I guess, since I am home from Austin, I have to lose the “Y’all” in my greetings!
Our time in Austin was amazing. As expected our days were quite full with hearings and legislative sessions but, if you were following our Facebook page, you could see that we also had many “extracurricular” activities that took us away from the legalese and parliamentary procedure of meetings and debates for worship, a Public Witness with Bishops United against Gun Violence, a prayer service at the T. Don Hutto Residential Detention Center, and our Revival, Episcopal-style. In the weeks and months ahead, we’ll be presenting many of the resolutions with potential action items for you. I still need some time to “read, learn and inwardly digest” all we did in Austin.
That being said, there are plenty of other issues that continue to need our attention so, I promise that discussion of prayer book revision and inclusive language will come soon, for today we’re going back to some important local news. Once again, a huge “thank you” to Resolution Review Committee member Joyce Munro for her continued attention to the safety of our beautiful Mackinac Straits.
Enbridge Line 5 continues to make the news; this week saw the release of a worst-case scenario risk analysis which defines the potential financial cost of a spill but doesn’t begin to address the damage to the scenic beauty of our Great Lakes. Joyce did some research for us and shares the following update:
Update on Status of Enbridge Line 5 – July 20, 2018
When this blog last took up the issue of Line 5 in January 2018, the Michigan Pipeline Safety Advisory Board appointed by Governor Snyder to evaluate the risks of continuing to operate the 65-year old gas and oil pipelines in the Straits of Mackinac rejected the study presented to it by the engineering firm Dynamic Risk in 2017 as being nonresponsive, incomplete, and demonstrating clear conflicts of interest.
Meanwhile, on November 27, 2017, Gov. Snyder independently negotiated an with Enbridge Energy Partners, builders and owner of the pipeline, to put both lines in tunnels. He did this without consulting with the Pipeline Safety Advisory Board. This agreement called for Enbridge to : “detection of underwater leaks, preventing anchor strikes, and identifying all of the vulnerable waterways in Michigan that could be at risk from a leak.”
DEQ Permit for Enbridge to Install Additional Supports to Line 5
The tunnel agreement turned the discussion from evaluating the risks posed to operating such an old pipeline to shoring it up, cutting off discussion of whether Line 5 should be shut down in the interests of safety. While these reports were pending, in late March 2018 the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality issued permits to Enbridge to install an to hold up the pipeline. This, along with Gov. Snyder’s November 2017 agreement with Enbridge to tunnel the line, signals a decision by the agency to bypass the Pipeline Safety Advisory Board and keep Line 5 in operation. Some say the move of Enbridge to “amounts to a full redesign of the pipeline and should go through the same, more rigorous, permit process” as the original project instead of being rushed through.
This also ignores the fact that Enbridge failed to install all the pipe supports required by the original easement granted by the State to the company in 1953, leaving the system without the agreed upon number of supports for 65 years. It is possible that Enbridge’s concealment of this until recently might constitute a fraud on the State. Some commentators believe this provides grounds for the State to revoke the 1953 easement and shut down the pipeline. Some say the
Anchor Strike by Ship
In early April, both the east and west pipelines of Line 5 were damaged by a . There were no leaks from Line 5 pipelines, although an unrelated electrical cable operated by another company was damaged in the same incident and leaked about 550 gallons of coolant oil. Enbridge temporarily shut down Line 5 to assess the damage to Line 5. The State has sued the company which owns the ship causing the damage.
On June 30, 2018, the DEQ released a report prepared by Enbridge on infrastructure improvements that could be made to protect Line 5 from anchor strikes. The report describes two main approaches designed to prevent damage to the line: a web-based communication system which would keep Enbridge in constant contact with vessels sailing in the area to help prevent anchor strikes and two main construction ideas for covering the lines, indicating that the solution Enbridge prefers would take two to three years to complete and cost $150 million dollars. A full environmental impact statement is not included in the report. Building the barrier would require leveling of the lake bed, no mean feat.
While it appears that construction measures taken to prevent or mitigate vessel anchor strikes might protect the pipeline from anchor strikes, constructing such barriers would also make visual inspection of the pipeline difficult, expensive, time-consuming, and, in the case of one of the alternatives, not possible. It might affect reaction times to oil spills. The report mentions the risk of damaging the pipeline during construction but assumes that no damage would happen to the pipelines. In the real world no one can guarantee that the construction process will not damage the pipeline. The “tunnel” solution has risks and does not address the age of the pipeline itself.
Draft Independent Risk Analysis for Straits Pipelines Report Released to Public on 7/19/18
The was just released to the public. Page 31 of the Executive Summary lists the cost of a worst-case scenario as totaling $1,868,000,000. Analyzing risk is a complicated process, and results depend on the assumptions made by those conducting the study. It also depends on policy goals of the citizens of the State of Michigan. The full report is 398 pages long.
Gov. Snyder wants the matter wrapped up by September 30, 2018, barely two months from the release of the report. It is likely that public response and discussion will take longer than this.
What you Can Do
Attend a public hearing on August 13, 2018, at 6:00 PM at the Boyne Highlands Convention Center in Harbor Springs (not very convenient for us in EDOMI! Road trip, anyone?).
Ask your state representative and state senator to demand further public hearings and a longer public comment period on the report.
Email the Governor Rick Snyder at , write him at P.O. Box 30013. Lansing, MI 48909 or telephone him at 517-373-3400 or 517-335-7858. Ask for more robust public comment venues and a longer public comment period.
Stay tuned for an analysis of responses to the draft report.
As followers of Jesus, we are responsible to be wise stewards of our environment. It’s time for us to act!
Thank you, Joyce, for your thorough research and presentation.
The safety of Enbridge Line 5 has been in question for a few years now. We are working on borrowed time and need to act before anything happens to harm the life and beauty of our Great Lakes. Please join me in speaking out as an advocate for our fragile environment.
Let us pray –
whose son Jesus Christ
called all who were thirsty
to come to him, believe and drink,
Forgive our selfishness in life and our
misuse of our natural resources.
We commit ourselves to protect,
Give us courage to speak out for our water,
our air and our land
that have no voice of their own.
Refreshed by your Spirit,
and following in the way of Jesus Christ,
Help us continue to serve you
in the people and creation entrusted to our care.
~ The Rev. Judith Schellhammer, chair, Resolution Review Committee, Diocesan Council