President Biden has directed executive departments and federal agencies to review actions taken over the past four years and consider suspending, revising, or rescinding the agency actions that are inconsistent with the new administration's policy.
The Biden administration's policy as detailed in the press release on presidential actions is as follows,
"It is, therefore, the policy of my Administration to listen to the science; to improve public health and protect our environment; to ensure access to clean air and water; to limit exposure to dangerous chemicals and pesticides; to hold polluters accountable, including those who disproportionately harm communities of color and low-income communities; to reduce greenhouse gas emissions; to bolster resilience to the impacts of climate change; to restore and expand our national treasures and monuments; and to prioritize both environmental justice and the creation of the well-paying union jobs necessary to deliver on these goals".
This review will likely include reinstating Obama era controls on methane. The methane rules issued by the Environmental Protection Agency in August of 2020 removed unnecessary and duplicative regulatory burdens that fell overwhelmingly on the nation's small, independent producers.
The rule titled, Reducing Methane Emissions in the Oil and Gas Sector: “Oil and Natural Gas Sector: Emission Standards for New, Reconstructed, and Modified Sources Reconsideration,” is likely to be quickly undone under the Biden administration as its specifically mentioned in the President's Executive Order.
Other actions include:
- Moving to rejoin the Paris accord.
- Imposing a moratorium on oil leasing in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.
- Ordering the Interior Department to review monument boundaries shrunk during the Trump administration, including Utah’s Bears Ears National Monument, which was pared to about 220,000 acres from its original 1.4-million-acre footprint.
- Halting the cross-border Keystone XL oil pipeline by revoking the a key permit.
Construction on the Keystone XL began last year and about 300 miles have been completed so far. The 1,700-mile pipeline would carry roughly 800,000 barrels of oil a day from Alberta to the Texas Gulf Coast, passing through Montana, South Dakota, Nebraska, Kansas, and Oklahoma.
First proposed in 2008, the Obama administration rejected the project in 2015. President Trump revived the project on his first days in office and construction had been underway. However, in anticipation of the incoming Biden administration revocation of a key cross-border presidential permit, the company has suspended work on the project.
Marty Durbin, president of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce's Global Energy Institute, said Mr. Biden's decision is not grounded in science and will put thousands of Americans out of work,
"The pipeline — the most studied infrastructure project in American history — is already under construction and has cleared countless legal and environmental hurdles," Durbin said in a statement. "Halting construction will also impede the safe and efficient transport of oil, and unfairly single out production from one of our closest and most important allies."
Governor Whitmer Announces the Michigan COVID Recovery Plan to Jumpstart the State’s Economy and End the COVID-19 Pandemic
In a press release, Governor Gretchen Whitmer has announced the Michigan COVID Recovery Plan to grow Michigan’s economy and help end the COVID-19 pandemic. The governor’s plan includes a strong focus on vaccine distribution, economic recovery, schools, and more.
The Michigan COVID Recovery Plan includes,
--- PUBLIC HEALTH ---
VACCINE DISTRIBUTION: Michigan is ready to ramp up vaccination distribution, which will help us get back to normal as quickly as possible. Last month, Congress appropriated $90 million in additional resources for vaccine distribution in Michigan through the Coronavirus Response and Relief Supplemental Appropriations Act. The governor’s plan will use this federal funding to ramp up vaccine distribution in Michigan and bring us closer to our goal of 50,000 shots in arms per day. This funding will help provide financial support to local health departments for vaccine administration costs, including staff augmentation, as well as provide equipment and supplies. Michigan will also receive $575 million to expand COVID testing, tracing, and lab capacity in Michigan.
--- JOBS AND ECONOMY ---
SUPPORT FOR SMALL BUSINESS: As part of the governor’s MI COVID Recovery Plan, the governor’s plan provides $225 million for three new programs from the MEDC:
- The Michigan Mainstreet Initiative will help stabilize our small business community by securing grants for restaurants and other place-based businesses to keep our Main Streets vibrant and our communities resilient.
- The Michigan Microenterprise Support Initiative will help us put small businesses with less than nine employees on the path to recovery by creating greater access to much needed support.
- And the Business Accelerator and Resiliency Initiative will provide grants to high-tech startups that can help our communities thrive.
“To help grow and strengthen our economy, we must provide crucial support for our families, small businesses, and frontline workers,” said Governor Whitmer. “The MI COVID Recovery Plan will help small businesses get through the winter, help us put more shots in arms and ramp up vaccine distribution, and get our kids back on track in school. It’s the right thing to do to protect public health and jumpstart our economy, and I’m ready to work with the legislature to get it done.”
Click Read More for more details on the governor’s plan.Read more
Governor Gretchen Whitmer today announced the dates for special elections to fill vacancies in the 8th and 28th Districts of the Michigan Senate. A special primary election to fill the vacancy will be held on August 3rd, 2021, and the general election will be held on November 2nd, 2021.
“The 8th and 28th Senate Districts deserve representation in the legislature, and voters will have an opportunity to make their voices heard at the ballot box in the August 3rd primary and the November 2nd general election,” said Governor Whitmer. “Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson and I remain committed to ensuring fair and secure elections that reflect the will of the people, and I look forward to working with her to ensure the people of Michigan have a voice in Lansing.”
The Michigan’s 28th Senate District seat was previously held by Senator Peter MacGregor, who was elected as the Kent County Treasurer in the November 3rd, 2020 general election.
The 8th Senate District seat was previously held by Senator Peter Lucido, who was elected as the Macomb County Prosecutor in the November 3rd, 2020 general election.
Candidates wishing to be placed on the August 3rd primary ballot must file by April 20th, 2021.
The U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) will re-open the Paycheck Protection Program loan portal to PPP-eligible lenders with $1 billion or less in assets for First and Second Draw applications on 𝗙𝗿𝗶𝗱𝗮𝘆, 𝗝𝗮𝗻𝘂𝗮𝗿𝘆 𝟭𝟱 𝗮𝘁 𝟵 𝗮𝗺 𝗘𝗧 and fully open the portal on Tuesday, January 19.
The Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) provides loans to help businesses keep their workforce employed during the Coronavirus (COVID-19) crisis. SBA is currently offering:
First Draw PPP Loans for first time program participants.
Second Draw PPP Loans beginning January 13, 2021 for certain businesses who have previously received a PPP loan.
The Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) now allows certain eligible borrowers that previously received a PPP loan to apply for a Second Draw PPP Loan with the same general loan terms as their First Draw PPP Loan.
Second Draw PPP Loans can be used to help fund payroll costs, including benefits. Funds can also be used to pay for mortgage interest, rent, utilities, worker protection costs related to COVID-19, uninsured property damage costs caused by looting or vandalism during 2020, and certain supplier costs and expenses for operations.
Maximum loan amount and increased assistance for accommodation and food services businesses
For most borrowers, the maximum loan amount of a Second Draw PPP Loan is 2.5x average monthly 2019 or 2020 payroll costs up to $2 million. For borrowers in the Accommodation and Food Services sector (use NAICS 72 to confirm), the maximum loan amount for a Second Draw PPP Loan is 3.5x average monthly 2019 or 2020 payroll costs up to $2 million.
Who may qualify
A borrower is generally eligible for a Second Draw PPP Loan if the borrower:
- Previously received a First Draw PPP Loan and will or has used the full amount only for authorized uses
- Has no more than 300 employees; and
- Can demonstrate at least a 25% reduction in gross receipts between comparable quarters in 2019 and 2020
How and when to apply
You can apply for a Second Draw PPP Loan from January 13, 2021, until March 31, 2021. To promote access for smaller lenders and their customers, SBA will initially only accept Second Draw PPP Loan applications from participating community financial institutions (CFIs). All Second Draw PPP Loans will have the same terms regardless of lender or borrower.
To be matched with a participating lender, visit SBA Lender Match.
If you wish to begin preparing your application, you can download the following PPP borrower application form to see the information that will be requested from you when you apply with a lender:
Paycheck Protection Program Second Draw Borrower Application Form (released 01-08-21)
Office of the Environmental Justice Public Advocate launches website to highlight actions toward justice
According to a Jan. 14 press release, the Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy’s (EGLE) Office of the Environmental Justice Public Advocate has launched a website to better connect Michigan residents with the state’s work toward ensuring equity and environmental justice
The site, Michigan.gov/EnvironmentalJustice, highlights ongoing environmental justice projects and initiatives, community partnerships, and ways for the public to interact with the office. It also offers information on the state’s Interagency Environmental Justice Response Team, inaugural Michigan Advisory Council on Environmental Justice, as well as Tribal Relations, and EGLE’s nondiscrimination, public participation and tribal consultation polices. EGLE’s newly developed Limited English Proficiency plan is also available on the site in English, Arabic and Spanish.
“Action is at the heart of environmental justice advocacy. The role of the Office of the Environmental Justice Public Advocate is to work collaboratively within state government and with the community to move toward ensuring environmental justice in the state,” said Regina Strong, Environmental Justice Public Advocate. “This new website is designed to provide a window into how we are moving the needle.”
The Office of the Environmental Justice Public Advocate was created by Governor Gretchen Whitmer's Executive Order 2019-06 to serve as an external and internal advocate and catalyst for ensuring environmental justice throughout the state. The Office operates as a Type I agency within EGLE, with a direct line to the Governor’s office to elevate concerns and coordinate across state government. The Office also works to address and resolve environmental justice concerns and complaints and advance environmental justice and equity in Michigan.
Michigan defines environmental justice as the equitable treatment and meaningful involvement of all people – regardless of race, color, national origin, ability or income – and is critical to the development and application of laws, regulations and policies that affect the environment, as well as the places people live, work, play, worship and learn.
“We are reopening cautiously because caution is working to save lives. The new order allows group exercise and non-contact sports, always with masks and social distancing, because in the winter it’s not as easy to get out and exercise and physical activity is important for physical and mental health,” said state health department Director Robert Gordon in a news release.
The updated order goes into effect Saturday and runs through the end of the month.
Enbridge Press Release:
Michigan Governor's Attempt to Revoke Line 5 Easement is Unlawful and Ignores Science and Evidence
January 12, 2021
Enbridge Rejects State's Notice on Easement, Says State's Action is Unlawful
CALGARY, AB and LANSING, Mich., Jan. 12, 2021 /CNW/ - Today Enbridge Inc. (TSX: ENB) (NYSE: ENB) (Enbridge or the company) responded to Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer's attempt to terminate an easement that has been in place since 1953 and thereby close Enbridge's Line 5 dual pipelines located in that easement. Line 5 enables the safe transport of fuel to heat homes and provides energy to Michigan, neighboring U.S. states and Canada's two largest provinces.
In a letter responding to the State's November 13 notice, Vern Yu, Enbridge Executive Vice President and President, Liquids Pipelines, wrote, "Our dual lines in the Straits are safe and in full compliance with the federal pipeline safety standards that govern them."
Both lines were reviewed and approved for operation by the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) back in June and September of 2020.
Mr. Yu further stated that Enbridge has no intention of shutting down the pipelines based on the State's unspecified allegations and its violation of federal law.
The company has requested that the United States District Court dismiss the State of Michigan's action in that the revocation of the easement is contrary to federal law and that pipeline safety resides with the federal Pipeline Safety Act and its enforcement is the responsibility of an expert federal agency (PHMSA).
"The Notice ignores scientific evidence and is based on inaccurate and outdated information," Mr. Yu wrote of the State's action.
Repeated offers by Enbridge over the past year to meet with State officials to discuss pipeline issues of concern to the State, provide technical information and discuss matters that might be helpful to the State's review of the easement were consistently ignored and dismissed. Consequently, the State made its claim on ill-informed, inaccurate, out of date and unsupportable opinion.
In his letter, Mr. Yu wrote that the State acted unlawfully in issuing the Notice to revoke and terminate the 1953 easement by attempting to upend federal jurisdiction.
Enbridge's response further underscores that the Governor and the DNR Director cannot disregard Michigan laws authorizing the original 1953 easement and the replacement tunnel, nor displace PHMSA, the federal agency responsible for the safety of interstate pipelines. The company, consistent with the past, is offering to meet with the State to resolve any differences.
"In the meantime, the dual pipelines will continue to operate safely until they are replaced on completion of the Tunnel Project," wrote Vern Yu.
Residents, businesses and refineries throughout Michigan, other Great Lakes states and Canada's two largest provinces – Ontario and Quebec – rely on the safe transportation of oil, propane and other product through the dual pipelines. Enbridge looks forward to continuing to provide this critical source of energy while focusing on plans to construct the Great Lakes Tunnel as another measure to enhance safe operation of the dual pipelines.
To view Mr. Yu's letter, please click here.
The U.P. Energy Task Force is to meet online beginning at 9 a.m. Monday, Jan. 11, to continue its discussion of potential recommendations regarding Upper Peninsula energy issues and alternatives.
The Task Force is required to submit its final report to Gov. Gretchen Whitmer by March 31, 2021.
Those interested in joining the public meeting can click on the Microsoft Teams link on the U.P. Energy Task Force webpage. Those who do not have Internet access can participate by phone: Dial 248-509-0316 and enter the conference ID 978 293 563#.