Controversial Michigan Pipeline Tunnel Given Final Approval
A controversial plan to dig a tunnel under the Great Lakes in order to replace aging oil and natural gas pipelines was given the final go-ahead Wednesday, Crain's Detroit reported.
The Mackinac Straits Corridor Authority, created just last week by outgoing Gov. Rick Snyder, approved a deal between the state of Michigan and the Canadian company Engridge to replace its aging Line 5 pipelines with the tunnel, which will be drilled into the bedrock beneath the Straits of Mackinac connecting Lakes Huron and Michigan.
Environmentalists and indigenous groups criticized the decision and the process that led to it, which they say was rushed through during a lame-duck legislative session despite the fact that incoming Democratic Gov. Gretchen Whitmer and Attorney General Dana Nessel both promised to shut down the 65-year-old Line 5 pipelines during their campaigns
"We debated on whether to even come today to give legitimacy to this," Mike Ripley of the Chippewa Ottawa Resource Authority said at the meeting at which the decision was announced, as Michigan Radio reported. "We don't think this is a legitimate board, and we're very concerned about the undemocratic process in the last month that's gone on in the lame duck Legislature in Michigan."
The council approved the tunnel after only a five day comment period, and one of its three members was only appointed three days before Wednesday's meeting. At the meeting, 51 people spoke, with roughly equal numbers opposing and supporting the tunnel, but critics said the debate was a "sham" because the bill Snyder signed creating the panel also mandated that it approve the tunnel if it met certain criteria also outlined in the bill.
Some unions and Enbridge employees spoke in favor of the tunnel, saying it would provide jobs and be less likely to cause oil spills than the existing pipelines, which critics are worried will rupture, contaminating drinking water and even polluting the Lakes' shoreline. Snyder echoed those supporting arguments in his remarks following the decision, as Craig's Detroit reported.
"Today's actions will result in the removal of the oil pipeline from the bottom of the Straits of Mackinac, maintain critical infrastructure connections between our peninsulas, provide energy security for residents of the Upper Peninsula and northern Michigan and create good-paying jobs," Snyder said.
But the National Wildlife Federation said in a statement ahead of Wednesday's meeting that the deal with Enbridge failed even the one environmental promise Snyder had made, since it allows the aging pipelines to run indefinitely while the tunnel is being built and allows the company generous leeway to delay construction in the case of various events.
"This backroom deal sets no end date for the twin pipelines currently sitting in the open waters of the Great Lakes. The Snyder administration is trying to disguise the status quo as progress," National Wildlife Federation Great Lakes Regional Center Conservation Partnerships Manager Beth Wallace said.
Opponents also expressed concern about locking the state into building new fossil fuel infrastructure as scientists warn that humans need to rapidly reduce greenhouse gas emissions in order to effectively combat climate change.
"We know we need to soon be transitioning away from fossil fuels and towards cleaner alternatives," Petoskey, Michigan resident Frank Hawthorne said, according to Michigan Radio. "How then, is an expensive Straits tunnel, which is likely going to cost much more and take far longer to build than estimated, how is that sending anyone the message that Michigan is a forward-thinking and acting leader in responding to the challenges of the future?" Hawthorne asked.
Britain's Prince William interviewed famed broadcaster David Attenborough on Tuesday at the World Economic Forum's annual meeting in Switzerland.
During the sit-down, the 92-year-old naturalist advised the world leaders and business elite gathered in Davos this week that we must respect and protect the natural world, adding that the future of its survival—as well as humanity's survival—is in our hands.
What's more, the accounting firm predicts that another 21 million electric cars will be on the road globally over the next decade due to growing market demand for clean transportation, government subsidies, as well as bans on fossil fuel cars.
By Matthew Savoca
Plastic pollution in the world's oceans has become a global environmental crisis. Many people have seen images that seem to capture it, such as beaches carpeted with plastic trash or a seahorse gripping a cotton swab with its tail.
Greenland is melting about four times faster than it was in 2003, a new study published Monday in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences found, a discovery with frightening implications for the pace and extent of future sea level rise.
"We're going to see faster and faster sea level rise for the foreseeable future," study lead author and Ohio State University geodynamics professor Dr. Michael Bevis said in a press release. "Once you hit that tipping point, the only question is: How severe does it get?"
Finally, some good news about the otherwise terrible partial government shutdown. A federal judge ruled that the Trump administration cannot issue permits to conduct seismic testing during the government impasse.
The Justice Department sought to delay—or stay—a motion filed by a range of coastal cities, businesses and conservation organizations that are suing the Trump administration over offshore oil drilling, Reuters reported. The department argued that it did not have the resources it needed to work on the case due to the shutdown.
Most people have heard of the Amazon, South America's famed rainforest and hub of biological diversity. Less well known, though no less critical, is the Pantanal, the world's largest tropical wetland.
Like the Amazon, the Pantanal is ecologically important and imperiled. Located primarily in Brazil, it also stretches into neighboring Bolivia and Paraguay. Covering an area larger than England at more than 70,000 square miles, the massive wetland provides irreplaceable ecosystem services that include the regulation of floodwaters, nutrient renewal, river flow for navigability, groundwater recharge and carbon sequestration. The wetland also supports the economies of the four South American states it covers.
By Andrea Germanos
Organizers said 35,000 people marched through the streets of the German capital on Saturday to say they're "fed up" with industrial agriculture and call for a transformation to a system that instead supports the welfare of the environment, animals and rural farmers.
By Patrick Rogers
If you have ever considered making the switch to an environmentally friendly electric vehicle, don't drag your feet. Though EV prices are falling, and states are unveiling more and more public charging stations and plug-in-ready parking spots, the federal government is doing everything it can to slam the brakes on our progress away from gas-burning internal combustion engines. President Trump, likely pressured by his allies in the fossil fuel industry, has threatened to end the federal tax credits that have already helped put hundreds of thousands of EVs on the road—a move bound to harm not only our environment but our economy, too. After all, the manufacturing and sale of EVs, hybrids, and plug-in hybrids supported 197,000 jobs in 2017, according to the most recent U.S. Energy and Employment Report.