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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EIA expects U.S. energy-related CO2 emissions to decrease annually through 2021

In its latest Short-Term Energy Outlook (STEO), released on January 14, the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) forecasts year-over-year decreases in energy-related carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions through 2021. After decreasing by 2.1% in 2019, energy-related CO2 emissions will decrease by 2.0% in 2020 and again by 1.5% in 2021 for a third consecutive year of declines.

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Click Here to Read the Full Article 

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NMC API to Host February Meeting Featuring Enbridge Representative

Northern Michigan Chapter API will be hosting a meeting and dinner at the VFW hall in Kalkaska, MI located at 480 Hyde st Kalkaska, MI 49646

on Thursday, Feb. 6th 2020.  This months discussion and content will be headlined by a representative from EnBridge to discuss updates and progressions on Line 5. For years now, the existence of Line 5 has been a focal point in the news, predominantly due to location, at the bottom of one of our great lakes.  After an independent study in 2016 PHMSA gave Line 5 a clean bill of health, and declared it fit for purpose.  Since then, there have been adversaries, and demand for changes.  Enbridge will be able to bring us up to speed on current plans moving forward.

 

Cocktail hour begins at 6pm and Dinner at 7pm, with Speaker and presentation immediately following.  Cost is $25, and non-members will pay a one time annual membership fee of $15.  Cash, Credit and Checks accepted for payment.

 

Please RSVP to Jan Bell at jbell@aenergy.net

 

VFW

 

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The Michigan Court of Appeals became just the latest court to reject Attorney General Dana Nessel's attempt to stop construction of the Great Lakes Tunnel.

On Thursday, January 17th, 2020 the Michigan Court of Appeals became just the latest court to reject Attorney General Dana Nessel's attempt to stop construction of the Great Lakes Tunnel.

In October of 2019, the Michigan Court of Claims ruled Enbridge Energy’s tunnel construction agreement with the state of Michigan was valid. The Court of Claims then denied the Attorney General’s request to stay (temporarily halt) the ruling, so she filed a brief in the Michigan Court of Appeals, a higher court, to stay the implementation of the Court of Claims decision. This too was denied. On Thursday, in a 2-1 decision from the Court of Appeals, judges Michael Gadola and Patrick Meter denied Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel’s request.

What does this mean for tunnel construction? The Attorney General’s spokeswomen, Kelly Rossman-MCkinney may have put it best, “If Enbridge applies for permits needed for the construction of the proposed tunnel, state agencies would have the responsibility to process the applications as provided by law; the potential unconstitutionality of Act 359 is not a basis at this time for declining to do so”.

It’s likely that the Attorney General will continue to challenge the courts in an attempt to delay or halt construction of the Great Lakes Tunnel, but for now, Public Act 359,  the law that created the Mackinac Straits Corridor Authority and lead to the Authority's approval of the tunnel agreement, remains in place. Enbridge may continue to move forward with its plans for tunnel construction and the state must process any permits submitted pertaining to the tunnel project.

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Kurt Thiede Announced as New EPA Region 5 Administrator

U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Andrew Wheeler announced the appointment of Kurt Thiede of Wisconsin to become regional administrator for Region 5, overseeing environmental protection efforts in Minnesota, Wisconsin, Illinois, Michigan, Indiana, and Ohio. Mr. Thiede will succeed Cathy Stepp, who is stepping down from her post in the Great Lakes region after several years of service to the agency.

“Kurt Thiede’s commitment to public service and passion for the Great Lakes region make him an excellent choice to lead the Region 5 office,” said EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler. “While we will greatly miss Cathy Stepp’s leadership, I am confident that Kurt will bring the same level of dedication to the role of Regional Administrator. I look forward to working with him to further protect human health and the environment for our residents throughout the region.”

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Cathy Stepp is Stepping Down as EPA Region 5 Administrator

 

EPA Region 5 Administrator Cathy Stepp has announced that her last day at the EPA will be Friday January 17th. She was named to the position in December of 2018, after leading Wisconsin's Department of Natural Resources from 2001-2017. She plans to return to Missouri to be closer to family. 

"I have been presented with a professional opportunity that will get me back to Missouri so I can once again be home with my husband and son. While I love my position here in Region 5, I'm looking forward to a more stable and predictable work schedule that isn't 9 hours from my family!" -Cathy Stepp

She will be succeeded by Kurt Thiede who served as Cathy's chief of staff during her time as the regional administrator. 

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DNR Requests Information on Line 5 from Enbridge as part of its Review of the Pipeline Ordered by Gov. Whitmer in June

On January 13, 2020 Department of Natural Resources (DNR) Director Dan Eichinger sent a letter to Vern Yu, Executive Vice President and President of Liquids Pipelines for Enbridge Inc., requesting documents and information regarding Enbridge's 1953 easement granted by the Michigan Conservation Commission. This would include, but is not limited to information on anchor strikes, the pipe's curvature, investigations and corrective actions taken on the pipeline, any damage or leaks that may have occurred since 1953, and communications with the state about any damages. 

The letter comes as part of the DNR's review of the pipeline that was requested by Gov. Whitmer in June. The review is intended to determine the past and present compliance of Enbridge to its 1953 easement. 

Enbridge will have 30 days to respond with the requested documentation. A full list of information requested can be found in the letter.

 

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EGLE to Host Webinar Series on the Air Permitting Process

The Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy (EGLE) Air Quality Division is hosting a series of webinars that will focus on the air permitting process and is intended to help applicants put together a complete application from the beginning of the process to the end and ensure you have included all necessary elements – as well as how to work through some of the most complicated portions. Air Quality Division staff will walk you through Best Practices as well as some of the more complicated regulations and rules on the books.

The first two webinar in the series are listed below, for additional webinar dates, information and to register for the free webinars visit Michigan.gov/egle and click on “Environmental Calendar, Events and Training”. Or click here

January 22, 2020, 10:00 - 11:00 AM

Best Practices for a Complete Air Permit Application

February 20, 2020, 10:00 - 11:00 AM

Air Dispersion Modeling & Policy and Procedure AQD-022

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US Production Helps Keep Gas Prices in Check Amidst Global Conflicts

In a recent interview, Patrick De Haan, the head of petroleum analysis for Gas Buddy said rising tensions between the U.S. and any country in the Middle East ten years ago could have caused a bump in gas prices. Today, that's less likely. The United States now makes around 13 million barrels of oil annually. Around 2010, we averaged around 5.5 million barrels. He said our own production provides a buffer, so an out-of-country conflict would not hit as hard as in the past. This may come as no surprise to MOGA Members who have long recognized the importance of American energy independence, but it is exciting to see others taking notice. Click here to read the full article and watch the interview with Patrick De Haan. 

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