Legal Challenge to Line 5 Anchor Supports Continues

Since 2018, Enbridge has been awarded 73 screw anchor permits from the state for Line 5 in the Straits and of those, 53 have already been installed.

in 2019, environmental groups challenged the state's issuance of these anchor permits, based on their belief that the state should have required comprehensive environmental evaluations before approving them.

According to the Detroit News, on Friday Feb. 7th, 2020, Administrative Law Judge Daniel Pulter dismissed most of the challenges to the placement of screw anchors along the dual oil pipelines, but found there was legal grounding to examine whether the state adequately assessed the risks those supports pose to the bottom lands. 

The challenge to the supports should not be limited to “the environmental effects of screwing two bolts per screw anchor into the lake bed, as initially asserted by EGLE at oral argument," the judge wrote. “Rather the petitioners may bring any claim related to ‘existing and potential…adverse effects to the environment, public trust and riparian rights of adjacent  owners’ that is causally related to the 73 screw anchors.”

Judge Pulter has scheduled a Feb. 28 pre-hearing conference in the case.

Enbridge expects the judge will dismiss the rest of the case once he hears evidence showing Enbridge's proposed installation method "minimizes any potential harm to the environment," said Ryan Duffy, a spokesman for the company.

"Nothing in the opinion affects Enbridge’s ongoing operation of Line 5, or the 53 anchors that were already installed in 2019," Duffy said. "The anchor installations make the dual pipelines safer. That is why EGLE approved the permits in the first place and has defended its decision to approve the permits." 

Read the full story in the Detroit News

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Enbridge begins work to replace the St. Clair River crossing segment of Line 5

The work to replace the St. Clair River crossing segment of the Line 5 pipeline comes as part of the agreement signed between Enbridge and the State under the Snyder administration. The existing pipeline is installed in a trench that sits about five feet below the riverbed. In order to replace the pipe, Enbridge will use horizontal directional drilling from the U.S. side of the river, and plans to pull the new 2,800 foot section of 30-inch diameter pipe through the borehole. The new pipeline will sit about 30 feet below the riverbed. According to Enbridge, crews have started preliminary work on the Canadian side of the St. Clair crossing and they plan to begin welding the new pipeline next month. 

"This is one part of those agreements where we are going above and beyond for safety, really, and just making what's been a safe pipeline there even safer". - Ryan Duffy with Enbridge.

 

 

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U.S. Domestic Production Provides Economic Security for Michigan

U.S Domestic Energy Production Provides Economic Security According to Experts at Michigan’s 2020 Consensus Revenue Estimating Conference

As the U.S. moves even closer to energy independence, Michigan’s petroleum industry plays an integral role in providing the safe, secure, reliable, and affordable energy in our own state that helps fuel economic growth here in Michigan and bolsters our national security.

Over the last decade, the U.S has significantly reduced its dependence on foreign oil and established itself as a global energy leader thanks to technological advances. Michigan ranks 18th in both crude oil and natural gas production of producing states. The state’s energy reserves are significant, the proven environmental regulations are a national model, and the future of the industry looks bright.

U.S. energy production coupled with proven reserves provides increased economic security in the face of geopolitical threats. Global conflicts that just a decade ago would have significantly impacted the state’s economic outlook are now much less of a concern for economic forecasters as detailed at the Michigan Consensus Revenue Estimating Conference on January 10th, 2020.

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DNR is looking to fill its open Minerals Management Section Manager Position

The Michigan Department of Natural Resources (DNR) is currently looking to hire a full-time Section Manager for the Minerals Management Section within the DNR’s Finance and Operations Division, in Lansing, Michigan.

The Minerals Management Section of the DNR serves as the statewide manager for the 6.4 million acres of mineral ownership under the control of the land administering divisions within the DNR. The DNR is responsible for the leasing of state-owned mineral rights, while the Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy (EGLE) is responsible for all permits and regulations for the act of extracting the minerals from the land.

This position would be responsible for providing leadership and supervision to the section’s staff and serves as the department's primary facilitator for leasing and direct sale of state-owned minerals including development, exploration and extraction of minerals. The section manager is also responsible for the administration, development, and revision of laws, rules, policies, and procedures pertaining to mineral development, exploration, and extraction. The section manager works with industry, EGLE, and the DNR land administering divisions; and will serve on various workgroups, special committees, or task forces as requested. The section manager also serves as a member of the division management team.

To learn more, visit the position posting here.

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New Revenue Administrative Bulletin on Severance Tax from Natural Gas

In December of 2019 the Michigan Department of Treasury put out a Revenue Administrative Bulletin (2019-23) titled Allowable Marketing Cost Deduction to Severance Tax on Natural Gas.  This replaces RAB's 1989-19, 1989-20, 1992-5 and 1992-9 and updates the Department’s guidance regarding allowable marketing cost deductions to the severance tax on natural gas under 1929 PA 48, MCL 205.301

Industry experts reviewed the draft on behalf of MOGA and submitted comments back in November of 2018.  The 2019-23 Bulletin takes into account many of our comments. The Council of Petroleum Accounts Societies (COPAS) Michigan Chapter will be hosting an in-depth conversation on this at the Grand Traverse Resort on April 16th. COPAS and MOGA will put out meeting details closer to the date.

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U.S. Energy Dominance Highlighted in President Trump's State of the Union Address

 

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"Thanks to our bold regulatory reduction campaign, the United States has become the number one producer of oil and natural gas anywhere in the world, by far" - President Donald J. Trump

The United States has been the world's top producer of natural gas since 2009, when US natural gas production surpassed that of Russia and under the Trump administration, the US became the top producer of crude oil in the summer of 2018 according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA). 

This was just one of the many positives that were highlighted in President Trump's State of the Union Address, the full video of which can be found here. 

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EGLE’s OGMD seeks to expand use of drone technology for regulatory purposes

Michigan’s oil and gas producers may soon be getting forms from the Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy’s (EGLE) Oil, Gas, and Minerals Division (OGMD) asking for the company’s approval to use drones for regulatory purposes on company sites. You do not have to approve the drone usage. Per statute, you have the choice.

Public Act 442 of 2018 which took effect on March 21st, 2019 requires EGLE and other state regulatory agencies to obtain permission from site owners to use drones for inspection, compliance, or enforcement actions. 

The Michigan Oil & Gas News January Monthly Edition features an in-depth look at EGLE's drone program and a Q&A with OGMD Drone Pilot Mike Shelton on several questions of interest to Michigan's oil and gas producers.

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Don't miss this piece! 

Here are some informational pieces on the use of drone technology for regulatory purposes from EGLE. (These are referenced in the Michigan Oil & Gas News Article).   

EGLE's Departmental Drone Policy “Use of Small Unmanned Aircraft Systems"

EGLE's Drone Technology in Environmental Assessment FAQ

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Governor Delivers 2020 State of the State Address

“Let’s get to work. Let’s move some dirt.” -Gov. Gretchen Whitmer

Governor Whitmer's State of the State address on January 29th, 2020 was one of the shortest in recent memory, but it certainly was not short on content. Her speech focused primarily on access to affordable healthcare, jobs, education, and fixing Michigan's roads. She noted that she will followup on a variety of topics, including critical issues like drinking water and climate change, throughout the year. Along those lines, she did mention the creation of the Environmental Justice Advisory Council and the naming of the first Clean Water Public Advocate. A little more on these can be found in previous blogs, 21 Individuals Appointed to the Michigan Advisory Council on Environmental Justice and Gov. Whitmer Signs Executive Order Announcing Dept. Of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy and the Oil and Gas will soon feature a more in-depth piece on the advisory council and  environmental justice. 

Below you will find links to the full State of the State address in addition to fact sheets from the Governor's office on the topics discussed in her speech. The Fact Sheet: Rebuilding Michigan highlights the Governor's $3.5 billion road bonding plan to fix major state highways (The type of bonds issued would not be available for lesser highways or local roads). 

The Michigan Infrastructure and Transportation Association applauded Whitmer for immediate revenue for roads, but said it’s not a long-term solution.

“Even with the proposed bonding solution, the debate around a significant long-term investment cannot be delayed any longer,” said Mike Nystrom, executive vice president of the association. “We look forward to working with the Legislature and getting to work on fixing Michigan’s roads.”

See more reactions to the State of the State in the Detroit Free Press.

 The Governor's Full State of the State Address as Prepared for Delivery PDF icon

 

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MISS DIG settlement reminds folks to do their MISS DIG diligence in a timely manner

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MISS DIG is Michigan’s utility safety notification system that helps mark public utility lines to assist businesses and individuals with their digging projects. Companies are statutorily obligated to timely mark their buried lines after receiving dig notices, in order to protect the integrity and safety of the natural gas pipeline system, in addition to sewers, telecommunication lines, water lines, and buried electrical lines. 

The MISS DIG Facility Damage Prevention and Safety Act, Public Act 174 of 2013 can be found here. 

A recent settlement against Consumers Energy approved by the Michigan Public Service Commission (MPSC) reminds companies to do their MISS DIG Diligence in a timely matter. According to a press release by the Attorney General's office, following AG Nessel’s intervention, the MPSC approved a $545,000 settlement against Consumers Energy after the utility company was determined by MPSC staff to have violated MISS DIG regulations. This action follows the MPSC’s June 7, 2019 show cause order, which required the utility company to show why it should not be found in violation of the MISS DIG Underground Facility Damage Prevention and Safety Act, Public Act 174 of 2013. MPSC staffers had determined Consumers Energy failed to satisfy its statutory obligation to timely mark its facilities after receiving dig notices.

Consumers Energy will implement new staking procedures and reporting requirements in an effort to avoid repeating this problem in the future.

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21 Individuals Appointed to the Michigan Advisory Council on Environmental Justice

21 individuals have been appointed by the Governor to the newly created Michigan Advisory Council for Environmental Justice (MAC EJ). The MAC EJ is tasked with advising the Interagency Environmental Justice Response Team (IEJRT), which works with the Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy (EGLE) to assure all Michigan residents receive equal protections from environmental hazards. MAC EJ will provide public and impacted community input the Interagency Environmental Justice Response Team is led by Regina Strong, the state’s Environmental Justice Public Advocate.  

“To address ongoing environmental justice issues, it was absolutely critical that those impacted daily have a seat at the table,” Whitmer said in a press release. “We must ensure that the implementation and enforcement of environmental protections, regulations, and policies in Michigan will be fair and meaningful to all Michiganders, regardless of geography, race, color, origin, or income. Actions like these will help to further rebuild trust in our state government.”  

The new appointees to the Michigan Advisory Council on Environmental Justice can be found by clicking Read More

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