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Saturday, December 05, 2020

Enbridge agrees to extend EGLE review period for NPDES, bottomlands and wetlands permit applications

This slide showing potential wetland impacts from the proposed Line 5 tunnel construction is part of EGLE's presentation during their Sept. 21, 2020, Public Information Session on Enbridge's bottomlands and wetlands permit application. The recording of this session is on You Tube here.

LANSING -- The Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy (EGLE) announced recently that its review of Enbridge Energy’s permit applications to build a utility tunnel under the Straits of Mackinac and relocate the Line 5 oil pipeline has been extended until January 2021.

Enbridge has agreed to extend the timeline for EGLE’s review of the proposed project’s National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System Wastewater Permit (NPDES), bottomlands and wetlands permit applications so EGLE can more thoroughly consider the large volume of public comments, technical information, and recommendations from the State Historic Preservation Office. EGLE had previously expected to reach a decision on the applications during the first week of December 2020.

Under Michigan law, EGLE is the regulatory agency responsible for environmental permitting for the tunnel project, while the Michigan Public Service Commission (MPSC) has siting authority for pipelines that carry crude oil and petroleum products. Enbridge has sought authority from the MPSC to relocate a segment of Line 5 to a proposed tunnel and that matter is the subject of a contested case hearing that is expected to be ruled on in the summer of 2021.

As part of the effort to keep the public informed, EGLE has also partnered with the MPSC and MDOT’s Mackinac Straits Corridor Authority on the state’s Line 5 in Michigan website. The links to video recordings of information meetings and public hearings on the EGLE permits held in September and October are also available on this Line 5 website.

Thursday, December 03, 2020

US Army Corps of Engineers to hold online Public Hearing on Enbridge proposed Line 5 tunnel Dec. 7

Enbridge Line 5 Tunnel figure illustrating tunnel construction, TBM retrieval and pipeline installation. Click here for a more detailed photo by Emily Schaefer. (Image courtesy US Army Corps of Engineers Detroit District)

DETROIT -- The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers will hold an online public hearing from 1 p.m.- 4 p.m. Monday, December 7, 2020, to gather public comments on a permit request for a proposed Enbridge Line 5 pipeline tunnel under the Straits of Mackinac.

The online hearing and written comment period provide a second opportunity for the public to provide information for consideration in evaluating Enbridge Energy, Limited Partnership’s permit application to construct a pipeline tunnel under the bed of Lake Michigan. Written comments are being accepted through December 17, 2020. The Corps’ initial public notice was issued May 15, 2020, and that comment period ended July 14, 2020.

A tunnel constructed under the Straits of Mackinac requires a Corps permit, and the Corps is reviewing the application under the authority of Section 10 of the Rivers and Harbors Act of 1899 and Section 404 of the Clean Water Act.

The public hearing purpose is to acquire information which will be considered in evaluating the permit application and to afford the public an opportunity to present their views, opinions and information on the proposed permit action. Positive or negative comments about the project may be submitted. All written responses must refer to file number LRE-2010-00463-56-A19

"The Corps will consider all comments presented orally during the December 7 hearing or received in writing through the December 17 deadline," said Regulatory Project Manager Katie Otanez.

The Corps will host the hearing through an electronic platform and by telephone. Participants may join the hearing using both audio and web connections or using audio only. Participants who wish to speak will have three minutes to comment. Those who pre-register by email to prior to December 7, 2020, will be called to comment first, followed by those who request to comment during the hearing. If time allows, commenters may supplement their initial comments for one additional three-minute period.

Pre-registration for the online hearing is not required, but Corps officials are requesting anyone wanting to attend email The email should include the following:

-- Participant’s name
-- Organization (if any)
-- If they wish to comment at the hearing.

Those not pre-registering will have an opportunity to comment.

Public hearing attendance is not required to submit written comments -- they can be emailed to or submitted in writing, and postmarked by December 17, 2020, to:

Kerrie E. Kuhne
Chief, Permit Evaluation Western Branch
Regulatory Office
Corps of Engineers, Detroit District
477 Michigan Avenue
Detroit, Michigan 48226-2550

The Corps has not yet prepared an environmental assessment or environmental impact statement. The online public hearing will be held in accordance with the procedures in 33 CFR part 327.

The web and teleconference begins at 1 p.m. Eastern Time on December 07, 2020. You may join the conference 10 minutes prior to 1 p.m.

Step 1: Dial into the conference:
Dial-in: 888-251-2949 or 215-861-0694
Access Code: 6278042#

Need an international dial-in number?

Step 2: Join the conference on your computer via this link:

When you access the entry link above, you will be provided a choice -- to install the WebEx plug-in for your preferred browser or to join the web conference using a temporary path. Either option is acceptable.

Need technical assistance?
Audio Connection: 1-888-796-6118 or 1-847-562-7015
Web Connection: 1-888-793-6118

Any comments received will be considered in the Corps’ determination on whether to issue, modify, condition or deny a permit for this proposal. To make this decision, comments are used to assess impacts on endangered species, historic properties, water quality, general environmental effects and other public interest factors. Comments are used in the preparation of an environmental assessment, environmental impact statement or both, pursuant to the National Environmental Policy Act. Comments are also used to determine whether the activity is contrary to the overall public interest.

The existing Enbridge Line 5 pipeline was constructed in 1953 to transport crude oil and natural gas liquids. Line 5 is 645 miles long in total, and transports products from Superior, Wisconsin to Sarnia, Ontario, Canada.

For a detailed project description see the Public Notice of May 15, 2020.

Editor's Note: For background see our July 8, 2020, article, "UPDATED: US Army Corps of Engineers seeks public comment on Enbridge permit application for proposed tunnel under Mackinac Straits; deadline extended to July 14."

Monday, November 30, 2020

UPDATED: People of the Heart Water Walkers create awareness of Water with second annual 3-day walk near Lake Superior; some honor Water near home during pandemic

By Michele Bourdieu

People of the Heart Water Walkers arrive at their destination, the Lighthouse overlook at Copper Harbor, on Oct. 12, 2020, Indigenous Peoples' Day. (Photo © and courtesy Steve Brimm Photography)

Gichigamikwe Terri Denomie of the Keweenaw Bay Indian Community (KBIC) has participated in 10 Water Walks and has been the organizer or co-organizer of eight of them, including this year's Second Annual People of the Heart Water Walk -- which began in Baraga on Oct. 10 and concluded in Copper Harbor on Oct. 12, Indigenous Peoples' Day.

View of Keweenaw Bay, Lake Superior, from the start of the 2020 Water Walk near Baraga, Michigan. (Photo © and courtesy Gichigamikwe Terri Denomie) 

"On Feb. 22, 2019, I was at the Three Fires Midewiwin Lodge with my Lodge Family when we got the news of Grandma Josephine’s passing," Denomie said. "I knew that day why I was where I was at! I made a promise to myself and Nibi* that I continue our work that Grandma Josephine started!"

In the Anishinaabe (Ojibwe) culture, women are the protectors of Nibi, the Water. Denomie said she was at the Lodge in 2000 when the Grand Chief warned, "Water will cost as much as gold" in 30 years -- 2030, ten years from now.

"I believe 30 years from now Water will be worth MORE than GOLD!" Denomie said. "I believe if EVERYONE did one thing to help take care our Nibi -- like take your own trash from the Lake, or better yet, pick up what you can even if it isn’t yours --that would make a HUGE difference!"

This year the organizers of the local 90-mile Water Walk faced the challenge of COVID-19. They decided to limit the number of walkers to a small, core group in order to keep to distancing as much as possible but invited supporters to participate in various ways. Some contributed their time and efforts to planning the event, donating food and vehicles, taking photos or offering overnight accommodations. Others participated in spirit by having their own personal water walk or other type of communication with Nibi.

"Bringing awareness to Nibi is what it is all about!" Denomie noted. "Putting my asemaa (sacred tobacco) down and asking Creator to help is what I do! Respecting Her, keeping Her in my daily thoughts and prayers and thanking Her every darn day for that glass of water I start each day with -- brushing my teeth, showering, cooking, cleaning, washing my clothes, and watering new Life, whether it be plants, animals, or humans, WATER IS LIFE!"

Lisa Denomie of KBIC carries Nibi along Keweenaw Bay on US-41 near Arnheim, Michigan, on Oct. 10, 2020, the first day of the People of the Heart Water Walk. Protector Mike Rodriguez carries the Eagle Staff. (Photo courtesy Gichigamikwe Terri Denomie) 

This year the People of the Heart Water Walk began with a water ceremony at dawn on Oct. 10, at the Sand Point Lighthouse on Keweenaw Bay in Baraga, and followed the route of the 2019 Water Walk, but in reverse order, since last year it began in Copper Harbor and ended in Baraga.**

For the participants who spent the night of Oct. 9 at the Sand Point Campground the preparations included a box dinner of venison chili and black bean chili that evening, thanks to cook chiefs Emily Shaw and Rachael Pressley, who also delivered breakfast items early the next morning for the walkers.

Denomie, foreground, is joined by the Serene Smith family near Keweenaw Bay on Oct. 10, the first day of the Water Walk. (Photo © and courtesy Gichigamikwe Terri Denomie)

Co-organizer Kathleen Smith of KBIC, who drove a van this year in support of the walkers, expressed her appreciation for all the community members who participated in bringing awareness to the Water.

"As we do this work for our precious Nibi, that beautiful life giving resource, we are beginning the healing process through community awareness and by bringing all people together," Smith commented. "As we bring awareness to Nibi through prayer and songs, we  plant seeds in our communities. With much support through the Indigenous Peoples' Day Campaign in celebration of all indigenous nations, MTU has joined our effort. Miigwechiwendem to all that supported the People of the Heart Water Walk and the people that were with us in spirit. With their thoughts and prayers it made our hearts full. I am humbled by the support of the people that stopped to acknowledge us on our three-day journey. Miigwechiwendem to all who walked with us."

Smith was in Houghton early on the morning of Oct. 11 to do a water ceremony on the Keweenaw Waterway at Bridgeview Park and to do ceremonial smudging of walkers as they prepared to cross the Portage Lift Bridge, heading north.

At Bridgeview Park in Houghton, Kathleen Smith, right, smudges water walkers (a purification tradition) as they prepare to begin Day 2 of the Water Walk, Oct. 11, by crossing the Portage Lift Bridge. (Photo by Keweenaw Now)

Here the small group of walkers -- led by Denomie, carrying Nibi in a copper pail, and Jacob, Kathleen Smith's son, carrying the Eagle Staff as protector -- head up to Shelden Avenue on their way to the Lift Bridge:

At dawn on Oct. 11, 2020, heading toward the Portage Lift Bridge, People of the Heart water walkers begin the second day of their three-day walk from Baraga to Copper Harbor. Other participants will join them later in the day for their walk near the Keweenaw Waterway and Lake Superior. (Video by Keweenaw Now)

Donica Hope Dravillas of Copper Harbor participated in both of the People of the Heart Water Walks.

"Now more than ever we need to advocate for our precious waters," Dravillas said. "I live surrounded by water and amongst amazing strong men and women who have mutual understanding of this concept. It is an honor to learn from Anishinaabekwe Terri Denomie and Kathleen Smith (we cannot do this without them) while we walk Nibi between these two communities. Every Water Walk I have experienced is different (never the same) and always powerful!"

On Oct. 11, after crossing the Portage Lift Bridge, Water Walkers head for Lake Linden. Here the Rev. Julie Belew, pastor of Holy Cross Lutheran Church in Baraga, carries Nibi; and Mike Rodriguez is the protector carrying the Eagle Staff. (Photo © and courtesy Donica Dravillas)
KBIC member Theresa Pitts joined the Water Walk near her home in Hubbell.
Theresa Pitts of Hubbell, carrying the Eagle Staff, joins Donica Dravillas, who carries Nibi, on the sunny Day 2 of the Water Walk. (Photo © and courtesy Gichigamikwe Terri Denomie)

"This was my first year to participate in the Water Walk," Pitts told Keweenaw Now. "Primarily, I worked behind the scenes with administrative tasks, but I was able to carry Nibi through my hometown of Hubbell. Torch Lake has long been working to recover from the damages of mining pollution, and I felt like I was able to further promote its healing. It meant a lot to me."

The Rev. Julie Belew continues carrying Nibi in Calumet. Here she is accompanied by her husband, the Rev. Bucky Beach, carrying the Eagle Staff. The couple also welcomed walkers to their home. (Photo © and courtesy Gichigamikwe Terri Denomie)

The Rev. Bucky Beach, pastor of Good Shepherd Lutheran Church in Houghton, as he had done last year, welcomed the walkers to his church. He also participated in the walk this year by carrying the Eagle Staff as a protector.

Commenting on this year's walk, Beach said he was reminded of a wonderful piece about Rabbi Abraham Heschel and Martin Luther King Jr: "When Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel was asked upon his return from the 1965 Selma to Montgomery voting rights march with Dr. Martin Luther King, 'Did you find time to pray?' he famously answered, 'I prayed with my feet.'"

Beach added, "We walked for the water. We walked for our whole community and earth. It was an honor to walk, pray and be together."

Mothers and daughters walk together

Florine Chosa (one of the Core Walkers in People of the Heart Water Walk), Anishinaabe Nokomis from KBIC and mother of Kathleen Smith, carries Nibi through the Laurium community Sunday afternoon, Oct. 11. Mike Rodriguez carries the Eagle Staff. "Florine has been doing this work for many years and continues to advocate for our water," Smith said. (Photo © and courtesy Kathleen Smith)
Nokomis from KBIC, Barbara Jean Swartz and her daughter, Gichigamikwe Terri Denomie, carry Nibi and the Eagle Staff on the walk along US 41 Sunday evening, Oct. 11. (Photo © and courtesy Lauri Denomie of KBIC Newsletter. Reprinted with permission.)

On a rainy Oct. 12 in Copper Harbor, Donica Dravillas is joined by her daughter, Maddie, who carries the Eagle Staff during the final leg of the Water Walk. (Photo © and courtesy Gichigamikwe Terri Denomie)
Cynthia Drake of Ripley, who participated in the 2019 Water Walk, decided to do a personal spiritual journey this year with the water during the weekend of the People of the Heart Water Walk. Cynthia's daughters accompanied her on a walk near Lake Superior at McLain State Park, where she made a cairn on the beach -- a Gaelic tradition signifying respect.
Accompanied by her daughters, Cynthia Drake built this cairn on the beach at McLain State Park. (Photo © and courtesy Cynthia Drake)

Cynthia Drake, right, is pictured here with her daughters, Samantha, left, and Danielle -- who accompanied her to McLain State Park Friday, Oct. 9, to begin her spiritual journey with the water near Lake Superior. (Photo © and courtesy Cynthia Drake)
"I have some Celtic roots and it felt right at that moment to build a cairn," Drake told Keweenaw Now. "This whole journey for me with the water has been about ancestors and community. It is about how water draws the life through us all and connects us all in vital ways through time and through our relatedness with one another. Water is life."
Ripley Falls, behind the home of Cynthia Drake, was the scene of a mudslide that caused severe damage to her home during the Father's Day flood of 2018. Drake said she considers herself a guardian of the Falls. (Photo © and courtesy Cynthia Drake)
"It was a very personal journey," Drake said of her weekend spent with her daughters near the Falls at home and Lake Superior as well. "I'm connected to the waterway back here intimately. I was since well before the mudslide, and the mudslide just reinforced that for me -- that connection and me staying here because I talk to the water all the time."

Water Walkers undaunted by rain on Indigenous Peoples' Day

On Day 3 -- Monday, Oct. 12 -- Water Walkers set out early from Eagle River heading up M-203 near Lake Superior toward their destination, Copper Harbor.

Ronnie Mae Krueger of Copper Harbor carries Nibi, and Gichigamikwe Terri Denomie, carrying the Eagle Staff, walks with her in Eagle River. On Oct. 11 Krueger posted on Facebook, "I am honored and blessed to be called a Water Walker and to be walking with these wonderful people!" (Photo © and courtesy Donica Hope Dravillas)

Heading up M-203 from Eagle River on Monday morning, Oct. 12, are Donica Dravillas, center, carrying Nibi, Mike Rodriguez carrying the Eagle Staff, and Erika Vye of Copper Harbor. (Photo © and courtesy Gichigamikwe Terri Denomie)

As the walkers neared Great Sand Bay, winds picked up along the Lake Superior shore and rain clouds threatened a storm.

Undaunted by a coming storm on Lake Superior, People of the Heart Water Walkers reach Great Sand Bay and continue up M-26 toward Eagle Harbor and Copper Harbor, their final destination, on Oct. 12, 2020 -- Indigenous Peoples' Day. (Video by Keweenaw Now)

Trying to beat the storm, Donica Dravillas carries Nibi and Mike Rodriguez carries the Eagle Staff at Great Sand Bay. A reporter, at right, blowing in the wind, takes a video. (Photo © and courtesy Gichigamikwe Terri Denomie)

Water Walkers Gichigamikwe Terri Denomie, left, and the Rev. Julie Belew pause for a photo in the wind at Great Sand Bay on Oct. 12. (Photo by Keweenaw Now)

As Water Walkers approached Eagle Harbor on Monday afternoon, the rainstorm struck -- with thunder and lightning -- but the Walk continued, with core participants taking turns carrying Nibi and the Eagle Staff on the way to their Copper Harbor destination.

People of the Heart Water Walk participants brave the wet, windy weather as they continue along Lake Superior through Eagle Harbor on Indigenous Peoples' Day. Here Erika Vye of Copper Harbor carries Nibi, and the Rev. Bucky Beach carries the Eagle Staff. Their van follows closely for security. (Video by Keweenaw Now)

During the walk, Gichigamikwe Terri Denomie captured this scenic view of Lake Superior between Eagle Harbor and Copper Harbor. She calls it Nibide (heart of the water). (Photo © and courtesy Gichigamikwe Terrie Denomie) 

The rain continued, but the walkers finally reached Copper Harbor, where supporters joined them.

Co-organizer Kathleen Smith commented on the rain.

"As the rain fell upon us it was cleansing. Those that are compelled to do this work were determined to walk and didn't mind walking in the rain," Smith said. "Many people are becoming aware of People of the Heart Water Walk and asked questions, supported and waved. We are planting the seeds of awareness for our precious Nibi throughout Copper Country."

In Copper Harbor, in the wind and the rain, some local residents join the Water Walkers during the last leg of their journey on Oct. 12. (Photo © and courtesy Steve Brimm Photography)

Among the Copper Harbor residents, some of them elders of the community, who joined the Walk were Sherry Mattson, carrying Nibi, and her husband, Rick Draper, carrying the Eagle Staff (in foreground of above photo).

"Both Rick and I (we are both retired Episcopal priests) chose to honor Nibi as we walked on our shore," Mattson told Keweenaw Now. "We believe being part of indigenous celebrations connects us to the historic practices of the Keweenaw. We are also committed to anti-racism."

Marquette resident Kristine McPeak, a 2012 Finlandia University graduate, said she plans to be here for the third annual People of the Heart Water Walk. McPeak said she uses her physical therapy training from Finlandia working as a holistic healer and health coach.

"I had been carrying Artesian well water for almost a year not realizing there was a ceremony around doing so," McPeak said. "Now I carry her with great love and attention." 

Kristine McPeak's Artesian well water. (Photo © and courtesy Kristine McPeak)

"I shall be there for the third Nibi walk," McPeak said. "I'm honored and excited to learn how I can help be a caretaker for water."

Laura Smyth of Calumet, who participated in the 2019 People of the Heart Water Walk, was disappointed not to be able to walk this year, though she helped with the planning.

"Sadly, I wasn't able to participate this year," Smyth told Keweenaw Now. "I was initially participating in the planning and intending to walk but due to the pandemic I ended up not walking. I'm so proud of and impressed by the people who managed it this year despite all the added complications that COVID 19 created."

Finally, Co-organizer Gichigamikwe Terri Denomie posted this on Facebook: "Chi miigwech to EVERYONE that had any part in this! It is so graciously appreciated by us all!"

Denomie added this comment on her relationship with Nibi: "I will always Walk the Talk, I will always Walk for Her as long as there is She and I! I will be doing a few mini walks on my own too!"


*Nibi is the Anishinaabe word for Water. Grandma Josephine, Josephine Mandamin of Thunder Bay, Ontario -- who walked about 25,000 miles on the shorelines of the Great Lakes and other waterways -- passed away on  February 22, 2019. She founded the Mother Earth Water Walkers and carried a bucket of water to raise awareness of the need to protect Nibi from pollution.

** See our Nov. 5, 2019, article on the first People of the Heart Water Walk, "Native, non-Native water protectors complete 90-mile Water Walk near Lake Superior."

See also the Nov. 11, 2019, article by Charli Mills, "Guest Article: Experiencing People of the Heart Water Walk."

This article has been updated for some details in identifying walkers.