Michigan Environmental Report
Enbridge Energy’s Line 5 tunnel proposal is in no way a done deal, and a hearing Friday before the Michigan Public Service Commission is just one example of the continued review process the corporation must undergo, several environmental groups said today.
While Enbridge Energy may have received permits from the Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes & Energy (EGLE) for the Line 5 tunnel, that is just the tip of the iceberg. Before construction can begin, Enbridge still needs approval from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, the Michigan Public Service Commission and multiple local municipalities.
Michigan’s people, places and economy are en route to being healthier and more resilient thanks in part to the Wednesday appointments of environmental champions to the state’s new Council on Climate Solutions.
The citizen-led group will formulate Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s MI Healthy Climate Plan and ensure it is justly implemented. The Plan will help Michigan fight off the worst of climate change by guiding it toward carbon neutrality by 2050.
Among the Council’s appointees was Charlotte Jameson, Michigan Environmental Council’s program director for legislative affairs, drinking water and energy. She will serve as the Council’s co-chair of the buildings and housing workgroup.
On Friday, Jan. 29, the Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes & Energy approved permits for Canadian company Enbridge to build a tunnel under the Straits of Mackinac that could house a new Line 5 -- if the pipeline, wrapped up in court cases, is approved.
“One of EGLE’s roles is to protect Michigan’s environment -- it’s in its name,” said Sean Hammond, policy director for Michigan Environmental Council. “Friday’s decision to allow Enbridge, a company known for its oil spills, to build a Line 5 tunnel through our Great Lakes is a step toward environmental peril. The insufficient geotechnical data provided in the application alone should not allow this permit approval.”
President Joe Biden took strong, proactive steps Tuesday to protect the health of people, communities, nature and food systems by fighting climate change. The efforts, coupled with Michigan's own, will make state residents' lives better while laying the groundwork for bigger, bold change, said Michigan Environmental Council leadership.
“President Joe Biden’s commitments to combat climate change are science-driven, critical and rightfully place environmental justice at their center to protect communities,” said Charlotte Jameson, director of legislative affairs, drinking water and clean energy for MEC.
Michigan Senate Republicans put politics ahead of improving the lives of their constituents Tuesday when they rejected 13 expert appointees to citizen commissions and boards in a show against Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s COVID-19 decisions.
The party line rejection vote means appointees cannot be considered again for their respective workgroups, which provide policy recommendations to the state government and its elected leaders.
Included were four environmental appointees: Thomas Baird and David Cozad to the Natural Resources Commission; Erin Kricher to the Rural Development Fund Board; and Cheryl Kobernik to the Commission of Agriculture and Rural Development.
Michigan Environmental Council, Michigan League of Conservation Voters, Ecology Center and Environmental Law & Policy Center applauded President Joe Biden’s executive action re-committing the United States to the Paris Climate Agreement on his first day in office.
“During the past four years, the Trump administration rolled back, weakened, or eliminated more than 100 environmental and public health safeguards which increased air and water pollution that put peoples’ health at risk,” said Charlotte Jameson, program director for legislative affairs, energy and drinking water at the Michigan Environmental Council. “The previous administration only made the climate crisis worse by dismissing scientists, ignoring environmental justice and threatening our health and environment. President Biden is outlining his vision for a more resilient nation and inviting everyone to join the effort.”
On Tuesday, Jan. 19, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer released the Michigan COVID Recovery Plan. Included was a commitment to a clean energy jobs training program. Michigan Environmental Council President/CEO Conan Smith issued the following statement in response:
“Gov. Whitmer’s commitment to train Michiganders for clean energy jobs is just what we need during a pandemic that has left many people unemployed, many others underemployed and an economy struggling. What’s more, Gov. Whitmer’s decision was grounded in environmental justice. The training program will provide good, secure jobs to those that have long been systematically gatekept from them, and it is in tandem with her commitment to statewide carbon neutrality by 2050. Both results will make Michigan and its residents healthier and more resilient.”
The fog of anxiety was thick for many as we trudged through an exhausting election and an ever-present pandemic. Yet, bright lights cut through.
Laws, decisions and amendments passed at 2020’s end will make the health of Michigan’s people, places and finances stronger in 2021 and beyond.
Check out the wins from late 2020 that MEC helped secure. Let’s ring the bells once more!