Sunday, November 12, 2017

State announces 3 public feedback sessions on final version of Line 5 Alternatives Analysis report

From: Michigan Department of Environmental Quality, Michigan Agency for Energy
Posted Nov. 8, 2017

Michigan Tech's environmental monitoring buoy for the Straits of Mackinac was deployed on Aug. 18, 2015, from the NOAA (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration) research vessel R 5501 with the assistance of Tech's S/V Osprey, pictured here with the buoy just west of the Mackinac Bridge, which can be seen in the background. Michigan Tech's Guy Meadows, Great Lakes Research Center director, is now in discussions with the State to put together a team of academic experts from colleges and universities to perform a new risk analysis for Enbridge's Line 5 pipeline under the Straits. Click on photo for larger version. (Keweenaw Now file photo courtesy Guy Meadows)

LANSING -- Three public feedback sessions have been scheduled in December so the public can suggest the next steps the State should take regarding Line 5, Enbridge's 64-year-old pipeline under the Straits of Mackinac, based on information in the final version of the independent Alternatives Analysis. The report is scheduled to be released publicly on Nov. 20, and comments will be accepted online or by mail until Dec. 22, 2017.

The report by independent contractor Dynamic Risk Assessment Systems, Inc. analyzed alternatives to using Line 5, owned by Enbridge Energy Partners, L.P., to transport light crude oil and natural gas liquids from Superior, Wis., through the Straits of Mackinac to Sarnia, Ontario, Canada.

The draft report was released in July, followed by one public information meeting, three public feedback sessions, and a 45-day period where the public could offer comments and replies to comments on the report. All comments and replies to comments were considered for inclusion into the final report.*

After the State completes its review of the alternatives report, Enbridge has five business days beginning on Nov. 13 to review the report ahead of its public release a week later. Under Enbridge’s formal agreement with the state to provide funding for the Alternatives Analysis report, the company cannot ask for or have any changes made to the document.

Details about the public feedback opportunities:
  • Wednesday, Dec. 6, in Taylor, beginning at 6 p.m., at the Heinz C. Prechter Educational and Performing Arts Center, Wayne County Community College District, Downriver Campus, 21000 Northline Road.
  • Tuesday, Dec. 12, in St. Ignace, beginning at 6 p.m., at the Little Bear Arena and Community Center, 275 Marquette St.
  • Wednesday, Dec. 13, in Traverse City, beginning at 6 p.m., West Bay Beach Holiday Inn Resort, Leelanau Banquet Rooms, 615 E. Front St.
With the report’s release Nov. 20 on the Pipeline Safety Advisory Board website, a 30-day window opens for online comments about what the State should do regarding the future of Line 5. The Dec. 22 deadline for comments includes two additional days to account for the Thanksgiving state holidays during the comment period. Comments can also be mailed to: Department of Environmental Quality, Attn: Line 5 Alternatives Analysis, P.O. Box 30473, Lansing, MI 48909-7973.

The Michigan Agency for Energy (MAE), Michigan Attorney General’s Office (AG), Michigan Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ), and Michigan Department of Natural Resources (DNR) will use the Alternatives Analysis and a pending independent Risk Analysis to ensure the informational basis for any decision about the future of Line 5 is robust and complete.

The State of Michigan in August 2016 commissioned independent contractors to complete an alternatives analysis and risk analysis. The risk analysis was not completed after an apparent conflict of interest was discovered on the study team. Dr. Guy Meadows of Michigan Technological University is in discussions with the State to put together a team of academic experts from colleges and universities to perform a new risk analysis.**

Built in 1953, Line 5 is 645 miles long and transports up to 540,000 barrels a day of light crude oil and natural gas liquids. A 4.5-mile section runs beneath the Straits of Mackinac within an easement issued in 1953 by the State of Michigan.

During the press conference at the the 3rd annual Pipe Out Paddle protest against Line 5 on Sept. 2, 2017, in Mackinaw City, Andrea Pierce, co-organizer of the event, who is a member of the Little Traverse Bay Bands of Odawa Indians and administrator of Idle No More Michigan, announces information available about Michigan House Resolution 51, which calls for the shut down of Line 5, and Michigan Senate Bill 292, which aims to shut down oil pipelines in the Great Lakes. Pictured at right is co-organizer Jannan Cornstalk, also of the Little Traverse Bay Bands of Odawa Indians. (File photo by Keweenaw Now)***

Pipeline Safety Advisory Board meeting details

The next quarterly meeting of the state’s Pipeline Safety Advisory Board (PSAB) is Dec. 11. The location is the Causeway Bay Lansing Hotel and Convention Center, Ballrooms F-J, 6820 S. Cedar St., Lansing.

The PSAB, created by Executive Order 2015-12, is charged with making recommendations or advising the State on pipeline issues. It also advises state agencies on matters related to pipeline routing, construction, operation, and maintenance, as well as ensuring public transparency. While the PSAB advises the state on matters concerning energy pipelines, it does not have decision-making authority and it does not control the contract administration.

Keep up on PSAB activities by signing up for its listserv. 

Editor's Notes:

* Click here for the draft Alternatives Analysis report by Dynamic Risk Assessment Systems, Inc., issued in July 2017. Click here for the Dynamic Risk presentation given at the July 6, 2017, Public Information Meeting in Lansing. Note that the final report, to be issued on Nov. 20, 2017, may include changes based on public input.

** See our Nov. 5, 2017, article, "UPDATED: State agencies note Enbridge lack of transparency on Line 5 damage; Oil and Water Don't Mix calls for Day of Action Nov. 6 to demand Line 5 shutdown."

*** See our Sept. 16, 2017, article, "3rd annual Pipe Out Paddle protest against Enbridge's Line 5 under Mackinac Straits attracts Native, non-Native water protectors."

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