Those working on Michigan environmental issues at any time during the last 50 years have known exactly who the pioneering legal advocate for Michigan’s precious air, water, and land is: FLOW founder Jim Olson. As Jim’s February 26 birthday approaches, it’s time to take stock of all that he’s accomplished in the service of current and future generations.
In Michigan, water in its natural state, including groundwater, is held by the state as sovereign for the benefit of the people. Michigan’s 2008 groundwater withdrawal law declares that lakes, streams, and groundwater–indeed springs, seeps, and wetlands–are a singularly connected part of the water cycle. The removal of water from one arc of the water cycle affects the other, often substantially.
As anyone who knows Terry Swier could attest, it was her clear-sighted commitment to principle and her conviction, grounded like the roots of an oak tree deep in the soil with branches wide in the sky, that stood behind Michigan Citizens for Water Conservation’s victory over Nestlé. “Who owns the water?” Terry asked, something she would keep asking for the next 20 years. Not Perrier or Nestlé. It belonged to the public.
While world leaders gather for a second week in Glasgow, Scotland, at the United Nation’s COP26 climate change conference, FLOW’s Jim Olson in this blog calls for a new approach to planning and zoning in the Great Lakes watershed that respects the increasing variability of water levels.
FLOW President Jim Olson made the following statement to the Mackinac Straits Corridor Authority during a February 3, 2021, public meeting regarding the Line 5 Easement, Assignment, Tunnel Agreement, and 99-year lease.
In recognition of the critical importance of the Great Lakes and the rule of law, citizens and communities battling the existential threat of climate change won an important victory when the United States Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) announced June 23 they will conduct an environmental impact statement (EIS) for Enbridge’s proposed Line 5 oil tunnel.
Photo courtesy of Chikaming Township, Michigan. Editor’s note: This article was originally published on June 19, 2021, in the Northern Express. LEARN MORE ON JUNE 29 FLOW will host a free webinar — Managing High Water and High Tension along the Great Lakes Shoreline — at 1 p.m. Eastern on Tuesday, June 29. Want to hear… Read more »
The water barons are finally moving in to gain control over water rights in public water that is supposed to be held and managed by each state as sovereign for the benefit of its citizens. These water transactions, which seek to profit by speculating on an underlying assumption that water is a commodity or can be allocated for sale, signal a significant shift in investors’ attitudes about public water, and, fundamentally pose the question: Just who will own and control the public’s water in the 21st century?
Enbridge has unleashed a barrage of stories that claim Michigan and the U.S. need Canadian oil from Line 5, that thousands of jobs in Sarnia are in jeopardy, and that Sarnia and Ontario oil refineries already plan to implement an alternative by transporting crude oil by rail or ship it up the St Lawrence and on to Sarnia—a scare tactic on Ontario citizens. This is nothing but an attempt by Enbridge and the oil producers and refiners to pressure the Canadian government and Ontario citizens to oppose the shutdown of Line 5. These tactics require a reality check for both governments and all of the citizens in both countries, especially the 40 million of us who depend on the Great Lakes for our drinking water, jobs, navigation, fishing, and quality of life.
By Jim Olson Enbridge has launched yet another attack on the rule of law in Michigan, a habit that underscores its arrogance and looks more like the disregard for rule of law exhibited by the mob that attacked the constitution, the Capitol, and rule of law of the Nation on January 6. It’s not surprising… Read more »