The Key to Staying Warm During the Polar Vortex? Natural Gas

The Polar Vortex grabbed headlines this week as the plummeting temperatures across the Midwest shattered low temperature records in several Michigan cities.  Many school districts and state offices closed this week because of the dangerous wind chills, dipping to nearly forty below. So how have Michiganders stayed warm? The answer, more than likely, is natural gas.

More than three-fourths of Michigan households use natural gas as their primary source for home heating. Michigan routinely ranks among the top 5 states in residential use of natural gas and in the top 10 for total gas consumption. Although the Antrim Field in the northern Lower Peninsula is one of the nation’s top 100 natural gas fields, Michigan’s home state energy producers can only meet a fraction of the state’s demand. Here is where Michigan’s energy infrastructure plays a critical role in keeping us warm and safe. Several interstate pipelines cross the state, bringing natural gas to Michigan consumers on the way to other markets in the northeastern United States and eastern Canada. Natural gas enters the state from Indiana, Ohio, and Wisconsin. Michigan also receives natural gas imports by pipeline from Canada, most of it arriving at St. Clair, Port Huron, and Detroit.

Our state has the largest underground natural gas storage capacity in the nation, holding more than one-tenth of the U.S. total. We also rank second-largest in the number of natural gas storage fields after Pennsylvania. During high demand periods in the winter months, like this, natural gas is withdrawn from the state's storage.

So why is one of our state’s largest utilities asking Michiganders to turn down their thermostats during the polar vortex?

On Wednesday, January 30th, Consumers Energy experienced a fire at its natural gas compressor station in Macomb County. The facility supplies 64 percent of the natural gas in Michigan, and despite crews bringing one of the units back online Wednesday, the plant can produce only a portion of its typical output according to the company.

In a public statement, Consumers CEO, Patti Pope said the company anticipates demand reaching 3.7 billion cubic feet of natural gas, far above the 1.25 billion cubic feet seen on a typical winter day. Wednesday's usage was 3.3 billion cubic feet, she said.  "This truly is an unprecedented crisis," she said. "We have never been in this situation before."

The utility has tapped into reserve supplies, activating natural gas peaking storage fields in Northville and St. Clair County but has asked customers to reduce consumed to avoid overburdening the system.

As Pope puts it, "We have plenty of gas stored, we just can't get it out of the ground to bring to our customers because the equipment that delivers it is what is damaged."

Extreme weather events like this demonstrate the importance of our state’s energy infrastructure as Michigan’s home state oil and gas industry works to provides secure, affordable and reliable energy to keep homes and families warm and safe.  

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DEQ Issues First Permit for the Line 5 Tunnel Project

The Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) issued the first permit for the Line 5 Tunnel project on Tuesday, January 22nd. The permit allows Enbridge to take soil and rock samples from the Straits, in order to determine how to best construct the tunnel. Enbridge Spokesmen, Ryan Duffy says the company will also need a permit from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, which they have not received yet, before they can start collecting samples.

Stay Tuned for more updates as the tunnel project permitting gets underway.

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MI Senate Committee Assignments Announced

Republican and Democratic Senate leadership has released the committee assignment roster for  2019-2020. The assignments are as follows:

Energy and Technology -- Lauwers (Chair), Horn (Vice Chair), LaSata, Nesbitt, Barrett, Bumstead, Outman, McCann (Minority Vice Chair), Brinks, McMorrow

Environmental Quality -- Outman (Chair), Daley (Vice Chair), Johnson, VanderWall, McBroom, Bayer (Minority Vice Chair), Brinks

Local Government -- Zorn (Chair), Johnson (Vice Chair), Daley, Alexander (Minority Vice Chair), Moss

Natural Resources -- McBroom (Chair), Bumstead (Vice Chair), Outman, Schmidt, McCann

Appropriations -- Stamas (Chair), Bumstead (Vice Chair), Barrett, Bizon, LaSata, MacDonald, MacGregor, Nesbitt, Outman, Runestad, Schmidt, Victory, Hertel (Minority Vice Chair), Bayer, Hollier, Irwin, McCann, Santana

Natural Resources and Environmental Quality -- Bumstead (Chair), f (Vice Chair), Victory, McCann (Minority Vice Chair), Bayer

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2019 MAPL Winter Mini Seminar

MAPL_Logo.pngThe 2019 MAPL Winter Mini Seminar will be held on February 19th at the Radisson Hotel in downtown Lansing. Traditionally, the Winter Mini has been held in Mt. Pleasant at the Comfort Inn preceding the MOGA Membership Meeting which has been replaced in 2019 by State Legislative Education Day on February 20th also in Lansing at the Radisson Hotel. For this reason, The MAPL Board decided to change the venue for 2019.

Registration will begin at 11:30 followed by lunch which will then lead into our Presentations. AAPL continuing education credits will be available. A block of rooms at the Radisson has also been reserved for those that wish to arrive the evening before the Seminar. Please keep an eye out for the official invitation in January.

Below is a list of the Speakers that MAPL has lined up so far:

Norman J. Saari | Michigan Public Service Commission| Norman J. Saari served as an executive director of governmental affairs for 20 years at Consumers Energy Company, a position from which he retired in 2006. He was appointed by Governor Snyder to the Michigan Public Service Commission in 2015. Commissioner Saari is a member of the National Association of Regulatory Utility Commissioners and serves on its Committee on Natural Gas, Chairs the Subcommittee on Pipeline Safety, and is a member of the Washington Action Program. Commissioner Saari will be giving a broad overview of the MPSC and how they become involved with our industry.

John Fowler | President, Polaris Energy, Inc.| John Fowler is a veteran Michigan Petroleum geologist with over 40 years of experience in the Michigan Oil and Gas Industry. John received his bachelor’s degree in Geology from Michigan State University, followed up by his master’s degree in Geology from Western Michigan University. In 2017 Mr. Fowler was honored with the Michigan Geological Repository for Research and Education’s (MGREE) Lifetime Achievement Award. John is going to provide us with a presentation on the process involved in determining well site locations.

Steve Bigard | President, Bigard and Huggard Drilling, Inc. | Since 1996, Biaard & Huggard Drilling, Inc. of Mount Pleasant, MI has been serving Michigan as well as Ohio, Indiana and Illinois with safe and efficient oilfield related services including oil and gas drilling, casing, cementing and excavating services. Steve is going to give us a presentation on Conventional Well drilling. This is a topic that can be very informational for all land professionals.

Scott Bellinger | Managing Editor and Advertising Director, Michigan Oil & Gas News | The Michigan Oil & Gas News is considered by many to be the publication of record for Michigan’s Oil and Gas Industry and Scott Bellinger has played a role in keeping that record for more than 36 years as the longest serving employee of MOGN since the business became a subsidiary of the Michigan Oil and Gas Association in 1973. Scott will be Presenting: “Michigan Oil & Gas News: Reporting on a dynamic industry for more than eight decades.”

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Detroit News Opinion Piece: Prosperity Can Come With a Clean Environment

"Voters have shown they don't want to choose between a clean planet and abundant, affordable energy. They want both. And thanks to recent advances in drilling technologies, they can get their wish".

Visit the Detroit News to see the Opinion Piece!

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Governor Whitmer Requests Legal Review of Line 5 and the MSCA

On her first full day in office, Governor Whitmer requested an opinion from Attorney General Dana Nessel on the constitutionality of the law that created the Mackinac Straits Corridor Authority and the on the Authority's approval of the Agreement. 

“I pledged to take action on the Line 5 pipeline on day one as governor, and I am holding true to that campaign promise.” the Governor said. 

Click Here to read the Governor's letter to the Attorney General  

According the the letter submitted to the AG's office, The Governor is questioning whether the new law violates the Michigan Constitution in several ways, including;

  • Whether the amended law violates a statute that requires the main focus of an act to be reflected in the title.
  • Whether the six-year appointments of corridor authority board members violate a constitutional requirement limiting appointments to four-year terms.
  • Whether the amended law violates parts of the Michigan Constitution related to tunnel construction and operation.
  • Whether the law constitutes a special or local act when it should have been created under a general act.
  • Whether the new authority possesses more power than it is entitled to by law or the Constitution. 
  • Whether the authority and its actions are invalid if the authority is found to violate state law or the state Constitution.
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Governor Whitmer Continues Additions to Her Staff

Governor Whitmer's new staff additions include;

Greg Bird, the director of state relations at Wayne State University, will be her new legislative director.

Emily Laidlaw, an associate at Karoub Associates, will be Whitmer's policy director.

Ghida Dagher, the Director of government partnerships at the Michigan Association of Intermediate School Administrators will be the Appointments Director.

Scottie Barton will the constituent services director.

Mary Hannaford, Whitmer's scheduler for the campaign, will move into that role for the new governor. 

Tiffany Brown, the current public information officer for the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality, will be Whitmer's new press secretary.

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MNRTF Board recommends $26M to enhance public outdoor recreation

The Michigan Natural Resources Trust Fund Board recommended $26 million in grants for outdoor recreation development and land acquisition projects for approval by the state Legislature.

The board recommended a total of $26 million in grant funding, including $7.4 million for 34 recreation developments and $18.6 million for 30 land acquisition projects. The funds will support a variety of outdoor recreation projects and improvements including; expanded public access at popular beach destinations, additional snowmobile and multi use trail easements, facility and playground improvements at urban parks, construction of new trails and connectors, water trail projects and sports field expansions.

Funding for these projects is provided in part by revenue derived from royalties on the sale and lease of state-owned oil, gas, and mineral rights. the MNRTF has contributed immeasurably to protecting our states natural beauty and helped pave the way for wise and prudent development of our state's abundant energy resources.

“Michigan Natural Resources Trust Fund grants make a long-lasting impact in communities across Michigan, providing a positive impact on the lifestyles of Michiganders through better public access to outdoor recreation opportunities, while giving a boost to regional economies,” said Gov. Rick Snyder. “The Trust Fund is a unique Michigan model that is working to yield benefits around the state.”

The board's recommendations will go to the state Legislature for review as part of the appropriations process. Upon approval, the Legislature will forward a bill for the governor’s signature.

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Incoming Gov. Whitmer Appoints Department Heads

This week, incoming Governor Whitmer announced several Department Heads;


Paul Ajegba – Michigan Department of Transportation Director (MDOT) – He has been an MDOT employee for 28 year starting in the Engineering Development Program and rising through the ranks to his most recent position as Metro Region Engineer. Paul was also named the Conference of Minority Transportation Officials’ Public Agency Executive of the Year in 2017. He received his Bachelor’s Degree from Prairie View A&M University in Prairie View, Texas and his Master’s Degree from the University of Michigan.

Liesl Eichler Clark – Michigan Department of Environmental Quality (MDEQ) Director – She is the co-founder and partner of a policy consulting firm, 5 Lakes Energy. She has also served as President of the Michigan Energy Innovation Business Council and as Deputy Director for Energy Programs at the Michigan Department of Energy, Labor, & Economic Growth. She holds a Bachelor’s Degree from MSU’s James Madison College and a Master’s Degree from Michigan State University.

Dan Eichinger – Michigan Department of Natural Resources (MDNR) Director – Currently serves as Executive Director of the Michigan United Conservation Clubs. He previously served in the Michigan Department of Natural Resources. He earned his Bachelor’s Degree and Master’s of Science in Fisheries and Wildlife from Michigan State University and a Master’s of Public Administration from Central Michigan University.

Gary McDowell – Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development Director– A farmer who owns and operates McDowell Brothers Farm and McDowell Hay, Inc. with his brothers. He also served for 22 year on the Chippewa County Board of Commissioners and 6 years as a State Representative for the 107th District. He attended Lake Superior State University.

Captain Joe Gasper – Michigan State Police Director (MSP) – He joined the MSP in 1998 and currently serves as Emergency Manager. He obtained his Bachelor’s Degree from Northern Michigan University.

Heidi Washington – Michigan Department of Corrections Director (MDOC) – She will continue to serve in her current role. Under Washington’s leadership, MDOC has seen a significant decrease in its prison population and has implemented a skilled trades training program to help prisoners complete career and technical education and be better prepared to find jobs upon release. She holds a Bachelor’s Degree from Michigan State University, as well as a Law Degree from Thomas M. Cooley Law School.
Brigadier General Paul Rogers – Department of Military and Veterans Affairs Director – He most recently served as the Deputy Commander of the 46th Military Police Command. Prior to becoming Deputy Commander, he served as the 46th Assistant Chief of Staff for Operations and the Chief of Staff. Having deployed to Iraq in 2005 as the Battalion Commander of the 507th Engineer Battalion in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom, BG Rogers commanded a total of 823 soldiers, 139 marines and 114 airmen in combat operations during the deployment.

Orlene Hawks - Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs (LARA) Director – She currently serves as Director of the Office of Children’s Ombudsman (OCO) where she has worked for the last five years. Prior to the OCO, she managed the Quality and Program Services section in the Michigan Department of Community Health (now MDHHS). She obtained her Bachelor’s Degree from Michigan State University.

Anita Fox - Department of Insurance and Financial Services Director (DIFS) – She brings more than 30 years of experience in the legal field to the role, having specialized in litigating a wide range of business and insurance issues. She received her Bachelor’s Degree from Kalamazoo College then graduated Cum Laude from the University of Michigan Law School. She also holds a State of Michigan Secondary Teaching Certificate.

Lisa McCormick - Office of the Children’s Ombudsman – She has been a long-time criminal prosecutor and child advocate. She served a 21-year tenure at the Ingham County Prosecutor’s Office, where she ultimately became Chief Assistant Prosecutor. McCormick also founded Small Talk Children’s Advocacy Center with the belief that every child deserves a safe place for healing. She obtained her Bachelor’s Degree from the University of Pittsburgh and graduated Juris Doctorate, Cum Laude, from Thomas M. Cooley Law School.

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Renew Michigan Supplemental Approved to include $69 Million in Continuing Money for Environmental Clean-ups

Renew Michigan has been the top priority of the Governor, with rumblings that, if money was not found for brownfield clean-ups, no Part 201 bill would be signed by Snyder.  A deal was made late last night and a supplemental was approved that included $69 million in continuing money for clean-ups.  The money is broken down into three pots ($44.85 million in environmental clean-ups, $15.18 million for local recycling and $9 million) and comes from the general fund.  This money will come from the general fund, but will cause no loss in the school aid fund because of the Wayfair online sales tax revenue which will more than cover the loss. 

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Michigan Petroleum Directory Now Available!