Three Things Thursday: Line 5-the saga continues; voter engagement; and MLCV talking climate and water protection at the state and national level
Dear Michigan LCV Family,
Welcome to the July 2nd edition of Three Things Thursday. I hope this message finds each and every one of you safe and healthy.
1. Energy Commission Rejects Enbridge’s Request to Forgo Oversight
As I mentioned in last week’s update, Enbridge Energy asked the Michigan Public Service Commission (MPSC) to allow them to move forward with their so-called “tunnel” proposal under their existing 1953 agreement with the state, forgoing a thorough review of the project including — very importantly — potential environmental impact.
On Tuesday, the MPSC held a special meeting to consider this request, which they rejected outright, setting instead a full hearing process for the tunnel proposal. (You can read the MPSC’s order at their special Line 5 web page here.)
While the request by Enbridge was — from our perspective — laughable, we took nothing for granted. In advance of the MPSC convening, we reached out to our members and organized more than 250 people to attend the virtual meeting. More than 20 people delivered public comments, all of them centered around our key message: Enbridge can’t be trusted and the MPSC must hold them accountable.
We are enormously grateful to our members for their time and talent. There will be more opportunities for public engagement in the near future, including a public hearing on August 24 where the MPSC will review their process moving forward and Enbridge’s application. I will keep you posted on how to participate in the coming weeks.
But, that’s not all.
Just over an hour after the MPSC meeting, Judge Jim Jamo of the Ingham County Circuit Court heard lengthy arguments from the Attorney General’s office and Enbridge attorneys to decide what to do about the Attorney General’s motion for a preliminary injunction to stop Line 5’s operation at the Straits.
As you might remember, last week Judge Jamo issued a temporary restraining order that temporarily shut down Line 5 after the discovery of serious damage. Following over four hours of arguments this week, Judge Jamo issued an order that amends the previous order, keeping the east leg of the twin pipelines shut down until the federal Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) completes an investigation of the damage, but allowing the west leg to go back online so the Enbridge can perform tests on it and report back all the findings. Judge Jamo also ordered that Enbridge turn over detailed documentation of everything it knows about the damage and impacts on Line 5 (the kind of transparency and accountability we’ve all been calling for!)
2. “Couch Parties”!!
Last week, we held our second virtual “couch party.” These events focus on educating the public about our new rights as Michigan voters, with an emphasis on voting safely and securely from home and how to make that happen.
We welcomed back amazing guest artist DJ Nicole who played music throughout the program, and Michigan LCV board member George Davis joined us, speaking from the heart about the importance of getting registered and exercising the right to vote.
Michigan LCV Civic Engagement Manager Olivia Bradley served as our emcee, and two of our other teammates, Mark Payne and Crystal Reed, spoke about various ways to get involved, including how to apply to become a poll worker.
We had great engagement on social media and through our Zoom link. If you didn’t get a chance to join us, you can view a recording of the event here. We have two more couch parties planned on July 8 and July 22. Stay tuned for more information!
Finally, as a reminder, anyone wishing to register to vote can do so through our custom Michigan LCV link https://bit.ly/MLCVote.
3. Elevating the Issues Across the State and on the National Stage
A critical part of our work is “framing the debate.” In other words, we work tirelessly to ensure the climate crisis, environmental justice and the protection of our drinking water are continuously elevated in the court of public opinion. And, of course, within all of this our mantra is “whom we elect matters!” Here are just a few examples of our work this week:
A. National webinar re: the climate crisis and the elections
Yesterday, I had the privilege of speaking on a webinar hosted by Third Way called “Responding to the Crisis: Climate and the 2020 Campaign”. My fellow panelists included Rep. Stephanie Murphy (D-FL), Wisconsin Lieutenant Governor Mandela Barnes, and Philadelphia City Councilman Derek Green.
Representing key battleground states, the four of us addressed the disproportionate impact of COVID 19 on communities of color, combined with devastating water shut offs, the economic downturn, and the climate crisis. When asked about how these issues play in Michigan and with “our voters,” I emphasized the issue of toxic contamination in drinking water. I shared that “safe, clean drinking water” is polling highest across ALL issues in Michigan, notably in key battleground state House districts. And, then I explained why:
- We’ve got high lead levels in our drinking water — certainly in Flint, but also in Detroit, Benton Harbor and other urban areas, most of which are predominantly African-American communities.
- We’ve got 1.9 million Michiganders drinking water with some level of toxic PFAS — a highly dangerous, cancer-causing substance used extensively for decades in non-stick products, firefighting foam and carpeting.
- We’ve had water shut offs in many major cities — in the midst of a global pandemic!
Add to this the issue of climate change, the impacts of which we are seeing everywhere:
- Massive erosion along the Great Lakes
- Flooded and devastated farm fields
- Enormous property damage in southeast Michigan from flooded basements
- Two dams in mid-Michigan bursting, draining an entire lake, causing millions of dollars in damage, and displacing thousands … again, in the midst of a global pandemic!
This picture clearly illustrates why “clean, safe water” outperforms everything else, and it is intimately connected to environmental justice and climate change. There are no two ways about this: the 2020 election is crucial for our voters, and the issues we work on every single day are central to the debate.
B. Running for office as a Climate Champion: Stories from rising stars in the environmental movement
Today, National LCV is hosting a special webinar emphasizing the importance of people of color running for office. The discussion will feature U.S. Congressman Joe Neguse (CO-02), Tucson Mayor Regina Romero, and Michigan’s very own state Representative Padma Kuppa (HD-41). These new leaders are strong, determined, essential voices on an array of issues linked to environmental protection, public health and climate action. The audience for this event? Candidates of color all over the country who have stepped up to run for office at some level of government.
We were delighted to partner with National LCV on this event, including promotion and having Michigan LCV Political & Outreach Director Londell Thomas introduce Rep. Kuppa.
C. WEMU 1st Friday Focus on the Environment featuring U.S. Senator Gary Peters
The monthly program I am privileged to co-host (with Program Director David Fair) on WEMU 89.1 FM will air tomorrow morning at 6:50 AM. This month’s edition features a conversation with U.S. Senator Gary Peters. We’ll be discussing the current status of Enbridge’s dangerous Line 5 pipeline, the disproportionate impact of COVID 19 on communities of color and much more.
I invite you to tune in tomorrow (at 89.1 FM or www.wemu.org) and check out the show. We’ll also be posting the interview to our social media when it is live.
As always, thanks for your support of our work. Until next week …