Monday, August 10, 2020

Public Notice announces public comment period for Enbridge's proposed Line 5 tunnel permit application

[Editor's Note: After attending the Aug. 6, 2020, EGLE (Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes and Energy) "Webinar to help public track Line 5 tunnel application permitting process," during which a comment period beginning July 31, 2020, was mentioned -- without any information on the Public Notice for this comment period on the permits Enbridge is seeking for its proposed tunnel under the Straits of Mackinac -- Keweenaw Now contacted EGLE's Water Resources Department for assistance in locating the Public Notice. We are publishing it below, with a few changes in paragraphing. Please also see some helpful links in our notes at the end of the text.]

State of Michigan
Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy
Water Resources Division
Gaylord Field Office
2100 West M-32
Gaylord, Michigan 49735-9282
Site Name: 24-Line 5 Enbridge Straits Tunnel
Submission Number: HNY-NHX4-FSR2Q
Date: July 31, 2020

PUBLIC NOTICE

Enbridge Energy, Limited Partnership, 11 East Superior Street, Suite 125, Duluth, Minnesota 55802, has applied to this office for a permit under authority of Part 303, Wetlands Protection, and Part 325, Great Lakes Submerged Lands, of the Natural Resources and Environmental Protection Act, 1994 PA 451, as amended (NREPA).

The applicant proposes to construct an approximately 3.58-mile tunnel connecting McGulpin Point (Lower Peninsula) to Point LaBarbe (Upper Peninsula) within the Straits of Mackinac. The project’s purpose is to accommodate the replacement of the portion of Line 5 twin pipelines that cross the straits. The tunnel is proposed to be constructed with a tunnel boring machine using pre-cast structural lining, providing secondary containment to prevent any spill from Line 5 or utilities into the straits. Two temporary water intake structures are proposed to be installed in the lake, one on each side of the Straits with a discharge pipe at the south.

The water intakes and discharge pipe are to be removed upon completion of tunnel construction. The applicant is proposing to impact 0.13 acres of wetlands at Point LaBarbe (Upper Peninsula) including existing road (Boulevard Drive) widening, fill for access around the existing North Straits Facility to a construction and staging area to the north of the facility and the installation of two outfall structures in wetlands. In lieu of wetland mitigation, a barrier plan has been proposed to address unauthorized vehicle impacts across Point LaBarbe. 

The proposal may affect northern long-eared bat (Myotis septentrionalis), Houghton’s goldenrod (Solidago houghtonii), and dwarf lake iris (Iris lacustris), or their critical habitat. A Plant Mitigation Plan to address anticipated impacts to the two State Threatened plant species has been provided. Site clearing and grading is proposed to be completed during the winter months (i.e., October 30 to March 15) to minimize effects to environmental features such as nesting birds and roosting bats.

The project is located in Wawatam Township, Emmet County and Moran Township, Mackinac County, Michigan, in accordance with plans and specifications associated with this notice and available at https://miwaters.deq.state.mi.us/miwaters/#/external/publicnotice/search. To access the public notice page online, search for the public notice by application (submission) number, location or applicant name, and view by clicking on the "Documents" tab.*

A virtual public hearing will be announced in the near future.

THIS NOTICE IS NOT A PERMIT

The proposed project may also be regulated by one or more additional parts of the NREPA that are administered by the Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy (EGLE), Water Resources Division (WRD). The requirements of all applicable parts are considered in determining if a permit can be issued. When a permit application is received requesting authorization to work in or over the inland waters of the State of Michigan, pursuant to Part 303 and Part 325 of the NREPA, the NREPA provides that EGLE submit copies for review to the department of public health; the city, village, or township and county where the project is to be located; the local soil conservation district; and any local watershed council organized under Part 311, Local River Management, of the NREPA. Additional notification is provided to certain persons as required by statute or determined by EGLE.

Those persons wanting to make comments on the proposed project shall furnish this office with their written comments no later than 50 days from the date of this notice. Written comments will be made part of the record and should reference the above application number. Objections must be factual, specific, and fully describe the reasons upon which any objection is founded.

The specific permit decision criteria can be found in the parts of the NREPA applicable to this application and listed above. Copies of these parts of the NREPA are available on the public notice Web site. Public comments received will also be considered.

The entire copy of the public notice package may be viewed online at:
https://miwaters.deq.state.mi.us/miwaters/#/external/publicnotice/search. To access the public notice page online, search for the public notice by application (submission) number, location or applicant name, and view by clicking on the "Documents" tab. Comments may be sent electronically by clicking on the "Add Comment" tab.**

A hard copy of the public ) notice may be requested by calling 989-370-7893.

Editor's Notes:

* Click on this link to go directly to the Public Notice description with the "Documents" and "Add Comment" links.
At present, the "Documents" include the above public notice, the permit application, and a document describing the project.

** EGLE has also established a dedicated permit application email account related to the proposed tunnel project, EGLE-Enbridge-Comments@Michigan.gov to provide the public with a simplified means of commenting on the proposed project.

Tuesday, August 04, 2020

Water Protectors arrive at Great Bear after 2nd annual 4-day canoe/kayak trip on Menominee River against Back 40 mine

By Michele Bourdieu

On July 5, 2020, participants in the 2nd annual four-day Menominee canoe trip on the Menominee River are pictured with Great Bear, a statue at the mouth of the river -- the site of the cultural origins of the Menominee Tribe. The event is intended to call attention to environmental and cultural threats posed by the proposed Back 40 sulfide mining project. (Photo courtesy Dale Burie)

MENEKAUNEE HARBOR -- Native and non-Native water protectors in canoes and kayaks arrived at the mouth of the Menominee River on July 5, the fourth day of the second annual Menominee canoe trip in opposition to the proposed Back 40 mining project that threatens the health of the river as well as nearby Native sacred sites.

Canoers and kayakers set out on Day 4, July 5, 2020, the final day of their trip down the Menominee River in opposition to the proposed Back 40 mine. (Video © and courtesy Wayne Swett)

On Day 4, supporters join the original group of canoers and kayakers as they approach the mouth of the Menominee River. (Photo © and courtesy Tina Lesperance)

"We had a lot of supporters waiting for us at the Menominee bear and also a lot of canoers and kayakers that joined us on that last leg of the trip," said Wayne Swett, Menominee tribal member and co-organizer of the trip. "We must be well known on the river because people greeted us from shore and on the river."

Supporters of the canoers and kayakers welcome them as they approach their destination -- Menekaunee Harbor at the mouth of the Menominee River. (Video © and courtesy Gail Meyer)*

Swett, who made the trip a year ago with two other Menominee tribal members -- Dawn Wilber and Jwin Zillier -- said he was surprised at the number of people who joined them on the trip this year.

The three Menominee tribal members who made the first Canoe Trip last year -- from left, Dawn Wilber, Wayne Swett and Jwin Zillier -- pose for another photo with Great Bear on July 5, 2020. (Photo © and courtesy Tina Lesperance)

"At the end of the trip I asked if everyone was going to come back next year and everyone said that they are," Swett said. "I hope to see more people joining us on the trip next year."

Wayne Swett and co-organizer Dawn Wilber film each other and the arrival of the water protectors on Day 4 of the trip as they land their canoes and kayaks near the Great Bear. (Video © and courtesy Wayne Swett)

Co-organizer Dawn Wilber said about 12 people did the whole 4-day trip, while seven joined for part of it. Five supporters helped on shore by transporting camping gear, supplying food and water, and portaging the canoes and kayaks when necessary.

"Having the shore helpers was really a blessing because it would've been a hard paddle with all our camping gear and stuff in the canoes," Swett noted. "Our shore helpers said they will be coming back again next year."

Swett noted he plans to contact the Marinette County Parks (Wis.) about their difficulty camping near Bear Point on the first night of the trip, after a heavy rainstorm. Keweenaw Now also eventually heard from Bev Ruether, Marinette County Parks and Facilities assistant director, who said the group is welcome to call her in advance next year and she will work with them to find a place to camp.*

"The guy who resides next to the Bear Point boat landing also said we could camp out on his land too," Swett added.

Mary Hansen of the Coalition to SAVE the Menominee River was at the Great Bear with a welcome sign she made for the occasion.

Mary Hansen of the Coalition to SAVE the Menominee River, center, is pictured here at the Great Bear with Rick Prusak, left, and Lori Paitl. Prusak is holding the sign Mary made to welcome the canoers and kayakers home so she can use both hands to drive her wheelchair. Mary is active in organizing frequent protests against the Back 40 on Fridays. (Photo © and courtesy Wayne Swett)

"I watched the tired warriors as they slowly came ashore, raising awareness for the river," Hansen told Keweenaw Now. "But to them it's so much more. It is their Creation Story. It is where they all began. We stand with them in solidarity. I am Blessed they call me Friend."

Renee Richer, Democratic candidate for Michigan's 108th State House District (Delta, Dickinson, and Menominee counties), was also on hand with her daughter, Camille, to welcome the water protectors. One of Richer's priorities is clean water. She has a PhD in biology from Harvard University and has spent her career studying the impacts of harmful pollutants on human health.

After welcoming the Menominee Canoe Trip participants, Renee Richer -- second from right, with her daughter, Camille -- chats with videographer Anthony Corey, center, and visitors from Door County, Wisconsin -- Jeff Lutsey and his son. (Photo courtesy Renee Richer)

Commenting on the event, Richer said, "It is wonderful to see so many people passionate about water quality issues and recognizing the link between water quality and human health."

Andi Rich, another clean water advocate -- who is running (as a Republican) for Wisconsin's 89th Assembly seat in the August 11 Wisconsin Primary -- participated in all four days of the Menominee Canoe Trip.

Andi Rich participates in a water ceremony during the Menominee Canoe Trip. (Photo © and courtesy Anthony Corey)

"The trip was incredible," Rich said. "It was such a peaceful time of quiet reflection, combined with a 4-day long water gun fight, and somehow it was the perfect combination."

During a hot day of paddling on the Menominee River, participants in the 2nd annual Menominee canoe and kayak trip have fun with "water wars." (Commentary and video by Wayne Swett)

Co-organizer Dawn Wilber said she appreciated the generosity of the Menominee Tribal School, who lent them a trailer with 10 canoes for the trip. She added that she invited people who she knew were interested in the cultural aspects of the trip, and some came from as far as five or six hours away, so it was good to have canoes for them.

"And a couple of my cousins, they brought their kayaks -- which was great, pretty awesome," Wilber added.

Wilber is also a teacher of Menominee language and culture at the Menominee Indian High School on the Menominee Reservation where she lives.

"We did a sunrise ceremony and a water ceremony (the first day), and that really gave us a feeling that we were in ceremony the whole way," she said. "That didn't mean that we couldn't  have fun and laugh and joke, because we did a lot of that."

Women do a water ceremony on the first day of the trip. (Photo © and courtesy Anthony Corey)

Another cultural activity was the harvesting of birch bark, imitating a practice of their ancestors who used the bark to make canoes. Even though Wilber and others were just learning how to cut and strip the bark and were taking only small pieces of the bark, it was important as a connection with the river and the ancestors -- to become a part of that history.

Dawn Wilber, Menominee tribal member and co-organizer of the Menominee canoe/kayak trip, harvests birch bark during the trip. (Video © and courtesy Wayne Swett)

"That's a connection that we as Menominees need to get with that river," Wilber said. "We need to be there. We need to travel that path that our ancestors did. And the birch bark was part of that."

Wilber said the group stayed together and kept track of each other even though individuals could take their time and explore. She said it was important to stop at the sand bars and cool off, and they hope to find more places to stop and cool off for the next trip.

Cooling off at the sand bars was essential for paddlers on the very hot days. (Photo © and courtesy Wayne Swett)

Siobhan Marks took this photo of Wayne Swett, as he films a sandbar stop, titling it "protector, fire keeper, navigator, jokester." (Photo © and courtesy Siobhan Marks)

"We took really good care of each other out there," Wilber said. "And friendships were made."

Wilber also said she wanted to commend the shore helpers, who did an amazing job of transporting their gear, setting up their tents, and more. She also wanted to thank Gary Rich, a cousin of Andi Rich, who helped with the birch bark as well as repairing some canoes that fell off the trailer.

"It was really amazing to have more people with us on this trip," Wilber said. "There was a huge camaraderie right away."

Wilber plans to do the trip every year -- even if she's 90!

Again this year, the group stopped at an island in the river that was gifted to the Menominee Tribe by Tom Boerner, a local resident who is involved in a contested case challenging the Part 632 Mining Permit for the proposed Back 40 mine.

Canoes and kayaks head for the Menominees' island, a peaceful stop on Day 4 of the trip. (Photo © and courtesy Siobhan Marks)

Anthony (Tony) Corey completed the four-day trip, taking videos for a documentary on the story of water, which includes the Menominee people on the Menominee River.

Anthony (Tony) Corey films a scene on the Menominee River during the 2020 Menominee Canoe Trip. (Photo © and courtesy Wayne Swett)

"It was a culturally immersive experience to be with the Menominees on the Menominee River," Corey said. "From participating in traditional ceremonies to gathering interviews with modern tools, I am learning that the Menominee People are not locked in the past as our history books tend to teach; rather, their story is still being written."

On Day 4, Corey captured the sounds of some baby ospreys in this video clip:

Videographer Anthony Corey captures the sounds of baby osprey in their nest along the river as he is canoeing with Wayne Swett. (Video © and courtesy Anthony Corey)

On Day 2 of this year's trip, Corey interviewed Jeff Linbom, a member of the Coalition to SAVE the Menominee River, who lives on the river. Here is an excerpt, filmed by Wayne Swett:

Videographer Anthony Corey interviews Jeff Linbom, a local resident who joined the canoers for part of the trip. (Video © and courtesy Wayne Swett)

Dale Burie, president of the Coalition to SAVE the Menominee River, Inc., and his wife, Lea Jane, were on hand for the Day 4 reception for the paddlers at the Great Bear. The Buries together founded the Coalition in April 2017.

"This event organized by the Menominees gives widespread coverage of the purpose, beauty and usefulness of the Menominee River," Dale Burie told Keweenaw Now. "The 4-day trip was over twice the size of last year's event. And it will grow even larger next year."

Coalition president offers update on Back 40 permits

Recently Dale Burie wrote a letter to the editor updating the status of Aquila Resources' Back 40 mining project, published on Aug. 1, 2020, by  the EagleHerald (a newspaper serving Marinette County, Wis., and Menominee County, Mich.) In his letter, Burie states the following about Aquila's permits:

"Aquila has yet to submit a tailings dam application to the State of Michigan, after withdrawing the first one in December 2019. If they submit a new application, a public hearing will be scheduled. The Coalition to SAVE the Menominee River, Inc. stands ready with an internationally recognized tailings dam expert to assess the construction plans, in preparation for the public hearing. With the failure of two dams near Midland, Michigan, and increased rainful due to severe climate change, all eyes are on EGLE of Michigan to be diligent in their decisions allowing ANY kind of dam within the state. The Coalition is also awaiting Administrative Law Judge Pulter's decision on our Wetlands Permit contested case hearing from last fall. We will likely be back in court to either defend his decision if we have won, or take our case further to Circuit Court."

Burie also states in the letter that the status of the five required permits has not changed since last January and that Aquila, despite their claims, actually has only one permit -- the NPDES water discharge permit. Three others are not "effective" because of conditions attached and because they are in litigation: the Part 632 Mining Permit Amendment, the Modified Air Quality Permit, and the Wetland Permit. The fifth is the Dam Safety Permit, mentioned above as withdrawn.**

Notes:

* See our July 3, 2020, article on Day 1 of the 2020 Menominee canoe trip, "Second annual Menominee canoe trip against Back 40 mine begins; water protectors overcome challenges on Menominee River."

Part 2 of this series of three articles is a guest article by Gail and Roger Meyer, who hosted the group on their third day of the trip: "Guest article: Hosting the water protectors on the Menominee River."

** Click here for the rest of Dale Burie's Aug. 1 letter. For more on the proposed tailings dam and Aquila's failure to have a social license to operate, see the Urban Milwaukee July 26, 2020, article, "Proposed Mine Faces Mounting Troubles:Back Forty Mine along Wisconsin border faces insufficient funding, increasing opposition," by Al Gedicks, emeritus professor of environmental sociology at the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse and executive secretary of the Wisconsin Resources Protection Council.

For some background on the permits and public opposition to the mine, see our Feb. 3, 2020, article, "Federal Circuit Court rejects Menominee Tribe's appeal on Back 40 mine wetlands permitting; most Back 40 permits remain in state contested case litigation."

Friday, July 31, 2020

Janet Metsa, Democratic candidate for Michigan's 110th State House District, speaks on economics, environment, education, energy

By Michele Bourdieu

Janet Metsa, Democratic candidate for Michigan's 110th State House District, outlines her background and platform priorities for supporters during her June 29 fundraiser in Calumet. (Photos by Keweenaw Now)

CALUMET -- At an outdoor patio fundraiser in Calumet on June 29, Janet Metsa, Democratic candidate for Michigan's 110th State House District, welcomed supporters, spoke about important issues and answered questions.

She first introduced herself as a Copper Country native, born in Houghton County and raised on the farm her grandparents established during the Finnish migration in the early 1900s. Metsa summarized her impressive educational and scientific background -- she went from Chassell schools to Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) -- and described starting up her first business in the local area.

Janet Metsa, Democratic candidate for Michigan's 110th State House District, addresses supporters during a June 29 fundraiser in Calumet. (Videos by Keweenaw Now)

Metsa also pointed out how her environmental experience, combined with an educated work force -- experts and students from Michigan Tech -- plus her own determination and high-speed Internet helped her make her business a success. She noted the importance of protecting a healthy environment with a healthy economy and mentioned the local Smart Zone support of businesses as a model.

Candidate Metsa speaks about the four pillars of her platform: education, environment , energy and economy. She also notes her experience working with the Houghton County Democratic Party and why she considers herself a strong candidate, able to defeat the incumbent (Republican Greg Markkanen).

During the question-answer period following her presentation, Metsa replied to a question on Line 5:

Metsa explains why Democrats are in favor of shutting down Line 5, Enbridge's controversial 67-year-old pipeline that delivers some propane to the Upper Peninsula and also passes under the Straits of Mackinac, threatening the environment in the event of a potential catastrophic oil spill.

Another question from the audience concerned Metsa's vision for future businesses in the 110th district.

Pointing out her experience working with KEDA (the Keweenaw Economic Development Alliance) and the Smart Zone, Metsa explains that most economic development in this area is home-grown. She notes the importance of Michigan Tech and a young educated work force.

Supporters at the June 29 fundraiser

Following her presentation, Janet Metsa took time to speak individually with supporters, including David and Giselle Shonnard, Portage Township residents.  

Jerry Mitchell:

Calumet resident Jerry Mitchell spoke about his Democratic values and his belief that Janet Metsa will fight for those values.

Scott Dianda:

Former 110th District State Representative Scott Dianda spoke in support of Janet Metsa as a strong Democratic candidate.

During the June 29 fundraiser, Scott Dianda, former 110th District State representative, spoke of his faith in Janet Metsa and endorsed her candidacy.*

"She's a great, solid person," Dianda said. "Her roots have been here for generations -- just like my family. I think Janet has the ability to understand what we need for the 110th District, from one end to the other."

Dianda added that Metsa's background in science and business, as well as her understanding of the importance of famiily and education, make her an excellent candidate.

Mark and Amy Wisti:

Mark Wisti -- retired Houghton County judge and attorney, and his wife, Amy Wisti, former aide to former 1st District US Congressman Bart Stupak -- are pictured here at Janet Metsa's fundraiser.

Active Democrats Mark and Amy Wisti of Houghton both commented on Janet Metsa's competence for the 110th District Michigan House seat.

"I thought she had a very sensible answer to the Line 5 issue," Mark Wisti said. "She seems very knowledgeable on the economic and the environmental issues. Given her background in science, she has a real understanding of the technical issues regarding the pipeline."

Amy Wisti added she believes Janet Metsa is "absolutely" qualified to represent the 110th.

"I've known Janet a long time and worked with her through the years and when she was chair of the Houghton County Democratic Party," Amy Wisti said.

Lisa Nelson:

Houghton resident Lisa Nelson told Keweenaw Now she is very impressed with Metsa's breadth of knowledge.

"She's clearly aware of the current issues and the pros and cons for different solutions," Nelson noted. "I feel like she's really researching options to find common-sense solutions."

Nelson, who works in education at Michigan Tech, said she would "definitely" vote for Janet Metsa.

"I think she's a really good candidate for this area -- she grew up here," Nelson said. "She's also got a wider lens. She's done a lot of things in her life. Her experience broadens her perspective."

Elo Wittig:

Welcoming supporters to the fundraiser, Elo Wittig, campaign aide for Janet Metsa, accepts a donation from Sarah Green, Michigan Tech professor of chemistry and interim Chemistry Department chair.

Elo Wittig, Janet Metsa's campaign aide, brings a strong educational background to his position. He is a graduate of Macalester College and a returned Peace Corps Volunteer.

"I meet a lot of interesting people doing this," Wittig said.

Metsa told Keweenaw Now she was very happy with the turnout at this fundraiser.

"I've been extraordinarily pleased with the enthusiastic response of people in Houghton County to my campaign," she said.

Metsa has received several endorsements from notable supporters, as indicated on her Web site.*

More recently, Janet Metsa held an online fundraiser via Zoom. Mike Prusi, former 3-term 109th District State Representative and 2-term State Senator for the 38th District, joined the Zoom discussion and announced his endorsement of Janet Metsa at that online event.

Prusi states the following:
"I’ve known Janet Metsa for nearly twenty years. The first, and in my view, the most important thing you learn about Janet is that when she takes on a task she makes sure that it’s done and done right. Whether it’s running her business, serving her community in an appointed role or volunteering in her church or political party, her organizational skills and willingness to work hard are valued by the people around her. They recognize that Janet sincerely cares about them and about the issues they are resolving. Caring and sisu are what she was taught by her Finnish forebearers when they immigrated to the Copper Country. We share that Finnish heritage and that sisu. I am proud to call Janet my friend and to offer her my endorsement as she seeks the nomination to be the Democratic candidate in the 110th State House District."

* Click here to see additional endorsements on friendsofjanetmetsa.com. See also Friends of Janet Metsa on Facebook.

Thursday, July 30, 2020

Governor Whitmer amends MI Safe Start Order to limit indoor gatherings, save lives

Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer. (Photo courtesy michigan.gov)

LANSING -- On July 29, Governor Gretchen Whitmer signed Executive Order 2020-160 and Executive Order 2020-161, amending Michigan’s Safe Start Order and issuing revised workplace safeguards. Under the Safe Start Order, starting July 31, 2020, statewide indoor gatherings will be limited to 10 people and bars will be closed for indoor service across the state, including in Regions 6 and 8.*

"As we see COVID-19 cases continue to rise, Michiganders cannot afford to drop our guard. We must take every step possible to saave lives, protect the brave men and women on the front lines, and avoid overwhelming our healthcare system while we continue to combat COVID-19," said Governor Whitmer. "After seeing a resurgence in cases connected to social gatherings across the state, we must further limit gatherings for the health of our community and economy. By taking these strong actions, we will be better positioned to get our children back into classrooms and avoid a potentially devastating second wave."

COVID-19’s resurgence is closely associated with super-spreading events at large social gatherings, often attended by young people. An outbreak at a Lansing bar has resulted in 187 infections; more than 50 cases have been linked to a single house party in Saline; and a sandbar party at Torch Lake (downstate) over the July 4 weekend led to at least 43 confirmed cases. Therefore, Executive Order 2020-160 limits statewide indoor gatherings to 10 people or less and, across most of the state, limits outdoor gatherings to 100. (The outdoor gathering limits will remain at 250 in Regions 6 and 8.)

Executive Order 2020-160 also orders that bars in every region, including those in regions 6 and 8, must close for indoor service if they earn more than 70 percent of their gross receipts from sales of alcoholic beverages.

Under the governor’s orders, Detroit casinos will also be allowed to open on August 5, but their occupancy will be limited to 15 percent capacity. Casinos must also, among other things, conduct a daily entry screening protocol for customers and employees, temperature screening. Casinos must require patrons to wear a face covering, except while eating or drinking or for identification purposes.

Executive Order 2020-160 will rescind Executive Orders 2020-110, 2020-115, 2020-120, 2020-133, and 2020-143.

Information around this outbreak is changing rapidly. The latest information is available at Michigan.gov/Coronavirus and CDC.gov/Coronavirus.

To view Executive Order 2020-160 and Executive Order 2020-161, click the links below:

EO 2020-161 Emerg order - Workplace safeguards.pdf

* Region 8 includes the following counties: Gogebic, Ontonagon, Houghton, Keweenaw, Iron, Baraga, Dickinson, Marquette, Menominee, Delta, Alger, Schoolcraft, Luce, Mackinac, and Chippewa.

Tuesday, July 28, 2020

Images from Detroit Institute of Arts Permanent Collection on display outdoors in Hancock

The Trappers' Return, by George Caleb Bingham, part of the Detroit Institute of Arts exhibit outdoors in Hancock, will be unveiled at a special event July 30 in Porvoo Park. (Image courtesy Copper Country Community Arts Center)

HANCOCK -- The City of Hancock was chosen through a competitive application process to host the Detroit Institute of Arts (DIA) Annual Inside|Out program, which brings high-quality reproductions from the DIA’s collection to outdoor venues in communities throughout the state of Michigan. The local outdoor exhibition is a partnership of the Copper Country Community Arts Center, the City of Hancock, and Hancock Public Schools and is the only venue in the Upper Peninsula.

Seven full size, framed images will be installed throughout town in parks and green spaces on Quincy Street, Hancock Street, and Porvoo Park -- all within walking distance. An interactive map is available at the Copper Country Community Arts Center, City Hall, and other locations.

This map shows the locations of the Detroit Institute of Arts (DIA) Inside|Out images in Hancock. Click here for a larger version of the map. (Map courtesy Copper Country Community Arts Center)

A series of programs and activities will take place throughout the duration of the exhibition, which continues through the end of October.

Unveiling: Voyageur songs in Porvoo Park Thursday, July 30

Everyone is invited to an unveiling at 5 p.m. Thursday, July 30, in Porvoo Park, 200 Navy Street, Hancock. Dave Bezotte and Evan Dixon will perform French Voyageur songs in homage to George Caleb Bingham's image of The Trappers’ Return, which will be located at the park. People are encouraged to arrive by water in canoes, kayaks, or paddleboards in keeping with the theme of the painting.

The Detroit Institute of Arts (DIA), one of the premier art museums in the United States, is home to more than 60,000 works of art. The DIA’s mission is to create opportunities for all visitors to find personal meaning in art. The Inside|Out program is a component of the DIA’s community engagement efforts focused on providing a unique way to engage with residents and visitors by bringing art from the DIA into the communities in which they live. Over the past 10 years, the museum has partnered with more than 100 communities and engaged tens of thousands of residents with art in places where they live, work, and play.

For more information about the DIA Inside Out art installation in Hancock contact Cynthia Cote, Executive Director of the Copper Country Community Arts Council at (906) 482-2333 or cynthia@coppercountryarts.com or visit the website: www.coppercountryarts.com.

Thursday, July 23, 2020

Guest article: Hosting the water protectors on the Menominee River

By Gail and Roger Meyer
With photos and videos by water protectors, as indicated

 
Videographer Tony Corey, sharing a canoe with Menominee canoe trip co-organizer Wayne Swett, raises his paddle to signal the group's arrival at the home of hosts Gail and Roger Meyer on July 4, 2020, the third day of the 4-day trip down the Menominee River to call attention to the threats posed by the projected Back 40 mine. (Photo © and courtesy Polly Hubbard)

We are Gail and Roger Meyer. This is our 2nd time with the river experience. Last year’s trip was unplanned for us; circumstances led them to our home on the Menominee. The bald eagle showed them the way, which was something we’ll never forget.

Dawn Wilber, Menominee tribal member and co-organizer of the canoe trip, videotaped this eagle from her canoe. (Video © and courtesy Dawn Wilber)

Wayne Swett, Menominee tribal member and co-organizer of the canoe trip, captured this close-up of one of many eagles the Menominee paddlers spotted during their trip this year. (Photo © and courtesy Wayne Swett)

On July 4, 2020, the third day of their trip down the Menominee River, water protectors launch their canoes and kayaks on the way to the home of Gail and Roger Meyer, where they will spend a restful night before their final day on the river. (Video © and courtesy Tina Lesperance)

On Day 3, canoes and kayaks arrive at Grand Rapids Ingalls boat landing for a portage to their next launch on the river, heading for the home of Gail and Roger Meyer. (Video © and courtesy Tina Lesperance)

Tina Lesperance, center, with her camera, is pictured here at McAllister Bridge, where the paddlers again launched canoes and kayaks after the portage from Grand Rapids on their way to the Meyers' home on July 4.

This year we were ready for the arrival of the water protectors, anticipating seeing the faces of friends and others we had not yet met. They came on Saturday afternoon in the heat, smiles on their faces and an unexplainable calm among them. A few of our family and friends joined to support their journey as well.

Canoe trip participants arrive at Gail and Roger Meyer's home for a relaxing visit and camp-out on July 4. (Photo © and courtesy Wayne Swett)

Gail and Roger Meyer, authors of this article, with their granddaughter Elena, visit with Dawn Wilber, right, who had stayed at their home during the 2019 Menominee canoe trip and returned this year. (Photo © and courtesy Dawn Wilber)

Canoers and kayakers enjoy a pleasant break at Gail and Roger Meyer's home. (Photo © and courtesy Polly Hubbard)

Hosts Gail and Roger provided plenty of room for the campers' tents. (Photo © and courtesy Polly Hubbard)

After camp was set up, we shared prayers of thanksgiving and ate. There were a lot of comments about the wildlife and fish they saw along the way.

Canoe trip participants enjoy a healthy meal during their overnight stop at Gail and Roger Meyer's home on Day 3 of their trip down the Menominee River. (Photo © and courtesy Polly Hubbard)

Some of the dishes served at the copious meal the water protectors enjoyed at the Meyers' home. Group organizer Wayne Swett commented, "Our hosts Roger and Gail Meyer prepared an awesome meal of traditional foods like venison, wild rice and fruits for us hungry paddlers. Everyone just about cleaned up everything! Dawn Wilber had prepared the BEST wild rice dish I've ever tasted and won my heart over! Paired it up with venison meatballs and gravy! Requesting this again for next year's trip." (Photo © and courtesy Wayne Swett)

A memorable feast! (Photo © and courtesy Wayne Swett)

Around the fire, stories were shared. History, teachings, the story of the bald eagle, the original water walkers, cultural differences and how it is ok to disagree but to understand each other. We saw the respect we all should have of taking care of our water, air, trees, animals, and our earth. And each other.

Water protectors share stories and teachings around the campfire at the Meyers'. July 4th fireworks can be heard in the distance. Tina Lesperance noted, "Wonderful stories of their creation and what the great eagle means to them were told. Stories of Grandmother Josephine, the world's first and most famous Water Walker were related to those in attendance. It was a wonderful evening!" (Video © and courtesy Wayne Swett)

Their past, the good and the bad, is shared with the young.  Because what happened in the past affects us, and what happens now affects our children and their children. There were 4 generations of our family here, from age 4 to 90, so that point really hit home. Our children were excited to have heard some of their story and will take that with them on their life journeys.

Since it was the 4th of July, many fireworks were also witnessed up and down the Menominee River.

Fireworks seen from the Meyers' on July 4, 2020. (Photo © and courtesy Wayne Swett)

The next morning after all were awake and ate, the group loaded up and headed downstream to their next destination.

Wayne Swett rises early on July 5, 2020, to capture these peaceful sights and sounds of the Menominee River from the home of Gail and Roger Meyer before the group sets out for their fourth and final day on the river. (Video © and courtesy Wayne Swett) 

Guest authors Roger and Gail Meyer were also subjects of an interview by videographer Anthony (Tony) Corey, who is working on a documentary about the story of water, including the Menominee people on the Menominee River. (Photo © and courtesy Anthony Corey)

Their visit was our pleasure. We now have more friends in our lives! These people are genuinely real. Their heritage is obviously very important to them, their way of life. Many thanked us over and over again. We thanked them for doing what they are doing and were happy to assist along the way.  We are never too old to learn!

Editor's Notes:

Watch for another episode of the 2nd Annual Menominee canoe trip on the Menominee River, including their arrival at the Great Bear -- coming soon!

See also our July 3, 2020, article, "Second annual Menominee canoe trip against Back 40 mine begins; water protectors overcome challenges on Menominee River."

Saturday, July 18, 2020

DNR Director Eichinger asks Enbridge parent company to assume Line 5 financial obligation

LANSING -- On Friday, July 17, Michigan Department of Natural Resources (DNR) Director Dan Eichinger sent a letter to Enbridge Inc., requesting that the corporation enter into a written agreement with the State of Michigan to provide financial assurances to cover all damages and losses caused to property or individuals due to operation of the Line 5 dual pipelines through the Straits of Mackinac. Eichinger requested that Enbridge Inc. enter into a written agreement with the State of Michigan to provide sufficient financial assurances to cover any loss, including a catastrophic release from the dual pipelines.

"As recent events have reminded us, we must get these pipelines that transport crude oil out of the Great Lakes as soon as possible," said Eichinger. "In the meantime, Enbridge must provide full financial assurance to the people of Michigan that the company will meet its obligations in the event there is a spill or some other disastrous damage to the Great Lakes."

The 1953 Easement allowing placement of the Line 5 dual pipelines in the Straits of Mackinac requires Enbridge Energy Company Inc., the corporate successor to Lakehead Pipe Line Company, to compensate the State of Michigan for all damages and losses caused by the operation of the pipelines, and to provide insurance, bond or surety liability coverage.

Under former Gov. Rick Snyder, Enbridge signed an agreement to fulfill that requirement, but only signed as a subsidiary of Enbridge Inc. The subsidiary does not have sufficient resources to cover the costs of a spill. Additionally, in an expert report titled "An Analysis of The Enbridge Financial Assurances Offered to the State of Michigan On Matters Related To The Operation of the Enbridge Line 5 Pipeline At the Straits of Mackinac (Oct. 29, 2019)," American Risk Management Resources Network (ARMRN) concluded that Enbridge Inc. is not subject to the indemnity language under the 1953 Easement. To address this deficiency, in his letter to Enbridge, Eichinger requested an agreement that includes the following:
  • Enbridge Inc., the parent company, agrees to assume the indemnity obligations of Enbridge Energy Company, Inc. (successor to Lakehead Pipe Line Company).
  • Enbridge Inc. agrees to a minimum of $900 million in liability insurance.
  • Enbridge Inc. names the State of Michigan as an additional insured party on the identified policies so that Michigan’s right of recovery is not derivative.
  • Enbridge Inc. will directly pledge its own assets for the remainder of the financial assurance requirements (to meet or exceed $1.878 billion, annually adjusted for inflation).
On June 25, 2020, Ingham County Circuit Court Judge James S. Jamo granted Attorney General Dana Nessel’s motion for a temporary restraining order requiring Enbridge Energy to cease all transport operations of its Line 5 twin pipelines.*

Click here to see the July 17, 2020, letter from DNR Director Eichinger to Enbridge Inc.

*Editor's Note: See our June 25, 2020 article, "UPDATED: Judge orders Enbridge to cease Line 5 operations following recent damage."

Governor Whitmer lowers flags to honor Congressman John Lewis

LANSING -- Gov. Gretchen Whitmer has ordered U.S. and Michigan flags within the State Capitol Complex and upon all public buildings and grounds across the state of Michigan to be lowered to half-staff on Saturday, July 18, 2020, to honor the life and service of Congressman John Lewis.

"Congressman John Lewis was a civil rights legend who stood firmly on the front lines of our nation’s history," said Governor Whitmer. "Congressman Lewis dedicated his life to building a more just, equitable nation for Black Americans everywhere, and his unwavering commitment to public service has set an example for leaders across the country. His work with leaders like Dr. Martin Luther King transformed our nation. John Lewis was an icon, and I know that people everywhere will feel the impact of his passing. May we honor his legacy by continuing the work to fix the systemic racism Black Americans face every day and build a country where everyone, no matter the color of their skin, can find opportunity. My heart goes out to the congressman’s family and loved ones during this time."

Michigan Lieutenant Governor Garlin Gilchrist also recognized the late Congressman John Lewis as a great civil rights leader and role model.

"America lost one of its greatest warriors in the fight for civil rights at a time when his leadership was needed the most," said Lieutenant Governor Gilchrist. "As our congressional and collective consciousness for two generations, John Lewis paved the way for so many people to make history by laying the foundation upon which I and so many others stand. This loss hits deep in the soul of every American, but we find solace in knowing that he inspired a legion of champions for change to carry forward this mission of justice, so that the next generation can be, believe, and become their greatest selves. We must recommit to righting the wrongs that John Lewis fought today and every day. To the man who caused good trouble: rest in power."

The State of Michigan recognizes the duty, honor and selfless service of Congressman John Lewis by lowering flags to half-staff. Michigan residents, businesses, and other organizations also are encouraged to display the flag at half-staff. To lower flags to half-staff, flags should be hoisted first to the peak for an instant and then lowered to the half-staff position. The process is reversed before the flag is lowered for the day. 

Flags should be returned to full-staff on Sunday, July 19, 2020.

Tuesday, July 14, 2020

UPDATED: Learn about Federal, State candidates for Aug. 4 Michigan Primary; absentee ballots available for all voters

HOUGHTON -- The Michigan Primary for State and Federal elections is Aug. 4, 2020 -- only three weeks away! All Michigan registered voters have the right to vote by mail. You should have received your application to vote absentee. If not, contact your local clerk for an application or go online to Michigan.gov/vote to download the form to mail in.

If you have already mailed in your application, you should have your absentee voter ballot. If not, use Michigan.gov/vote to check on its status.  If not found, contact your local clerk to find out where it is.

IMPORTANT TO NOTE ABOUT AUGUST 4 PRIMARY BALLOT!

Democrat and Republican candidates are on the same ballot. Vote for only ONE party. Voting for both will invalidate the ballot and it will not be counted. Candidates in uncontested primary races will also be invited to provide background information and respond to general questions on Vote411.org later in July. There are also countywide and local proposals.

To assist in your voting decisions, here are some links to various voter guides and debates:

See FEDERAL Level from American Association of University Women (AAUW) of Michigan’s Voter Guide for U.S. Senate and Congress HERE.

FEDERAL and STATE Level from the League of Women Voters (LWV): Go to Vote411.org/ballot to see their voter guide responses from these candidates. Note also links to interviews and debates:

U.S Senate -- Gary Peters (Dem) and John James (Rep)
U.S. House, District 1 -- Dana Ferguson (Dem), Linda O’Dell (Dem) and Jack Bergman (Rep)

The Democratic race for U.S. House District 1 is contested; here is a link to their debate in Alpena: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LggEbxojBqw

Michigan House District 110 -- Lawrence Dale (Dem), Janet Metsa (Dem), Casey VerBerkmoes (Dem) and Gregory Markkanen (Rep)

[Editor's update: We have now added passwords needed to access the interviews below. Originally we believed the links would work without passwords, but apparently not. Please follow directions below.]

The Democratic race is contested; here are links to zoom interviews with the LWV of the Copper Country. For each candidate copy the given password. Click on candidate's name to go to the interview. Then paste the given password for each when requested.

Lawrence Dale interview. Password: 5h=1b53U

Janet Metsa interview. Password: 6y#^P=n!

Casey VerBerkmoes interview. Password: 1n?I%rdz

LOCAL LEVEL:
Houghton County Sheriff Primary Candidate Interviews:

Steve Laux interview. Password: 2q+K#v5g

Brian McLean interview. Password: 5D+%#78B

If you have any questions, please contact LWV of the Copper Country cclwvmi@gmail.com or 906-483-2291.