Aug 12

Vice Documentary Oil & Water Exposes “The Keystone XL of the Midwest”

New documentary investigates

WASHINGTON – The world’s largest crude oil transporter has a secret buried deep in the Great Lakes: two unsupported, aging pipelines that transport 23 million gallons of crude oil every day through the largest freshwater system on earth.

In a new VICE Motherboard documentary released Tuesday, filmmaker Spencer Chumbley travels to Michigan to investigate accusations of secrecy and neglect aimed at Enbridge, the Canadian energy delivery company responsible for two 62-year-old pipelines stretching across the Straits of Mackinac. While Enbridge insists that the aging pipelines are secure and continuously maintained, many Midwest residents accuse the company of withholding valuable information from the public.

“Corporate transparency, not anti-petroleum activism, is really at the heart of this piece,” Chumbley says, “Many Michigan residents I spoke with had no idea Line 5 even existed, and those that did couldn’t access public information about the state of pipeline.”

Environmental scholars and activists also point out the company’s troubling record: more than 800 spills in North America between 1999 and 2010, releasing over 5 million gallons of oil. Enbridge is responsible for the 2010 Kalamazoo River spill, which released more nearly one million gallons of oil and is on record as the largest inland oil spill in American history.

“Enbridge pipelines are carrying oil through the largest freshwater system in the world,” Chumbley continues, “No one wants to see what happened in Kalamazoo happen in the Great Lakes.”

In the documentary, Chumbley speaks with regional experts in environmental awareness and conservation, including the National Wildlife Federation’s Andy Buchsbaum and the University of Michigan’s Dave Schwab. Chumbley also consults with Pipeline Safety Trust activist Beth Wallace before meeting with Enbridge representative Jason Manshum to discuss environmental remediation and institutional transparency.

View the documentary here:

For more information visit:
http://motherboard.vice.com/read/the-aging-oil-pipelines-below-the-great-lakes

And to find out what you can do about this pipeline ticking time bomb, check out:
http://www.oilandwaterdontmix.org/new_documentary_exposes_enbridge_line_5

Aug 03

Water Reclamation from Mayor Duggan’s mansion!

Today, following our 3rd annual Rooting Resistance action camp, people from both Detroit and Michigan Coalitions Against Tar Sands (DCATS/MICATS) took water from Mayor Duggan’s residence, the Manoogian Mansion and redistributed it to residents facing water shutoffs. Folks attached a hose to the Mansion’s external spigot and filled jugs of water. Participants say they are taking today’s action because of Mayor Duggan’s refusal to support a “Water Affordability Plan”.

waterislife

“While real Detroiters live in a crisis, the Mayor lives in a city-owned Mansion. Today we’re forcing Mayor Duggan to share his water with the people of Detroit,” Said Detroit Resident Valerie Jean.

Following the water reclamation, an affinity group dropped a banner from an abandoned garage near Wayne State. The banner sent a strong message. If the wealthy continue to deprive people of life giving water, resistance will continue and escalate.

Dehydrate the D

It’s important to note that Marathon Refinery receives free water to refine tar sands from the Detroit River, which they contaminate beyond use.

As Detroit’s water crisis worsens community members are demanding the Mayor support a “Water Affordability Plan” adopted by the City Council in 2006. More than 40,000 households have had their water turned off, a crisis that has triggered a UN human rights investigation. However instead of dealing with the crisis, Mayor Duggan has chosen to arrest and prosecute community members who resist the shutoffs in an attempt to survive.

“Denying tens of thousands of people the right to water ought to be criminal, doing it while living in a publicly funded, city-owned mansion is just despicable” Said Jean

Activists point out that the Mayor’s current 10-point payment plan is woefully inadequate and fails to address the fundamental issue of unreasonably high water bills. In April an ACLU study showed that only 1.2% of Detroiters in the Mayor’s plan could pay their water bill, leaving 98.8% to default and face shutoff.

“Detroiters need a Water Affordability Plan to reduce bills and stop the shutoffs, not another failed payment plan,” Said Jean

Jun 29

Day of Action Against Bank of America’s Enbridge Investments!

IMG_1413
The Michigan Coalition Against Tar Sands (MICATS), is currently taking action across the state to put pressure on Bank of America to drop their investment in notorious pipeline company Enbridge!

- In East Lansing protesters are slowing business by forming an endless line inside a bank branch. They will stop business-as usual by making miniscule transactions in-person with bank tellers for the remainder of the business day.
- In Detroit and Ann Arbor local MICATS organizers are delivering letters to bank managers and talking to them about their concern with investing in a deadly company like Enbridge!

waitiing cats

Bank of America, though claiming environmental and humanitarian concerns as a part of its ethics, continues to invest in the highly destructive and carbon emissive extraction of tar sands in Alberta, Canada on land stolen from indigenous groups. BOA owns substantial stock in Enbridge, the company responsible for the 2010 Kalamazoo River oil spill, the ageing Line 5 running under the Mackinaw Bridge that threatens to contaminate the Great Lakes, and the controversial Line 6b that has destroyed Michigan farmland in its stretch across the state. Enbridge in turn transports tar sands oil from Canada through Michigan to refineries farther south.

In May of this year, MICATS formally requested that Bank of America withdraw its investment from Enbridge. The request was made in the context of BOA’s divestment from all coal industry and citation of environmental sustainability as a corporate value earlier this year. However, MICATS received only a brief email which is a non-substantive response to the request.

enbridge cartoon
As concerned people on this planet, we are taking collective action to disrupt the actors that fund Enbridge and the tar sands. We are sending a message that funding climate change has to stop. That owning stock in indigenous genocide has to stop. That fueling the destruction of the planet has to stop.

NO TAR SANDS NO COMPROMISE!

Divest from Enbridge

Jun 19

Fundraising in Solidarity with the Week to End Enbridge

It’s the Week to End Enbridge!

MICATS is tabling right now at the Detroit Allied Media Conference in solidarity with First Nations’ struggles against Enbridge and Enbridge’s dangerous Northern Gateway tar sands pipeline. If built, this pipeline would run from the tar sands extraction zone in Alberta, Canada all the way to Kitimat, “British Columbia”, and from there the tar sands would be shipped via super-tanker ships that would constantly be going in and out through the Douglas Channel into the Pacific ocean. This “double whammy” would threaten both land and water, with a pipeline constantly threatening to leak at any given moment (and we know how bad Enbridge’s safety record is), and with the super-tankers threatening the marine life of the Douglas Channel.

proposed route of the Northern Gateway pipeline

The Northern Gateway Pipeline has already been approved by the Canadian government despite Enbridge and the Canadian government not having sought consent from multiple First Nations who would be affected by the pipeline, as is their right. So they’re taking Enbridge to court. A group known as Pull Together is facilitating a massive fundraiser this week at places all across the continent to challenge Enbridge in the courts, & MICATS is happy to help out!

To help talk up the Northern Gateway pipeline battle, we bought some chocolates from Denman Island Chocolate designed specifically for the Northern Gateway Pipeline battle! They’re really cool:

"Pull Together" bars... chocolate that helps stop pipelines!

“Pull Together” bars… chocolate that helps stop pipelines!

We’re also selling “Stop the Northern Gateway Pipeline!” t-shirts that were graciously designed by an artistic friend of ours in Texas, and printed by one of the MICATS…

Stop the Northern Gateway Pipeline! Image designed by a friend and ally in Texas.

Stop the Northern Gateway Pipeline! Image designed by a friend and ally in Texas.

one of the cats printing "Stop the Northern Gateway Pipeline!" t-shirts

one of the cats printing “Stop the Northern Gateway Pipeline!” t-shirts

Here’s us tabling now (and all this weekend):

Tabling all weekend to resist Enbridge!

Tabling all weekend to resist Enbridge!

Best wishes for First Nations legal battles against Enbridge, as well as all forms of resistance to Enbridge’s tar sands tyranny! Speaking of which, if you’d like to join MICATS in further resisting Enbridge later this summer, you should seriously consider coming to our action camp. ;)

***

For more info on the Northern Gateway pipeline and resistance to it, check out some informational articles below:

Jun 02

Fundraise for Action Camp and Legal Battles

MICATS is organizing and getting very excited to host our third action camp this summer. We need money for food, space reservation, and other details to make sure this camp is even bigger and badder than our first two!
Also, some of us are still in the middle of complicated legal battles. We need funds to cover various court fines.

You can donate to help support these efforts here!

Love and solidarity,
the CATS

May 27

BREAKING: Disruption at Michigan Policy Conference Calls Attention to Aging Mackinac Pipeline

Mackinac Island — Wednesday, May 27th, 2015, 1pm – a group of concerned individuals from across the state of Michigan have just converged at the start of the 2015 Michigan Policy Conference to draw attention to the aging crude oil pipeline known as “Line 5″. Three MICATS organizers disrupted Governor Rick Snyder as he was giving his opening address. One individual, Mariah Urueta, said “To help keep Michigan Pure, shut down Line 5! We do not need another Kalamazoo Oil Spill. Shut down Line 5! And stop the Detroit water shutoffs, those started today too by the way!” Another, Al Smith, unfurled a banner and said “Keep Michigan Pure! Shut down Line 5!”. Others, outside of the Grand Hotel where the conference is being held, chanted and held signs saying “Protect the Great Lakes — Shut Down Line 5!”.

Line 5 is a 62-year-old crude oil pipeline owned and operated by Enbridge, which passes from Michigan’s Upper Peninsula into lower Michigan directly through the pristine freshwaters of the Straits of Mackinac. It has a history of leaks, such as in Crystal Falls in 1999, and in fact leaked liquid natural gas condensate just a few months ago near Manistique. Despite Line 5′s horrible track record, and Enbridge’s deplorable spill history over all, Line 5 is currently not known to have experienced leak directly in the Straits of Mackinac.

When asked about why she was raising awareness about Line 5 at the Michigan Policy Conference, a demonstrator said, “Line 5 is a crime against humanity. To chance spilling so much oil into the largest freshwater drinking supply in the world is inexcusable. We must stop Line 5 before it’s too late!”

Awareness about the threat that Line 5 poses increased significantly around 2013 when despite its age (it’s older than the Mackinac Bridge), Enbridge increased the capacity of the line by 10%. On October 2013, the National Wildlife Federation released a video of an underwater exploration of Line 5 which showed the twin Line 5 pipelines with support struts coming off and hanging in the water. And in July 2014, a study was done by the University of Michigan involving a simulation of how quickly oil would spread through the Great Lakes if a Line 5 spill were to occur.

Despite all this, Line 5 is still pumping oil through the Straits. Enbridge appears to be fighting back with a policy change, through House Bill 4540 (dubbed by some as the “Pipeline Secrecy Bill”), that would prevent concerned communities from finding out about whether Line 5 is even being regulated adequately. A “Michigan Petroleum Pipeline Task Force” has been convened to determine what to do about Line 5; it is chaired by Attorney General Bill Schuette.

Disruption at the Michigan Policy Conference!

Disruption at the Michigan Policy Conference!

The disruption comes at the heels of a rally and demonstration organized by Oil and Water Don’t Mix, a state-wide coalition of groups unified over the goal to decommission and shut down Line 5.

The Michigan Policy Conference brings together dozens of legislators in the US and Michigan Senate and House of Representatives as well as countless other select individuals to discuss policy, legislation, and economy for the state of Michigan. The high-class policy conference is incidentally inaccessible to most, as conference tickets are about $2,000-$3,000 per person.

What You Can Do

This is a huge issue and it affects millions of people’s lives. It’s our lives and our environment versus the private profits of a single corporation that destroyed the Kalamazoo River in 2010, and some of their investors and partners.

So guess what!

There’s no cookie-cutter solution to how to stop this pipeline. If there were it would’ve been stopped already. A bunch of concerned folks have come all the way to Mackinac Island to make their voices heard and give Michigan “policy makers” a piece of their mind. Others have spoken out publicly about how Line 5 constantly threatens their livelihood and the beauty of the Straits. A whole bunch of us have come together as an entire coalition to stop this pipeline… get involved at OilandWaterDontMix.org . And MICATS has plans of its own later this summer, stay tuned for more info on how you can get involved!

So we urge you to learn about the issues and do whatever you can think to! We must raise awareness about this constantly looming threat to the Great Lakes however we can.

May 15

Respect Dinosaur Graves

In the spirit of other divestment campaigns such as the International Solidarity Movement around ending the occupation of Palestine, the anti-apartheid divestment movement in South Africa and the growing movement to divest from fossil fuels, Michigan Coalition Against Terrible Stuff is calling on two big financial institutions to divest from Enbridge. We are urging both Bank of America and JP Morgan Chase to divest from Enbridge. Both institutions claim to have a vested interest in environmental sustainability. And while multi-national capitalist entities will never be sustainable, divesting from Enbridge is a strong move. Here is the letter to Bank of America. Feel free to reproduce it and send one too!
Divest from Enbridge

Letter to Bank of America:
To Whom it May Concern Regarding Environmental Sustainability,

My name is [your name here] and I am writing to you on behalf of the Michigan Coalition Against Tar Sands (MICATS). I am writing because Bank of America invests in the Canadian pipeline company Enbridge Incorporated. Because of the devastating effects that the pipelines operated by Enbridge Incorporated have had on our communities, we have been resisting the expansion and continued operation of Enbridge’s pipelines. Additionally, the effects of the oil sands industry on climate change have been well documented. It has been estimated that a 0.4 degree Celsius increase would occur from burning the tars sands in Alberta.
I know that Bank of America prides itself on stopping the harmful effects of climate change. I was very pleased to learn that just recently you have backed away from funding coal mining. This is a commendable step on the journey toward a sustainable future. However, Bank of America still owns about 2.24 million shares of Enbridge Incorporated. If Bank of America really wants to address climate change and the destruction that Enbridge has brought upon affected communities, then Bank of America must stop funding Enbridge.
MICATS is asking that Bank of America divest from Enbridge not because it is an option, but because it is a necessity to protect the future of our planet.
I look forward to your response to this letter. A response by June 1st would be greatly appreciated. Thank you for taking the time to read this letter and I trust that Bank of America will make a life affirming decision on this matter.

Sincerely,
[your name and contact info here] Michigan Coalition Against Tar Sands

Send it to

Bank of America
Attn: FL1-300-01-29
PO Box 25118
Tampa, FL 33633-0900

Letter to Chase Bank

To Whom it May Concern Regarding Environmental Sustainability,

My name is [your name here] and I am writing to you on behalf of the Michigan Coalition Against Tar Sands (MICATS). I am writing because JP Morgan Chase invests in the Canadian pipeline company Enbridge Incorporated. Because of the devastating effects that the pipelines operated by Enbridge have had on our communities, we have been resisting the expansion and continued operation of Enbridge’s pipelines. Additionally, the effects of the oil sands industry on climate change have been well documented. It has been estimated that a 0.4 degree Celsius increase would occur from burning the tars sands in Alberta.
I know that JP Morgan Chase & Co prides itself on a dedication to sustainable investing. Your website touts that you are committed to “reduce environmental and social risks”. This is a commendable step on the journey toward a sustainable future. However, Chase still owns about 4.13 million shares of Enbridge Incorporated. If Chase really wants to address sustainability and the destruction that Enbridge has brought upon affected communities, then Chase must stop funding Enbridge.
MICATS is asking that JP Morgan Chase & Co divest from Enbridge not because it is an option, but because it is a necessity to protect the future of our planet.
I look forward to your response to this letter. A response by June 1st would be greatly appreciated. Thank you for taking the time to read this letter and I trust that Chase will make a life affirming decision on this matter.

Sincerely,
[your name and contact info here] Michigan Coalition Against Tar Sands

send to:
National Bank By Mail
P O Box 36520
Louisville, KY 40233-6520

May 06

New Michigan Pipeline Secrecy Bill Slammed; Industry Proposal Would Hide Safety Records

Legislation Would Conceal Pipeline Inspections, Put Great Lakes At Risk

This release was jointly done by the Sierra Club, Clean Water Action and FLOW (For Love Of Water)

Tuesday, May 5, 2015 — LANSING, MI – Citizens groups sharply criticized proposed legislation introduced today that would permanently block public access to pipeline safety records in Michigan, including for high-risk pipelines running through the Straits of Mackinac operated by the controversial Canadian oil conglomerate Enbridge, Inc.

The sweeping bill, House Bill 4540, which would amend Michigan’s Freedom of Information Act, goes beyond federal rules governing pipeline records disclosure. It would exempt virtually all oil and natural gas pipeline information from public disclosure and is being sought by Enbridge, responsible in 2010 for the nation’s largest inland oil spill near Kalamazoo.

“Enbridge has a questionable safety record and desperately wants to keep critically important pipeline safety information from the public,” said Nic Clark, Michigan Director of Clean Water Action. “This bill exploits the public’s legitimate concerns over national security to cloak the real purpose for Enbridge, which is to keep secret its safety and other records.”

Enbridge’s twin Line 5 pipelines through the Straits of Mackinac have been the subject of intense public interest since it was revealed in early 2014 that the Eisenhower-era lines pose a serious threat to the Great Lakes and northern Michigan communities and businesses. A special task force of state officials assembled last June is expected to issue a report this month on the pipelines. The Michigan Petroleum Pipeline Task Force, however, has been meeting behind closed doors, releasing only press releases and presentations. Meanwhile, Enbridge and the task force have kept most documents secret under an elaborate arrangement involving a password-protected website fashioned by Enbridge.

“Enbridge wants a blanket exemption from disclosing critical pipeline safety records and that’s not acceptable,” said Liz Kirkwood, Executive Director of FLOW, a water policy and education center based in Traverse City. “At any moment, a pipeline spill could contaminate the Great Lakes and collapse the northern Michigan tourist economy. We need to know more, not less, about the safety of Enbridge’s pipelines and all pipelines in Michigan.”

The proposed legislation was introduced today by state Rep. Kurt Heise (R-Plymouth). An Enbridge lobbyist has been working behind the scenes in recent weeks to line up support to exempt pipelines from Michigan’s Freedom of Information Act, which requires public disclosure of most public records.

hb4540

“What Michigan needs is more transparency about the pipeline’s safety, potential harm, and alternative routes, not less,” said David Holtz, Chair of the Michigan Chapter of Sierra Club. “Pipelines leak, and as we saw in Kalamazoo, when there’s a breach, it can be catastrophic. Yet Enbridge refuses to release any documents related to pipeline inspections and now wants the State of Michigan to sanction that secrecy.”

Enbridge’s efforts to close off access to pipeline safety documents through an exemption to Michigan’s Freedom of Information Act comes on the heels of a report revealing that a two-year-old pipeline operated in Missouri by TransCanada suffered major corrosion, with 95% corrosion in one section of the pipe. The report was based on documents obtained under the federal Freedom of Information Act.

“In Missouri you have a 21st Century pipeline that had to be shut down and the only reason we know the details is because the law required the documents to be released publicly,” said Jim Lively, Program Director, Michigan Land Use Institute. “In Michigan we have pipelines running through the Great Lakes, under extremely volatile conditions, and these pipelines were constructed in 1953 during an era where color television was the newest technology. Yet Enbridge wants to keep the safety of these pipelines secret.”

Thousands of Michigan residents and visitors have signed a petition urging Governor Rick Snyder to order open public hearings on the oil pipelines in the Straits and alternatives to eliminate the risk of a catastrophic spill.

“We expect openness and transparency,” said Peggy Case, President of Michigan Citizens for Water Conservation. “What we are getting from Enbridge in this proposed legislation is defiance.”

Apr 22

The Whammer’s Restitution Hearing and Stopping a Nasty Class-Action Settlement

i stand with chrisPress Advisory:
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
April 20th 2015
Contact:
Chris Wahmhoff
269-547-9504
micats@riseup.net
whammy737@gmail.com
GROUP CALLS FOR RESIDENTS TO STEP BACK FROM SETTLEMENT AT HEARING
WHO: MI CATS (Michigan Coalition Against Tar Sands)
WHAT: Call for steps against the Enbridge Class Action Settlement on May 5
WHERE: Outside of the Justice Complex at 161 E. Michigan Ave., Battle Creek, MI 49014
WHEN: Friday, April 24, following the restitution hearing at 8:30am
WHY: The purpose of this demonstration will be to raise awareness and call for any residents living within 1000 feet of the Kalamazoo River in the impacted area of the spill almost five years ago, to help support an objection for this class action to move to trial or to withdraw from this settlement that will give the company responsible for the spill (Enbridge) control of their water testing and a deceitfully low compensation for the “largest inland oil spill in U.S. history (EPA).”
There will be statements and a direct action happening to rally awareness, along with guest speakers and details on how affected residents can learn more about the settlement, as well as legal support and direction for those who wish to fight for more compensation and health protection from this spill that included potentially hundreds of toxic chemicals.
The Michigan Coalition Against Tar Sands (MI CATS) seeks to unite people towards a common goal of stopping all transportation and refining of tar sands oil in the Great Lakes Basin and advocating against the production/transportation of tar sands everywhere.

Defend the water! And support those who have put their freedom on the line! Join Chris, the CATS, the community, and all concerned individuals this Friday at 8:30!!!

Apr 01

BREAKING: CEO of Enbridge Inc. Turns Himself In For Corporate Crimes Against Humanity & Environment

Note: this story was published on April Fools’ Day. We wish it were true…

***

Calgary, Alberta — Wednesday, April 1st, 2015, 10am MDT — Al Monaco, President and CEO of Enbridge Inc., has turned himself in to RCMP officials at the Royal Canadian Mounted Police Calgary station. He confessed to hundreds of crimes perpetrated by corporate “person” Enbridge Inc. as well as himself personally.

Monaco submitted a 41-page document detailing the crimes he and Enbridge confessed to, including lying about the safety measures implemented on its North American pipeline infrastructure, criminal negligence in pipeline construction and maintenance, bullying and intimidating landowners into signing land condemnation agreements in order to advance its pipeline infrastructure, negligence and intentional failure to adequately address the destruction of the Kalamazoo River for years after the rupture of pipeline 6B, and intimidation of and monitoring of protestors of this corporation.

Commenting on his use of gloves, arresting officer Don Uts said, "I couldn't fathom directly touching such a dirty criminal with my bare hands."

Commenting on his use of gloves, arresting officer Don Uts said,
“I couldn’t fathom directly touching such a dirty criminal with my bare hands.”

Monaco announced his intentions to turn himself in on his personal Twitter account, @BigAlMonaco, a few hours earlier this morning. The announcement spread quickly, and dozens of both supporters and opposers were there to watch Monaco be arrested. Monaco had this to say to onlookers before being zip-tied:

“I just couldn’t sleep at night.”

“I realized that what my corporation and I were doing was wrong, but didn’t know what to do about it. It definitely didn’t help that there weren’t enough people speaking out when we bullied landowners or indigenous peoples into accepting our nefarious operations, and it didn’t help that our dirty fossil fuel products were always highly in demand, until recently anyway. And it certainly isn’t a help that the Obama and Harper Administrations deny the severity of climate change and fail to take steps to make tar sands and other fossil fuels less marketably palatable. And most importantly, my friends were no help when I tried to confide in them about all this.”

“I’m sorry to everyone we’ve wronged. I’m sorry to Kalamazoo, sorry to indigenous communities where we extract tar sands as well as refinery communities that deal with the toxic byproducts of our operations seeping into their very lungs. I’m sorry to everyone who lives near one of our leaky-as-shit pipelines which are all over this continent. Especially Line 5, our 62-year-old petroleum pipeline that runs directly through the Great Lakes and is a constant threat to it. And I’m sorry to future generations which will have to deal with catastrophic climate change as a result of all this.”

“I realize that turning myself in can only be a symbolic act at best. I realize that the Enbridge Board of Directors will likely disclaim everything I’m saying right now, and will probably call me a lunatic. And they’ll probably just find another CEO and all this bullshit will just continue. But at least my conscience will be clear.”

“As for the rest of you all, I urge you to stop wanting our products. Boycott Enbridge, reduce your dependence on energy if that’s what it takes. Speak out when your neighbors and community are under attack. Disrupt our corporate activities whenever you can, but be civil and non-violent about it. Stop Enbridge, save us from ourselves, because we really know not what we do.”

Update: only a few hours later, Monaco and Enbridge have been charged with 210 misdemeanor and 7,432 felony counts. Monaco’s bail has been set at $1,000,000,000,000,000,000 Canadian dollars. His first hearing has been set for April 22nd, which, coincidentally, is Earth Day.

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