Line 5 Pipeline Shut Down … for How Long?

Straits of Mackinac by Mark Swanson

Straits of Mackinac by Mark Swanson

EDITOR’S NOTE: I believe that the Line 5 pipeline is a ridiculous threat to Michigan’s economy & environment, am quite pleased with it being shut down, and strongly hope that it is shut down for good. Sorry if that makes you sad or upsets you. ūüėČ

Ed White of the Associated Press writes that a judge shut down Enbridge’s controversial Line 5 energy pipeline that travels under the Straits of Mackinac on Thursday after Enbridge reported problems with a support piece far below the surface:

Enbridge Inc. has not provided enough information to Michigan officials to show that continued operation of the west leg of the Line 5 twin pipeline is safe, Ingham County Judge James Jamo said.

Without the temporary order, ‚Äúthe risk of harm to the Great Lakes and various communities and businesses that rely on the Great Lakes would be not only substantial but also in some respects irreparable,‚ÄĚ the judge said.

…Enbridge‚Äôs Line 5 carries oil and natural gas liquids from Superior, Wisconsin, to Sarnia, Ontario. A four-mile (6.4-kilometer) segment divides into two pipes that lie on the bottom of the Straits of Mackinac, which connect Lake Huron and Lake Michigan.

Enbridge last week said an anchor support on the east leg of the pipeline had shifted. The company said Line 5 itself was not ruptured and that no oil spilled into the water, but it still hasn’t explained how the incident occurred.

The east leg was shut down. But Enbridge said it resumed the flow through the west line Saturday after consulting with federal regulators at the U.S. Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration.

The judge said he’ll hold a hearing Tuesday on the state’s request for a preliminary injunction that, if granted, could keep Line 5 closed indefinitely.

‚ÄúWith the continued operation of this pipeline, the risk of severe and lasting environmental damage to Michigan‚Äôs most important natural resource continues to grow every day,‚ÄĚ Attorney General Dana Nessel said.

Read on for lots more. Nessel is not kidding about the potential damage to Michigan’s water from the company that devastated the Kalamazoo River back in 2010 with the largest oil spill in Michigan history. A University of Michigan researcher modeled Line 5 spill scenarios and found that more than 700 miles of shoreline in Lakes Michigan and Huron and on their islands are potentially vulnerable to an oil release in the Straits.

You can also dig into Enbridge’s take on their pipeline that carries Canadian oil through Michigan mainly to Sarnia, Ontario & the case against the LIne 5 at For Love of Water.

Mark took this photo three years ago of the Mighty Mac looking north from the Lower Peninsula across the Straits. See lots more in his Mackinac, Michigan album on Flickr.

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Facing uncertainty, Michigan begins to re-open

Mackinac Bridge by Daniel L

Mackinac Bridge by Daniel L

Yesterday, Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer signed an Executive Order allowing for the reopening of retail, business & office work that can’t be done remotely, and restaurants and bars with limited seating for northwest Lower Michigan and the Upper Peninsula.

The two regions are both in the northern part of the state‚ÄĒspecifically, MERC regions 6 and 8, as detailed in the governor‚Äôs MI Safe Start Plan to re-engage Michigan‚Äôs economy. The partial reopening will take effect on Friday, May 22. Cities, villages, and townships may choose to take a more cautious course if they wish: the order does not abridge their authority to restrict the operations of restaurants or bars, including limiting such establishments to outdoor seating.

…‚ÄúThe data shows that these regions in Michigan are seeing consistent encouraging trends when it comes to the number of cases, deaths, and the percent of tests that are positive for COVID-19,‚ÄĚ said MDHHS Chief Deputy for Health and Chief Medical Executive Dr. Joneigh Khaldun. ‚ÄúIt‚Äôs important to note that these businesses must take special precautions to protect Michiganders. I also encourage everyone to continue to wear a mask in public, maintain a 6 foot distance from others, and to remain vigilant in washing their hands often. This will help prevent a second surge in cases in our state.‚ÄĚ

All businesses that will reopen in regions 6 and 8 must adopt the safety measures outlined in Executive Order 2020-91. That means they must, among other things, provide COVID-19 training to workers that covers, at a minimum, workplace infection-control practices, the proper use of PPE, steps workers must take to notify the business or operation of any symptoms of COVID-19 or a suspected or confirmed diagnosis of COVID-19, and how to report unsafe working conditions. Restaurants and bars will also have to limit capacity to 50% of their normal seating, to keep groups at least six feet from one another, to require their servers to wear face coverings, and to follow rigorous disinfection protocols.

Read more at Michigan.gov and please stay safe AND keep others safe by wearing a mask. In addition to it being the law, you wearing a mask reduces the chance of infecting someone else by almost 70%!

Lots more in Daniel’s massive Michigan photo gallery on Flickr.

TONS more about the Mighty Mackinac Bridge on Michigan in Pictures.

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Pipeline deal reached … but what has changed?

Leaving the Pipeline

Leaving the Island, photo by Robert F. Carter

EDITOR’S NOTE: I agree with the position of¬†Sean McBrearty of Clean Water Action – this “plan” to fix a multi-billion dollar threat to the economic engine of the Great Lakes within seven to ten YEARS is¬†wildly unacceptable. We don’t need the pittance we receive from this pipeline in exchange for the unimaginable risk to the lives & livelihoods of all of us in the Great Lakes State.

In Michigan, company reach oil pipeline deal by Associated Press writer John Flesher writes (in part):

Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder’s administration and Canadian pipeline giant Enbridge have agreed to replace twin 65-year-old crude oil pipes in a channel linking two of the Great Lakes with another that would run through a tunnel far below the lake bed, officials told The Associated Press.

The plan calls for drilling an opening for the new pipeline through bedrock at depths that could exceed 100 feet (30 meters) beneath the Straits of Mackinac, a more than 4-mile-wide (6.4-kilometer) waterway where Lakes Huron and Michigan converge, officials told the AP prior to an announcement scheduled for Wednesday. The massive engineering project is expected to take seven to 10 years to complete¬†(my emphasis), at a cost of $350 million to $500 million ‚ÄĒ all of which the company would pay.

In the meantime, about 23 million gallons (87 million liters) of oil and natural gas liquids used to make propane would continue moving daily through the twin lines at the bottom of the straits. They are part of Enbridge’s Line 5, which extends 645 miles (1,038 kilometers) from Superior, Wisconsin, to Sarnia, Ontario, crossing large areas of northern Michigan.

…Environmental groups promised a fight as rumors of the agreement spread in recent days. They contend the only safe course is to reroute Enbridge’s oil away from the straits.

“Michigan gets nothing in this deal except a continued unacceptable risk to our water, while Enbridge continues to rake in massive profits and use our state as a shortcut for Canadian oil,” Sean McBrearty of Clean Water Action said during a Lansing rally this week.

It wasn’t immediately clear whether the next administration would have legal authority to undo the agreement. Michigan owns the straits bottomlands and granted Enbridge an easement when the pipes were laid in 1953. Creagh said any effort to revoke it would trigger a lengthy and expensive court battle.

Read on for more and follow John Flesher on Twitter @johnflesher.

View Robert’s photo bigger and see more in his My Neighborhood album.

 

Ice locked

Icy Sunset, photo by Chris S

This is the time of year when I should be sharing pics of bold crocuses, baby birds & other springish things. This being Michigan, we are back to full-on winter!

Chris took this Sunday at the Mackinac Bridge. Head over to his Flickr for more photos of the Mighty Mac and stay warm!!

 

Breaking up the band

Ice at the Mackinac Bridge, photo by Kent Babb

Winter’s grip on Michigan is slipping early all over including at the Straits of Mackinac.

View Kent’s photo background bigilicious and see more in his¬†photostream on Flickr.

Lots more from the Mackinac Bridge on Michigan in Pictures!

 

Big Change for Labor Day Mackinac Bridge Walk

FINAL INSTRUCTIONS, photo by Dave Trapp

Next Monday (September 4, 2017) is the annual Mackinac Bridge Walk, and you can click that link for all the details on the walk. This year is the 60th annual walk, and there will be a major change that the Northern Express explains:

‚ÄúBecause of threats happening across the country ‚Ķ We met with Homeland Security and the Michigan State Police, and it was decided that for the first time, we will not be allowing public [vehicle] traffic to drive across the bridge during the walk, for everyone‚Äôs safety and security,‚ÄĚ said Bob Sweeney, executive secretary of the Mackinac Bridge Authority (MBA).

In prior years, the northbound bridge lanes were open to vehicles during the walk; this year, following incidents in London, Barcelona, and Charlottesville, Virginia, in which terrorists drove vehicles into crowds of pedestrians, the only vehicles allowed on the bridge will be law enforcement, emergency vehicles, and the shuttle buses that transport participants.

A total of 13 different law enforcement agencies ‚ÄĒ members of Homeland Security, the Michigan State Police, regional and local police, and the Native American Chippewa Tribe ‚ÄĒ will be on site for the event, including 240 troopers. Boats also will be deployed in the waters below the bridge.

Officials are quick to point out that there is no known threat to the event; they are simply taking precautions. Between 35,000 and 50,000 walkers are expected to participate.

Dave took this at the 2010 Bridge Walk which was attended by over 40,000 people. View it background big and see more in his Bridge Walk Weekend slideshow.

Lots more about the Mackinac Bridge on Michigan in Pictures!

Mackinac Bridge CLOSED 5 1/2 Hours on Labor Day!

2013 Mackinac Bridge Walk & Run, photo by Michigan Fitness Foundation

The Detroit Free Press reports that the Mackinac Bridge Authority voted unanimously yesterday to close the bridge to all traffic during the annual Labor Day bridge walk this year:

The bridge will be closed from 6:30 a.m. to noon to all traffic, leaving an estimated 4,000 drivers stranded on either side of the bridge on one of the busiest traffic days of the year.

The action was taken at the request of the Michigan State Police and the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, which are responding to threats posed by terrorists using vehicles to plow into crowds to inflict the most possible damage.

…Between 30,000 and 60,000 people participate in the annual 5-mile walk across the Mackinac Bridge that connects the state‚Äôs Upper and Lower Peninsula. Typically, the northbound lanes remain open during the bridge walk and an estimated 9,000 vehicles use the bridge during that time, Baker said.

Read on for more.

View the photo background big and see more in their massive 2013 Mackinac Bridge Run slideshow.

Tons more about the Mackinac Bridge on Michigan in Pictures.

Underneath the Mackinac Bridge

Mackinac Bridge 1, photo by John McGraw

View John’s photo from beneath the mighty Mackinac Bridge bigger,¬†see a few more from the Straits in his slideshow, and follow John McGraw Photography on Facebook¬†to view & purchase¬†more photos.

Icy Straits

icy-sraits-by-michigan-nut-phototography

Icy Straits, photo by Michigan Nut Photography

As I work on the year in review of the year’s top photos on¬†Michigan in Pictures, I thought it would be cool to share regular contributor John McCormick’s favorite¬†2016 photos on his Michigan Nut Photography site. A couple made¬†Michigan in Pictures this year and the choice of which one to feature was hard so check them all out!

View John’s photo bigger and purchase it as well and be sure to follow him on Facebook as well!

Bridge with a view

Bridge with a View

Mackinac Bridge from Michilimackinac State Park, photo by Todd Marsee, Michigan Sea Grant

Todd took¬†this a couple of weeks ago¬†from Michilimackinac State Park in¬†Mackinac City. One thing that continually strikes me about Michigan is how easy it is to find space to enjoy our scenic beauty in relative isolation.¬†What’s your favorite spot for quiet contemplation of Michigan’s beauty?

View Todd’s photo background big, see more in their Summer Fun slideshow and definitely follow Michigan Sea Grant on Flickr for all kinds of great pics from the Great Lakes!

Tons more about the Mighty Mackinac Bridge on Michigan in Pictures!