Today, July 14, Governor Whitmer signed Executive Order 2020-151, to extend the governor’s emergency and disaster declaration until August 11, 2020 at 11:59pm. The state of emergency had been set to expire on Thursday, July 16. The extension comes amid a slight but steady increase of cases across the state.
On July 8, 2020, Gov. Whitmer signed House Bills 4389 and 4390, which regulate the use and reporting of firefighting foam containing per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances, or PFAS.
“Protecting our air, land and Great Lakes and ensuring Michiganders have access to clean, safe drinking water has been a top priority of my administration since day one,” Governor Whitmer said. “By signing these bills into law, we ensure any time a fire department uses firefighting foam that contains PFAS, the state is notified and the foam can be disposed of, so these forever chemicals don’t seep into our drinking water and needlessly harm Michiganders.”
House Bill 4389 (PA 132) requires the fire chief of an organized fire department that used firefighting foam containing PFAS to report the incident to the Michigan pollution emergency alert system within 48 hours following an incident. The legislation also makes permanent a program created in 2019 to collect firefighting foam containing PFAS. The bill was sponsored by Representative Sue Allor, R-Wolverine.
House Bill 4390 (PA 133) amends the Firefighters Training Council Act and prohibits the use of firefighting foam containing PFAS to be used by anyone trained under the Act. The bill also requires a minimum standard and training for certification as a fire service member using firefighting foam. The bill is sponsored by Rep. Jeff Yaroch, R-Richmond.
State of Michigan launches new website to keep public informed about the Line 5 tunnel permitting process
Michigan launches web site to keep public informed about Line 5 tunnel permitting process
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
July 7, 2020
EGLE Media Office, EGLE-Assist@Michigan.gov, 517-284-9278
The Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy (EGLE) together with the Michigan Public Service Commission (MPSC) and Michigan Department of Transportation’s (MDOT) Mackinac Straits Corridor Authority (MSCA) today announced the launch of the Line 5 in Michigan website.
The new multi-agency website – Michigan.gov/Line 5 – is designed to keep the public informed about Enbridge Energy’s proposal to relocate the current section of the Line 5 oil and natural gas liquids pipeline that crosses the Straits of Mackinac with a new section of pipeline to be housed in a tunnel beneath the lakebed.
In addition to providing an overview of the regulatory permitting process that the proposed project must follow, the website will also include technical and permitting documents, timelines, maps and other resources to help the public better understand the tunnel proposal and the unique roles various state entities play in the permitting process.
Under Michigan law, EGLE is the regulatory agency responsible for environmental permitting for the tunnel project, while the MPSC has siting authority for pipelines that carry crude oil and petroleum products. Housed within MDOT, the MSCA is responsible for overseeing construction and operation of the proposed tunnel. MSCA would own the tunnel after its construction and provide independent oversight throughout its life.
In addition to the website, EGLE has also established a dedicated permit application email account related to the proposed tunnel project, EGLE-Enbridge-Comments@Michigan.gov to provide the public with a simplified means of commenting on the proposed project. Those interested in monitoring or commenting on the MPSC proceeding involving the pipeline replacement project can sign up for MPSC email updates through the web site.
On Friday July 10, Governor Whitmer signed executive order 2020-147, which reiterates that individuals are required to wear a face covering whenever they are in an indoor public space. It also requires the use of face coverings in crowded outdoor spaces. Most significantly, the order requires any business that is open to the public to refuse entry or service to people who refuse to wear a face covering, with limited exceptions. Governors in the states of Kansas, Maine, Nevada, Pennsylvania, and Washington have imposed similar requirements on businesses.
Under the governor’s order, businesses that are open to the public must refuse entry and service to individuals who fail to comply, and must post signs at all entrances instructing customers of their legal obligation to wear a face covering while inside. Those who are exempt from wearing a mask in Michigan businesses include people younger than five years old, those who cannot medically tolerate a face covering, and those who are eating or drinking while seated at a food service establishment.
The executive order takes effect at 12:01 am on Monday, July 13. A willful violation of the order is a misdemeanor subject to a $500 criminal penalty, but no term of confinement may be imposed on individuals who violate the mask requirement. No individual is subject to penalty under the order for removing a mask while engaging in religious worship at a house of religious worship, although consistent with guidance from the CDC, congregants are strongly encouraged to wear face coverings during religious services.
Click here to view Executive Order 2020-147.
Enbridge has resumed normal operation of the west leg of the dual pipelines that make up the Mackinac Straits crossing portion of its Line 5 after discovering damage to an anchor support last week on the east leg.
After discovering the damage during a routine inspection on June 18, Enbridge initially shut down both legs as a precaution, reopening the west leg after further inspections found no issues with the pipeline itself. At press time this week, the east leg remains in shut down status as further assessment is being done as a matter of precaution.
As of Monday, June 22, Enbridge had completed an engineering analysis of the forces applied to the anchor support and an evaluation of the entire east pipeline for any potential damage. Remotely operated vehicle (ROV) inspections of the remainder of the east leg confirmed no damage to the remaining screw anchors and the pipeline itself.
To assure transparency and efficiency, Enbridge provided assessments on both the east and west pipeline legs to U.S. Department of Transportation’s Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) and the state of Michigan. Enbridge has stated it will not resume operation on the east leg without further discussion with the state of Michigan and approval from PHMSA.Read more
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE Contact: Nick DeLeeuw, Resch Strategies
June 23, 2020 email@example.com, 517-575-9564
Great Lakes Michigan Jobs Statement on Need for Line 5 Tunnel
Lansing, Mich – The Great Lakes Michigan Jobs coalition today urged state regulators and public officials to move forward immediately with plans to build the Great Lakes Tunnel deep under the lakebed in the Straits of Mackinac.
The Great Lakes Tunnel project will move a section of the already safe Line 5 pipeline currently located along the lakebed, and will make it even safer by burying it deep under the lakebed in a state-of-the-art concrete tunnel.
“The best next step for Line 5 is to build the Great Lakes Tunnel,” said Geno Alessandrini, Business Manager of the Michigan Laborers union, and a spokesperson for Great Lakes Michigan Jobs. “The Great Lakes Tunnel protects the Lakes, it protects fish and wildlife, and it protects tens of thousands of Michigan workers’ jobs. The Great Lakes Tunnel just makes sense, and we encourage the state to move forward with permitting right away.”
Said Jim Holcomb, Executive Vice President of the Michigan Chamber of Commerce, and a member of Great Lakes Michigan Jobs: “Construction of a safe, modern, state-of-the-art Tunnel deep below the lakebed will protect the Great Lakes as well as the workers and job creators counting on Line 5. The pipeline is safe, but the Tunnel will make it even safer. It’s time for state government to end the delays, embrace the Tunnel, and protect the Great Lakes and Michigan jobs.”
Leading Michigan voices from labor, business and industry have formed the Great Lakes Michigan Jobs coalition. They are speaking out together, encouraging state and federal agencies currently reviewing permit applications – and all Michiganders – to embrace the Tunnel project, and the lakes and jobs it protects.
The coalition is made up of diverse organizations, including:
- Lake Superior Community Partnership
- Michigan Building and Construction Trades Council
- Michigan Chamber of Commerce
- Michigan Chemistry Council
- Michigan Laborers Union
- Michigan Manufacturers Association
- Michigan Oil and Gas Association
- Michigan Petroleum Association
- Michigan Propane Gas Association
- Midland Business Alliance
- National Federation of Independent Business Michigan
- Operating Engineers 324
- Small Business Association of Michigan
- American Petroleum Institute
The Line 5 pipeline safely delivers the fuel that homeowners and worksites count on to keep Michigan’s economy moving. The Tunnel project was approved in 2018 by a bipartisan majority in the state legislature.
To learn more about the coalition, the Great Lakes Tunnel project or to join the coalition, visit GreatLakesMichiganJobs.com.
On June 24th, Governor Whitmer signed Executive Order 2020-131, which extends a previous executive order temporarily allowing e-signatures on official documents and remote notarizations to avoid unnecessary in-person contact during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. Executive Order 2020-131 expires on July 31, 2020.
“As we continue to suppress the spread of COVID-19 and make every effort to prevent a second wave, it’s crucial that we take all measures to avoid unnecessary in-person contact while ensuring documents can be signed or notarized,” Governor Whitmer said. “Encouraging the use of e-signatures and alternative means of notarization will protect more people during this ongoing public health crisis.”
Under Executive Order 2020-131, requirements for in-person notarizations are temporarily suspended and transactions that require a notary to be completed via two-way, real-time audiovisual technology are allowed. The order also extends the validity of notary commissions until July 31, 2020. It also permits the use of electronic signatures in all cases, except in rare circumstances when a physical signature is required.
On June 18th, Governor Whitmer signed Executive Order 2020-129, which extends a previous Executive Order allowing public bodies to conduct public meetings remotely during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. Executive Order 2020-129 expires on July 31, 2020.
“As we continue our efforts to flatten the curve and prevent a second wave of COVID-19, it’s important for public bodies to be able to continue holding meetings and the public to participate in those meetings,” Governor Whitmer said. “By allowing for remote meetings, public bodies and residents can continue practicing safe social distancing while also ensuring meetings remain open, accessible and transparent to the public.”
Under Executive Order 2020-129, public bodies subject to the Open Meetings Act, including boards, commissions, committees, subcommittees, authorities, councils and nonprofit boards, can use telephone- or video-conferencing methods to continue meeting and conducting business during the COVID-19 public health crisis, so long as they follow certain procedures to ensure meaningful access and participation by members of the public body and the general public.
Public bodies must meet the following criteria when holding a public meeting remotely:
- Ensure two-way communication for members and the public to hear and address each other when speaking.
- Provide adequate notice to the public of the meeting.
- Post a public meeting notice on their website.
- Permit participants to record or broadcast the public meeting.
- Allow participants to address the public body during a public comment period.
The order also temporarily authorizes public bodies, departments and agencies to use technology to enable remote participation in public comment and hearings, and temporarily excuses school boards from monthly meeting requirements.
Michigan Court of Appeals Rules the Law Creating the MSCA to Oversee the Great Lakes Tunnel Project is Constitutional
On Thursday, June 11, 2020, the Michigan Court of Appeals ruled that the law creating the Mackinac Straits Corridor Authority to oversee the planned utility tunnel under the Mackinac Straits was constitutional.
Attorney General Dana Nessel had argued that the law, Public 359 of 2018, was unconstitutional because the title of law doesn't match the body of the law. In October of 2019, the Michigan Court of Claims ruled against the AG’s argument and on June 11th, the Michigan Court of Appeals upheld that decision.
In the court’s opinion, Judge Thomas Cameron writes "We conclude that the title of 2018 PA 359 does not address objects so diverse that they have no necessary connection,"
"The Act's stated purpose involved 'connecting the Upper and Lower Peninsulas of Michigan,' and both a utility tunnel and a bridge are structures capable of connecting Michigan's peninsulas," the court held. "Thus, a utility tunnel and a bridge are not unconnected objects."
Enbridge spokesman Ryan Duffy said the court's decision "once again confirms" that Enbridge's prior agreements with the state "are valid and enforceable."
Additionally, a panel of the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals has upheld Enbridge’s Great Lakes spill plans that had been challenged by the National Wildlife Federation. Enbridge has submitted two spill response plans in the last 5 years, both of which have been approved the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA).
Governor Whitmer has appointed Sean Egan to serve as Director of COVID-19 Workplace Safety. In addition to this role, Egan also serves as Deputy Director for Labor at the Department of Labor and Economic Opportunity (LEO) where he oversees MIOSHA, Workers’ Disability Compensation Agency, the Bureau of Employment Relations and the Wage and Hour Division.
The appointment follows efforts to ensure Michigan workers are protected as the state slowly and safely begins to open different sectors of the economy. Last month, Gov. Whitmer signed Executive Order 2020-91 requiring businesses to adhere to strict safety guidelines to protect workers, patrons and their communities from infection. Gov. Whitmer also signed Executive Directive 2020-6 to appoint a Director of COVID-19 Workplace Safety within the Department of Labor and Economic Opportunity (LEO).