Enbridge Pipeline Project & Michigan Parks Report

  • Sections of Enbridge's new pipeline ready to be installed. (Photo by Rina Miller/Michigan Radio)

Living in the path of Enbridge’s new pipeline…

This is the Environment Report. I’m Rebecca Williams.

Enbridge Energy has been in the news a lot lately. Sarah Alvarez updates us on the ongoing controversy surrounding the company’s new pipeline project:

Enbridge Energy has a bit of a bad reputation in Michigan.  In 2010, one of the company’s pipelines burst. More than a million gallons of oil have been cleaned up so far from the Kalamazoo River. Last winter, there was a small leak near Sterling in the northeast part of the state.

But Enbridge is planning for growth. They’re replacing the pipeline that burst – Line 6B – and they’re building some new sections as well. The company hopes to double the amount of oil they can move from Canada to refineries in Michigan and Ohio (we’ve previously reported that an Enbridge spokesman said the main product in the new pipeline will be from Alberta’s tar sands region. The EPA says the nature of tar sands oil made the Kalamazoo River spill much more difficult to clean up).

Enbridge has been running a public relations campaign to try to improve its image. But some landowners along the pipeline route are not impressed.

One of those people is Stacy Bradley.  She lives in Stockbridge.

“They’ve planned the pipeline to be right through my backyard, between the deck and where the swing set is. In order to have enough workspace, since they’re coming so close to the line, all the trees will be completely clear cut.”

Enbridge is using a Consumers Energy easement for the pipeline. It’s a strip of land Consumers Energy controls because there are power lines there. But the Bradley’s have been paying Consumers Energy to plant their gardens on that land.  And as far as they’re concerned, it’s their backyard.  Stacy Bradley says she isn’t just concerned about the construction process for the pipeline.

“It’s crude oil, so we’re really worried that something is going to happen to our adjacent wetlands, and our well, about ten feet off where the line is going to be. So we do have concerns.”

Bradley says Enbridge told her there will be compensation for property damage, but she says her family would rather have the trees.

Enbridge responded in an email to a request for comment. A spokesman said the company understands the Bradley’s concerns and are reviewing their construction plans to see if there are any modifications to reduce impact. Enbridge expects construction on this part of the pipeline to begin soon. In the meantime, a loosely organized group of residents has sprung up to ask a lot more questions about the project.

For the Environment Report, I’m Sarah Alvarez.

This story was informed by the Public Insight Network.

(music bump)

This is the Environment Report.

Governor Rick Snyder is considering whether to make some changes to Michigan’s parks. 

Last year, the Governor appointed a panel on state parks and outdoor recreation.  Their mission was to come up with a vision for the future of Michigan’s parks and state forests.

Erin McDonough is the executive director of the Michigan United Conservation Clubs. She was co-chair of the panel.

“We looked at what future generations are going to be looking for in terms of state parks, we looked at how to best use our parks as economic drivers, we looked at what resources are currently available for investment and we talked about an investment strategy for how we most successfully use those dollars.”

The panel made seven main recommendations in their report.  For example, they recommended that the state should invest more in regional trail networks… and create what they call “signature parks” in urban areas.

“Creating opportunities for people to recreate close to their home is just as essential as protecting and creating opportunities up north.”

McDonough says they also recommended changing the state’s Recreation Passport to raise more money for parks. At the moment you have to check a box when you renew your license plate registration – and pay 10 dollars to access all of the state parks.  The panel suggested changing that, so you’d have to opt out if you didn’t want to pay the fee. 

That’s the Environment Report. I’m Rebecca Williams.