State senators want review of environmental impact of St. Clair and Detroit River pipelines

Michigan Senate Chamber

Today, Michigan state senator Phil Pavlov (R – 25th SD) introduced Senate Resolution 0155 (2016) urging the United States Secretary of State to re-open public comment on the Plains LPG permit application for the pipelines running under the St. Clair River and the Detroit River.

In 2012, Plains LPG Services purchased seven pipelines underneath the St. Clair River and the Detroit River. They requested a presidential permit to connect, operate, and maintain the pipeline at the international boundary with Canada. Unbeknownst to many, two of the pipelines carried a previously unknown permit allowing for the transportation of crude oil. The State Department restarted the existing review process for the newly discovered permit and many were left unaware of that fact.

As the resolution explains, “the public comment period for the revised St. Clair River pipeline permit closed on February 24, 2016. Notices for public comment are published in the Federal Register and are not highly publicized. Many people who have concerns about the pipeline permit only became aware of the application after the comment period closed”

It asks for an independent, scientific review of the environmental impact posed by the Plains LPG pipelines under both St. Clair River and Detroit River by the International Joint Commission, an independent binational organization established by the United States and Canada to help discuss and resolve boundary water and resources disputes.

The resolution continues, “the 2015 Michigan Petroleum Pipeline Task Force (MPPTF) recommended against the transportation of heavy crude oil through pipelines under the Great Lakes and issued a series of proposals for how the state could improve its oversight of pipelines generally, including recommendations to develop better information, response plans, public awareness, and agency coordination. The MPPTF Report was prepared in response to the Enbridge Line 6B rupture in 2010 and renewed attention to the Enbridge Line 5 pipeline running near the Straits of Mackinac, but the Plains LPG pipelines under the St. Clair River could potentially be even more dangerous, as two of the six lines are nearly 100 years old, and the permit, if approved, would allow for the transportation of crude oil. Not only could the rupture of these pipelines lead to disastrous consequences for agriculture, fishing, irrigation, electric generation, manufacturing, and wildlife, but the location of the Plains LPG pipelines poses a serious threat to the region’s drinking water. The main drinking water intakes for Detroit and many other communities are located downstream of the pipelines, putting the public health of millions at risk”

If you’d like to read the resolution in its entirety, see Senate Resolution 0155 (2016). It has been referred to the Senate committee on Energy and Technology.

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