Regular readers of this blog know that our concerns about the way Enbridge conducts its business are many and varied. But if we had to state our objections to the Line 6B project in just one sentence, it would be this:
Enbridge has run roughshod over the citizens of the state of Michigan and our state elected officials have stood by idly and allowed it to happen.
Obviously, there’s much to elaborate upon here– and that’s what we’ve been trying to do for the past three months or so. But that sentence, we think, more or less sums it all up. What makes it all worse, of course, is that Enbridge has behaved this way and our elected officials have let them behave this way in the wake of Marshall. We continue to find it truly astonishing after such a terrible betrayal of the public trust as the Marshall spill– which, we repeat yet again, the NTSB has shown was NOT just an accident–that Enbridge would not do everything possible to earn back that trust and that our elected officials would not be firm and vigilant in making sure that Enbridge act responsibly. Yet Enbridge has had its way. Enbridge has been allowed to have its way.
Which brings us to our most recent example: Brandon Township’s Woodlands Preservation ordinance.
In the past couple of weeks, Enbridge has begun construction activity in Brandon Township. We’ve seen the trucks rumbling past our house (Brandon is just blocks to the west of us) and Brandon residents have seen Enbridge clearing trees on various properties. Then, just last week, that work suddenly stopped at the request of Brandon Township– because evidently Enbridge’s tree-clearing was in violation of Brandon’s woodlands preservation ordinance. Because Brandon’s trustees are faithful steward’s, the ordinance (you can read it here) was enacted:
. . .in recognition of the fact that flora and fauna are necessary to the ecological system within which we all live, and that, as a result, the protection of flora and fauna, and their maintenance or replacement are necessary to the health, safety and welfare of the citizens of township, and further that such flora and fauna are natural resources, the protection of which is likewise necessary to the health, safety and welfare of the citizens of township
Among other things, the ordinance states clearly that prior to any development in the township, which includes “any timbering operation, tree removal or the removal of flora from any undeveloped parcel” a survey must be conducted, a site plan submitted to the director of planning and building, and an application must be made to the township planning commission. In some cases, an “escrow or letter of credit shall be deposited with the township to assure compliance with the forestry plan.”
Now, anyone who remembers the Howell ordinance or the ongoing matter of local consent, won’t be at all surprised to learn that Enbridge complied with none of the provisions of this ordinance before they started cutting down trees in the township. But now, as we understand it, they are in talks with Brandon in the hopes of reaching some sort of agreement with regard to the ordinance.
In stopping work and agreeing to talk, I’m sure that Enbridge spokesmen will say that this shows how they are willing to “work with” local municipalities. They’ll say that these discussions are an example of their “open and honest dealings.” They’ll say that this shows how they “want to be a good neighbor.” Yet the fact remains: Enbridge started cutting down trees without regard to the woodlands preservation ordinance. Apparently, they just figured they could get away with it. Only after they were called on it did they agree to any kind of discussions.
And this, we’ve seen again and again, is how Enbridge operates. Rather than simply proceeding in the right way in the first place, they just plow ahead as they please, assuming no one will say a word. And in most cases, unfortunately, they’re right. They run roughshod over the citizens of the state of Michigan and our state elected officials stand by idly and allow it to happen