meetings in late July:

  • Monday, July 24 beginning at 8:00 a.m. at Holt High School (5885 Holt Road, Holt, Michigan, 48842).
  • Monday, July 24 beginning at 6:00 p.m. at Hagerty Center at Northwestern Michigan College (715 East Front Street, Traverse City, Michigan, 49686).
  • Tuesday, July 25 beginning at 6:00 p.m. at Little Bear East Arena (275 Marquette Street, St Ignace, Michigan, 49781).

More details on MPSAB’s outreach program.

Update June 12: Hundreds attended the Petoskey meeting. Several speakers, including Sierra Club Michigan Chapter Chair David Holtz, led a protest before the meeting. See the video.

Update June 21: Line 5 risk analysis study abruptly cancelled at the last minute.

Nearly a year after approving two Line 5 studies – one analyzing risk, the other analyzing alternatives – and two weeks before scheduled publication, Michigan officials abruptly cancelled the risk analysis, citing conflict of interest.

Midwest Energy News quoted Attorney General Bill Schuette:

The evaluations of Line 5 were supposed to be independent, not tainted by outside opinions or information, but that’s not what happened. Instead, our trust was violated and we now find ourselves without a key piece needed to fully evaluate the financial risks associated with the pipeline that runs through our Great Lakes. This is unacceptable. Terminating the contract is the only option we have to maintain the integrity of the risk analysis.

The public meeting and comment schedule (see above) will apparently move ahead with the separate and parallel analysis of Line 5 alternatives on the agenda, but not the risk analysis study.

Osceola Township nixes Nestlé plan to increase its pumping capacity. (April 18, updates May 4, June 20)

The Osceola Township Planning Commission has denied Nestlé a permit to build a pipeline booster station that would increase its pumping capacity from 250 gallons per minute to 450 at its Ice Mountain bottled water plant. Nestlé can appeal, says WOOD-TV 8, “so it’s possible the project may still move forward. However, the plan would still need approval by the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality.”

Update May 4: Nestlé has filed an appeal, says Detroit Free Press.

Update June 20: Osceola Township Zoning Board of Appeals upheld the Township Planning Commission’s permit denial. MLive says Nestle can appeal the decision to Osceola County Circuit Court, but MDEQ still hasn’t decided whether it would be okay for Nestlé to pump that much water.

Does Michigan hate electric cars? (June 15)

Green Car Reports explains why electric cars compete on such a not-level playing field in Michigan. Does Michigan hate electric cars?

Kalamazoo’s Mayor says “Yes!” to Paris climate accord. (June 7)

Kalamazoo Mayor Bobby Hopewell joined more than 200 mayors nationwide who’ve signed a pledge to honor the nearly global commitment to meet the climate goals set last year in Paris. Despite the the U.S. government’s abandoning the pact, “over 1,000 U.S. governors, mayors, businesses, universities and others will continue to meet the goals of the Paris climate agreement,” said former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, according to a Reuters report. At Monday’s Kalamazoo City Commission meeting, Commissioner Shannon Sykes, speaking for Mayor Hopewell, who was unable to attend, said, “This is something that we as a city are already committed to, and that won’t change.” See MLive’s report for more details.

What does U.S. withdrawal from global climate agreement mean to Michigan? (June 1)

Ostensibly, the decision to abandon the global commitment to fighting climate change is based on saving American jobs. But The Detroit News points out that the “decision will hurt renewable energy jobs that are the wave of the future” and that Ford and GM “remain committed to the environment.”

Solar and wind energy jobs are growing 12 times faster than the U.S. economy, according to an Environmental Defense Fund report, while the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics projects wind turbine service technicians will be a fast-growing growing occupation in the country through 2024.

The report quotes Ford and GM spokespersons and Sierra Club Michigan Chapter legislative and political director Mike Berkowitz.

From Ford:

“We believe climate change is real, and remain deeply committed to reducing greenhouse gas emissions in our vehicles and our facilities,” Ford said in its statement. “Our commitment to sustainability is why we’re investing so heavily in electrification and adding 13 new electrified vehicles to our line-up.”

From GM:

“International agreements aside, we remain committed to creating a better environment. We publicly advocate for climate action and awareness and remain the only automaker to have signed the Ceres Climate Declaration and one of the first companies to sign the American Business Act on Climate Pledge,” the Detroit-based automaker said in a statement.

From Sierra Club:

“I think [Michigan has] been disproportionately disadvantaged because of climate change,” Berkowitz said. “For the past few years, we’ve had major disruption to apple crops, our cherry crops, which are huge industries in Michigan. And climate change is making weather patterns more extreme and causing more issues with our crops and affecting our tourism, natural resources and our agriculture industry.”

Michigan’s U.S. Senators introduce Great Lakes area pipeline safely legislation. (May 24)

Michigan Senators Gary Peters and Debbie Stabenow have introduced “a package of bills that would increase pipeline safety in and around the Great Lakes.” According to Senator Stabenow’s press release, the proposed legislation would reclassify pipelines that cross the Great Lakes as “offshore” rather than “onshore” lines, making Enbridge Line 5 and other open-water lines subject to stricter oversight. Granting the U.S. Coast Guard more authority in disaster planning and oversight, clarifying and strengthening U.S. Department of Transportation responsibilities, and making information more accessible and transparent for the public are among other measures in the package.

Exploratory drilling begins for possible copper mine in Porcupine Mountains Wilderness State Park. (February 7, updates February 27,  March 15, April 6, May 3, May 19)

On January 31, Michigan Department of Natural Resources okayed a permit for exploratory drilling in “the remote Michigan natural paradise,” says MLive. On February 6, Canadian mining company Highland Copper started drilling exploratory holes.

Update February 27: Drilling has stopped after four holes because the ground thawed. The permit allows drilling on frozen ground only.

Update March 15: Drilling has resumed.

Update April 6: A joint news release from Michigan DEQ, DNR, and Gogebic County Road Commission reports that drilling has stopped and “the site is under remedial action” due to erosion concerns.

Update May 3: Highland Copper’s work in Porcupine Mountains has created soil erosion and damaged wetlands, according to Michigan DEQ Water Resources Division district supervisor Steve Casey. “Department officials say Highland Copper must stabilize the site, restore disturbed wetlands, obtain permits for discharging stormwater and sedimentation,” and investigate for more wetland tampering, according to ClickOn’s report.

Update May 19: Michigan Radio’s “Stateside” researches how mining came to be allowed in Porcupine Mountains.

Two Rover Pipeline spills release an estimated 2 million gallons of drilling fluids, and it’s not even built yet. (April 20, updates May 12 and May 17.)

PBS reports that, during construction of the Rover Pipeline, which is scheduled to cut through southern Michigan, two spills on April 13 and 14 released “more than 2 million gallons of drilling fluid into Ohio wetlands.”

Update, May 12: EcoWatch says “The U.S. Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) halted new drilling Wednesday on the Rover Pipeline until it addresses its 2 million gallon spill of drilling fluids into Ohio wetlands.”

Update May 17: A new EcoWatch report says that 118 groups have called on the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) to halt construction of the Rover gas pipeline and review its approval policies.

New tally: Line 5, at age 64, has leaked “at least” 29 times. (April 26)

Inside Climate News reports that “information released this week based on federal data” indicates that Line 5 has leaked “more than 1 million gallons of oil and gas liquids.”

News from Sierra Club Michigan Chapter

Sierra Club - Michigan Chapter News Releases

LANSING - A new analysis prepared by Dr. Edward E. Timm, PhD, PE, a retired Dow Chemical engineer, demonstrates multiple errors and omissions throughout the State of Michigan's Line 5 Alternatives Analysis.

“The plethora of questionable assumptions and unsupported conclusions found ...
Author: Ed S
Posted: 07-24-2017
For Saturday, June 10, 2017

Media contact:  David Holtz 313-300-4454/

Michigan’s Two U.S. Senators Join Sierra Club To Pay Tribute to 50 Years of Protecting the Great Lakes State
Hundreds To Attend Saturday Event Celebrating Michigan Dunes, Lakes, Riv...
Author: Mike Berkowitz
Posted: 06-08-2017
Media Contact:  
Pam Taylor, ECCSCM, 517-270-2419 |
Gail Philbin, Sierra Club Michigan, 312-493-2384 |
Steve Masar, Socially Responsible Agricultural Project, 415-420-7527 |

New Report Maps S...
Author: Gail Philbin
Posted: 05-24-2017
Widely-Opposed Pipeline Confirms Worst Fears Before It Goes into Operation
April 24, 2017  Contact: Nancy Shiffler, (734) 971-1157,  

Columbus, OH --Energy Transfer’s Rover pipeline had two major spills of drilling fluids into Ohio’s wetlands last week, accordi...
Author: Gail Philbin
Posted: 04-24-2017

Sierra ClubNews from National Sierra Club

Press Releases

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