What do the Flint drinking water catastrophe and the recent agreement regarding the Enbridge pipeline at the Straits of Mackinac have in common? Both are the result of a gubernatorial administration with fundamental mistrust of the public it serves.
In Flint, the Snyder Administration appointed an emergency manager to short-circuit democratic processes and act paternally on behalf of a community it deemed incapable of self-government. The result was appalling damage to the health and well-being of the community.
This week, the Snyder Administration appointed itself emergency manager of the imminent danger posed to the Great Lakes by Enbridge, apparently deciding the public, the Governor’s own Pipeline Safety Advisory Board, and the DEQ under the State’s Great Lakes protection laws were incapable of contributing to a rational decision. Astonishingly, the public engagement process the Governor himself set in motion with an executive order more than two years ago was essentially discarded in favor of a pact secretly negotiated with Enbridge. The thousands of people and hundreds of organizations and communities who took the time to comment on the future of the pipeline were ignored in favor of assurances from a company responsible for the worst inland oil spill in U.S. history.
Democracy and public participation are under attack at many levels, and the result is poor public policy. The Governor’s agreement with Enbridge puts the Great Lakes at risk.