H2Olson

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Enbridge’s Federal Lawsuit Attacks State Authority to Protect the Great Lakes from Line 5

The federal lawsuit Enbridge filed Tuesday is an attack on the State of Michigan’s sovereign title and authority to protect the public trust in the Straits and Great Lakes from Line 5. The federal government can regulate safety, but it can never control the location and use of the State of Michigan’s own public trust waters and bottomlands of the Great Lakes, except as it relates to navigation.

Oil & Water Don’t Mix with the Public Trust in the Great Lakes

Their legal duty under public trust law, and the clear and present danger from the anchor strikes and currents of the 67-year-old dual oil pipelines, left only one choice for Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer and DNR Director Daniel Eichinger: Revoke and terminate the easement allowing Line 5 to occupy the Straits of Mackinac, as they did on November 13 in a strong and necessary action.

Line 5 Oil Tunnel in the Great Lakes: Is the Die Cast for the Next 99 Years?

There was good news and bad news in a state administrative law judge’s October 23 ruling that addressed legal arguments over what the Michigan Public Service Commission (MPSC) can and cannot evaluate when deciding whether to permit the siting of Enbridge’s proposed oil pipeline tunnel project under the Straits of Mackinac, where Lake Michigan meets Lake Huron. 

Will Michigan Allow Nestlé to Operate below the Ground and above the Law?

By Jim Olson In the coming weeks, Liesl Clark, the director of the Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy (EGLE)—and ultimately, Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer—will make the final decision required by state law on a Nestlé water bottling permit to remove another 210 million gallons of groundwater a year virtually for free from… Read more »

The Marriage of the Rights of Nature and the Public Trust Doctrine

By Jim Olson The citizens of Toledo, Ohio, desperate to end the continuing plague of toxic algal blooms covering the western one-third of Lake Erie, in February 2019 passed by referendum a municipal ordinance that enacted the “Lake Erie Bill of Rights.” The Bill of Rights holds that “Lake Erie, and the Lake Erie watershed,… Read more »

Turning the Spotlight on Line 5 in the Great Lakes

Last week the Michigan Attorney General’s Office chose not to appeal a lower court ruling upholding the constitutionality of a law that facilitates the framework for an oil tunnel under the Straits of Mackinac—forgoing any further challenge, but, in reality, yielding no strategic legal ground.

The Man Who Biked to Work

By Jim Olson In the late 1950s, I would ride my bike from East Bay, on the other side of the ridge that runs along Old Mission Peninsula, to near downtown Traverse City, and I would notice a man on a bike. It seemed odd because in the 1950s no one rode bikes to work,… Read more »

The MEPA Turns 50

Photo: Kolke Creek in the headwaters of the AuSable River was protected by MEPA after the Michigan Supreme Court prohibited discharge of 1 million gallons of oil-field treated wastewater. Editor’s note: This is part 1 of a series on the history of import of the MEPA. By Jim Olson Serendipity can mean chance, destiny, and… Read more »

The Edenville Dam Failure and Flooding Disaster in Midland County

The accounts of the failure of the Edenville dam on the Tittabawassee and Tobacco Rivers and the devastating damage and threat to safety and life beg the question: How did the owner and a dam stamped as a red-zone for hazardous risk escape regulatory enforcement before it failed? Who is responsible? What’s really behind dam failures, infrastructure collapse, and increasing events across the country with catastrophic loss to people, communities, property, and quality of life?