The new Environmental Rules Review Committee held their first public meeting on Tuesday March 19th in Lansing. The Committee, established last year through Public Act 267 of 2018, was created within the Department of Technology, Management, and Budget to oversee the DEQ’s rulemaking process.
The committee is comprised of four ex-officio department directors from the Department of Environmental Quality, Michigan Department of Health and Human Services, Agriculture and Rural Development, and Department of Natural Resources as non-voting members. In addition to the Department Directors, the board also consists of twelve voting members representing waste management; manufacturing; small businesses; utilities; environmental; oil and gas; conservancy and agricultural organizations; local governments; public health professionals and the public. MOGA Director David Maness, president of Maness Petroleum is on the Committee, representing Michigan’s oil and gas industry alongside others from these stakeholder groups.
OGMD’s Adam Wygant gave a great presentation to the Committee, outlining the “2019-01 Oil and Gas Operations” rule set. The presentation highlighted the definition clarifications made to satisfy the U.S. EPA’s comments on the State’s UIC Primacy Application. Following the presentation and questions, the Committee considered the rules package and voted to allow it forward into the final steps of the rule-making process. A public hearing can now be scheduled, although the timing is not yet known.
On Thursday March 28, 2018 Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel issued her first formal legal opinion, per Governor Whitmer's request, on the Mackinac Straits Corridor Authority Bill (PA 359). On her first full day in office, back in January, Governor Whitmer requested the opinion on the constitutionality of the law that created the Mackinac Straits Corridor Authority and on the Authority's approval of the Agreement. The legislation was passed and signed by Governor Snyder last fall, as part of the strategy to replace Line 5 with a tunnel under the Straits.
In her opinion, the Attorney General writes that the law is unconstitutional because it goes beyond the scope of what was disclosed in its title (violates Article 4, Sec 24 of the Constitution, the "Title Object Clause.") She also stated, “It is my opinion, therefore, that any court determination that Act 359 is unconstitutional would likely apply that decision retroactively, and conclude that the Mackinac Straits Corridor Authority, its Board, and any action taken by the Board are void from their inception”.
Governor Whitmer immediately followed with an Executive Directive ordering all state departments to stop any activity related to the tunnel project approved by the authority and "report to the governor's legal counsel regarding actions taken since the bill was passed.
“I agree with the conclusion reached by Attorney General Nessel,” Whitmer said in a statement. “The Great Lakes are our most precious resource in Michigan, and because of their significance, I’ve instructed state departments and agencies to halt any actions in furtherance of this law.”
The law in question solely pertains to the pending creation of the proposed new tunnel under the straits. It has nothing to do with the continued safe, continued operation of the existing Line 5 pipeline that runs along the lake bed. Should the law be invalidated, it would simply halt a solution that actually removes the pipe from the lake bed. We are a long way from that happening however.Read more
In Colorado, Senate Bill 181 of 2019, a piece of legislation intended to increase local control and implement a moratoria on natural gas and oil projects in Colorado, was introduced and passed in the State Senate this month. This follows on the heels of Proposition 112, the proposition that would have mandated 2,500-foot statewide setback, and essentially ended oil and gas development in Colorado. Although the proposition was defeated on the November ballot, the Democratic lead state legislature looks to drastically reshape the state's oil and gas regulations in the current legislative session. Senate Bill 181 would update the mission of the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission, giving localities the ability to institute stricter rules than the state, and pausing permitting until rules on health and safety go into effect (which could take months or years). This week, the controversial bill passed the House Finance Committee, the Bill will now head to the House Appropriations Committee before a full vote in the Colorado House.
EPEX 2019: OPI 57th Conference & Trade Show is scheduled for April 29-30, 2019 at the Best Western Plus Lamplighter Inn & Conference Centre located at 591 Wellington Rd., London.
See last year's innovations and where we're heading in 2019: https://youtu.be/2mCbrXo6Cf0
Online registration is now open at http://www.ontariopetroleuminstitute.com/conference-registration/
New sponsorship opportunities are available for 2019:
- Conference Video Proceedings Executive Producer. Full screen ad and sponsor credit at the end of every video to be posted after conference. One available.
- Full-page ad in conference program.
- Half-page ad in conference program.
For accommodations, booking must be made through Best Western Plus Lamplighter Inn & Conference Centre at 519-681-7151. Conference rate available until March 28, 2019. Mention “Ontario Petroleum Institute” to receive conference rate.
Daniel C. Scripps was appointed by Governor Gretchen Whitmer to the Michigan Public Service Commission on February 25, 2019. His term ends July 2, 2023.
Prior to his appointment, Commissioner Scripps was the Energy Foundation’s Midwest Policy Program Director, where he coordinated strategies and grantmaking across thirteen states relating to the power sector, transportation, and other issues, and led efforts to double regional grantmaking to groups engaged in equity-oriented climate and energy work. Commissioner Scripps previously served as president of the Michigan Energy Innovation Business Council and Institute for Energy Innovation, where he led efforts to expand deployment of advanced energy resources in Michigan, and as a Vice President with Advanced Energy Economy, focusing on energy finance. An attorney, Commissioner Scripps practiced law in the Washington D.C. office of Latham & Watkins LLP, advising regulated utilities, project developers, and financial institutions on cutting-edge domestic and international energy projects.
Mr. Scripps served one term representing Benzie, Leelanau, Manistee, and Mason counties in the Michigan House of Representatives (2009-2010), where he chaired the House Banking and Financial Services committee, and served on committees dealing with energy, telecommunications and environmental protection.
Mr. Scripps is a graduate of Alma College and a 2005 honors graduate of the University of Michigan Law School.
The Committee to Ban Fracking in Michigan (CBFM) began its campaign in 2015 with the goal of placing a ban on hydraulic fracturing in Michigan on the 2016 ballot. The group failed to collect the 252,523 signatures needed within the required 180 days to get the issue placed on the ballot in 2016. CBFM challenged the state’s 180-day window to collect signatures, but the court rejected the challenge as “premature” because the group had not collected enough signatures. The group then set their sights on the 2018 election, continuing to collect new signatures with the hopes that the combination of new and old signatures would be enough to reach the required amount by May of 2018. The group, however, again failed to collect the necessary signatures. On November 5, 2018, the day before the general election, CBFM tried to file its petition for placement on the November 2020 ballot, 5 years after it first began collecting signatures. The state rejected the signatures because the petitions stated that the proposal would be voted on in the 2016 general election, rendering the petition “defective and untimely”.
On December 27, 2018, the Committee to Ban Fracking in Michigan (CBFM) filed a lawsuit in the Court of Claims. This suit, their third since 2015, asserted that Former Secretary of State Ruth Johnson and Sally Williams, then Director of Elections for Michigan’s Department of State wrongfully rejected CBFM’s petition signatures and refused to notify the Board of State Canvassers that CBFM had filed a petition.
On Thursday, March 8, 2019 Attorney General Dana Nessel asked the Court to dismiss the lawsuit and defended the state’s previous decision to reject the signatures submitted by the group.
The Michigan Trails Advisory Council was created to advise the Department of Natural Resources on creation, development, operation, and maintenance of motorized and non-motorized trails in the state, including, but not limited to, snowmobile, biking, equestrian, hiking, off-road vehicle, and skiing trails. The Governor has made the following appointments to the Council
Peggy Jean McCaughn, of White Pine, the business development manager of Innovative Components, Inc. and the creator of the Western Michigan UP Snowmobile Coalition, was appointed to succeed James Duke to represent snowmobile owners and Upper Peninsula residents for a term expiring Jan. 17, 2023
Robert Wilson, of Okemos, the executive director of Michigan Trails and Greenways Alliance, was reappointed to represent non-motorized trail user for a term expiring Jan. 17, 2023
The appointments and reappointments are not subject to advice and consent of the Senate.
The Water Use Advisory Council advises the Department of Environmental Quality, Department of Natural Resources, and Department of Agriculture and Rural Development on the State’s Water Use Program, which includes the following major elements: Great Lakes Compact; water withdrawal; and water use conflict. The appointments are as follows;
- Michael Gallagher, of Richland, the president of the Michigan Lakes and Streams Association, was appointed to succeed William Scott Brown to represent Statewide Riparian Landowners Association for a term expiring Feb. 26, 2023.
- David Hamilton, of Haslett, the senior policy director for The Nature Conservancy, was appointed to represent Statewide Conservation Organizations for a term expiring Feb. 26, 2023.
- James Nicholas, of Mason, owner and operator of Nicholas-h2o, was appointed to represent professional hydrologists and hydrogeologists, as defined in section 32706c, with hydrogeology field experience for a term expiring Feb. 26, 2023
- Frank Ettawageshik, of Harbor Springs, the executive director of the United Tribes of Michigan, was reappointed to represent tribes for a term expiring Feb. 26, 2023
- Patrick Staskiewiczs, of Grand Haven, the director of public utilities with the Ottawa County Road Commission, was reappointed to represent municipal water suppliers for a term expiring Feb. 26, 2023.
These appointments are not subject to advice and consent of the Senate.
Line 5 Legal Challenge Update
Michigan Court of Claims Judge, Stephen Borrello, has upheld the state law that created the Mackinac Straits Corridor Authority (Public Act 359). Although he ruled that the 6-year terms for members of the authority established by the law was unconstitutional, he maintained that the appointments themselves — "and all the trappins of decision-making associated therewith" remain valid. The Michigan constitution states “Terms of office of any board or commission... shall not exceed four years except as otherwise authorized in this constitution.” Judge Borrello ruled that members can only serve for four years, the maximum allowed under the Michigan Constitution.
"The unconstitutional length of the term of office does not affect the authority of otherwise validly appointed board members," Borrello said. In fashioning a remedy, the court must "remain mindful of the Legislature’s intent and strike only those provisions of the statute that are unenforceable," Borrello said in ruling that authority members appointed to six years can only serve four.
Attorney General Dana Nessel is expected to announce an opinion on the law's constitutionality in the coming weeks.
The State House has approved a list of 60+ Michigan Natural Resources Trust Fund Projects reccomended for approval by the Trust Fund Board. They will now go to the State Senate.
Total Development Grant Recommendation Amount: $7,393,400
30 Local Developments - $6,853,400
4 State Developments - $540,000
Total Acquisition Grant Recommendation Amount: $18,650,600
22 Local Acquisitions - $12,006,000
8 State Acquisitions - $6,644,600