Dear Michigan LCV Family,
Welcome to the December 3rd edition of Three Things Thursday! This week’s edition is focused on the latest on the Line 5 fight, the 2020 lame duck session in Michigan’s legislature, and an event to honor and support Governor Whitmer.
1. Line 5 and Enbridge Energy’s recent lawsuit against the State of Michigan
Last week, as we anticipated, Enbridge filed a lawsuit in federal court attempting to block Governor Gretchen Whitmer’s order to shut down Line 5. Since 1953, when the easement was instituted, Enbridge has (at least in part) respected the state’s authority in enforcing the agreement. Ironically, now that Governor Whitmer has taken decisive steps to end the operation of the pipeline, Enbridge’s position has shifted to attack the state’s authority. The company’s efforts to stop the shutdown of the pipeline show how little respect is afforded to the state of Michigan, sovereign Tribal nations, hundreds of thousands of Michiganders whose lives would be irrevocably impacted by an oil disaster, and the livelihoods of so many who depend on the health of our Great Lakes (think recreational, shipping, fishing and tourism businesses, as example). In short, Enbridge’s lawsuit illustrates — once again — that the Canadian oil company is only concerned with its own bottom line.
Having established a record of total disregard for the safety of our Great Lakes and regional economy, Enbridge’s lawsuit is an attempt to avoid responsibility and delay an inevitable shutdown. The lawsuit argues that Michigan and its residents do not have a say in whether the Great Lakes are protected, instead suggesting that federal regulatory bodies should decide whether the pipeline is safe to operate.
The State of Michigan has the authority to enforce the easement agreement and a responsibility to the people of Michigan to protect our regional economy and way of life. By shutting down the damaged, dangerous Line 5, a new precedent can be set for shutting down pipelines that are in violation of their easements before a rupture or oil spill occurs. Rather than wait for a disaster in the Straits of Mackinac, which would totally devastate the Great Lakes, Governor Whitmer took action.
I encourage you to check out the statement we sent out last week after Enbridge’s lawsuit was announced, as well as read this recent opinion editorial in the Lansing State Journal by Bryan Newland who is a Chippewa Ottawa Resource Authority (CORA) board member and serves as chair of the Bay Mills Indian Community.
I also invite you to tune into WEMU 89.1 FM tomorrow morning at 6:50 AM for the December edition of 1st Friday Focus on the Environment. Program Director David Fair and I will be interviewing National Wildlife Federation’s Beth Wallace. We will dig into the Governor’s decision, Enbridge’s lawsuit and what happens next.
2. The 2020 Lame Duck Legislative Session
Following a two-week break over the Thanksgiving Holiday, the Michigan Legislature returned to Lansing on Tuesday, officially kicking off the Lame Duck legislative session.
This year’s Lame Duck session is going to be different than years past. The unfortunate truth is that many lawmakers have been impacted by COVID-19, and some have even lost their lives. So far, at least 10 members of the Michigan Legislature have contracted the deadly virus, the latest of whom is Rep. John Chirkun, which was announced on Monday.
Given the tumultuous times we are in, we do not anticipate that the Legislature will have a huge appetite for activity, although there are a few items we are watching carefully. You can find our 2020 Michigan LCV Lame Duck Priorities on our website.
3. Honoring and Supporting Governor Whitmer
Governor Whitmer has done so much to protect our state and the people who live here. From announcing the most comprehensive climate change executive order in our state’s history and putting Michiganders to work promoting clean water to shutting down Line 5, Governor Whitmer has exhibited extraordinary leadership during her first two years in office.
For all these reasons and many more, I am personally serving as a host for a fundraising event to celebrate the Governor’s bold actions in really tough times. This event is being spearheaded by a cadre of tremendous Michigan LCV Board members, including Janis Bobrin, Bruce Wallace, Riyaz Kanji, Phil Roos, Gary Bice, Lynn Brown, Mike O’Donnell, Bill Phillips, Denise Thal, and John McGarry. If you are interested in attending the event, there’s still time to make that happen. You can RSVP through Give Green here. I hope you will consider joining us!
Thank you so much for all you do to support our work. Happy December to all. Stay safe. Be well. Until next week….
P.S. We hope and expect that a bill to update the Great Lakes Environmental Sensitivity Index (ESI) maps will pass the U.S. House of Representatives today. ESI maps document the potential ecological impacts to natural and human-use resources from possible oil spills, natural disasters, and resource damage assessments — critical for recovery, research, and restoration efforts. Having already passed the Senate by unanimous consent, the bill’s passage in the House would send it to the President for enactment. The legislation is led by Senator Peters along with House sponsors Representatives Kildee, Huizenga, and Dingell (and Rep. Joyce from Ohio).