We apologize for our silence the past few days. It’s not for a lack of things to discuss, however. It’s just that we’re on an academic calendar and have been caught up with sundry back-to-school tasks and responsibilities. That said, we’re doing a little catching up today. Let’s start with a news roundup:  

You might have seen last week’s reports about Enbridge’s contract with the Livingston County sheriff’s department. Enbridge was paying off-duty sheriff’s deputies to (ostensibly) help maintain security at their work sites– including homeowners’ property. Understandably, this arrangement raised a number of disturbing red flags, not the least of which were charges of conflicts of interest. What if, while on duty, one of those Enbridge-paid deputies was dispatched to, say, Debora Hense’s property?

Well, fortunately, that contract has since been cancelled. File this one under “stuff Enbridge tries to get away with”– a very, very thick file indeed.

Meanwhile, Susan Bromley at the tiny Brandon Township newspaper The Citizen continues to do some of the smartest, most thorough, and wide-ranging reporting we’ve seen on the Line 6B project anywhere (hear that, Oakland Press?). She’s written two important articles this week. The first profiles affected landowner Karen Prater, who expresses what many of us have been thinking and feeling for months:

“Most frightening is they are taking down trees and they can sell the existing pipeline and it can be reused,” said Prater. “I can be exposed to possible contamination… I don’t want to be a bed and breakfast here or have tourists. I just want to enjoy the home and its history and respect the property for what it is. They act like a utility, but they are a private company… They get to ignore things that are not to their advantage. I understand we need the pipeline, but it has to be in a reasonable way without steamrolling us.”

Bromley also reports on a recent letter Enbridge sent to the Brandon Township Board of Trustees, a letter that, pointedly, does not mention the Brandon resolution even though it is clearly a response to the resolution. In fact, the letter is classic specimen Enbridge obfuscation. It appears to say a lot– most of it about technical matters and safety standards– but mainly the letter is just evasive. It certainly doesn’t ask for Brandon’s consent. Nor does it address the question of what will happen in the future with the deactivated pipe, a major provision of the Brandon resolution. We have MUCH more to say about this letter and are working on a major review and discussion of it. Stay tuned some time next week.

On the political front, 8th district U.S. Representative Mike Rogers seems to have been roused from his slumber lately. First, his office responded to candidate Lance Enderle’s recent criticisms of Rogers’ inaction on Enbridge and pipeline safety. About the same time, we finally heard back from Rogers’s office, after repeated attempts to contact him over the past couple of months. My wife received a very unenlightening form letter and then I received a phone call from a staffer apologizing that they have not responded to my repeated inquiries. The staffer promised that I’d be hearing from them soon. That was a few days ago; I’ve heard nothing. I have said before that this is not a partisan political blog. The fact is, however, that Lance Enderle is the only state or national political figure in Michigan I know of who has voiced any public concern with the Enbridge Line 6B project. And he’s staying on it.

A couple of other items of note from outside of Michigan: our friends down in Indiana continue to demand that Enbridge respond to tough questions. The citizen engagement we’re hearing about down there is very heartening. And out of Canada, their National Energy Board appears to be taking safety and oversight seriously in ways that agencies here in the U.S. seem utterly incapable of when it comes to Enbridge. Depressingly, Canadian officials seem to have a much better understanding of the importance and implications of Marshall than their American counterparts.