Tag: For Love of Water

FLOW Releases New Fact Sheets Regarding Line 5

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                                                                               February 6, 2017

Contact:  Liz Kirkwood, Executive Director                                        Email: [email protected]

FLOW (For Love of Water)                                             Office: (231) 944-1568, Cell: (570) 872-4956

 

Research Identifies Viable Options to Enbridge’s Aging “Line 5” for U.P.’s Propane Supply and Michigan, Midwest Demand for Oil

Developing and Implementing Alternatives to Aging Pipelines in the Mackinac Straits is Key to Preventing Great Lakes Oil Spill Disaster

TRAVERSE CITY, MI – Just one to two propane rail cars or a few tanker trucks a day could replace the Line 5 pipeline’s Upper Peninsula propane capacity without risking energy security in the U.P. or a catastrophic Great Lakes oil spill, according to experts for FLOW, a water law and policy center dedicated to upholding the public’s rights to use and benefit from the Great Lakes.

FLOW’s latest research shows that Line 5 supplies only about one-third to one-half of the Upper Peninsula’s propane, considerably less than the 65-85 percent that pipeline-owner Enbridge asserts, based on FLOW’s estimates using publicly available data. And importantly, FLOW’s estimate represents a relatively small quantity of propane to transport, as the Upper Peninsula is sparsely populated and fewer than 1-in-5 U.P. residents lives in housing heated by propane. (Click here to see the new FLOW fact sheet on Line 5 and U.P. propane supply option.)

Enbridge’s inflated propane claims have needlessly fostered concern among local residents and state lawmakers that shutting down the aging pipeline to prevent a catastrophic oil spill in the Mackinac Straits would result in freezing Upper Peninsula residents in their homes.

“It’s clearer than ever that Line 5 is not vital to Michigan’s energy security and, in fact, threatens ourPure Michigan economy and the drinking water supply to communities from Mackinac Island to metropolitan Detroit,” said Liz Kirkwood, an environmental attorney and FLOW’s executive director. “What’s needed now is a little ingenuity and a willingness to look for answers beyond the status quo with a steel pipeline transporting oil and liquid natural gas that was installed underwater in 1953.”

FLOW’s latest findings serve as an update to FLOW’s December 2015 expert report that concluded that decommissioning the twin pipelines in the Mackinac Straits to prevent a disastrous oil spill would not disrupt Michigan’s or the Midwest’s crude oil and propane supply, contrary to Enbridge assertions.

FLOW’s research is meant to inform deliberations by a state advisory board that meets next on March 13 in Lansing. The State of Michigan in partnership with the Michigan Pipeline Safety Advisory Board is overseeing the completion of two independent studies funded by Enbridge: one on the financial risk to communities and the Pure Michigan economy of a Line 5 oil spill in the Mackinac Straits and the other on alternatives to the aging pipeline that could avoid such a disaster. These two studies are expected by mid-2017.

FLOW supports decommissioning Line 5 to protect the Great Lakes, tribal fishing rights, and citizens’ public trust rights to navigate, boat, drink, fish, swim, and benefit from these precious waters. The State of Michigan must act with urgency to identify a viable plan for meeting Michigan’s energy needs without threatening the Great Lakes or public-owned bottomlands, which the Enbridge pipelines occupy under a 1953 easement with the state.

FLOW’s December 2015 research determined that available capacity and flexibility to meet energy demand in the Great Lakes region already exists in the North American pipeline system run not only by Canadian-based Enbridge, but also by competitors supplying the same refineries in Detroit, Toledo, and Sarnia, Ontario.

Furthermore, at least 90 percent of the 540,000 barrels per day of oil and liquid natural gases moved through Line 5 end up in Canadian refineries, undermining claims that the pipeline is an important source of crude for the Marathon refinery in Detroit. (Click here to see the new FLOW fact sheet on alternatives to Line 5.)

“Our work to date has led to the conclusion that Line 5 in the Straits of Mackinac can be shut down, without resorting to additional oil trains, tank trucks, or lake tankers to serve regional refineries, as Enbridge would have you believe,” said Gary Street, a retired chemical engineer and former director of engineering at Dow Environmental – AWD Technologies. “In addition, straightforward steps can be taken to assure customers in the Upper Peninsula of an on-going supply of propane, which is offloaded from Line 5 in Rapid River near Escanaba before ever reaching the segment that would be decommissioned in the Mackinac Straits.”

For more information:

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Human Rights to Water and Sanitation Toolkit

Dear friends,

The Blue Planet Project, FLOW (For Love of Water), the Canadian Union of Pubic Employees, KruHa Indonesia, la Red Vida and the National Coalition on the Human Right to Water and Sanitation are pleased to launch the Human Rights to Water and Sanitation toolkit in advance of International Human Rights Day on December 10. This project was a collaborative effort between water justice activists and human rights lawyers from around the world. Together we have documented key legal victories and local case studies that emphasize how the human rights to water and sanitation are being claimed by communities around the world and implemented in a manner that strengthens campaigns against the corporate takeover of water.

The Human Rights to Water and Sanitation toolkit is part of the Water Justice toolkit that was launched in March 2016. The water justice toolkit was created through the joint effort of organizations and grassroots as a strategy to consolidate our knowledge and support local campaigns against the corporate takeover of water.

We hope you will join us in getting the word out about this new resource and providing feedback.

Click here to check out the toolkit!

Some Thoughts for the New Year: Common Home and Common Principles – Living and Working for the Common Good

 

Jim Olson FLOW Founder

 

 

By Jim Olson

President, FLOW For Love of Water, Traverse City

Attorney, Olson, Bzdok & Howard, P.C., Traverse City

 

 

 

 

When I look back over the past year, I can’t help but feel hope in the common goodness of people and communities.

I say this not without heart felt and serious concern about events in the world that point in the opposite direction – despair: increasing violence from guns, war, and sweeping droughts and floods, causing death and dislocation of millions of people and children, global warming and the push-back from unprecedented storms and extreme weather that compound drought, floods, landslides, which in turn destabilize countries like Syria fomenting conflict and conditions for ISIS. To paraphrase Circle of Blue senior journalist Keith Schneider, “The earth is angry and she’s fighting back.”

Closer to home, Detroit water shut-offs continue despite the devastating impact on the poor who can’t afford to pay a normal water bill, let alone the $100 a month or more claimed by the Detroit Water Board. State leaders finally stop denying the Flint water-crisis more than a year after residents demanded help, that its children and residents were exposed to high levels of lead from the city’s public water system. The problem is more endemic than Detroit or Flint, since both crises grew out of the unbridled power of Governor Snyder’s emergency manager law to usurp the power of city assets and revenues to pay debts regardless of the impacts to citizens. Flint’s emergency manager thought only of economic expediency in turning off water supplied from Detroit, and tapping into the filthy, polluted Flint River. Then there is the continual threat from the flow of oil in the aging, nearly 63-year old Line 5 pipeline under the Straits; the harm from a release or leak would be so catastrophic, the risk is unacceptable to everyone; yet the flow of oil continues without immediate temporary measures while state officials continue to study it as if it was an “issue,” and not the clear and imminent endangerment of the Great Lakes and the Straits of Mackinac – the fact is there is enough capacity within the pipeline system in the Great Lakes without Line 5 endangering the Straits.

So why the hope? Other events have happened this past year that point to a new way of understanding and, perhaps, solving many of the threats that we face in the world and our communities.

First, Pope Francis issued his encyclical on climate change and the environment, connecting the reality of our excessive consumptive materialism, global inequality, poverty, ecological and community devastation, and violence that follows. He carefully documented that our way of seeing and doing, our post-modern god of the law of free markets and legally justified greed, our fragmented attempts at dishing out money to help the poor are not working. He says this because we are living a material, market place illusion, and not in harmony with the reality that the earth is our “common home,” and that if we do not share its gifts and respect its inherent natural limits, earth’s water, weather, soil, and the biological diversity on which all life depends will continue to worsen to even greater extremes. He points to a new paradigm, a framework in which we work and live with the understanding that a body of water, whether ocean, Grand Traverse Bay, or Lake Chad, are a commons, part of the gift of earth as commons to all. If we do this, not only with water, but the ridge lines and forests, the beauty and land that are home to our relationships, our cities, the neighborhoods within our towns, the soils beneath our feet, the air we breathe, then we will begin to reshape our life around truth and the given limits of nature, and this will guide our living, our way of life, or economy, full and rich with newly directed creative and sustainable opportunities and entrepreneur ship.

Second, amidst a world of conflicts, from Syria to the Ukraine, from our own cities, to Nigeria, Sudan, and Afghanistan, and in the aftermath of the mass murders from extreme terrorists in Parrs, the nations of the world cooperated: leaders of large and small, developed and developing, or undeveloped countries, recognized the responsibility to each other, agreed to something, the world temperature will not rise more 2 degrees, and maybe less. While it is not law yet, if taken implemented, it will help stave off global calamity greater than two world wars last century, by reducing the irreparable damage we face from climate change and global warming. There is hope in the agreement that we stop denying and see the mounting harm and set a goal that through hard-work and common sacrifice offers a way out of an unthinkable alternative for people everywhere.

Third, we witnessed the bridging of differences by our Supreme Court in precedent setting cases that demand human dignity for marriage between two people, human rights to housing and water for the poor without access, as wells as the genuine search for a common goal to address wasteful and harmful water rights in the middle of the historical California droughts.

Fourth, our political debate heating up even before the 2016 presidential election has pointed to something more than the old, increasingly polarized beliefs in market economy, through money at wars and problems, rather than considering the root of the problem might be the way we are looking at them. Regardless of my own or others’ political persuasion, there is a fresh voice in Bernie Sanders, laying out the case for a community based on sharing of wealth, taking care of neighbors, and our neighborhood, what Pope Francis calls our “common home,” and at the same time helping with services to the poor, respecting and honoring diversity, and encouraging new business innovation. We have been trapped in this country in a red and blue, right and left, straight-jacket of false ideology, rather than identifying those things that are essential to every one of us and providing for them as principle of our country—the common good.

Fifth, then Michael Moore comes out with his latest film Where to Invade Next? Good God, here we have the message that we here in the USA had the idea, come up with the ideas, of common good, yet go in the opposite direction of individualized competition based on a law of the jungle called free markets. Everything is about profit and money and bottom line. The world is not a corporation, it is a commons in which corporations organizations are simply a means, not an end.

Do we really have a choice? Our common home and communities are simultaneously local and global. It’s not just act locally, think globally, or act globally, think locally. It’s all of this and more. If we don’t act, for example, on climate change, or understand that climate change is not just an energy issue but about water and food, if we don’t move toward a renewable economy within a few years, small island countries will literally disappear, rainforests and biodiversity will disappear, coastal cities and other areas will increasingly flood and fail from even more extreme storm events or the day-to-day failure to change, adapt and embrace resilient cooperation—the common good. All one has to do is read through “4 Degrees Turn Down the Heat: Climate Extremes, Regional Impacts, and the Case for Resilience,” a report published by renown scientists and even sponsored by the more conservative World Bank. The picture is not pretty, and it would it is ignorant, even immoral, at this time in history not to act, even out of self-interest, for this common good.

So I end this year and start the next with hope. At FLOW, the Great Lakes and Water Policy Center, here in Traverse City, and other organizations throughout the region, we have chosen as a mission and goal to protect the waters of the Great Lakes basin as a commons with principles, known as the public trust doctrine, that require government as trustee and people as beneficiaries, to work together to respect and protect water and community that depend on it from impairment. Private control of public waters and other public commons has always been prohibited; this is because some things essential to all of us are common to all of us. If we don’t protect the commons, we undermine the air, water, community and neighborhoods where we live. To work and live toward the common good is to work for the commons and at the same time work for yourself, family and friends. To not work for the common good, is to continue the long, slow, or perhaps not so slow, disintegration that leads to destruction of the earth, water, air, community, people, and leads to a world violent and unsafe.

It is hopeful and reassuring to see positive events pointing toward this new way of seeing, understanding and doing – living and working for the protection and sustainability of our common home and the common good. They are one and the same. Here’s to another hopeful New Year.

 

 

 

Patagonia Supports FLOW

Each yeapatagoniar, Patagonia pledges 1% of their sales to the protection and restoration of the natural environment—regardless of the health of their sales or the economy. They call it the Earth Tax. This year, we identified 741 grassroots environmental groups in 18 countries and gave them $6.2 million in cash to do important work to restore rivers and forests, stop mines, protect endangered wildlife and habitat, and mitigate the effects of climate change. FLOW is proud to be among Patagonia’s grantees, and one of two Michigan nonprofits they recommend supporting. See the full breadth of their environmental and social efforts over the past year, including a list of all Patagonia grant recipients here.

 

FLOW is excited to be collaborating with Patagonia filmmakers on a new film about Line 5, coming in Spring of 2016.

Name the Five Great Lakes: Summer Internship

My name is Eliza Somsel and I am currently an intern here at FLOW. I am from Grand Rapids, MI originally, but after I graduated high school in 2011, my parents moved to Traverse City. While I have not lived here long, I have always enjoyed Crystal Lake, Lake Michigan and the rest of Northern Michigan at my grandparent’s home in Beulah. I am a rising junior at the College of Wooster in Ohio, studying Communication and Environmental Studies.

As FLOW’s summer Grassroots Outreach Intern, I wear numerous hats. I write press releases, assist in event planning and advertising, and work on expanding our Great Lakes Society. My favorite work, however, is finding new ways to expand FLOW’s presence in the greater Grand Traverse community and Great Lakes Basin.

Here I am (left), with Allison Voglesong (center), and Justin Sterk (right), showing off our "Wheel of Water" at Green Day

Here I am (left), with Allison Voglesong (center), and Justin Sterk (right), showing off our “Wheel of Water” at Green Day

On Friday, July 5th, FLOW participated in the National Cherry Festival’s DTE Energy Green Day with our newly invented “Wheel of Water.” Along with FLOW staff and volunteers, I developed a Great Lakes trivia game and constructed a spinning game wheel to draw the attention of festivalgoers. My goal was to get people thinking about the importance of the Great Lakes and the work that FLOW does to protect the waters both now and for future generations. The wheel was divided into four colors that aligned with a category of questions: science, geography, people/economy, and history/politics. The process of creating the game was enjoyable itself, but I was absolutely in my element when interacting with kids and adults alike who share my passion and interest in the Great Lakes. I even got my picture in the Record Eagle!

For the kids, I asked a preliminary question before playing the game. “Can you name the five Great Lakes?” I was fortunate enough to have a variety of entertaining answers throughout the day. Some kids blew me away by naming them off without a blink of an eye, while others could only name one or two at best. I often heard that Crystal Lake, Torch Lake, Silver Lake, or whichever lake they loved was considered to be a Great Lake in their opinion. While by definition this may not be true, I must agree that any lake is a pretty “great” lake and worth protecting.

This is me showing a boy from Missouri what the Great Lakes are!

This is me showing a boy from Missouri what the Great Lakes are!

Like many of you, I have always loved the Great Lakes and want my future (way in the future) children and grandchildren to get to experience them as I have. FLOW strives to ensure this through the public trust. While a seemingly complex concept at first, I have come to understand the public trust as the best way to protect our waters. The public trust doctrine essentially says that water is shared and owned by the public and therefore cannot be privately owned. Uses of the waters have to be balanced in such a way that protected uses, like swimming and fishing, are maintained. FLOW works to ensure these rights are not forgotten or ignored. Activities or projects such as the Enbridge pipeline expansion across the Straits of Mackinac—which will transport tar sands through the Great Lakes—is a violation of the public trust. Using this principle is, to me, the most obvious solution to many similar threats to the Great Lakes. For this issue in particular, I am attending Oil and Water Don’t Mix: A Rally for the Great Lakes this Sunday, July 14th.

Also, join me on Friday, August 9th in downtown Traverse City during Friday Night Live to test your knowledge of the Great Lakes and spin the “Wheel of Water!”

Why I Volunteer for FLOW

Hello Great Lakes lovers.

Here I am (at top center) helping out on the Great Lakes Society campaign along with Mattias Johnson (bottom right) Allison Voglesong (center) and Eliza Somsel (left)

Here I am (at top center) helping out on the Great Lakes Society campaign along with Mattias Johnson (bottom right) Allison Voglesong (center) and Eliza Somsel (left)

My name is Justin Sterk and I have recently begun volunteering at FLOW, in downtown Traverse City, Michigan.  As a native of Traverse City, the Great Lakes hold special importance to me and my family, and it is a great thrill for me to be able to begin contributing to the protection of our region’s greatest resource.

As for me, I graduated from Traverse City Central High School in 2007, the University of Michigan in 2012 and am currently serving a year-long AmeriCorps term in Traverse City before starting law school at Wayne State University in August.  I am very interested in legal strategies that can be used to conserve and protect our planet’s natural resources.  My plan is to make a career out of the type of work FLOW does, which is another great benefit of being around the office, learning from FLOW’s incredible staff.

I’ve been here for about a month and a half and have been working on a couple different projects.  One has been the early stages of a program that complements the work of Council of Canadians, a partner of FLOW, and their Blue Communities Program.  A Council of Canadians Blue Community is one that adopts resolutions that

  1. Recognize water as a human right,
  2. Ban bottled water in public places and at municipal events, and
  3. Promote publicly financed, owned and operated water and wastewater services.

A blue community is one that makes a commitment to sustainable water use and resists the ever increasing trend of water privatization.  It is our hope that a Blue Communities type of program can be implemented as part of a package of pragmatic water conservation best practices to assist communities in conserving water in many different areas.

The other research I have just recently begun working on relates to the connection between food production and water health.  FLOW’s goal is to provide information about water’s inextricable linkage to food production, especially as it relates to phosphorous runoff—a major cause of harmful algal blooms—which affected Lake Erie on a massive scale in 2011.  Further, we hope to promote awareness of how climate change increases the impacts on this food and water linkage.

I will try to update everyone on the work I am doing throughout the summer and to provide insight into the kind of work a FLOW volunteer can do.  Have a great day and enjoy our beautiful Great Lakes region.

Interview: “Watershed Moment” — FLOW Executive Director Liz Kirkwood with Amy Rotter on 88.1 FM Grand Rapids

Liz Kirkwood, Executive Director of For Love of Water (FLOW), discusses the mission of FLOW to advance the public trust doctrine: the basic fundamental notion that public resources, such as water, belong to and are shared by the public.

Press play to listen:

Click here to check out this and other “Watershed Moment” segments from the Grand Rapids Community Media Center and 88.1 FM Grand Rapids.

Transcription:

Announcer: This is a Watershed Moment, protecting water resources and building sustainable communities, brought to you by the West Michigan Environmental Action Council and Grand Rapids Community Media Center.

Amy Rotter: On today’s episode, we hear from Liz Kirkwood, Executive Director of FLOW, “For Love of Water.”

Liz Kirkwood: FLOW is really unique group here in the Great Lakes. It’s the only public trust policy center and educational group that is addressing the systemic threats in the Great Lakes. What that means is we are trying to advance the public trust doctrine, which is the basic, fundamental notion that public resources, like the waters, belong to, and are shared by, the public. And, it’s the duty of the state to protect the waters for the citizens and ensure that the waters themselves are not impaired. They also have a duty to ensure that protected public uses such as navigation, fishing, commerce, swimming, and ecological values are protected as well.

The public trust is an ancient doctrine that goes back to the Roman times, but it really pulls at all of our heartstrings, it’s that inherent sense that water cannot be privately owned, and it belongs to all of us. And that is a very important public right that we all have and it’s very empowering for citizens and governments and leaders to exercise as we face greater scarcity of waters and greater competition for those uses.

Please contact us at www.flowforwater.org.

Announcer: This has been a Watershed Moment, a production of West Michigan Environmental Action Council and Grand Rapids Community Media Center. Learn more about today’s topic at www.watershedmoment.info