FLOW’s 10th anniversary in 2021 was more than an opportunity for celebration and reflection. It was also a year of significant progress in our work to strengthen protection of the waters of Michigan and the Great Lakes, using the public trust doctrine as a powerful tool. In July, we hit an organizational milestone when we hired Zach Welcker, FLOW’s first-ever full-time legal director — an achievement many years in the making.
Editor’s Note: The following is a media release issued by FLOW on November 30, 2021; please contact Executive Director Liz Kirkwood at (570) 872-4956 or Liz@FLOWforWater.org or Legal Director Zach Welcker at (231) 620-7911 or Zach@FLOWforWater.org. “The State of Michigan took a strategic step today in the race to prevent a catastrophic Line 5 oil spill in the… Read more »
Editor’s Note: The following is a media release issued by FLOW on November 16, 2021; please contact Executive Director Liz Kirkwood at (570) 872-4956 or Liz@FLOWforWater.org or Senior Legal Advisor Jim Olson at (231) 499-8831 or Jim@FLOWforWater.org. Judge Neff’s decision today addresses only the narrow, procedural issue of whether a state or federal court should… Read more »
The following op-ed by FLOW Executive Director Liz Kirkwood appeared in the Traverse City Record-Eagle on November 3: We at FLOW agree, “The clock is ticking.” That “tick, tick, tick” sound, however, isn’t coming from Enbridge’s proposed tunnel. It is coming from an environmental ticking time bomb called Line 5—Enbridge’s twin pipelines pumping oil nearly 20 years past their intended lifespan in raging currents at the bottom of the Straits of Mackinac.
If the Great Lakes are so important to Canadians, why do they seem to care so little about protecting them? Specifically, I’m talking about Enbridge’s Line 5 pipeline. Line 5 is a ticking time bomb, especially at the Straits, where Enbridge is proposing a tunnel for this decaying and dangerous dual pipeline—but if you read the fine print, it will take a decade to build and taxpayers will be on the hook for the risky endeavor.
Dire Straits: A damaged portion of Line 5 in the Straits of Mackinac shown in this June 2020 photo provided to the State of Michigan by Enbridge. By Nora Baty Do you remember the last time Line 5 shut down? This week marks the one-year anniversary of Line 5’s closure following significant damage to an… Read more »
Some 800 miles north of the Montana border, past vast prairie grasslands, clear, untroubled lakes, and pristine boreal forests, lies a place of profound devastation and desolation. Just north of Fort McMurray in Northeast Alberta, Canada, one encounters an abrupt alteration of the landscape—a ravaged wasteland of disturbed lands and metallic lakes of oil-sheened process waste. Welcome to the place where bitumen—a thick, viscous, oil-containing soil having the consistency of coffee grounds—is extracted for later upgrading and refining into tar sands oil, ultimately destined to cross the Great Lakes watershed by pipeline.
Line 5-owner Enbridge and its enablers continue to engage in a Chicken Little “sky is falling” campaign, with the Canadian company claiming that, “shutting down Line 5 would cause shortages of crude oil for refineries in Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania and eastern Canada, as well as propane shortages in northern Michigan. In fact, none of Enbridge’s predictions of an energy shortage materialized when both legs of the dual Line 5 pipelines in the Straits were shut down for more than a week in June 2020 and one leg remained closed until about mid-September following damage that the U.S. Coast Guard said likely was caused by an Enbridge-contracted vessel. The research results are consistent with these studies forecasting little, if any, change in energy costs after Line 5 shuts down for good.
The following is a media release issued by FLOW on May 12, 2021. In refusing to shut down Line 5 by the state-ordered deadline today, Enbridge is flatly rejecting the authority of the State of Michigan to regulate and safeguard its own public trust waters and bottomlands —the very same state authority that Enbridge has… Read more »
In February 2020, a state team led by the Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy (EGLE) began an investigation into the possibility of PFAS contamination spreading in groundwater north of Cherry Capital Airport and the U.S. Coast Guard Air Station to drinking water wells in the nearby Pine Grove neighborhood of East Bay Township, near Traverse City. But state officials did not tell residents of 18 potentially affected homes of the investigation until October 2020, when they confirmed PFAS in the water of the 18 homeowners’ wells. The homeowners were understandably angry that eight months passed after the investigation started before they were made aware of it. Some might have taken precautions to avoid even the chance of exposure to the pollutants. on her second day in office, Governor Gretchen Whitmer signed her first executive directive establishing the policy that, “Action to mitigate or prevent threats to public health, safety, and welfare always should take precedence over any ill-advised attempt to protect the reputation of a department or agency, manipulate public perception, avoid political backlash, or engage in defensiveness, self-justification, or insular conduct.” The State fell well short of the Governor’s standard when it failed to inform residents of the Pine Grove neighborhood, early and transparently, about the possibility of PFAS in their well water.