Enbridge, working with Great Lakes Tunnel Constructors — made up of Japanese tunneling firm Obayashi and Livonia-based Jay Dee Contractors, has completed the engineering and design phase of a Great Lakes tunnel that will house the Mackinac Straits segment of Line 5. The project will now move into a bid process to select a contractor to build the tunnel. This is great news and the project continues to move forward, ahead of schedule.
Read more in this week's edition of the Michigan Oil and Gas News
MOGA President Jason Geer and Adam Wygant, Director of the Department of Environment, Great Lakes and Energy’s Oil, Gas and Minerals Division have been featured in a piece by Andy Balaskovitz in MiBiz. The piece discusses the impact of Covid-19 on the industry and the industry's long-term outlook.
“Oil has been pretty cheap, and that has definitely impacted our ability to drill,” Geer said. “The pandemic crashed prices into negative territory, and that gives you pause on whether you want to make the investment. The price of oil is starting to go up, and high prices mean more activity for us. We feel pretty good that if the price continues to hover in the $60 range, we’ll probably have a pretty good summer.”
WASHINGTON – The Interior Department today released additional information about the upcoming virtual forum regarding the federal oil and gas program, including the public’s viewing options and ability to submit written input to inform Interior’s review.
The public forum is part of Interior’s comprehensive review of the federal oil and gas program as called for in Executive Order 14008 and will feature several panels to highlight perspectives from invited participants including industry representatives, labor and environmental justice organizations, natural resource advocates, Indigenous organizations, and other experts.
DATE: Thursday, March 25, 2021
TIME: 1:00 pm – 4:30 pm ET
REGISTRATION: The forum will take place via Zoom Webinar. Anyone interested in viewing the forum may register via Zoom. A livestream of the event will also be available at doi.gov/events. The forum will be recorded and have live captions.
The information gathered at the forum will help inform an interim report from the Department that will be completed in early summer. The report will include initial findings on the state of the federal conventional energy programs, as well as outline next steps and recommendations for the Department and Congress to improve stewardship of public lands and waters, create jobs, and build a just and equitable energy future.
Members of the public can submit additional information through April 15 to inform Interior’s interim report at [email protected].
The agenda for the forum is below:
1:00 pm: Welcome and introductory remarks by Interior Secretary Deb Haaland and Interior leadership.
1:15 pm: Presentations by the Bureau of Ocean and Energy Management (BOEM) and the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) on offshore and onshore oil and gas programs.
1:50 pm: Presentations and Q&A by invited individuals representing environmental justice and frontline communities, academia, oil and gas industry trade associations, Indigenous organizations, conservation organizations, and labor groups. A list of participants will be updated on Interior’s website as available.
4:30 pm: Adjourn
In addition to the forum, the Interior Department is conducting extensive outreach to Members of Congress, Governors, Tribes, and other state and local elected leaders.
U.P. lawmakers react to state’s latest attack on Line 5
LANSING, Mich. — Upper Peninsula lawmakers on Friday issued the following statement after state officials announced their latest attack on Line 5 with the so-called MI Propane Security Plan:
“Environmentalists within state bureaucracy today continued the campaign of misinformation against Line 5 — a vital source of energy and jobs to the U.P. and the state of Michigan,” said Sens. Ed McBroom and Wayne Schmidt and Reps. Beau LaFave, Greg Markkanen, and John Damoose. “More astounding than the misrepresentation that is this so-called security plan, is the state’s demonstrable ignorance about Line 5 and all that it supports.
“Of particular importance to the U.P., this plan will cost taxpayers significantly, while limiting the free market and competition and, at the same time, ignoring a $500 million viable solution currently on the table that would address problems and be completely paid for by the pipeline operator. The rehashed plan seems to contain all previously discussed ideas that have been shown not to work besides the call for price gouging checks. Further, nothing in this plan truly assures our small, family-owned propane businesses that they will be able to continue to operate and won’t be usurped through state control.
“Lastly, the plan announced today also leaves completely unclear whether Gov. Gretchen Whitmer is going to accept the popular Line 5 tunnel. At a time when truth and honesty are in short supply, she continues to play coy with the people of Michigan. So in addition to strongly denouncing this MI Propane Security Plan, we also call on the governor to stake out her position on the Line 5 tunnel, because we can’t have it both ways.”
On March 12, the State of Michigan announced the MI Propane Security Plan, a multiagency effort with the Michigan Public Service Commission; the Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes and Energy; the Michigan Department of Transportation, and the Department of Technology, Management and Budget.
According to the Michigan Public Service Commission's press release, the plan protects propane customers from price gouging; sends clear signals to encourage market participants to invest in alternative sourcing options; ramps-up state investment in rail and propane storage infrastructure; increases state monitoring of the propane industry and coordinates the response to potential disruptions; and sets a long-term path to lower energy costs through investments in renewable energy, energy efficiency, and electrification.
"The Michigan Public Service Commission takes seriously our responsibilities relating to energy planning and security, regardless of what the future holds," said MPSC Chair Dan Scripps. "This five-point approach will allow us to better protect consumers and ensure that Michiganders have access to the energy resources on which they rely."
"Under Governor Whitmer's leadership, the U.P. Energy Task Force has been working hard and remains focused on assessing the energy needs for the Upper Peninsula and how those needs are being met. We've been working on how to best formulate alternative solutions for meeting those needs while focusing on security, affordability, and environmental soundness," said Liesl Clark, Director of EGLE. "This multiagency plan takes the recommendations from the task force and implements them in a real way that will positively impact Michiganders, businesses, and our economy."
While many state government efforts are already in place to help support Michiganders' energy needs under Governor Whitmer's direction, this five-step plan further ensures propane security for the residents of our state and businesses. The plan details:
- Protect consumers from price gouging and provide accessible heating assistance for families in need. The Attorney General's Corporate Oversight Division currently handles consumer complaints related to propane price gouging and has a zero-tolerance policy for price gouging under existing laws. The administration has worked to increase funding and restructure state assistance programs to allow for faster processing of bill payment assistance and to make access to benefits easier for Michigan's most vulnerable households, including the needs of propane customers.
- Send clear signals to encourage market participants to invest in the development of alternative propane sourcing options. In November 2020, Governor Whitmer and the Department of Natural Resources notified Enbridge they were terminating its easement to run an oil pipeline through the Great Lakes based on persistent and incurable failures to comply with the terms of the easement. Additionally, the governor and DNR also revoked the easement under the governor's public trust responsibilities. It's an unacceptable risk the current dual pipelines pose to the Great Lakes' health and millions of jobs across the region. This action sent as clear a signal as possible to propane retailers and other propane suppliers, who are responding to this opportunity.
- Leverage the tools of state government to encourage the development of alternative sourcing options. The state is working with industry to secure alternative propane deliverability and sourcing options like pipelines, rail, and storage. Governor Whitmer's FY 2022 Executive Budget Recommendation includes strategic investments to assist with the propane transition, including funding for new rail infrastructure and storage of propane at rail yards, and planning grants for local development organizations to ensure strategic infrastructure planning and the development of local supply alternatives to deliver propane. To protect Michigan residents during the 2021-2022 heating season, the state will prioritize propane storage, as Michigan has some of the nation's largest propane reservoirs. In addition, the state is working to pre-buy propane to lock in supplies for Michigan, and is aggressively identifying other sources for propane beyond Line 5.
- Monitor propane supply and coordinate responses to potential disruptions with the energy industry. MPSC houses the Propane Monitoring and Assurance Program within its Energy Security Section. Through this program, the MPSC performs several critical functions, such as monitoring state, regional, and national energy supplies, infrastructure outages, and other factors that could cause an energy imbalance; participating in coordination calls with industry and governmental agencies to share information on propane supplies, price and potential disruptions; and maintaining and updating the Petroleum Shortage Response Plan to manage limited supplies and reduce overall demand.
- Maximize propane efficiency while reducing energy costs in Michigan through efficiency, weatherization, and the transition to electrification and renewable energy.
The U.P. Energy Task Force will wrap up its work at a final meeting scheduled for Tuesday, March 16, where members will discuss recommendations contained in its final report on ways to meet the region’s energy needs.
The public online meeting is set to begin at 1 p.m. Information on how to join by using either a computer or phone can be found at Michigan.gov/UPEnergyTaskForce.
The UP Energy Task Force’s Phase II Draft Recommendations that will be reviewed Tuesday are still open for public comment. Members of the public can offer their input through Sunday, March 14, by emailing comments to [email protected].
The Task Force’s final report is due to Governor Gretchen Whitmer by March 31. It previously submitted to the Governor its Phase I recommendations on propane. Both reports will be posted to Michigan.gov/UPEnergyTaskForce.
President Biden has signed the "American Rescue Plan" a $1.9 trillion COVID-19 relief bill.
The Covid relief bill includes,
- $1,400 stimulus checks
- $300/week jobless benefits through September
- Child allowance of up to $3,600 for one year
- $125B for K-12 schools
- $30B for public transit, $25B for rental assistance
- $14B for vaccine distribution.
According to Mirs News, the state of Michigan and local governments are expected to receive an additional $10.3 Billion.
"This is an incredible opportunity for the state to create fundamental change," said state Budget Director David Massaron told Mirs News. "We need to work together with the legislature on the existing federal funding not yet appropriated and then turn to working on this new funding being made available so that our state comes back stronger and better than ever."
U.S. Representative Tim Walberg (MI-07) and fourteen of his House colleagues have sent a letter to President Joe Biden outlining the consequences that would result from halting operations of Enbridge’s Line 5 pipeline. Given the Biden Administration’s recent decision to revoke the Keystone XL pipeline permit, the members expressed concern about the potential for additional pipeline shutdowns that would harm our economy, environment, and immediate energy needs.
“The reduced fuel supply from shutting down Line 5 would permanently shutter refineries in Ohio and Michigan, resulting in the loss of billions of dollars in annual economic output, tens of thousands of jobs, and the elimination of 15 percent of northwest’s Ohio’s fuel supply and 43 percent of southeastern Michigan’s fuel supply,” the lawmakers wrote. “Northern Michigan and the Upper Peninsula would be especially harmed, as Line 5 supplies 65 percent of the propane used to heat homes in the region. Transportation hubs in Michigan, Ohio, Indiana, and Pennsylvania would also be adversely affected, including Detroit Metropolitan Airport, which would lose at least 50 percent of its jet fuel supplies from refineries served by Line 5.”
The letter also highlighted the need to stay focused on defeating the coronavirus, rebuilding our economies, and fostering good-paying jobs and economic activity.
“Across America, pipeline construction and maintenance projects account for tens of thousands of family-supporting, skilled trade union jobs. It is estimated that the Great Lakes Tunnel project alone will need more than 2,000,000 work hours over the course of construction. Shutting down Line 5 and ultimately the Great lakes Tunnel project would have devastating consequences, threatening thousands of jobs, billions in economic output, and the safe supply and affordability of resources necessary to meet families’ and businesses’ most basic needs,” the lawmakers continued.
In addition to Walberg, the letter was signed by U.S. Reps. Jack Bergman (MI-01), Bob Latta (OH-05), Fred Upton (MI-06), Bill Johnson (OH-06), Brad Wenstrup (OH-02), Troy Balderson (OH-12), Lisa McClain (MI-10), Kelly Armstrong (ND-AL), Glenn Grothman (WI-06), Peter Meijer (MI-03), Bob Gibbs (OH-07), Mike Kelly (PA-16), Tom Tiffany (WI-07), and Mike Gallagher (WI-08).
Rep. John Damoose of Harbor Springs issued the following statement after Gov. Whitmer today issued a state of energy emergency related to propane distribution:
“Today’s action by the governor proves her politically motivated threats to shut down Line 5 without an adequate replacement are reckless – and could harm families and job providers in Northern Michigan and the U.P.
“Just look at what is happening in the state of Texas right now. Energy infrastructure is critical. And it’s even more critical in the U.P., which faces cold temperatures for much of the year. There is no room for the governor’s political games when it comes to keeping homes heated and families warm.
“U.P. residents deserve the same energy infrastructure stability and reliability residents in downstate Michigan generally take for granted. I’m hopeful the governor’s emergency declaration – designed to help with the distribution of vitally important propane – is a wake-up call for her. Stop messing with the lives and livelihoods of our people, and let the underground tunnel to replace Line 5 proceed.”
Critical Thinking for Equitable Energy with Dr. Scott W. Tinker
March 17 at 12:00 pm EST
A globally sustainable energy future must ensure equitable energy access, address the full range of economic realities, and minimize the environmental impacts of all forms of energy on the climate, air, land, and water. It will be achieved by critical thinking that seeks to be both completely factual, and factually complete.
Dr. Scott W. Tinker, Director, Bureau of Economic Geology, The University of Texas at Austin
Dr. Scott W. Tinker works to bring industry, government, academia, and non-governmental organizations together to address major societal challenges in energy, the environment, and the economy. Dr. Tinker is Director of the 250-person Bureau of Economic Geology, the State Geologist of Texas, and a professor holding the Edwin Allday Endowed Chair in the Jackson School of Geosciences at The University of Texas at Austin. With Director Harry Lynch, Tinker coproduced and is featured in the award-winning energy documentary film Switch, which has been screened in over 50 countries to more than 15 million viewers and is used on thousands of K-through-12 and college campuses. Dr. Tinker formed the nonprofit Switch Energy Alliance in 2016 and has completed two new films: Switch On, a feature-length documentary addressing global energy poverty, and Energy Makes our World, a five-minute, Hollywood-quality film made for global museums and giant screens. Tinker is the voice of EarthDate, a two-minute weekly program that focuses on remarkable stories of Earth. EarthDate is produced by the Bureau of Economic Geology and is featured on over 400 NPR and public radio stations in all 50 United States. Dr. Tinker has served as president of several associations, including the American Geosciences Institute (AGI), the Association of American State Geologists (AASG), the American Association of Petroleum Geologists (AAPG), and the Gulf Coast Association of Geological Societies (GCAGS). Dr. Tinker is an AGI Campbell Medalist, AAPG Halbouty Medalist, GCAGS Boyd Medalist, and a Geological Society of America Fellow. In his visits to some 65 countries, he has given over 850 keynote and invited lectures.