Michigan Land Use Institute

Clean Energy / News & Views / Little reassurance at symposium on Straits pipeline

Little reassurance at symposium on Straits pipeline

Forum brings together Enbridge, regulators, advocates

Oil and Water Don't Mix | June 30, 2014 | By Jim Lively

Symposium Coverage

Interlochen Public Radio


Petoskey News Review


Fox News


Up North Live/ TV 7&4

Recent Posts

Rep. Nesbitt: Save, Don’t Sink, MI's Clean Energy Progress!

Clean Energy | April 30, 2015 | By Jim Dulzo

MLUI just wrote to state Rep. Aric Nesbitt and the House Committee on Energy Policy, urging them to expand, not eliminate, Michigan’s fabulously successful renewable energy and energy optimization standards. Could you read our letter and then email your own note to Rep Nesbitt’s committee in the next few days? ...

Guest View: Shared Heat Can Warm MI’s Energy Policy

Clean Energy | April 7, 2015 | By Jamie Scripps

Power plants waste a lot of energy—most of it as heat fleeing up their smokestacks. But what if the plants captured that wasted heat and put it to good use—producing more electricity, warming nearby buildings, or assisting industrial processes?...

Time for Lansing to Catch, Not Ignore, the New-Tech Energy Wave

Clean Energy | March 26, 2015 | By Skip Pruss, of 5 Lakes Energy, and Jim Dulzo

We’ll always need a rock-solid, unshakably constant supply of power. But today there are other ways to do that besides merely burning more fossil fuel.
New distributed energy technologies, new grid control systems, and new demand-side energy services should be part of what has been an under-informed, truncated conversation about meeting Michigan’s future electricity needs....

Presentations from PHMSA, Enbridge and the EPA were followed by a Q&A session with 15 representatives from a variety of regulatory and advocacy interests.
Presentations at the pipeline symposium from PHMSA, Enbridge and the EPA were followed by a Q&A session with 15 representatives from a variety of regulatory and advocacy interests. (Photo: Rebecca Fisher)

On June 24, Tip of the Mitt Watershed Council hosted the Northern Michigan Pipeline Symposium in Petoskey, bringing together state and national groups involved—or concerned—about the aging oil pipelines running through the Mackinac Straits. 

The event provided a forum for regulators and Enbridge, the company that owns the pipeline, to reassure the public about the threat of a spill. Unfortunately, most people left just as concerned about the risk as when they arrived. 

The forum brought about 150 people to the Petoskey High School auditorium, including many residents concerned about a potential spill. Mixed into the crowd were about a dozen protestors from MI-CATS (Michigan Coalition Against Tar Sands) who brought with them a large protest sign out front and some sharp words during the presentation. 

Presentations from PHMSA, Enbridge and the EPA were followed by a Q&A session with 15 representatives from a variety of regulatory and advocacy interests. 

PHMSA and Enbridge had a similar message throughout the presentation and panel—essentially "we learned a lot from the Kalamazoo River spill, we have a new culture of safety, and we are very confident that this is safe." But the more they talked about their plan for a cleanup, the more it underscored the potential for a spill – and how devastating it would be.

The format was tightly controlled and there was no opportunity to engage in any dialogue with Enbridge or regulators—both of whom had well rehearsed answers for most questions, and little to say about tougher questions like the lack of transparency and the public trust responsibility inherent within the Great Lakes. But these are questions that deserve clear answers and a "trust us" response is not sufficient. 

Enbridge also made a surprising claim about the company’s benefit to Michigan’s economy. They said they are proud to employ 11,000 workers in North America, with 250 Enbridge jobs in Michigan. So while Michigan takes ALL of this incredible risk to our Great Lakes, the economic return is only 250 jobs. Even for those who want argue about the economic benefit of pipelines, Enbridge doesn't have much to answer. 

This was Enbridge’s best chance to explain to reassure a concerned public about the risk of a spill in the Straits of Mackinac. Most leaving the auditorium Tuesday were not convinced.

1 Comment

3610 days ago, 12:35pm | by David Gibbs | Report Comment

"Trust us" is indeed not sufficient. Thanks for keeping us updated!

Search Archives

Michigan Land Use Institute

148 E. Front Street, Suite 301
Traverse City, MI 49684-5725
p (231) 941-6584 
e comments@mlui.org