Liz Kirkwood’s Comment to the PSAB

Public Comment to Michigan Pipeline Safety Advisory Board from FLOW’s Executive Director, Elizabeth R. Kirkwood - December 11, 2017

  • Over two years ago, the Governor of Michigan created this Advisory Board by Executive Order to “Review and make recommendations for statutory, regulatory, and contractual implementation of the Michigan Petroleum Pipeline Task Force Report.”  This meant the board was required to oversee an independent and comprehensive analysis of risks and alternatives. 


  • Instead we Michiganders have (1) no risk report, (2) a flawed alternative report that still ignores the most credible alternative – using existing and expanded pipeline infrastructure around the Great Lakes, and (3) the Governor’s Thanksgiving deal with Enbridge that locks in a tunnel alternative under 20 percent of the planet’s fresh surface water. 


  • What our leaders have now is Tunnel Vision. 


  • Tens of thousands of citizens of this state have taken the time to study these matters and express their views to you.  Members of this board have spent countless hours on your task.  All of that for naught because of a closed-door agreement between Enbridge and the governor.


  • The deal allows Enbridge’s decaying Line 5 oil pipelines to continue to occupy the publicly owned lakebed at the Straits of Mackinac indefinitely, despite the company’s record of deception, poor stewardship, and bungled emergency response.  It’s a reward for failure.


  • We know a fair alternative analysis can be done.  In fact, in December 2015, FLOW offered a thorough analysis for the decommissioning of Line 5 that established an alternative that reasonably met the basic purpose of transporting crude oil to the various refineries within and beyond the Great Lakes region.  Why hasn’t the state done the same?


  • The Governor’s deal has mapped a blueprint that narrows the alternatives to some form of tunnel replacement in the Straits, the Great Lakes, and St. Clair River.  Moreover, the deal will bind the state to a new replacement of the entire 645 miles of Line 5 through Michigan and potentially open the door to heavy tar sands.


  • In the interest of full transparency and public knowledge, this board can do the people of Michigan a service by asking for a full public accounting for this deal, and by demanding a credible adverse weather provision to shut down Line 5 and a comprehensive alternatives analysis as required by law. The future of Line 5 is about the future of the Great Lakes.  And fortunately, public trust law makes this the public’s decision, not a closed-door deal between the Governor and Enbridge.     


Thank you.

Liz Kirkwood, Executive Director


3 comments on “Liz Kirkwood’s Comment to the PSAB

  1. Steve Krause on

    Well said, Liz, and in such a concise, yet impactful manner. Thanks for all your hard work — and that of FLOW’s concerning this critical issue!

  2. June Thaden on

    Thank you, Liz Kirkwood, for a rational, reasoned response to all the insanity of recent developments regarding Enbridge’s Line 5 pipelines in the Straits of Mackinac.

    In contrast, Governor Snyder’s actions have reduced me to a despondent old lady who is the screaming woman on the bridge in Edvard Munch’s famous paintings. I love Michigan, nature, fresh water, the community of our part of northern Michigan — and our government of the State has been systematically destroying my home state.

    • Iris Potter, Kalamazoo Remembers and Michigan Safe Energy Future on

      Thank you Liz and nice to meet you personally yesterday. Also, glad to be able to personally hand you our Kalamazoo Remembers letter which FLOW can sign-on with us and other organizations-calling for permanent Shutdown and no replacements.


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Public Comment to Michigan Pipeline Safety Advisory Board from FLOW’s Executive Director, Elizabeth R. Kirkwood - December 11, 2017