AG Nessel Issues Statement on Line 5

In a press release on Monday April 29th, Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel issued the following statement in response to recent media inquiries regarding her position on Line 5 moving forward:

“I respect the Governor’s effort to find a swift and straightforward resolution to this issue, but if unsuccessful I will use every resource available to our office to shut down Line 5 to protect our Great Lakes.”

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DEQ Officially EGLE as of April 22nd, 2019

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Gov. Whitmer signed Executive Order 2019-06 on February 20, 2019, creating the Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy. The Executive Order took went into effect on Monday, April 22, 60-days after its submission to the Legislature.

Under the Executive Order, MDEQ reorganizes as EGLE and assumes many activities of the Michigan Agency for Energy though the creation of the new Office of Climate and Energy within EGLE. The Office of the Great Lakes also moves from the Department of Natural Resources into EGLE.

Other notable changes under the reorganization include the creation of an Interagency Environmental Justice Response Team, which will assist in developing, implementing, and regularly updating a statewide environmental justice plan. The creation of an Environmental Justice Public Advocate position who will accept and investigate complaints and concerns related to environmental justice in Michigan. An Office of the Clean Water Public Advocate is also created to accept and investigate complaints and concerns relating to drinking water quality.

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Michigan Agency for Energy now part of new EGLE

The following is a news release from the The Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy (EGLE). The DEQ's name change officially took place on April 22nd. 

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For Immediate Release: 
April 22, 2019

For more information:
Nick Assendelft, AssendelftN@michigan.gov, 517-284-8300
Customer Assistance: 800-292-9555

Michigan Agency for Energy now part of new EGLE

As of today, the Michigan Agency for Energy (MAE) has merged into the new Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy (EGLE). 

MAE, which had been housed under the Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs, will no longer exist as its own agency. The Michigan Energy Office, which was part of MAE, and MAE’s External Affairs team both move over to the new EGLE department. 

The Michigan Energy Office’s current funding incentives, including sponsorships, rebates, grants and loans for energy related projects, will remain in place for the near future. Stakeholders will continue to work with the office’s staff, led by Director Robert Jackson. 

Also, as of today, MAE’s Energy Security Section now is under the auspices of the Michigan Public Service Commission, which remains under LARA. 

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer signed Executive Order 2019-06 on Feb. 20, 2019, to create EGLE, with an effective date of Monday, April 22, 2019. Under the executive order, the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality reorganized as EGLE and assumed many activities of MAE. The executive order also moved the Office of the Great Lakes from the Department of Natural Resources into EGLE.

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Oil and Gas Rules Package Moves Forward, Clearing the way for a Public Hearing

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.

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Attorney General Issues Opinion on the Mackinac Straits Corridor Authority and PA 359 of 2018.

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.

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"Keep it in the Ground" Movement Wages Battle at the State Level

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. 

According to IPAA, Colorado isn't the only state that is facing challanges to its local energy industry. 
In Texas, Committee Substitute Senate Bill 421 (CSSB 421) was passed by the Committee on State Affairs despite language that invites an increase in litigation and delays against new pipeline projects in the state. If passed, this legislation could threaten the significant job growth and tax revenue these projects generate, and place the state in a similar situation as New England where pipeline obstruction has created massive economic harm.
In a recent release, IPAA indicated that these are only two state-level bills being proposed – there are many more, in many forms, shaping up across the country. Visit the Energy in Depth website for more information as these, and other bills, progress.

 

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OPI Conference & Trade Show Scheduled for End of April

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.

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Meet New MPSC Commissioner Dan Scripps

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.

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State Seeks to Dismiss Committee to Ban Fracking in Michigan’s Lawsuit

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 Motion and Brief can be Found Here

 

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Governor Whitmer Makes Appointments to the Michigan Trails Advisory Council

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. 

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Michigan Petroleum Directory Now Available!