Letters 10-24-2016

It’s Obama’s 1984 Several editions ago I concluded a short letter to the editor with an ominous rhetorical flourish: “Welcome to George Orwell’s 1984 and the grand opening of the Federal Department of Truth!” At the time I am sure most of the readers laughed off my comments as right-wing hyperbole. Shame on you for doubting me...

Gun Bans Don’t Work It is said that mass violence only happens in the USA. A lone gunman in a rubber boat, drifted ashore at a popular resort in Tunisia and randomly shot and killed 38 mostly British and Irish tourists. Tunisian gun laws, which are among the most restrictive in the world, didn’t stop this mass slaughter. And in January 2015, two armed men killed 11 and wounded 11 others in an attack on the French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo. French gun laws didn’t stop these assassins...

Scripps’ Good Deed No good deed shall go unpunished! When Dan Scripps was the 101st District State Representative, he introduced legislation to prevent corporations from contaminating (e.g. fracking) or depleting (e.g. Nestle) Michigan’s water table for corporate profit. There are no property lines in the water table, and many of us depend on private wells for abundant, safe, clean water. In the subsequent election, Dan’s opponents ran a negative campaign almost solely on the misrepresentation that Dan’s good deed was a government takeover of your private water well...

Political Definitions As the time to vote draws near it’s a good time to check into what you stand for. According to Dictionary.com the meanings for liberal and conservative are as follows:

Liberal: Favorable to progress or reform as in political or religious affairs.

Conservative: Disposed to preserve existing conditions, institutions, etc., or to restore traditions and limit change...

Voting Takes A Month? Hurricane Matthew hit the Florida coast Oct. 6, over three weeks before Election Day. Bob Ross (Oct. 17th issue) posits that perhaps evacuation orders from Governor Scott may have had political motivations to diminish turnout and seems to praise Hillary Clinton’s call for Gov. Scott to extend Florida’s voter registration deadline due to evacuations...

Clinton Foundation Facts Does the Clinton Foundation really spend a mere 10 percent (per Mike Pence) or 20 percent (per Reince Priebus) of its money on charity? Not true. Charity Watch gives it an A rating (the same as it gives the NRA Foundation) and says it spends 88 percent on charitable causes, and 12 percent on overhead. Here is the source of the misunderstanding: The Foundation does give only a small percentage of its money to charitable organizations, but it spends far more money directly running a number of programs...

America Needs Change Trump supports our constitution, will appoint judges that will keep our freedoms safe. He supports the partial-birth ban; Hillary voted against it. Regardless of how you feel about Trump, critical issues are at stake. Trump will increase national security, monitor refugee admissions, endorse our vital military forces while fighting ISIS. Vice-presidential candidate Mike Pence will be an intelligent asset for the country. Hillary wants open borders, increased government regulation, and more demilitarization at a time when we need strong military defenses...

My Process For No I will be voting “no” on Prop 3 because I am supportive of the process that is in place to review and approve developments. I was on the Traverse City Planning Commission in the 1990s and gained an appreciation for all of the work that goes into a review. The staff reviews the project and makes a recommendation. The developer then makes a presentation, and fellow commissioners and the public can ask questions and make comments. By the end of the process, I knew how to vote for a project, up or down. This process then repeats itself at the City Commission...

Regarding Your Postcard If you received a “Vote No” postcard from StandUp TC, don’t believe their lies. Prop 3 is not illegal. It won’t cost city taxpayers thousands of dollars in legal bills or special elections. Prop 3 is about protecting our downtown -- not Munson, NMC or the Commons -- from a future of ugly skyscrapers that will diminish the very character of our downtown...

Vote Yes It has been suggested that a recall or re-election of current city staff and Traverse City Commission would work better than Prop 3. I disagree. A recall campaign is the most divisive, costly type of election possible. Prop 3, when passed, will allow all city residents an opportunity to vote on any proposed development over 60 feet tall at no cost to the taxpayer...

Yes Vote Explained A “yes” vote on Prop 3 will give Traverse City the right to vote on developments over 60 feet high. It doesn’t require votes on every future building, as incorrectly stated by a previous letter writer. If referendums are held during general elections, taxpayers pay nothing...

Beware Trump When the country you love have have served for 33 years is threatened, you have an obligation and a duty to speak out. Now is the time for all Americans to speak out against a possible Donald Trump presidency. During the past year Trump has been exposed as a pathological liar, a demagogue and a person who is totally unfit to assume the presidency of our already great country...

Picture Worth 1,000 Words Nobody disagrees with the need for affordable housing or that a certain level of density is dollar smart for TC. The issue is the proposed solution. If you haven’t already seen the architect’s rendition for the site, please Google “Pine Street Development Traverse City”...

Living Wage, Not Tall Buildings Our community deserves better than the StandUp TC “vote no” arguments. They are not truthful. Their yard signs say: “More Housing. Less Red Tape. Vote like you want your kids to live here.” The truth: More housing, but for whom? At what price..

Home · Articles · News · Features · A TIME-BOMB at the Straits?
. . . .

A TIME-BOMB at the Straits?

Rally hopes to draw attention to an aging underwater oil pipeline.

Patrick Sullivan - July 1st, 2013  

The pipeline turned 60 this year. It is owned and operated by Enbridge, Inc., of Calgary, Alberta, the same company that owns and operates a pipeline that failed and caused the nation’s largest-ever inland oil spill into the Kalamazoo River in 2010.

Enbridge decided to increase the capacity of the pipeline this summer, a move opponents worry will unduly stress the line.

Most troubling to opponents, though, is that the pipeline runs underwater across the Mackinac Straits, where a failure could be devastating to Northern Michigan’s coastline, fisheries, and tourism industry and could cost the region billions of dollars.


Several groups interested in environmental and energy issues have organized a rally in St. Ignace July 14 to let more people know that the pipeline exists and to voice their concern that regulation of the pipeline is too lax.

They point to the capacity expansion the pipeline underwent this summer. The pipeline’s carrying capacity was increased without any public hearing or period for public comment.

Beth Wallace, community outreach coordinator for the National Wildlife Federation who co-authored a report last fall about the danger the pipeline presents to the Straits, said it will take political pressure to change how Enbridge is regulated.

Part of the problem is so many people don’t even know the pipeline exists.

“The object of the rally is to call attention so that people know that pipeline is there,” said Jim Dulzo, senior energy policy specialist at the Michigan Land Use Institute in Traverse City. “A lot of people don’t know it’s there, particularly because it’s been there 60 years.”


Critics argue oversight of pipelines is too opaque and its up to the whim of the operators whether to release information about operations.

For example, an Enbridge spokesman told the Northern Express this week that the carrying capacity expansion of the pipeline that crosses the Mackinac Straits has already been completed. (The expansion increased the rate of flow through the pipeline, it did not increase the size of the pipeline.)

That came as a shock to some critics, who were still working on a strategy to try to block the expansion, fearing that it will increase the chances of a catastrophic failure.

“That’s definitely news to me,” Wallace said. “We asked that question to a representative two weeks ago and they’ve given me no response.”

Wallace said she is astonished that companies like Enbridge are essentially selfregulated.

Evidence of that, she said, is that there was no public hearing or even public notice about the expansion of the Straits pipeline, which is known as line No. 5 and runs from Superior, Wisconsin to Sarnia, Ontario.

Wallace said NWF attempts to get maintenance, safety and expansion records through Freedom of Information Act requests came up dry because of FOIA exemptions for pipeline companies put in place after pipelines were deemed a national security risk after 9/11.


Wallace believes Enbridge’s expansion of the pipeline stayed under the radar because the company has been required to release so little information about the project.

“With any other pipeline that we have known about, there has been a permitting process that goes on,” she said. “For some reason, this pipeline has been able to bypass that Presidential Permit alteration process.”

Construction of a new pipeline to replace No. 5 would require a Presidential Permit through the State Department because the pipeline crosses into Canada. That would require an environmental impact study and public hearings.

That’s what is required of the controversial Keystone XL pipeline, which is proposed from Alberta to the central United States, and its fate has become a national debate.

Apparently, much less is required when a company decides it would like to expand the carrying capacity of a 60-year-old pipeline.

“There seems to be a lot of gray area with the State Departmemt,” Wallace said. “We can’t figure out where they are drawing the lines.”


Enbridge insists its pipelines are safe, particularly pipeline No. 5 where it crosses the Straits. The company recognizes that is an environmentally critical area, said Enbridge spokesman Larry Springer.

He said pipeline No. 5 was pressure tested prior to the capacity expansion and that particular attention was paid to the section that crosses the Straits. The line passed the tests, he said.

Springer said the pipeline was constructed to last indefinitely as long as it is regularly inspected and maintained.

At the Straits, two pipes that are 20 inches in diameter connect to 30-inch pipes on each shore. The two underwater pipes are laid about 1,300 feet apart and they are made of thick steel, Springer said.

Devices are regularly sent into the pipes to test their integrity and remotely operated underwater vehicles inspect the outside of the line.

“We have found no issues with that pipe; no issues with the inline inspections,” Springer said. “Those are very thick pipes.”


Still, critics are baffled that a company responsible for the Kalamazoo River oil spill could be trusted to run a safe operation elsewhere, particularly in a critical area like the Mackinac Straits.

Wallace noted that while the clean-up for Kalamazoo cost Enbridge around $1 billion, the company’s revenue in 2011 was $26.4 billion, enough to dwarf losses from the spill and to easily absorb the $3.7 million federal civil penalty imposed on the company.

Springer said Enbridge learned from the Kalamazoo spill.

“That was a terrible, terrible incident,” Springer said. “We have learned lessons from that. We are applying those lessons.”

He said more than 99.9 percent of the oil products Enbridge transports get safely to their destination and the company keeps refineries running, which is critical for the economy.


Wallace hopes it isn’t too late to bring political pressure on Enbridge to force the company to reverse the capacity increase of the No. 5 line.

The NWF would also like to see several other steps taken, including requirements that Enbridge station emergency response teams in Mackinaw City and St. Ignace to be prepared to act fast if there is a spill. Currently emergency response teams are stationed hours away.

The NWF has also called for the 60-year-old No. 5 line to be replaced with a new, state-of-theart line of the same size.

Springer said Enbridge doesn’t believe those measures are necessary.

Springer disagrees that the No. 5 line, at the Straits in particular, is in danger of failing because of it’s age.

“We absolutely disagree with that, because a properly maintained pipeline ... should last indefinitely,” he said.

He said the company believes its emergency response teams are located close enough to the Straits, and he said they regularly conduct training exercises at the Straits with the Coast Guard and local emergency responders.

“We do have response teams,” he said.

“They may not be located where they want them, but they are within the standards required by the federal government.”


Opponents won’t be happy until there is more transparency and better oversight.

They say the stakes are too high to trust Enbridge, which is under a federal “corrective order” because of numerous spills that have occurred on No. 5.

Wallace said it is impossible to know what the environmental impacts would be of a massive spill.

“You can be prepared as you want to be, but any spill at that location would be completely devastating,” she said.

Wallace said she is afraid if a spill occurred, given how long it took operators to find out about the Kalamazoo spill, what flows into the Straits could eclipse what flowed from the Exxon Valdez.

“There needs to be a lot more public support and pressure on congressional members,” she said.

  • Currently 3.5/5 Stars.
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5


07.02.2013 at 11:45 Reply

More info about the rally at http://oilandwaterdontmix.com

They also have transportation options from all over the state: buses from Traverse City, Kalamazoo, Grand Rapids, Lansing...