See our right-hand column for announcements and news briefs. Scroll down the right-hand column to access the Archives -- links to articles posted in the main column since 2007.

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.