Michigan’s Governor delays final agreement with Enbridge
“The chair was incorrect,” says the letter from Michigan Governor Rick Snyder to the Pipeline Safety Advisory Board (PSAB). The letter, addressed to members of the PSAB, was sent in response to resolutions on Enbridge’s Line 5 pipeline that were passed at their December meeting in Lansing.
One of the resolutions calls for the temporary shutdown of the pipeline in the Straits of Mackinac until several safety tests are performed.
At December’s meeting in Lansing , there was some confusion over whether the resolutions passed, because in each vote, there were several abstentions. But, at the end of the meeting, Co-Chair of the PSAB Board Valerie Brader announced that the resolutions had, indeed, passed.
Governor Snyder disagrees.
Snyder writes, “As of December 9, there were fifteen serving members of the Board. Since all the resolutions received fewer than eight votes in favor, none of the resolutions were actually actions by the board.”
He also goes on to explain why he disagrees with a temporary shutdown, saying, “With all due respect, I do not believe an immediate and extended shutdown of the pipeline in the middle of winter is a proper approach that safeguards the health and welfare of Michigan citizens.” And he says inspections and repairs can’t be completed “until the summer of 2018” at the earliest.
In one of the resolutions, The Pipeline Safety Advisory Board requested to revise the degree of the severe weather conditions that had recently been put in place to prompt a temporary shutdown through an agreement between Enbridge and Governor Snyder. But Governor Snyder writes, “given the amount of negotiating time and effort that went in to that specific provision, a request to re-open that provision would be extremely unlikely to result in an agreement to move in the direction envisioned by the resolution.”
Mike Shriberg is Executive Director of the National Wildlife Federation’s Great Lakes Regional Office and a member of the Pipeline Safety Advisory Board. He sponsored one of the resolutions. Here’s his response to Governor Snyder’s letter:
“Governor Snyder’s response to the resolutions which passed his Pipeline Safety Advisory Board appears to be kicking the can down the road while the Great Lakes remain at risk. The state’s failure to produce a timely and effective risk and alternatives analysis should not be an excuse for defensiveness and inaction. Enbridge provided false information to the Pipeline Safety Advisory Board and then later admitted that their testing failed to pick up major gaps in the coating, among other issues; hydrotests are not the only required testing to prove pipelines are safe to operate. The solution is not to allow Enbridge more time to conduct its own analyses. If protective coating is not intact, it is the responsibility of the state to enforce its easement to protect the Great Lakes and work toward propane delivery alternatives that meet Michigan’s interests, not Enbridge’s. Finally, the governor’s assertion that the resolutions did not pass because the members of his cabinet did not vote for them means that the advisory board cannot conduct its work. The non-state actors voted overwhelmingly in favor of the resolutions, which means that the appointees not directly employed by Governor Snyder agreed. That should be enough to provide critical input to the governor.”