Here at the Line 6B Citizens’ Blog, we pride ourselves on being calm, rational, and reasonable– even though this is a very emotional issue. We’re talking about disruptions to people’s homes and lives here, after all. But every once in a while, something gets us hopping mad. This morning, that something is Christopher Behnan’s latest story in the Livingston County Daily Press & Argus.
What’s got us worked up and fuming? Well, it’s not just that we empathize with the Nash family (although we certainly do; the clock is ticking on many of our beloved trees as well). And it’s not Behnam’s reporting, which we’ve quibbled with a bit in the past (in fact, despite those quibbles, we’re quite grateful that he has stayed on the story– unlike, say, the hapless Oakland Press). No. We’re all on fire about the remarks of Enbridge spokesman Jason Manshum.
Those keeping up with news and events here and elsewhere know that Enbridge has been spending a lot of time lately suing Michigan landowners in court. We’ve been reporting on these condemnation hearings as best we can, especially on a few cases in Oakland County. But the past few days, all the action has been over in Livingston County. And unfortunately, Livingston makes it much more difficult to get a hold of court records than does Oakland. What’s more, the judge in the recent hearings, Judge Hatty, appears to prefer ruling from the bench, rather than in writing.
We can, however, say this much: the news out of Livingston is mixed. In the cases that have come before him, Judge Hatty has ruled that Enbridge’s easement language (the part we’ve discussed before, which says that they can send any old thing they want through their pipe, exceeds what the MPSC approval allows. That’s good news. However, unlike the TWO judges in Oakland County, Judge Hatty did not, therefore, dismiss Enbridge’s suits altogether. Instead, Hatty’s position seems to be “no harm, no foul”; let the suits commence. Also, in at least one case, Hatty ruled in favor of Enbridge on the question of “necessity”– which means, essentially, that Enbridge gets to “take” (ie, use) the land it wants. On the other hand, compensation still needs to be determined and we remain hopeful that the courts will help ensure that whatever agreement is reached is fair to the landowners, both in terms of monetary compensation and the language of the agreements, which should grant as many protections and assurances as possible to the property owners.
We thought we were done with our series on Enbridge spokesman Larry Springer’s outrageous statement a couple of weeks back. You remember: Springer insisted that Enbridge’s actions show that they deal openly and honestly with stakeholders, despite what those pesky “special interest groups” and their compatriots in the media who just want to stir up controversy would have you believe.
We took exception with that statement (again and again). We think we made our point quite clearly (and factually). We were prepared to give it a rest for a while.
But then examples of not-so-open and not-so-honest dealings by Enbridge just keep coming. Here’s a recent one: (more…)
We just came across a very interesting little story in the small Tri-City Times newspaper, covering the eastern part of the state (the area around Imlay City, Almont, Capac and Dryden). Some sort of Enbridge pipeline construction activity or preparation appears to be taking place in Capac. That’s very near portions of the Line 6B pipeline that Enbridge plans to replace in phase two of their project– the phase for which they do not yet have MPSC approval. Therefore, it’s not clear what’s going on over there– and evidently Enbridge isn’t saying. We’re curious.
A while back we linked to the disturbing story explaining how dilbit is exempt from the federal tax that helps fund the Oil Spill Liability Trust Fund– the fund used to cover cleanup costs of oil spills like the one in Marshall in 2010. What that means is that Enbridge did not pay taxes on all that bitumen they dumped into Talmadge Creek. Yet they nevertheless drew money–more than $40 million– from the Trust Fund to help pay for the cleanup (they are supposed to pay it back).
But just this week came news of proposed legislation that would close the dilbit exemption (and more). The Tar Sands Tax Loophole Elimination Act, introduced by three Democrats, Ed Markey of Massachusetts, Earl Blumenauer of Oregon, and Bill Pascrell Jr. of New Jersey, would ensure that tar sands is taxed just like other forms of “crude oil.”
This is potentially good news, of course. But we can’t help notice one little thing: none of the sponsors of this bill are from Michigan. Why, for instance, couldn’t Rep. Fred Upton, who represents the Kalamazoo area, have proposed this kind of legislation? For that matter, why hasn’t Fred Upton proposed any sort of legislation following Marshall and the NTSB findings about Marshall? We also can’t help but wonder whether our own Congressman, Rep. Mike Rogers, will support this proposed legislation. What about your U.S. reps? We recommend that you let them know, forcefully, that support of this bill is the very least they can do. Heaven knows they haven’t done much of anything up to this point.