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.
Planned Great Lakes #Line5 oil pipeline tunnel clears final hurdle; critics vow to fight tunnel project, seek shutd… https://t.co/9rskXqoVww— Chad Livengood (@Chad Livengood)1545277049.0
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.
#MSCA member says they are required by law to sign the agreement today regardless of public comment #line5— brittneybuti (@brittneybuti)1545243003.0
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.
“This backroom deal sets no end date for the twin pipelines currently sitting in the open waters of the Great Lakes… https://t.co/HHVIcWbGIK— National Wildlife Federation - Great Lakes (@National Wildlife Federation - Great Lakes)1545260998.0
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.
A "trash tsunami" has washed ashore on the beaches of Honduras, endangering both wildlife and the local economy.
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By Harry Kretchmer
By 2030, almost a third of all the energy consumed in the European Union must come from renewable sources, according to binding targets agreed in 2018. Sweden is helping lead the way.
Sweden is a world leader in renewable energy consumption. Swedish Institute/World Bank
Naturally Warm<p>54% of Sweden's power comes from renewables, and is helped by its geography. With plenty of moving water and 63% forest cover, it's no surprise the <a href="https://sweden.se/nature/energy-use-in-sweden/#" target="_blank">two largest renewable power sources</a> are hydropower and biomass. And that biomass is helping support a local energy boom.</p><p>Heating is a key use of energy in a cold country like Sweden. In recent decades, as fuel oil taxes have increased, the country's power companies have turned to renewables, like biomass, to fuel local 'district heating' plants.</p><p>In Sweden these trace their <a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0360544217304140#fig3" target="_blank">origins back to 1948</a>, when a power station's excess heat was first used to heat nearby buildings: steam is <a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/topics/engineering/district-heating-system" target="_blank">forced along a network of pipes</a> to wherever it's needed. Today, there are around 500 district heating systems across the country, from major cities to small villages, providing heat to homes and businesses.</p><p>District heating used to be fueled mainly from the <a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0360544217304140" target="_blank">by-products of power plants</a>, waste-to-energy plants and industrial processes. These days, however, Sweden is bringing more renewable sources into the mix. And as a result of competition, this localized form of power is now the country's<a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0360544217304140#fig3" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer"> home-heating market leader.</a></p>
Sweden is using smart grids to turn buildings into energy producers. Huang et al/Elsevier
Energy ‘Prosumers’<p>But Sweden doesn't stop at village-level heating solutions. Its new breed of energy-generation takes hyper-local to the next level.</p><p>One example is in the city of Ludivika where 1970s flats <a href="https://www.buildup.eu/sites/default/files/content/transforming-a-residential-building-cluster-into-electricity-prosumers-in-sweden.pdf" target="_blank">have recently been retrofitted with the latest smart energy technology</a>.</p><p>48 family apartments spread across 3 buildings have been given photovoltaic solar panels, thermal energy storage and heat pump systems. A micro energy grid connects it all, and helps charge electric cars overnight.</p><p>The result is a cluster of 'prosumer' buildings, producing rather than consuming enough power for 77% of residents' needs. With <a href="http://www.diva-portal.org/smash/get/diva2:1232060/FULLTEXT01.pdf" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">high levels of smart meter usage</a>, it's a model that looks set to spread across Sweden.</p>
<div id="d7bf9" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="8757b138d5570bec9d6aad18074a429a"><blockquote class="twitter-tweet twitter-custom-tweet" data-twitter-tweet-id="1273556364263071744" data-partner="rebelmouse"><div style="margin:1em 0">Read more about Western Harbour and book a visit: https://t.co/ujSmVs9rNK 🏡🌳🌊 https://t.co/C5PuPziqIM</div> — Smart City Sweden (@Smart City Sweden)<a href="https://twitter.com/SmartCitySweden/statuses/1273556364263071744">1592474473.0</a></blockquote></div>
Scaling Up<p>A recent development by E.ON in Hyllie, a district on the outskirts of Malmö, southern Sweden, <a href="https://www.eonenergy.com/blog/2019/February/sweden-smart-city" target="_blank">has scaled up the smart grid principle</a>. Energy generation comes from local wind, solar, biomass and waste sources.</p><p>Smart grids then balance the power, react to the weather, deploying extra power when it's colder or putting excess into battery storage when it's warm. The system is not only more efficient, but bills have fallen.</p><p>Smart energy developments like those in Hyllie, Ludivika, and renewable-driven district heating, offer a radical alternative to the centralized energy systems many countries rely on today.</p><p>The EU's leaders have a challenge: how to generate 32% of energy from renewables by 2030. Sweden offers a vision of how technology and local solutions can turn a goal into a reality.</p>
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By Jessica Corbett
In another win for climate campaigners, leaders of 12 major cities around the world — collectively home to about 36 million people — committed Tuesday to divesting from fossil fuel companies and investing in a green, just recovery from the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.
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