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Sunday, December 04, 2022

Guest article: Breaking Down the Utopia of COP27

By Aritra Chakrabarty*

During COP27, members of indigenous communities protest the piling climate debt on developing countries. Click on photos for larger versions. (Photo © and courtesy Aritra Chakrabarty)

Once you enter the main venue at the COP 27 climate conference (the venue referred to as the Blue zone) your eyes are greeted with swarms of people sashaying across the different meeting and conference rooms. This year COP 27 --  held in November in Sharm El-Sheikh, Egypt -- saw over 35,000 participants. Their faces look important, their attire looks sharp, their diction appears perfect, and their walk appears focused. All of that is of course with a reason -- you’re at the annual United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) conference, popularly referred to as the Conference of Parties (COP). This year, COP was in its 27th annual meeting, held in the transcontinental country Egypt, which spans the northeast corner of Africa and southwest corner of Asia.

The COP venue can be compared to a giant amusement park with many rides, many attractions, many booths, and many sights to see. A child wants to go on every ride, make the most of the day at the park, and not lose out on any of the magic tricks. At COP, the magic happens behind closed doors where negotiations are underway to decide on the minute details of documents (in particular nouns, verbs, and phrases that require substantiation and explicit mention of rights and responsibilities across all Parties). The kid can only choose a few of the many rides because by the end of the day, you’ll exit feeling knowing less than before, more crumbled than before. 

This installation in one of the pavilions counts down the critical time window to reach zero emissions. (Photo © and courtesy Aritra Chakrabarty)

The utopia of COP as the perfect venue for climate discussions, for demystifying climate science and policy, is a veneer that gives way to the reality of organized chaos inside this amusement park.

Role of the Parties

COP is the supreme decision-making body of the UNFCCC Convention. All States that are Parties to the Convention are represented at each COP, during which they review the implementation of the agenda from previous conventions, review legal documents that have been mutually agreed upon by the Parties and take necessary decisions to promote the objective of UNFCCC. The Parties to the Convention also serve as representatives of the Parties that had signed and agreed to the Kyoto Protocol.** The Parties to the Convention also serve as representatives of the Parties that had signed and agreed to the Paris Agreement.***

The human body wearing away through time as the world heats up. (Photo © and courtesy Aritra Chakrabarty)

Entering the Blue Zone

Before you make any decision to attend one of the multitude of meetings happening concurrently, you should collect "swag" -- the goodies at COP. You’re handed a cloth satchel bag with a (glass) water bottle, another (metal) water bottle, a note pad and a pair of pencils. I’m not sure if it was only my expectations that were belied, but I was hoping for a better swag from COP -- one containing local craft and including an element of Egypt. But all that I could see was a "Made in China" tag on the bottles (sigh). Over the course of one week (or two depending on how long you plan to attend), you’ll have the opportunity to gather similar other swags from different country pavilions (these are the spaces allotted inside the Blue zone where each signatory Party showcases their agenda). This global climate change conference generates a significant number of promotional items as part of "green marketing."

The Blue zone is the important location where meetings happen, plenary sessions occur. Dignitaries, country representatives, and official representatives make statements, negotiate, give press conferences. This is where participants have the chance to make their agenda heard and to look for other stakeholders who hold similar business interests -- and, as they say in consulting parlance, where participants use this platform as a networking event to create prospective clientele. (There is another zone -- the "Green zone," situated ten minutes away by bus ride, which is the space for industry, academia, NGOs, and other private entities to piggy back on the wave of climate change keywords to pitch their work.)

Michigan Tech's Delegation

Pictured here at COP27 with author Aritra Chakrabarty, second from left, are three other members of Michigan Tech's delegation -- from left, Zachary Hough Solomon, Shardul Tiwari, and Katherine Huerta Sanchez. All are graduate students in Michigan Tech's Department of Social Sciences, Environment and Energy Policy Program. (Photo © and courtesy Shardul Tiwari)

In the Blue Zone, every day, you dress up to match the pulse of the crowd hoping that your attire will be noticed before you utter a word about your work. The question in your mind is, "How much information can I absorb today?" Because there is a gigantic amount of knowledge floating inside the venue and it is quite easy to wander off in that information cloud. As for me, I was present there as part of my college delegation from Michigan Technological University, which has an observer status under RINGO (Research and Independent Non-Governmental Organization) constituency. The RINGO constituency to the UNFCCC is one of the nine NGO constituencies recognized by UNFCCC with an observer status, and they represent 25 percent of the 2000 NGOs admitted to the conference.****

I was there along with my fellow colleagues to organize a panel session on the topic "Delocalizing Climate Policy through use of Knowledge of Local and Indigenous communities." This panel was part of the broad objective of the Paris Committee on Capacity Building (PCCB), which was established during COP 21. The PCCB was created to address current and future gaps that would emerge and would need focused capacity building in developing countries. The PCCB also serves the Paris Agreement and fosters collaboration among actors at all levels to promote knowledge and experience sharing.*****

Native Americans at COP27 protest against the funding of fossil fuel pipeline infrastructure. (Photo © and courtesy Aritra Chakrabarty)

Through the participation in the Capacity Building Hub organized by the PCCB, our objective was to inform climate policy making through local knowledge that has been the wealth of indigenous and other local communities for centuries and to show how their practices have helped in harboring a sustainable relationship between humans and the ecosystem. The intent was to advocate for local voices in adaptation strategies for utilizing the Loss and Damage climate fund productively to aid communities that are on the fringe lines of negative climate change events.

Loss and Damage related protests were the highlight of this COP. (Photo © and courtesy Aritra Chakrabarty)

There has also been substantial critique in international media regarding situating COP in a country that has a chequered history of human rights and environmental policy. There has been media backlash about curtailing freedom of expression in the form of negligible subdued protests outside the venue, compared to protests at COP 26, held in 2021 at Glasgow, UK.****** As a first-time participant, I did, however, witness a handful of "protests" that were held inside the venue this time.

Yes, I refer to it as "this" and allow me to shed light on why this is the case: One cannot hold a protest in the truest meaning of the word. Holding protests inside the venue requires approvals. If you have to organize a protest, you need to have a badge to enter the COP venue; your organization should submit a proposal that details the agenda of the protest, the duration of protest, a ball park figure of protestors, so on and so forth. From an activist point of view, this is hypocrisy and an act of surveillance. However, from a logistical perspective, it only makes sense for the organizers to know beforehand what and when you’ll be protesting in the venue.

It also made sense from an economic standpoint to have COP27 in Egypt. The event boosted the economy of the region, created the need for building infrastructure investments (roads, transport, services), created many skilled jobs for the young population, and generated an influx of foreign exchange. COP 27 saw one major victory by producing a Loss and Damage fund. But this COP saw several non-successes as well -- such as failure to commit to phasing out of fossil fuels, particularly coal; failure to raise ambition on targeting global warming below 1.5 degrees Celsius; and greenwashing through carbon trading schemes. Nonetheless, those failures do not take away the importance of this global venue as the space that creates hope for a utopian world, and we will get there -- one step at a time.


* Guest author Aritra Chakrabarty is a PhD Research Scholar in Environment and Energy Policy at Michigan Tech University. 






Editor's Note: See also Keweenaw Now articles by members of Michigan Tech's delegation to COP 26 in Glasgow:

"Guest article: COP26 Reflection," by Alexis Pascaris. Jan 1, 2022.

"Guest article: COP26 -- An Indigenous Experience," by Kathleen Brosemer. Jan. 14, 2022.

"Guest article: Attending COP26: A lesson in distributive climate injustice," by Shardul Tiwari. Apr. 22, 2022.

Monday, November 28, 2022

Rozsa Center to present "A Christmas Carol" Dec. 1-4; Thick As Thieves student art exhibit Dec. 2-6

A Christmas Carol comes to the Rozsa stage Thursday through Sunday, Dec. 1-4. The favorite Dickens story is presented by Michigan Tech Theatre and performed by the Tech Theatre Company. (Image courtesy Rozsa Center for the Performing Arts)

Warm holiday memories arrive in the Keweenaw this weekend with A Christmas Carol, written by Charles Dickens, adapted to the stage by Romulus Linney, and presented by Michigan Tech Theatre. The beloved holiday classic, directed by Trish Helsel, boasts a cast of nearly 40 local youth, Keweenaw community members, and Michigan Tech faculty, staff, and students.

Performances are at 7:30 p.m. this Thursday, December 1, through Saturday, December 3, with a 2 p.m. matinee on Sunday, December 4.

From the first "Bah, Humbug!" to the final, "God bless us, everyone," this performance will delight audiences of all ages as they join Ebeneezer Scrooge on his journey of transformation and redemption.

"The Charles Dickens classic has long been a Christmas favorite; the story is much more universal in its message," says director Trish Helsel, Professor of Theatre at Michigan Tech. "I chose this stage adaptation because it does not paint Ebeneezer Scrooge as a villain, but rather someone broken by a series of devastating life events. Our production focuses on Scrooge’s ability to accept his past and embrace the present."

The strength of the Keweenaw community, its overwhelming artistic talent, and phenomenal young people were at the forefront of Helsel’s mind as she chose this year’s holiday show.

"The show was chosen as a community-centered production with a cast of Michigan Tech students, faculty, and community members," says Helsel. "It has been a pleasure to work with this lot of youngsters who range in age from 4 to 17 years. It is exciting to be a part of their induction into a professional theatre setting. Children are such fast learners! They have picked up the British dialects with ease, and they memorize quickly. Most importantly, they bring a sense of joy to the process."

Tickets are general admission -- available now at, 906-487-1906, or at the Rozsa Box Office from 11a.m. - 1 p.m. Monday through Friday or for 1 hour before shows.  Michigan Tech Students can reserve free Experience Tech tickets online, and Student Rush will be available at the door. For more information, visit

Thick As Thieves: Student Gallery Showcase Exhibit, Reception

Visit the Rosza's Gallery B for the Thick As Thieves showcase of student art Dec. 2-6, with a reception on Friday, Dec. 2. (Image courtesy Rozsa Center)

In the Rozsa Center's Gallery B, Thick As Thieves, an end-of-semester showcase, features student works of art from the sculpture and design classes. Students from many campus disciplines are represented.

The Thick As Thieves exhibit extends from Friday, Dec. 2, through Tuesday, Dec. 6. GALLERY B HOURS: M-F 8 a.m. -8 p.m. and Sat. 1-8 p.m.

An artist reception will be held from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. on Friday, Dec. 2, in the Rozsa Galleries.

Enjoy refreshments. Meet the student artists in a relaxed environment. See fantastic, student-made art.

The exhibit will include the work of Gibryn Arney, Lily Atton-Doornbos, Mykaela Cayemberg, Jack Colwell, Tara Estrada, Abby Jurewicz, John Mazur, Riley Nelson, Audrey Schulte, Casey Smith, Ferran Delgado Garcia, Nikki C. Donley, Faith D. Gaertner, Seth M. Olson, Josie M. Stalmack, Madalyn R. Tudor-Duncan, Frida A. Visser, and Cas Mankowski. 

Click here for details.

Wednesday, November 16, 2022

Wisconsin DNR sends Enbridge a list of demands

By Barbara With*

Posted Nov. 1, 2022, on Wisconsin Citizens Media Cooperative

Reprinted here with permission

Terrain near Copper Falls State Park, Wis., where Enbridge plans to do horizontal directional drilling to build a pipeline. (Photo courtesy Wisconsin Citizens Media Cooperative)

On October 31, 2022, the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (WIDNR) sent Enbridge Energy a letter asking for data needed to prepare the environmental impact statement (EIS) for their proposed Line 5 reroute through the Bad River watershed. Among other things, the letter questions the drilling fluids -- how many and what other damaging additives they plan to use -- and how they will contain PFAS.


Just two weeks prior, Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison filed criminal charges against Enbridge for the damage they did in northern Minnesota when they built Line 3. Among other things, on August 10, 2021 the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA) released a report saying there had been more frack outs of drilling fluid spilled along Line 3 than Enbridge had previously reported. The state water permit issued to Enbridge did not authorize the release of drilling fluid to a wetland or river. But between June 8 and August 5, Enbridge created 28 releases at 12 river crossings, with 13 spills into wetlands and 14 in upland areas. Enbridge brokered an $11M settlement with the State and must promise to not break the law again.

WIDNR is in the process of developing an EIS in response to Enbridge’s proposed plan to reroute their ailing pipeline out of the Bad River Band of Lake Superior Chippewa’s reservation. The Band did not renew Enbridge’s easement in 2013, but Enbridge continued to operate illegally. Bad River sued in 2019, and on September 7, 2022 Enbridge was found guilty of criminal trespass and unjust enrichment and ordered to pay financial compensation.

Instead of decommissioning Line 5, they plan to reroute it into the million-year-old watershed of the Penokee Hills. They are proposing doing horizontal directional drilling (HDD) through terrain that, in the event of a spill, would be near impossible to respond to. The watershed flows into Lake Superior through the Kakagon Sloughs, home of Bad River’s wild rice. Considering the damage done in Minnesota and their propensity to lie, Enbridge should be pressed with the hard questions of how they would plan to protect the area from their reckless practices.

In August 2022, WIDNR reported that an Enbridge contractor discovered oil-contaminated soil along the Enbridge Line 5 pipeline just south of the City of Ashland. Several thousand pounds of dirt were removed according to eye witnesses. Enbridge reported it was only about a tablespoon. Enbridge continues to demonstrate that they cannot be forthcoming with the truth.

Bad River Chairman Mike Wiggins Jr: "Deep Blue under Earth drinking water aquifers look like they are reaching out but they are actually pouring down and pouring in. Wispy areas are where surface waters and groundwaters interact, and it’s hardly a place for Earth destroyers. Water is life." Click on map for larger version. (Map courtesy Mike Wiggins, Jr.)

To make matters worse, Enbridge has already signed a contract with the Michels Corporation to build Line 5. Owner Tim Michels would profit greatly from WIDNR granting permits. The Michels Corporation, however, has been part of criminal charges recently filed by Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro against Energy Transfer Partners (ETP) for the work they did on the Mariner East 2 pipeline. Michels was the construction company and the grand jury investigation revealed that Michels lost drilling fluid 22 different times during the drilling of the 20-inch line and another nine times during work on the 16-inch line.**


Drilling for a 16-inch line began in May 2020 with Michels as the subcontractor. Between May and August, the drill lost circulation of fluid totaling approximately 100,000 gallons. These losses were not reported to DEP (Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection). From August through September, drilling fluid flowed into Snitz Creek five different times, resulting in five more Notices of Violation from DEP.

Grand Jury investigation into Mariner East 2 Pipeline 

Taking all of this into account, how can Enbridge or Michels be trusted here? Does it matter how they respond to WIDNR request for information?

Enbridge should not be trusted to monitor themselves. Million-dollar fines are calculated as a cost of doing business, leaving behind damaged aquifers, contaminated soil, poisoned wells, millions of gallons of water wasted, and remediation projects that cost millions of dollars and take years to complete. In light of the evidence that Enbridge breaks the law repeatedly, WIDNR would be wise to not allow them into the watershed.

Decommission the line and let Enbridge use any of the many other lines they have running through Wisconsin to reroute their oil.

Editor's Notes:

* Guest author Barbara With is a journalist for the Wisconsin Citizens Media Cooperative.

** When Tim Michels was running for governor of Wisconsin in the recent midterm election, he promised to break up WIDNR. Since the original date of publication of this article, he lost that election to incumbent Wisconsin Governor Tony Evers.

Tuesday, November 08, 2022

Water is Life: Indigenous Lifeways Threatened by Enbridge’s Line 5

From Anishinaabek Caucus:

In this new video from the Anishinaabek Caucus, tribal leaders and Native community members share how #Enbridge #Line5 currently impacts and the proposed tunnel will continue to harm Native communities in the Mackinac Straits of Michigan.

Through sharing about lifeways and connection to the Straits, they affirm that #WaterIsLife. They envision Michiganders safeguarding the Great Lakes out of gratitude for the life they give and the place of gathering they provide. They envision Michiganders powering quality of life for all with renewable energy that never risks life-giving water or the places that make life worth living. For more information visit

This video is a collaboration between the School of Environment and Sustainability at the University of Michigan and the Anishinaabek Caucus. Filming/Production/Editing: Steve Gute from Confluence Documentary. (Video and text published with permission.) Click on YouTube icon for original larger view.

Tuesday, November 01, 2022

4th Annual People of the Heart Water Walk: a spiritual journey near Lake Superior to honor Nibi (Water)

By Michele Bourdieu

Participants in the 4th annual People of the Heart Water Walk complete the 3-day, 90-mile walk from Baraga to Copper Harbor on Oct. 10, 2022, Indigenous Peoples' Day. (Photo © and courtesy Steve Brimm)

Despite some chilly mornings, a relay of participants completed the 4th annual People of the Heart Water Walk on Monday, October 10, 2022, Indigenous Peoples' Day. This year the 90-mile walk along Lake Superior up the Keweenaw Peninsula began at the Sand Point Lighthouse near Baraga and ended near Copper Harbor.

This map shows the route of the 3-day Water Walk along Keweenaw Bay and then crossing the Keweenaw Peninsula to continue along Lake Superior. (Map courtesy Kathleen Smith)

Native and non-Native walkers take turns carrying a copper vessel of Nibi (Water) constantly moving from dawn until dusk, accompanied by the eagle staff for protection. The Walk is a spiritual journey to honor the Water and call attention to the need to protect it.

Day 1, Oct. 8, 2022:

The Water Walk begins at dawn on Saturday, Oct. 8, as participants depart from the Sand Point Lighthouse near Baraga. (Photo © and courtesy Kathleen Smith)

Participants headed from Baraga to Houghton, their destination for Day 1.

Joined by more participants along the way and followed by their cars for safety, Water Walkers follow Cynthia Drake, who carries the vessel of Nibi, and Jacob, carrying the eagle staff -- son of Kathleen Smith, organizer and co-founder of the People of the Heart Water Walk. (Photo © and courtesy Kathleen Smith)

On Oct. 8, 2022, Water Walkers arrive at the Houghton waterfront, completing their first day of the 3-day walk to honor Nibi and call attention to the need to protect it. Native and non-Native residents and visitors walk together. (Videos by Keweenaw Now)

On Oct. 8, 2022, Water Walkers gather near the peace poles on the Houghton waterfront after completing Day 1 of the 3-day walk from Baraga. Some make a tobacco offering for the water as the walkers prepare for a group photograph. The Rev. Bucky Beach, pastor of Good Shepherd Lutheran Church in Houghton, who participated in the walk, speaks about the peace poles, noting the Ojibwa/Anishinaabe language is one of several languages with a message for peace written on the poles.

The weather is still a bit chilly as Water Walkers gather for a group photo on the Houghton waterfront after completing the first day of the Walk. (Photo by Keweenaw Now)

As walkers arranged for transportation to a feast hosted by Finlandia University in Hancock, a visitor to the Keweenaw, Wil Strickland of Ann Arbor, told Keweenaw Now why he decided to join the Water Walk.

Wil Strickland describes his work in making ribbon skirts for some of the kwe (women) walkers and tells Keweenaw Now why he traveled all the way from Ann Arbor, Mich., to join the Walk.

Finlandia University in Hancock hosts the Water Walkers for a feast the evening of Oct. 8. (Photo © and courtesy Kathleen Smith)

Kathleen Smith's son Jacob is pictured here with a work by a local artist, welcoming the Water Walkers to the feast following the walk on Oct. 8. (Photo © and courtesy Kathleen Smith)

Day 2: Oct. 9, 2022:

Day 2 of the Walk, Sunday, Oct. 9, began at dawn as participants crossed the Portage Lift Bridge, heading for Eagle River.

Kathleen Smith's son Caleb carries the eagle staff across the Lift Bridge very early on Sunday, Oct. 9. (Photo © and courtesy Kathleen Smith)

As the group passed through Laurium, a mother and her two children joined them.

Kathleen Smith posted on Facebook this photo she took along with this comment: "Beautiful story with this mother and two children. They read the water walkers children's book. They tried to walk with us earlier but went to a different highway. They ended up at a park and we showed up. They got to walk with us." (Photo © and courtesy Kathleen Smith)

Carol Rose, a local resident who wanted to show support for the walkers, treated them to their choice of an ice cream cone, pop or coffee at Sundae in the Park when they walked through Mohawk.

Later, after completing the Day 2 walk near Eagle River, the Water Walkers returned to Mohawk to enjoy a feast at Bethany Lutheran Church.

At the end of their second long day of walking, participants in the Water Walk restore their energy with a feast hosted by Bethany Lutheran Church in Mohawk. (Photo © Theresa Pitts and courtesy Kathleen Smith) 

Chief cooks for the Walkers, Rachael Pressley (left) and Emily Shaw, enjoy their behind-the-scenes work of providing food (miijim) for the hungry participants in the Water Walk. (Photo © and courtesy Kathleen Smith)

Day 3: Oct. 10, 2022 -- Indigenous Peoples' Day

Day 3, the final day of the Walk, began at dawn along M-26 just south of Eagle River, despite a chilly 25 degrees F.

A cold but beautiful sky at dawn near Eagle River greeted the Water Walkers. (Photo © and courtesy Gichigamikwe Terri Swartz)

Walkers began their third and final day of the Walk with a song and chant in the Ojibwa language:

Just outside Eagle River at dawn on Oct. 10, Kathleen Smith leads Water Walkers in the Nibi (Water) Song. The pronunciation is as follows:
Ne-be Gee Zah- gay- e- goo
Gee Me-gwetch -wayn ne- me – goo
Gee Zah Wayn ne- me- goo
The words mean "Water, we love you.
We thank you.
We respect you."*

From Eagle River the Water Walkers headed toward their final destination, Copper Harbor.

Leaving Eagle River, Water Walkers head up M-26 along Lake Superior to Copper Harbor. (Photo © and courtesy Gichigamikwe Terri Swartz)

While Walkers carrying the copper vessel of Nibi and the eagle staff kept moving without stopping, some participants paused briefly at Great Sand Bay, between Eagle River and Eagle Harbor, where Keweenaw Now was able to interview them. Sunshine warmed up the day a bit.

Participants in the 4th annual People of the Heart Water Walk pass Great Sand Bay on Lake Superior on their way to Copper Harbor on Oct. 10, 2022, Indigenous Peoples' Day.

Marsha Pfarr of Baraga told Keweenaw Now why she volunteered to be a driver for the Walk.

Marsha Pharr, who volunteers to drive the People of the Heart Water Walkers, tells Keweenaw Now why this is important to her as an Anishinaabek. The interview took place on Oct. 10, 2022, at Great Sand Bay on Lake Superior.

Charli Mills of Hancock, Mich., describes what she has learned from participating in the four annual People of the Heart Water Walks with the Anishinaabek.

The Rev. Julie Belew, pastor of Holy Cross Lutheran Church in Baraga, speaks about her participation in the fourth annual People of the Heart Water Walk during a pause at Great Sand Bay on Lake Superior on Oct. 10, 2022, Indigenous Peoples' Day.

During a Water Walk relay stop at Great Sand Bay on the Keweenaw Peninsula on Oct. 10, 2022, Indigenous Peoples' Day, Kathleen Smith of the Keweenaw Bay Indian Community (KBIC), who now works for the Great Lakes Indian Fish and Wildlife Commission (GLIFWC) as protector of wild rice, speaks about the purpose of the People of the Heart Water Walk, which she has helped organize and lead for four years.

Theresa Pitts, KBIC member and Water Walker, participated this year for the third time in the People of the Heart Water Walk.** She has also participated in a children's water walk.  Pitts told Keweenaw Now her impression of what made this year's walk unique.

"This year’s Walk was first and foremost a healing journey for Nibi; but, as it happened, it was also a journey of solace for some of our walkers," Pitts noted. "This was the first time I’d seen that dynamic in the Walk, which gave rise to some poignant moments that will stay in my heart for the rest of my life."

Gichigamikwe Terri Swartz of KBIC, co-founder of the People of the Heart Water Walk, returns Nibi to Lake Superior at the final stop near Copper Harbor on Oct. 10, Indigenous Peoples' Day. (Photo © and courtesy Steve Brimm)

In a Facebook post accompanying the above photo, photographer Steve Brimm of Copper Harbor expresses these thoughts:
"Nibi is life.  
For three days, the water must not stop. Carried as caringly as a newborn, solely by Kwe, it gathers power and heals. Released at the end of the journey, to carry the medicine of positive intent to all of the waters, to all living things."***


* Click here for more details on the Nibi Song.

** See the Oct. 18, 2021, Keweenaw Now guest article by Theresa Pitts, "People of the Heart Water Walk offers hope for area lake."

*** Reprinted with permission.

Tuesday, October 25, 2022

Guy Meadows appointed by Gov. Whitmer to state's Environmental Permit Review Commission

By Michele Bourdieu, with information from Tech Today, Michigan Tech University, and Michigan Office of the Governor

Michigan Tech University Senior Research Scientist Guy Meadows, director of Michigan Tech's Marine Engineering Laboratory and founding director of Michigan Tech's Great Lakes Research Center (GLRC), has been appointed by Gov. Gretchen Whitmer to the state's Environmental Permit Review Commission (EPRC).

Inset photo: Dr. Guy Meadows. (File photo courtesy Michigan Tech University)

The EPRC was created to advise the director of the Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy (EGLE) on disputes related to permits and permit applications. The EPRC may advise the EGLE director on any permit or operating license issued by EGLE under the Natural Resources Environmental Protection Act, 1994 PA 451, as amended (NREPA), or the rules promulgated under NREPA.

"I am deeply honored to be considered for such an impactful commission," Dr. Meadows told Keweenaw Now.

Meadows holds Bachelor of Science and Master of Science Engineering degrees in Mechanical Engineering from Michigan State University and a Ph.D. in Marine Science from Purdue University.

Before coming to Michigan Tech in 2012 to help establish the Great Lakes Research Center, Meadows served as Professor of Physical Oceanography for 35 years at the University of Michigan, College of Engineering, where he served the College and University as Director of the Ocean Engineering Laboratory, Director of the Cooperative Institute for Limnology and Ecosystems Research (NOAA, Joint Institute), Director of the Marine Hydrodynamics Laboratories and founding Academic Director of the M-STEM Academy.*

According to his biography, Meadows' primary goal has been "to blend scientific understanding and technological advancements into environmentally sound engineering solutions for the marine environment, through teaching, research and service."*

Guy Meadows chats with Michigan Sen. Debbie Stabenow during her visit to the Great Lakes Research Center in April, 2017, when she heard from Michigan Tech faculty and students about projects related to the Great Lakes. (Keweenaw Now file photo)

Meadows' less formal teaching includes five nationally televised documentaries for the History and Discovery Channels. His primary research interests are in geophysical fluid dynamics with emphasis on environmental forecasting and full-scale, Great Lakes and coastal ocean experimental hydrodynamics. In this arena, he has influenced policy and explored societal impacts of environmental forecasting for coastal management, recreational health and safety, and regional climate change.*

Guy Meadows is pictured here with Michigan Tech's environmental monitoring buoy that was deployed on Aug. 18, 2015, in the Straits of Mackinac, just west of the Mackinac Bridge. The buoy is intended to provide real-time environmental monitoring of the water conditions and to improve safety for Enbridge's pipelines under the Straits. (File photo courtesy Guy Meadows of Michigan Tech University)

In 2018 Meadows led a team of 41 researchers from 7 universities plus the NOAA Great Lakes Environmental Research Laboratory in Ann Arbor, who conducted an independent risk analysis of Enbridge’s two Line 5 pipelines beneath the Straits of Mackinac. Their report details several different worst-case scenarios and outlines impacts for each. The final report, "Independent Risk Analysis for the Straits Pipelines," published in September 2018, is posted here.**


* Read more of Guy Meadows' Biography and work on the Michigan Tech Web site. See also his story about growing up in Detroit and his first job working on a beach, as told to Cyndi Perkins.

** See a short Detroit Public TV YouTube video from Great Lakes Now of Guy Meadows describing the report during a meeting for public comments on the draft report in August 2018.

Monday, October 24, 2022

Oct. 24: Last day to register online or by mail for voting in Nov. 8 election; absentee ballots available

Today, Monday, Oct. 24, is the last day for Michigan residents to register online or by mail to vote for the Nov. 8 general election. Eligible Michigan citizens can register online at until midnight tonight, or by mail if their application is postmarked with today's date. After today, residents can still register to vote in person at their local clerk’s office until 8 p.m. on Election Day

"Michigan voters have multiple safe and secure options to make their voices heard in their communities and registering to vote is the first step," said Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson. "Eligible citizens should register online today or make a plan to register in person at their city or township clerk’s office by 8 p.m. on November 8."

Citizens who have already registered can still request an absentee ballot online at, or at their local election clerk's office. At their clerk’s office, they can also be issued an absentee ballot, vote it, and return it in the same visit.

Voters who already have their absentee ballot are encouraged to mail it today (with stamp or stamps) to avoid postal delays, or hand-deliver (no postage required) their absentee ballot to their clerk’s office or secure drop box. All ballots must be received by clerks by 8 p.m. on Election Day to be counted.

Polls will be open for in-person voting from 7 a.m. until 8 p.m. on Nov. 8.

Monday, October 17, 2022

Local supporters of women's reproductive rights and Proposal 3 hold Women's March on Lift Bridge

By Michele Bourdieu

After a windy march across the Portage Lift Bridge and back, participants in the October 8, 2022, Women's March display their signs for women's rights and Proposal 3 on the Michigan ballot this November, which would restore the rights of Michiganders to make their own private decisions about pregnancy and abortion. Click on photo for larger version. (Photos by Keweenaw Now unless otherwise indicated.)

HOUGHTON -- A very cold wind on the Portage Lift Bridge did not deter about 50 participants from marching in solidarity with the national "Women's Wave March" for women's rights, reproductive freedom, and a multi-racial democracy -- held on October 8, 2022, in cities and towns across the U.S.*

After meeting briefly in Bridgeview Park in Houghton, the group walked across the bridge to Hancock and back, displaying signs about women's reproductive rights, now jeopardized again in many states since the recent U.S. Supreme Court decision ending Roe v. Wade protection for safe abortion and leaving decisions on reproductive freedom to the states.

In Michigan this action also called attention to Proposal 3 on the November Michigan ballot, which would restore the rights of Michiganders to make their own private decisions about pregnancy and abortion by enshrining abortion rights in the Michigan Constitution.**

Victoria Bergvall of the League of Women Voters of the Copper Country displays her sign in support of Proposition 3 on reproductive freedom and Proposition 2, a constitutional amendment to put key voting rights directly in the Michigan Constitution. Both Proposition 2 and Proposition 3 are on the Michigan November ballot thanks to grassroots organizing to collect a record number of required voter signatures.***

Keweenaw Now asked some participants to give their reasons for joining the march. Becky Darling of Chassell and Michele Southerland of Laurium replied.

Waiting for the Oct. 8, 2022, Women's March to begin at Bridgeview Park in Houghton, MI, Becky Darling of Chassell and Michele Southerland of Laurium tell Keweenaw Now why they are participating. (Videos by Keweenaw Now)

Hancock resident Susan Burack, who organized the local March, noted this was not the first time Keweenaw residents marched for women's rights.

Susan Burack of Hancock, organizer of the Oct. 8, 2022, Women's March from Houghton to Hancock and back across the Portage Lift Bridge, describes the purpose of the March, which was held in solidarity with Women's marches across the U.S. and also, locally, in support of Proposal 3 on the Michigan November ballot, which supports women's reproductive freedom.

Dr. Bob Lorinser, Michigan 1st District Democratic candidate for Congress, sent a message to the participants in the Houghton Women's March via his volunteer campaign representative Noah Hatch.

As participants in the Oct. 8, 2022, Women's Walk prepared to march across the Portage Lift Bridge from Houghton to Hancock and back, Noah Hatch delivers a message from Dr. Bob Lorinser, Michigan 1st District Democratic Congressional candidate, in support of women's reproductive rights.****

Dana Wright, who recently moved to the Keweenaw from Ann Arbor, also told Keweenaw Now her reason for marching.

Despite interference from a loud seaplane flying over the Portage Canal, participant Dana Wright tells Keweenaw Now she participated in marches for women's rights in Ann Arbor before moving recently to the Keweenaw.

In Bridgeview Park Harriet King, second from left, shows her support for the Women's March, accompanied by her daughter-in-law and granddaughter and by friends Miriam Pickens, left, and Janeen Stephenson, right.

Participants in the Women's March head up the hill from Bridgeview Park in Houghton to Shelden Avenue and the Portage Lift Bridge.

After crossing the Portage Lift Bridge to Hancock, marchers return to Houghton, displaying signs for women's reproductive rights.

Several marchers remained on the corner of Shelden Avenue and the bridge to display their signs to passing traffic.

Women's March participants display their signs calling for women's rights on the Houghton side of the Portage Lift Bridge. (Photo © and courtesy Allan Baker)

Following the march, Griffin, Michigan Tech student in mechanical engineering, originally from Kalamazoo, Mich., explained his reason for joining the Women's March.

Griffin, a Michigan Tech mechanical engineering student, tells Keweenaw Now why he believes in supporting women's rights and Michigan's Proposal 3 for reproductive freedom.

Following the march across the bridge, Victoria Bergvall displays the second side of her large sign, with a message for Michigan voters.


* Read about the Women's Wave movement here.

** Read about Proposal 3 in the non-partisan article here.

*** See our May 23, 2022, article, "Concerned residents march for women's reproductive rights, sign petitions for Michigan ballot initiatives." 

**** See our Oct. 12, 2022, article on Dr. Bob Lorinser in Hancock. It includes a short video with his statements on reproductive rights: "Dr. Bob Lorinser, Michigan 1st District candidate for Congress, meets potential constituents in Hancock and online."