Proposal by Steven Lesha: Enbridge Pipeline 5 and a Potential Oil Spill

Context

Reference to a current Michigan bill or law that relates in some way to your proposal:

House Bill No. 4572 "Natural resources and environmental protection act,"  This bill sets forth many requirements for companies using the Great Lakes. In the context of my proposal, the bill specifically addresses oil pipelines at the bottom of the Great Lakes. The bill states that oil lines must comply with Part 5 of the Water Resources Protection Rules. Second, it declares that the state can check the pipes and “impose conditions on their operation.” Finally, in the context of my proposal, the bill addresses transparency and emergency response plans. While this bill may be fairly effective, it is slightly vague, and has no plan for the decommissioning of aging pipelines. Furthermore, it is not specific in the transparency that pipeline operators must provide to the state. In my proposal, I will attempt to expand off of this bill.

 

Why this proposal will make a difference in the lives of students of all ages across Michigan, or a significant subgroup (by age, background, economic status, and/or region, etc.) of students in Michigan:

This proposal will make a difference in the lives of students for three primary reasons. First, it will be beneficial to the economy in four aspects. 1.) it will reduce the likelihood of an oil spill and its detrimental effect on the fishing and tourism industries, as well as the overall economy. 2.) it will reduce a student’s stress about finding work after graduation from high school or college. 3.) it will be beneficial to those students dependent on the fishing or tourism industries for supplemental income. 4.) the proposal should spur growth in the alternative energy sectors, thereby creating many jobs. Second, the proposal will ensure the continued use of Michigan’s great natural resources for social activities, including field trips. Third, the proposal will prevent the negative health impacts that Michigan students could experience from drinking oil-polluted water from the great lakes.

This proposal will help students economically. It will reduce the risk of economic hardships and the decline of the tourism and fishing industries. An oil spill would be detrimental to both industries, as it would lower the fish population in the state and pollute the shoreline, the main tourism attraction. This has significant economic consequences, as the tourism industry alone holds more than 200,000 jobs that are heavily dependent on the state’s water resources. Furthermore, revenue in this sector exceeded $22.8 billion in 2014. Therefore, an oil spill would likely depress the industry, and make it more difficult for graduating students to find a job. Furthermore, restaurants and other businesses in this sector employ numerous students; hence many student-held-jobs could be lost if there is an industry-wide decline. On a broader scope, 20% of jobs in Michigan are related to the water or “water innovation.” This further shows the economic importance of the Great Lakes, and the severe impact that an oil spill could have on job growth in the state. The proposal will also be economically advantageous, as it will create job growth in the renewable energy industry. This is evidenced by the rapid growth of the solar energy sector. Solar jobs were “growing 17 times faster than the U.S. economy” as of 2017. Hence, by motivating Enbridge to increase their sustainable energy output in the state, there will be many jobs open to graduating students. Overall, the proposal will prevent a loss of jobs, and spur job growth. 

Second, this proposal will allow for the continued use of Michigan’s natural resources. Michigan has 3,288 miles of freshwater coastline, the most of any state other than Alaska. As a result, Michigan children and students partake in many activities on the coastline and in the water. Kayaking, boating, canoeing, and fishing are just a few past times enjoyed by students across the state. If there was a spill from Line 5, numerous students would not be able to partake in the activities that many of these activities. Furthermore, schools in Michigan take many field trips up to Northern Michigan and the Great Lakes. These trips often include lessons about Native Americans and class bonding experiences on the beaches. These rich learning experiences, and the great memories that accompany them, will be reduced if an oil spill were to occur. Overall, this proposal helps students enjoy numerous past times in the state, and gain great experiences through fieldtrips.

Third, many Michigan residents obtain their water from the Great Lakes and the smaller waterways fed by them. As a result, many residents are dependent on the Great Lakes for their drinking water. An oil spill would be very problematic for students, as water pollutants, such as lead, have the greatest effect on children. This situation resembles the flint water crisis, a preventable lead leakage into the drinking water. This issue was thought to be especially detrimental to students. Researchers observed that between 2014 and 2017, third-grade reading proficiency declined from 41.8% to 10.7%. While there may be other reasons for this and an oil spill is different from lead leakage, this indicates that a compromised water supply is detrimental to a child’s health and his/her academic success. Therefore, by reducing the risk of the potential release of pollutants into the drinking water, students will be much better off academically.  

In conclusion, this proposal will help students financially, academically, and socially. 

How and where did you learn about the issues underlying your proposal?

I learned about this issue through one of the discussions that Austin Priebe started. Upon reading his initial post, I was very interested in the subject. I grew up in Michigan, and often spent time in northern Michigan over the summers. I enjoyed swimming, kayaking, and fishing near the Mackinac Straits. Additionally, I recognized the negative impacts that an oil spill could have on the Michigan economy and the health of many in the state. As a result, I wanted to work to prevent any consequences that could result from using a 65-year-old pipeline to transport 23 million gallons of oil underneath one of the most sensitive ecosystems in the world. However, I am also interested in business, and am fascinated by the risks that businesses take. The continued use of Line 5 is a significant risk for Enbridge, as an oil spill would cost them hundreds of millions of dollars and have a significant impact on their stock price and credit rating. When I first understood this, I became even more fascinated with this issue. I thought that there would be a way to spin a very complicated issue and make it beneficial to both parties. While I understood that this was possible, I believed that finding a mutually beneficial compromise would be fascinating and difficult. I realized that I would have to understand both political issues and Enbridge as a company. Understanding Enbridge’s corporate strategy would be critically important, as I ultimately would need a plan that would be beneficial to the state and align with Enbridge’s long-term goals. Due to my interest in business and the state of Michigan, I wanted to tackle a difficult, complex issue, that would require an understanding of various stakeholders, and I believed that the Enbridge issue was the perfect topic. 

How has your service activity influenced your thinking about this proposal?

Working with Food Gatherers has helped me think about this issue from a different stance, understand the importance of helping smaller stakeholders, and understand the importance of minute details. First, the organization reduces hunger through collecting food, and distributing it to various food banks, homeless shelters, etc. They work with various partners, and do not directly supply the food to the hungry. This was very interesting to me, and spurred me to think about the Enbridge issue slightly differently. As a result, I opted for a more hands-off solution in aspects of the proposal, where the state will encourage Enbridge to lean off of the pipeline and help/supply them with resources to ensure that the pipeline is kept up to codes in the near future. The state will not require Enbridge to produce a set amount of renewable energy or place harsh limits on the oil flowing through the pipeline. Instead, the state will help them become a more sustainable company. Second, working with Food Gatherers made me understand that while Food Gatherers is larger than their partners, reducing hunger depends on every partner. For example, without a distribution site in a small region, the hungry in that region do not obtain food. This is significant in my proposal, as I had to understand that the proposal needed to be direct in addressing objectives that their partners would perform. For example, the proposal, which you will see further down, explicitly states some of the information that their partners must enclose in certain reports. Third, Food Gatherers helped me understand the importance of tiny details. For example, when assorting produce, a one-day difference could result in a person eating spoiled food. I used this lesson in my proposal through stating exactly when reports would be released, so that there would be no confusion. Overall, my volunteer work has really helped with the formation of my proposal.

Link to your media artifact(s) giving background on the issue:

My website: Proposal by Steven Lesha: Enbridge Pipeline 5 and a Potential Oil Spill Website

Consultations

Talk directly with at least 3 real live people who have special knowledge about this topic or the impact your proposal would have, and summarize their comments. These may include people appearing in your media artifact (video, podcast, etc.).

CONSULTATION 1: 

In my first consultation, I spoke with Professor Dave Schwab of the University of Michigan. Professor Schwab is both a professor at the university and a scientist at the Great Lakes Research Center. He has done significant research on the impact of a potential oil spill in the Great Lakes. However, due to the nature of his current research, there were many points of the issue that he would not discuss. In our phone conversation, we spoke about the nature of the problem, the potential impact on the state, Michigan’s response, and the difficulties in grasping the true nature of the problem. Some of the key takeaways from the conversation are below.

First, Professor Schwab spoke about how the Straits would be the worst place for an oil spill, due to the rapid currents that rapidly change. This would very quickly spread the oil throughout both Lake Michigan and Lake Huron. As a result, an oil spill from Pipeline 5 would be detrimental to the Lakes.

Second, Schwab took the opposite stance of Enbridge on the impact of the length of time that the pipeline has been underneath the Straits. Enbridge claims that while the pipeline was initially designed for 50 years, it could last much longer. On the other hand, Professor Schwab indicated that the pipeline was actually never supposed to be in use for the full 50 years, let alone over 60. This was the beginning of his implications to Enbridge’s suspicious practices with the pipeline. 

Third, and probably the largest takeaway from the conversation, Schwab stated that he could not speak much about his current work in regards to the pipeline. When I asked about the state’s current response to the issue, he stated that they commissioned two “independent” studies in 2016 to determine the true risk of the pipeline and potential solutions. While the “alternatives report” was released, the “risk analysis” was not, due to the belief that Enbridge tampered with the results. Due to this, the state had to scrap the report, and restart. He is now involved in the ongoing risk analysis that is supposed to be released in the summer. While everything that we spoke about is important, it shocked me that he would not speak at all about his current research. It shows that he truly believes that Enbridge is attempting to mask the issue of the problem. 

Due to my reflection of the conversation, I think that the state may need to take a harsher stance against Enbridge, to ensure that interests of Michigan residents are considered. 

CONSULTATION 2:

I spoke with Ethan McGraw, a life-long Michigan resident and current student at the University of Michigan. The main goal of this conversation was to determine how a student would respond to various outcomes related to Line 5. First, I asked him about how he would feel if he could no longer use parts of the Great Lakes for watersports. He replied in stating that he would be annoyed if he was unable to waterski and partake in other lake activities. Second, I asked him a few questions regarding his plans for after college. Mr. McGraw stated that he was open to staying in Michigan for a full time job. However, he stated that if there was an oil spill, and a decline in the Michigan economy, he would likely move to another state for work. This is very significant, as it indicates that Michigan would be unable to retain talented students, and use them in the workforce if there was an oil spill. I never considered this prior to this conversation, and I think that this is another problem with the pipeline. McGraw also stated, “I would most definitely be saddened if the economy dipped and scarred for my future in the state of Michigan.” An oil spill in the Great Lakes, and the resulting economic impact, would increase the stress levels for many students in the state, as it would be more difficult to find jobs. Finally, we spoke briefly about the impact of higher oil prices. He claimed that he would be willing to pay an additional 50 cents per gallon of gas to eliminate the risk of an oil spill. One thing that we rarely consider in this is the economic costs on students. Many assume that the economic cost of increased oil prices solely effects adults. However, it is also important to consider that students in high school and college drive as well. Hence, we must ensure that, if the pipeline is replaced, students can still afford to drive to and from school. Overall, this conversation was successful in determining how students perceive the impacts of an oil spill and the costs that could result from protecting against it. While this is fairly informative, it is also important to note that one student is not necessarily indicative of an entire student population.

CONSULTATION 3:

I spoke with Enbridge’s Community Engagement Advisor in the Midwest. She spoke with me about Enbridge’s initiatives with the pipeline, their increase in green-energy projects, and the future of Pipeline 5. First, we spoke about Enbridge’s increasing diversification into the alternative energy sector. Recently, they had a merger with Spectra Energy, a company with numerous natural gas assets. This was to get into a lighter oil source. Furthermore, they have been building infrastructure designed to capture and deliver power from wind, solar, and geothermal sources. Currently Enbridge is the second largest renewable energy company in Canada. In the U.S., the company has a wind farm in Indiana. Second, we spoke a little bit about the relationship between Enbridge and the state of Michigan. Despite current issues, she claimed that Enbridge saw the relationship as a partnership. Specifically, Enbridge states that they are doing all that they can to prevent an oil spill. For example, they are engaged in many studies, and they have been using technology to both prevent a spill and have the capability to effectively respond in the case of one. They have been upgrading the pipeline through replacing the valves and upgrading the leak-detection system; these investments have cost Enbridge more than $75 million since 2015. Furthermore, they are currently looking into potential replacements for the pipeline. Third, we spoke about the future of the pipeline and Michigan’s dependency on it. She stated that the complete removal of the pipeline was ultimately not in the interest of the people, as oil is needed for over “6 thousand products.” Overall, the content of the conversation was great.

The key takeaway from this was that Enbridge is needed, as is Line 5 for the immediate future. However, the state can use Enbridge, and their current goals and initiatives, to build a better energy infrastructure in the state.

Prospectus:

Describe the specific issue or problem, being sure to provide sufficient context so that someone less familiar with the issue has a sense of the bigger picture, but know that your focus here is on a more detailed spelling out of the specific problem or issue that you’ve identified. (250 words minimum)

Two 65 year-old pipelines, transporting 540,000 barrels of light crude oil, synthetic light oil, and natural gas liquids per day from Superior Wisconsin to Sarnia, Michigan and Canada, sit below the Straits of Mackinac. These two pipelines are known as Pipeline 5. Line 5 is a critical component of Michigan’s energy infrastructure, generating 55% of the state’s propane and supplying numerous homes with heat. Despite its importance, the condition of the Pipeline has deteriorated; there have been 29 oil spills from Pipeline 5 since its creation. Additionally, there are many cracks in the pipes, the wall thickness has decreased by as much as 26% in some areas, and the support system has had problems. These are indicative of an oil spill into the Great Lakes. A potential oil spill underneath the Straits pose a significant environmental, economic, and social threat. According to Professor Schwab at the University of Michigan, the Straits are the worst place for a spill. Oil released into the environment in this area can spread and affect a significant portion of the state’s shoreline. This would have consequential results on Michigan residents. First, in regards to the environment, this would affect the animals and people using the lake for food and water. Additionally, it would pollute the source of 20% of the world’s fresh water supply. Second, 1.5 million jobs and $62 billion in wages are directly dependent on the Great Lakes. Pollution to Lake Michigan and Huron would depress many industries, including tourism, and result in job loss and reduced wages. This would decrease overall spending in the state, thereby affecting the entire economy. When considering students in the state, this would make it more difficult to obtain jobs. Third, the Great Lakes are a great source of social pleasure for many Michigan residents. Pollution to the lakes would make it unsafe to use the shoreline. The goal of this proposal is to find a more effective solution that appeases Enbridge and is in the best interest of the residents of Michigan.

I primarily used the sources listed in my media artifact for the statistics. 

Potential Solutions:

Describe three reasonable, feasible potential solutions or approaches that would help address this problem.

SOLUTION 1: 

Michigan and Enbridge can work together on a plan to lean off of Pipeline 5 through increasing the energy obtained from sustainable sources in the state. The goal would be for the pipeline to be decommissioned and fully replaced with Enbridge-produced sustainable energy (i.e. from solar panels, wind turbines, etc.) by 2030. Between now and Line 5’s decommissioning, Enbridge would increase their transparency regarding the pipeline, and ensure that the pipeline meets state and federal codes. This plan would be beneficial for both the state of Michigan and Enbridge.

The state of Michigan would benefit from this. First, there would be a decrease in risk associated with a potential oil spill in the Great Lakes. Enbridge would closely monitor the pipeline to ensure its structural integrity and prevent a spill. Additionally, the threat would be completely eliminated in 2030. Second, many jobs would be created to develop this sustainable energy infrastructure. Third, Michigan would become significantly more sustainable.

This would also be beneficial to Enbridge. The company has been dedicated (to a certain degree) to sustainability, and has focused on gaining market share in the eco-friendly energy industry. For example, they have been building multiple solar energy farms. This shows that Enbridge has the capability to replace Pipeline 5 with sustainable sources and that it may be beneficial for them to enter this industry. Additionally, the tax structure for energy partnerships, including Enbridge, has worsened in the last week. This has complex implications that can be simplified to Enbridge possibly wanting to enter the sustainable energy industry; furthermore, it may be difficult for Enbridge to replace Line 5 with a new pipeline. Therefore, it may be advantageous for the company to work with the state. Finally, Enbridge can see this as an investment in a growing sector.

In conclusion, Michigan is dependent on Enbridge for their power, and Enbridge generates much revenue from within the state. As a result, the two entities can work together to reduce the risk of an oil spill, while ensuring that Enbridge does not suffer economic setbacks.

Sources:

https://www.enbridge.com/about-us/our-work/renewable-energy/solar

https://www.wsj.com/articles/federal-regulators-end-key-tax-benefit-for-certain-pipeline-companies-1521140209

SOLUTION 2:

Michigan could immediately set a plan for the decommissioning of Pipeline 5. Oil flow through the pipeline could probably be halted in a year or two. This time should be sufficient time for another company, or even Enbridge, to increase their oil flow into the state. This would likely lead to a slight increase in prices; however, there would be little risk of a shortage. Additionally, the state could probably get away with doing this on the grounds that Enbridge has violated their easement agreement with the state, as they have not provided sufficient information.

This would effectively eliminate the problem at hand, as there would not be oil flowing underneath the Straits of Mackinac, provided that the state prohibits the construction of a new pipeline underneath the Straits. Therefore, there would be little threat to the tourism industry, the environment, and social activities on the lakes.

There are some risks to this. First, there could be international backlash as Enbridge is technically a Canadian company and the pipeline eventually feeds into Canada. Second, the lost oil would be replaced through building another pipeline or by increasing the oil flow in an existing pipeline. The former carries the risk of an oil spill in the area that the new pipeline is built. The latter increases the stress on the pipeline thereby raising the risk of the pipe bursting.

Sources:

https://www.oilandwaterdontmix.org/endorse_the_decommission_plan?recruiter_id=406

SOLUTION 3:

Michigan can set standards to increase Enbridge’s transparency regarding their pipeline. This plan would have three main components. The first would be that every week, Enbridge would have to report on: the wall thickness of the pipeline at various points, the stress on the pipeline, the quality of the support beams, and other indicators that show the strength of the pipes. Second, Enbridge would have to pay additional taxes, so that the state can fund annual, independent studies on the Line 5. These would show an unbiased opinion of Pipeline 5 and the likelihood of a spill. Third, the state of Michigan would have the right to shut down the pipeline if either of these reports show a breach of pipeline standards.

This would reduce the likelihood of a spill, as the state would be aware of the risks related to the pipeline and would have the right to shut off the flow of oil from the pipeline if the risk increases too much. While this would not eliminate the risk, it will reduce the threats to the environment and tourism industry, without increasing the cost of energy. 

Reaction or advice from a Topic Coordinator:

You must solicit a critique from a topic coordinator, and explain the impact that advice has had on the final draft of this proposal.

Austin Preibe really helped me construct the proposal both at the beginning and final stages. Towards the beginning, when I was first thinking about this issue, Austin continuously asked me questions about each of my comments in the discussion section. This really helped me think of this issue in many different perspectives. By probing into each of my posts and pressing me to answer follow-up questions, I think that I really saw the issue holistically. Furthermore, I think that the work that I did in order to respond to him gave me a very fruitful knowledge of the topic. Also, all of his questions spurred me to see that Enbridge is important to the state, and prompted me to take their interests into consideration in my proposal. Finally, towards the end of my proposal, Austin helped me refine my ideas, especially in the “Operative Clauses” section; ultimately, I was able to make this area of my proposal much more concise.

Research process:

Describe your research process — indicate who you talked to (including but not limited to consultants), what you read, what your thinking was, how it changed over time, and how your consultants changed your thinking. This description of your research process definitely could include “dead ends,” or ideas you had that didn’t ultimately bear fruit.  In short, we want to know what you did and how it led to your legislation, and we also want you to give us a window into your thought process.

The discussion on Enbridge Pipeline 5 in the caucus pushed me to explore this issue in more depth both in the discussion section and in my proposal. As I mentioned earlier, I am very interested in this issue, and want to find a mutually beneficial compromise for the residents of the state and Enbridge.

First, before I chose this as my topic, I primarily researched the problem by reading many news articles, activism pages, and Enbridge’s website. In this first stage, a few things stood out to me. I initially thought that the pipeline should be shut down due to its risk to the state and to Enbridge. If there happened to be an oil spill from Pipeline 5, it would likely cost between $450 million and $1 billion. Much of this cost would be placed on Enbridge, which would result in a significant loss for them. Furthermore, an oil spill would have many negative impacts on the state of Michigan and its residents. Additionally, I looked into the economic, social, and health effects that an oil spill would have on students. At the end of this initial process, I thought that it may be in the everyone’s best interest to remove the pipeline. 

My position began to change, once I understood the importance of the pipeline; it supplies 55% of Michigan’s propane needs. This position was solidified when I understood the lack of plausible solutions. For example, a pipeline circumventing the Great Lakes would cost approximately $2 billion, and would not eliminate all of the environmental risks. I then researched alternative energy sources as a potential replacement. While I believe that this may be achievable to some degree, it will require much work. For example, individual homes would need to use more electricity, instead of propane and other natural gasses. This will be possible, but it will take many years and will be costly to individuals. 

Coming into the final proposal process, I realized that there needed to be a balance between keeping Michigan’s waterways safe and ensuring that the solution is in line with Enbridge’s strategic outlook. The latter is significant, as the state is currently dependent on Enbridge for energy. This opinion was hardened when I read that Enbridge has been turning to alternative energy sources. Hence, Enbridge can be used to advance Michigan’s energy infrastructure. This was the beginning of the final push of my proposal, and I knew that I wanted to find a solution that was beneficial for both the state and Enbridge. To ensure that both parties would benefit, I contacted a few consultants.

First, I spoke with Professor Dave Schwab. This was beneficial in gaining the perspective on why it may be difficult to trust Enbridge. This conversation really helped me in my proposal, as I realized that there would need to be stipulations in place to ensure that Enbridge is honest and remains transparent. More information on this topic can be found in the “Consultants” section.

Second (although third in order), I wanted to contact an Enbridge representative to understand Enbridge’s goals and ensure that my proposal was in some way tailored to them. From the conversation, it seemed that Enbridge really was dedicated to avoiding a spill in the Great Lakes and to increasing clean energy sources. Therefore, it may be in Enbridge’s best interest to increase sustainable energy and reduce the oil flowing through Line 5. 

Finally, I wanted to ensure that my proposal did benefit students in Michigan. As a result, I also spoke with a student to understand his position on the issue. This supported many of my thoughts: Enbridge is important to the state’s oil infrastructure; however, the integrity of the Great Lakes cannot be compromised.

With this research done, I sat down to write the proposal. 

Author contributions:

Please delineate--in detail--who made what contributions to the process and to the finished proposal? Who took on which responsibilities in researching ideas, drafting language, etc.?


 

===FORMAL PROPOSAL===

The sections below should comprise your final proposal language, submitted for consideration by your peers and potential inclusion in the MSC Platform.

Preambulatory clauses

These set up the PROBLEM, but not the solution.

Whereas: Pipeline 5, a 64-year-old pipeline system consisting of two pipes, rests below the Straits of Mackinac, one of the most environmentally-sensitive areas in the region. 

Whereas: Line 5 has spilled 29 times since its creation, and has experienced a 26% reduction in wall thickness in some areas. Hence, there is a significant risk of a dangerous oil spill in the Great Lakes.

Whereas: The Straits of Mackinac represent one of the worst areas for an oil spill, due to rapid currents that change direction every few days. This would allow for an oil spill “to affect up to 150 miles of shoreline.” In different simulations, 720 miles of shoreline could be affected.

Whereas:  An oil spill would have significant environmental consequences, killing wildlife ranging from fish to birds to small land animals.

Whereas:  An oil spill will result in significant economic ramifications. 1.5 million jobs, equating to $62 billion in wages are directly tied to the Great Lakes. Furthermore, the tourism industry, a $22.8 billion revenue-generating sector, is dependent on the lakes. A shoreline-effecting spill will disrupt this industry and the entire Michigan economy. 

Whereas:  An oil spill would prevent residents from using areas of the lakes for recreational activities. 

Whereas: Many Michigan residents obtain their drinking water from the Great Lakes. An oil spill would threaten the integrity of the water supply, potentially resulting in health issues primarily for children and the elderly. 

Whereas:  Although the state has attempted to determine the true problem and identify the solutions, Enbridge has tampered with the reports, preventing the release of accurate findings.

Operative clauses

These describe in detail, the solution you are proposing (not the problem itself; those should go in the "Whereas" clauses above).

THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED....

  1. The current risk analysis task force will complete a thorough report alternating years (i.e. 2019, 2021, 2023, etc.) for the remainder of the use of Line 5. Members of the task force must be approved by the state-governor and have no ties to Enbridge. 

 

  1. Independent divers, paid by the state, will check the pipeline infrastructure randomly throughout the year, looking for violations of current law.

 

  1. Enbridge will release its own risk analysis report to the state bi-annually. This report will include data points, such as 1.) wall thickness at various state-chosen points along the pipeline, 2.) the pressure at various state-chosen points, 3.) the composition of the oil, and 4.) the speed of the oil. Additionally, Enbridge will provide its own analysis in this report. Failure to provide accurate information will result in the immediate halt of oil flow through the pipeline.

 

  1. In turn, for complete compliance, Enbridge will be given a contract allowing them to begin the immediate construction of alternative, environmentally-friendly sources of energy (including and limited to wind energy derived from vertical wind turbines, solar power, and geothermal energy).

 

  1. Taxes on the energy produced from these sources would be 25% of the current tax of the natural gasses flowing through Line 5. 

 

  1. A goal would be set for Enbridge to reduce the oil flowing through the pipelines annually by the energy equivalent to the increase in production of clean energy. The ultimate goal would be for Enbridge to fully replace the energy transported by Pipeline 5 by 2040. At this point, the pipeline would be fully shut down and decommissioned. The majority of the energy would be replaced by renewable energy sources. The remaining energy would be sourced by an Enbridge-operated tunnel enclosed pipeline. 

 

  1. If at any point during this 22-year period the risk of the pipeline becomes too great (as determined by a state senate vote), Enbridge will have the option to rebuild a pipeline, enclosed in a tunnel beneath the lake. 
Counter-arguments:

What are three reasonable arguments against this proposal?

  1. This proposal does not eliminate the risk of an oil spill in the Great Lakes. The pipeline will continue to operate, and oil will be flowing through the Great Lakes.                                      Reply: While the pipelines will continue to operate and there will be some risk, the probability of an oil spill will decline significantly due to this proposal.
  2. It may not be possible for Enbridge to quickly improve their sustainable energy infrastructure. Solar, wind, and geothermal energy production and distribution are expensive and may take many years. Hence, the state may remain fairly dependent on Pipeline 5.                                                                                                                            Reply: While this is true, there should be some switch to sustainable energy in the short-run, and in the long-term, the costs should decrease. Although this process may take a fairly long time, it is important to switch, whether it is today or tomorrow. 
  3. Enbridge have a poor track record when it comes to transparency with the government. They were accused of tampering with an “independent” risk analysis report last year. There is a chance that this could continue into the future.                                                                        Reply: In the past, Enbridge has been untrustworthy. However, the stakes are higher now, and the state will have a more effective plan to oversee their practices. 
Costs and funding:

What will your proposal cost (in direct expenses, lost tax revenue, lost economic opportunity, and/or non-monetary costs)? How will you pay for your proposed legislation? Where will/could the funding for your proposal come from?  Who might object to dedicating resources to your proposal (competing interests)?  

This proposal may seem fairly costly, as the state will have to pay for the independent studies and divers. Additionally, they will lose the tax revenue from the decreasing amount of oil flowing through the pipelines. Despite the fairly high nominal costs, the revenue that this bill should generate will more than cover the costs. First, there will be a slight increase (1%) in the tax rate that will be levied on the oil flowing through Line 5. This should generate sufficient revenue to cover the costs of the studies and divers. Furthermore, the loss in tax revenue from the decreasing oil taxed will be offset by the increase in income taxes generated from the creation and management of the alternative energy sources; both will require thousands of workers. 

References:

These can include websites or other information you have found about the issue.

http://www.legislature.mi.gov/documents/2017-2018/billintroduced/House/pdf/2017-HIB-4572.pdf 

https://www.enbridge.com/projects-and-infrastructure/public-awareness/line-5-michigan/about-line-5

http://blog.meltblowntechnologies.com/how-much-it-costs-to-clean-up-an-oil-spill

https://www.enbridge.com/projects-and-infrastructure/public-awareness/line-5-michigan/about-line-5

https://www.freep.com/story/news/local/michigan/2017/06/30/line-5-enbridge-pipeline-mackinac/440233001/

http://www.audubon.org/news/will-wind-turbines-ever-be-safe-birds

http://innovativesolarfarms.com/solar-farm-cost-per-acre/

https://www.boiseweekly.com/boise/megawhat/Content?oid=3433953

https://youtu.be/DtQH--7T--c

https://www.reuters.com/article/us-enbridge-pipeline-michigan-insight/next-battleground-an-aging-great-lakes-pipeline-stirs-new-protest-idUSKBN17U0IU

http://www.oilandwaterdontmix.org/problem

https://thinkprogress.org/a-pipeline-built-in-the-50s-still-runs-underneath-the-great-lakes-and-people-want-it-out-fd4b5d594f4e/

https://www.enbridge.com/projects-and-infrastructure/public-awareness/line-5-michigan/about-line-5

https://www.npr.org/2012/07/10/156561319/oil-company-knew-michigan-pipeline-was-cracked

https://insideclimatenews.org/news/20072016/enbridge-saga-end-department-justice-fine-epa-kalamazoo-river-michigan-dilbit-spill

http://graham.umich.edu/water/project/mackinac-oil-spill

http://flowforwater.org/line-5/

https://www.michigan.org/pressreleases/tourism-industry-pure-michigan-campaign-helping-to-drive-states-economy

http://www.audubon.org/news/will-wind-turbines-ever-be-safe-birds

http://innovativesolarfarms.com/solar-farm-cost-per-acre/

https://www.boiseweekly.com/boise/megawhat/Content?oid=3433953

https://www.enbridge.com/projects-and-infrastructure/public-awareness/line-5-michigan/about-line-5

https://www.enbridgepartners.com/About-Enbridge/Company-Overview.aspx

https://www.reuters.com/finance/stocks/company-profile/ENB.TO

https://www.enbridge.com/investment-center/~/media/Enb/Documents/Investor%20Relations/2017/2016_ENB_EI_AnnualReport_Web.pdf

https://youtu.be/PYud5zf1tjE

https://newrepublic.com/article/147066/flints-water-crisis-damage-kids-brains

 

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Total votes: 37

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