MI Report Recommends No Crude Oil Through Straits of Mackinac

Five years ago this month, an Enbridge pipeline burst near Marshall, Michigan, sending nearly a million gallons of tar sands crude into the Kalamazoo River. The cleanup of that massive spill is still ongoing. But a new report by the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality is calling for an end to oil pipelines across an even more sensitive area, the straits under the Mackinac Bridge.

Banning heavy tar sands oil from ever flowing through the aging twin Straits of Mackinac pipelines is one of about a dozen recommendations included in a state task force report on the status and future of Michigan pipelines.

The report, released jointly by the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality and the Attorney General’s office after a yearlong inquiry, mandates full insurance coverage for the 62-year-old Straits pipelines, owned by Enbridge Energy Inc.

The report also calls for independent assessments of the risk to the Great Lakes posed by the pipeline, and alternatives to its future operation. The pipeline’s days “are numbered,” said Bill Schuette, state attorney general.

The task force has reviewed documents and heard testimony from pipeline owner Enbridge Energy Inc., state university professors, federal regulators, business groups, environmental groups and other concerned citizens.

The report’s key recommendations are:

• Ban transportation of heavy crude oil through the Straits pipelines.

• Require an independent risk analysis and full insurance coverage for the pipelines.

• Require an independent analysis of alternatives to the existing pipelines.

• Obtain additional information from Enbridge relating to the pipelines.

So wait, our virtually useless Republican attorney general is actually going to do something to protect the environment? Inconceivable! Or practically so. This is long overdue. In the days following the 2010 spill, it was the Michigan Messenger that broke story after story, including the fact that it was tar sands crude, not conventional crude, that was flowing through that pipeline.

My reporters, Todd Heywood and Eartha Melzer, did some amazing work on every aspect of that story. IIRC, it was Eartha who traced the entire Lakehead pipeline system and figured out that there was also tar sands crude going through a very old pipeline that ran under the Mackinac bridge, where a spill could do enormous damage to the Great Lakes. It’s good to see some action being taken to fix that huge problem, as underwater images of that pipeline shows a great deal of deterioration.

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  • colnago80

    If Brayton thinks that Snyder and Co. give a shit about pollution from transportation of tar sands, he is living in a dream world. The only thing they care about is oscillating the Koch brothers.

    By the way, it is not clear, given the success of fracking, why we need oil from refining the tar sands. As far as I am concerned, If Canada wants oil from the tar sands, let them build refineries in Alberta.

  • http://en.uncyclopedia.co/wiki/User:Modusoperandi Modusoperandi

    It’s good to see some action being taken to fix that huge problem, as underwater images of that pipeline shows a great deal of deterioration.

    Those cracks and pits are merely indicators of this pipe maximizing shareholder returns by avoiding wasteful maintenance and upkeep. Still, that you know about them shows that they spend too much on inspections. Time to gut that budget and, to be safe, push through a bill preventing the public and their media enablers from so-called “uncovering” these issues in the future.

  • daved

    @1: We don’t need oil from tar sands, and in fact, the Keystone XL pipeline’s cargo was most likely going to be shipped from Canada to the US, refined here, and then exported, as far as I know, thus doing nothing for US energy needs.

    IIRC, there have been attempts to build a pipeline within Canada; these attempts have been resisted by various groups within Canada. They don’t want the infernal stuff shipped across their lands either.

  • D. C. Sessions

    The task force has reviewed documents and heard testimony from pipeline owner Enbridge Energy Inc., state university professors, federal regulators, business groups, environmental groups and other concerned citizens.

    In other words, the game was rigged against the Job Creators and in favor of unbridled sanity?

  • tfkreference

    “oscillating the Koch brothers.”

    If anyone deserves to be oscillated, they do.

    I llove when the autocorrect version is better than the original. (I assume conalgo80 meant “osculating.”)

  • colnago80

    Re tfkreference @ #5

    Yes indeed, I meant osculating, meaning kissing the Koch asses.

  • abear

    OOh that dirty Canadian oil. Much dirtier than Clean American coal and unlike fracking, which poses no risk to the water table and the non polluting deep drilling in the Gulf of Mexico.

  • beergoggles

    Wouldn’t real reporting entail ferreting out what made your feckless AG do something? Which of his donors would be affected by a tar leak?

  • bmiller

    I think abear does have a point.

    Plus, it is likely that the tar sands goo will continue to flow (especially once supplies tighten up again) and better by pipeline than endless semi truck trailers or rail cars?

    Certainly mandate a new pipeline be built.

  • abear

    As to the argument that the refined product would be exported. Gulf refineries will buy Venezuelan heavy bitumen oil as they have already been doing rather than then Canadian product.

    I would like to see a refined or at least upgraded product going through the pipelines which would less troublesome, also tough and properly implemented rules and inspection.

    That disaster Ed is talking about should never happened, especially to extent that it did. A lot of oil was pumped long after the leak should have been detected. Overall, pipelines are safe and efficient. They are all around most of us and rarely cause big problems.

    As bmiller pointed out the alternative, by truck or rail is the alternative.

  • http://en.uncyclopedia.co/wiki/User:Modusoperandi Modusoperandi

    abear “As bmiller pointed out the alternative, by truck or rail is the alternative.”

    You’re forgetting about my invention, the Oil-A-Pult.

  • birgerjohansson

    Ballistic oil transport?

    I would love to see that, especially when some container goes awry, and the kinetic energy causes the load to self-ignite :-)

    “A lot of oil was pumped long after the leak should have been detected” -the whole oil pipeline thing appears to be administred by Dilbert’s boss. Or the Job Creators’ nephews.

  • lorn

    If the people of Michigan want protection from the pipelines all they need to do is give the Koch brothers a nice vacation home at the waters edge. A sufficiently large and picturesque plot of land with a nice enough home, you might need to make it property tax free, and a couple of phone calls later, the area will be protected.

    Don’t think of it as political blackmail, hostage taking, or a protection racket. Think of it as placating the Gods.

  • caseloweraz

    You’re forgetting about my invention, the Oil-A-Pult.

    Good thing the medieval French never had that. We would have heard, “Go away, silly English kniggots, or we will coat you again!”