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Friday, July 28, 2017

2017 Doris Duke Conservation Scholar: Ryan Anderson

Ryan Anderson

I am a rising senior at Brown University, where I am expecting to graduate with a Bachelor of Arts in Environmental Studies. Growing up in Salt Lake City, Utah, I had little exposure to diverse opinions, cultures, or backgrounds, which greatly contributed to my choice of attending a university over 2,000 miles away in Providence, Rhode Island. I had a deep interest in exploration throughout my childhood and education, and indulged that at Brown by taking courses in 14 different academic departments from Engineering, Chinese, and Anthropology. 

After taking a couple of Environmental Studies courses, I decided that is where my future lie as I greatly appreciate the interdisciplinary nature of the work. I also have experience advocating for social justice, and have worked as a Women’s Peer Counselor for two years, and a Sexual Assault Lead Peer Educator for one year at Brown University. Continuing my focus on incorporating many areas of study into one academic major, I wish to learn more about the balance between science and society, and how to use scientific data to create policies that will benefit people and their environment. 

Additionally, I spent the spring semester of my Junior year studying China’s environment in Beijing, and learned about the role of the Chinese people and globalization in climate change. In China, I continued to learn how to incorporate different disciplines into one area of study, but was unable to engage directly with members of the community. Through this internship, I am looking forward to having more opportunities for community engagement and learn about the ways local, state, and national policies can impact different communities.

2017 Doris Duke Conservation Scholar: Marvin Bell

Marvin Bell
I am a rising senior at Amherst College in Amherst, Massachusetts where I am triple majoring in history, anthropology and sociology. Outside of academics, I am heavily involved in campus organizations and movements, ranging from the Amherst Green Project to the Queer Resource Center to the Divest Amherst movement. At the core of all my campus involvement is a passion to do work that allows me to better understand the drivers of ecological crises and their subsequent impacts on vulnerable communities. 

I am currently a Doris Duke Conservation Scholar at the University of Michigan Ann Arbor. As a Doris Duke Conservation Scholar, I am encouraged to examine the ways my personal history shapes my perception of nature and conservation. Under the guidance of faculty from the School of Natural Resources and Environment, I have been equipped with the skills that are needed to facilitate discussion and inspire innovation in an increasingly environmentally conscious world. I hope to continue to use my passion for environmental justice to develop sustainable policy-level solutions; in this capacity, I aim to mitigate the adverse affects of stratified economic, social, and political policies on those most susceptible to environmental harm.

Sierra Club's Great Lakes, Great Communities Program: Blog Post #1

By Ryan Anderson, Doris Duke Conservation Scholar

The Doris Duke ConservationScholars Program aims at taking a diverse group of students and providing them with opportunities both conducting research and working for environmental organizations. This summer, Marvin Bell and I are working for the Sierra Club Michigan Chapter’s Great Lakes, Great Communities program.  Marvin is a rising senior at Amherst University studying Anthropology, History, and Sociology, and I am a rising senior at Brown University concentrating in Environmental Studies. Upon arriving at our internship, Marvin and I were very excited to see what opportunities lay ahead of us. I was particularly interested in seeing what working in a small office for an NGO could look like, and I have not been disappointed by the plethora of projects offered to us.

The project that we dedicate most of our efforts to is the Rain Gardens to the Rescue program. This program is a collaboration effort between Sierra Club, Friends of the Rouge and Keep Growing Detroit.  It has been helping citizens of Detroit plant rain gardens in their community. Since the project’s inception, one of its main goals has been to protect the Great Lakes from climate change impacts.  Warmer climates result in more intense storms.  Rain gardens a type of green infrastructure that captures stormwater keeping it out of combined sewer drains; helping to prevent combined sewer overflows.

Sierra Club has worked with their partners, other NGOs, and community members to implement green infrastructure from the residential to organizational level and advanced local policy on green infrastructure. The rain gardens project promotes relationship building with community leaders, and recognizes the values and priorities of community members.  Residents of targeted geographic areas submit applications to participate.  Those selected, participate in training and are encouraged to educate other Detroiters on how to build upon the network of green infrastructure opportunities by creating their own rain gardens.

Rain gardens are particularly helpful to Detroit, as its combined sewer system has resulted in the dumping of untreated wastewater into local rivers during large rain events. To help finance upgrades to it’s aging infrastructure, and waste water treatment, the City of Detroit Water and Sewerage Department charges rate payers a drainage fee.  This fee has been in existence since 1975.  To be more equitable, DWSD has updated the way the charge is calculated so that all rate payers pay based upon the amount of stormwater runoff produced by each lot from impervious surfaces.  

Implementation of green infrastructure e.g. rain gardens has the potential to help customers receive “green credits” and lower their drainage costs. The “Rain Gardens to the Rescue” program is aimed towards this end. The first day of our internship kicked off with a tour of rain gardens already planted in the community, and we got to see what successful gardens looked like. Soon after, Marvin and I began participating in site visits, and helped applicants plan the space for their garden. While our internship will end before the planting begins, I am very excited for this round of rain gardens, and have been inspired to look into green infrastructure opportunities in my own community.

To read Blog Post #2, click here.

Sunday, July 23, 2017

Line 5 is bent and deformed where Enbridge wants to anchor it

Gallery: Enbridge Line 5 west leg anomalies

MACKINAW CITY, MI -- What happened to the west leg of Line 5?
Of the 22 anchor supports that Enbridge Inc. is seeking permission to install on the twin 20-inch pipelines crossing underneath the straits of Mackinac, 17 of them are on the west leg.
Of those, five of the proposed anchors are clustered along several hundred feet of the west leg just north of where inspection reports show the pipeline is bent and "ovalized," a term for a section of pipe that's been misshapen enough to lose its roundness.
Documents show that section of pipe is bent in five places and ovalized twice. It's not known for sure how the deformities happened, but Enbridge says they are nothing to worry about, pointing to recent pressure testing as evidence the pipeline is in good shape.
However, inspection reports show that both ovalizations have worsened slightly since 2013.
The anomalies are documented in 2013 and 2016 inspection reports generated by sending "geoppig" robots inside the pipeline to check for problems. The anomalies are also referenced in the 2017 draft analysis of Line 5 released by Dynamic Risk Assessments, which speculates the bends occurred during 1953 construction.
But a retired fluid dynamics expert who has exhaustively studied Line 5 suspects that underwater currents long ago scoured a large section of lake bottom from underneath the pipe, leaving it free-spanning with nothing underneath to support its weight.

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Michigan's wind energy farms whip up plenty of praise and complaints

Gallery: The wind energy farms of Michigan

SAGINAW, MI -- In the past decade, rural landscapes in the Thumb and elsewhere in Michigan have been radically altered by the advent of utility-scale wind farms.
Even if you haven't seen wind turbines towering over farmland, you might have seen the trucks hauling massive, white turbine blades on freeways.
Up close, the whirling blades of wind turbines stretch for miles and miles across parts of Mid-Michigan and the Thumb.
They are renewable energy signs of the times, welcomed by some, reviled by others.

Thursday, July 13, 2017

Line 5 Alternatives Study - Fact Sheet

Fact Sheet – July 2017

Dynamic Risk’s Line 5 Alternatives Study: 
The Oil Industry’s View of Protecting the Great Lakes

  1. Background on why Gov. Snyder and Attorney General Schuette should decide that the risk of an oil spill is unacceptable.
  2. The Dynamic Risk study neglects to provide the state with an independent, fair analysis of the alternatives to Line 5.
  3. Dynamic Risk’s study does not provide a credible worst-case scenario spill and cost analysis and grossly underestimates the impact on Michigan of a Line 5 spill.
  4. Dynamic Risk’s study fails to analyze existing pipeline infrastructure as an alternative to Line 5 in the Straits of Mackinac.
  5. Dynamic Risk’s study overestimates the impact on propane supply of decommissioning Line 5.
  6. Dynamic Risk wants a tunnel in the Straits of Mackinac.
  7. Cost of A Straits Tunnel: Two Years of Massive Disruption to Tourism; Emmet, Cheboygan, Mackinac Counties; and Tribal Fishing.
  8. The Study’s Authors and Enbridge: Oil Industry Friends.
1. Background

How much risk is acceptable when it comes to an oil spill in the Great Lakes? When it comes to the aging Line 5 oil pipelines in the Mackinac Straits, the State of Michigan now must decide.

Even oil industry firm Dynamic Risk, which in late June produced a state-commissioned report on alternatives to Line 5 embraced by Enbridge and panned by Great Lakes advocates as blatantly biased and flawed, says that the prospect of a Line 5 spill in the Straits is very real.

Dynamic Risk’s analysis concludes there is a 1-in-60 chance of a Line 5 oil spill in the Straits of Mackinac by 2053, when Line 5 turns 100 years old. And independent experts think a Line 5 disaster is even more likely given its age and deteriorating condition. While we don’t know the exact odds, we do know that a 1-in-60 chance of an oil spill in the Great Lakes not acceptable.

The state of Michigan has a duty to protect the Great Lakes, which provide drinking water for half of all Michigan residents and define our way of life. There’s no reason for Gov. Snyder and Attorney General Schuette to keep delaying action to decommission Line 5.

The underlying assumption in Dynamic Risk’s study is if Enbridge says it can sell 23 million gallons of oil that is now being transported daily through Line 5, then it is Michigan’s responsibility to figure out how the private Canadian company can continue to do that. That is a false assumption. So let’s set aside Enbridge’s profits for a minute and focus on Michigan.

It is the State of Michigan’s responsibility to protect the Great Lakes from a Line 5 oil spill, and the report’s Alternative #6— decommissioning Line 5 in the Straits—would do just that (and in the process, create 2,000 construction jobs). According to Dynamic Risk, the impact of eliminating Line 5 oil in Michigan would be tiny—about a two-cent a gallon increase in the price of gasoline. That’s because the vast majority of Line 5 oil goes to refineries in Sarnia, Ontario.

What about liquefied natural gas that is transported through Line 5? According to Dynamic Risk less than 5% of LNGs are transported to Rapid River in the Upper Peninsula for conversion to propane. The remaining 95% goes to Sarnia. The amount going to the U.P. is so modest that it could be supplied by installing a new 4-inch pipeline from Superior, Wisconsin, to Rapid River.
The Dynamic Risk Study: Deeply Flawed and Not Credible

2. The Dynamic Risk study neglects to provide the state with an independent, fair analysis of the alternatives to Line 5.

The report, authored by oil industry firms with business ties to Enbridge, is biased. It promotes building new oil infrastructure in the Straits of Mackinac that would allow Enbridge to continue transporting oil in the Great Lakes when there are other, reasonable alternatives. The Michigan Petroleum Pipeline Task Force called for an alternatives study that was “wholly independent from any influence by Enbridge.” Dynamic Risk and other study contractors have worked for Enbridge, and they are in the business of supporting and building oil and gas pipeline infrastructure. Those businesses depend on companies like Enbridge to keep operating. They should not have been put in charge of a study whose results are tilted toward Enbridge and building new pipeline infrastructure in the Straits of Mackinac.

3. Dynamic Risk’s study does not provide a credible worst-case scenario spill and cost analysis, and grossly underestimates the impact on Michigan of a Line 5 spill.
When the State of Michigan, at the 11th hour, fired another oil industry contractor doing a major risk evaluation of a Line 5 oil spill it was left solely to Dynamic Risk to provide a credible worst-case oil spill analysis. This was a specific requirement of its work agreement with the state. Instead, Dynamic Risk uses assumptions of risk and an averaging model of all oil spills that are not credible. It estimates that:
  • Only 20-miles of shoreline would be impacted by a spill. This is 3% of the 720-mile area the University of Michigan found vulnerable to a spill in its 2016 study.
  • An oil spill would cost $100 to $200 million even though Enbridge’s cleanup costs of its Kalamazoo River Line 6B pipeline oil spill in 2010 cost more than $1.2 billion. 
The Dynamic Risk report grossly underestimates a worst-case release from Line 5 limiting this number to 4,500 barrels (coincidentally the number Enbridge uses to estimate worst-case spill). A different analysis done by an independent engineer involving an anchor strike that removes both 20” lines under the Straits (a distinct probability) concludes there would be a release of 60,000 barrels or 2.5 million gallons of crude oil in comparison to the 24,000 barrels released into the Talmedge Creek tributary to the Kalamazoo River (Enbridge’s Line6B Marshall spill).

4. Dynamic Risk’s study fails to analyze existing pipeline infrastructure as an alternative to Line 5 in the Straits of Mackinac.
This was a requirement of Dynamic Risk’s work agreement with the state and was an essential recommendation from the Michigan Petroleum Pipeline Task Force. Yet Dynamic Risk says it made an early decision to eliminate from its study a comprehensive analysis of transporting Line 5 oil through other existing pipelines, a decision that skewed study results. It failed to even consider the fact that Enbridge’s Line 6B capacity was doubled after Enbridge’ massive 2010 oil spill.

5. Dynamic Risk’s study overestimates the impact on propane supply of decommissioning Line 5.
What we know from Dynamic Risk’s study is that data provided by Enbridge says more than 95% of liquefied natural gas transported in Line 5 goes to Sarnia, Ontario. Less than 5% stays in Rapid River in the Upper Peninsula for processing into propane. Yet the flawed report finds that up to 35 railcars per week or 15 truckloads per day would be necessary to transport propane in the UP. A different, independent study found it would take only one railcar or 3 - 4 truckloads per day to replace Line 5 propane supply to the U.P. and the study admits that it would only take installation of a 4-inch pipeline to continue supplying liquefied natural gas to the Rapid River processing facility.

6. Dynamic Risk wants a tunnel in the Straits of Mackinac .
In its April 2016 proposal to the state, Dynamic Risk expressed enthusiasm for the idea of putting a tunnel through the Straits of Mackinac, a project that could potentially benefit oil industry contractors and consultants like Dynamic Risk. Dynamic Risk’s alternatives study delivers on that enthusiasm with a projected cost estimate for a tunnel that is much lower than other estimates for this type of infrastructure. Dynamic Risk would have us believe that constructing a tunnel would cost $50 million less than decommissioning Line 5. At the same time, they admit they did not have the site-specific information about the underlying rock formations to determine the conditions and depth for the tunnel. Of course underground oil pipelines still rupture and a tunnel would still leave the Great Lakes vulnerable to oil spills, including other portions of Line 5 along the Lake Michigan and its tributaries.

7. Cost of A Straits Tunnel: Two Years of Massive Disruption to Tourism, Emmet, Cheboygan, Mackinac Counties and Tribal Fishing
Tourists visiting the tip of Michigan’s mitt and permanent residents would find their lives, communities and economies unnecessarily upended for more than two years because of massive tunnel construction, including drilling and blasting, that will impact everything from air pollution to traffic congestion to police, fire and medical services. At each end of the tunnel up to 7 acres of land would be set up as a construction and staging area, potentially impacting local parks. Seasonal workers and construction workers would compete for limited rental housing; during the lengthy construction period and everyone in three northern Michigan counties would experience a steady stream of 18-wheel trucks hauling massive amounts of rock and soil excavated to make room for a proposed 30-inch pipeline. Dynamic Risk, which admits all of this in its report, predicts police and medical services “could be stretched beyond their limits.” Moreover, the Straits are, by treaty, fishing grounds for native tribes in Michigan and would likely see large areas impacted by the construction project.

8. The Study’s Authors and Enbridge: Oil Industry Friends
Enbridge paid for the $3.5 million alternatives and risk analysis and serves alongside Marathon Petroleum on a board that is advising Gov. Snyder about Line 5. But Enbridge’s reach goes beyond paying for studies that are supposed to determine the fate of the Great Lakes. Instead of turning to one of the state’s university to lead the study, officials chose Dynamic Risk even though the firm has worked for Enbridge on pipeline projects and is a leading player in the pipeline infrastructure industry. Dynamic Risk worked for Enbridge on the Midwest Sandpiper project and it was recently disclosed that while working on Line 5 studies for the State of Michigan, Dynamic Risk was also working for Enbridge on its Line 3 project in Minnesota. Dynamic Risk also conducted studies for Canadian officials that led to the approval by Quebec authorities of the reversal and expansion of 39- year-old Enbridge Line 9B, which in March 2016 began transporting heavy crude oil from western Canada to Sarnia, Ontario.

Other companies with direct ties to Enbridge are playing key roles in the alternatives study. The Stantec Company, which designs pipelines from engineering to construction, provided design support for the Keystone Pipeline and has been involved in the construction of multiple tunnels. According to Dynamic Risk’s proposal to the state, G.A. Purves, Director of Oil & Gas for Stantec, and a member of the Line 5 Project Team, has provided engineering support for six Enbridge pipeline projects over two construction seasons. Harold Henry, another Line 5 Project Team member for Stantec, was project manager on Enbridge’s Line 4 pipeline expansion. Riyaz Shiyji, Stantec director, provided support for multiple Enbridge projects in Canada.

Kelly Geotechnical Company was selected to participate as a key Line 5 Project Team member while also providing engineering work for Enbridge pipelines in Minnesota and North Dakota on the same Sandpiper project involving Dynamic Risk. In addition, Kelly worked on an Enbridge gas pipeline project in 2015, the Enbridge Northern Gateway Pipeline Project from 2005-2015, and Spectra Energy projects from 2009 to 2011. Enbridge recently merged with Spectra. Line 5 project team member Shane A. Kelly, senior engineer for Kelly, worked in support of two Enbridge pipeline projects and two Spectra Energy projects.


Oil & Water Don't Mix Campaign 148 E Front Street, Suite 301, Traverse City, MI 49684. 231-480-4112.