National Wildlife Federation alleges Enbridge Energy improperly obtained a wildlife habitat designation
The National Wildlife Federation disputes that Enbridge followed instructions for corporations to obtain a wildlife habitat designation, and instead used an application form intended for residential backyards that is largely self-reported. The certificate is filled out online by the resident for a $20 fee.
On September 5, Enbridge Energy sent a press release which began:
“Lauding its transformation into a viable, quality habitat in which box turtles, raptors and other wildlife can thrive, a portion of Talmadge Creek, a tributary of the Kalamazoo River in Calhoun County, MI, now has a coveted designation.
The National Wildlife Federation (NWF) has designated a portion of Talmadge Creek—where the 2010 Marshall release occurred—as a Certified Wildlife Habitat.”
The “2010 Marshall release” refers to an Enbridge pipeline which burst, spilling more than 840,000 gallons of oil into Talmadge Creek which eventually polluted a long stretch of the Kalamazoo River. It was among the largest inland oil spills in U.S. history.
Enbridge Energy’s Senior Vice President and Chief Communications Officer posted a similar release on Linked In which read in part:
“TURNAROUND STORY: NATIONAL WILDLIFE FEDERATION RECOGNIZES WORK OF 7 TH LEGACY (an indigenous-owned business) AND ENBRIDGE FOR REVIVING A WILDLIFE HABITAT NEAR THE SITE OF A 2010 OIL LEAK CLOSE TO MARSHALL, MICHIGAN.”
Yes, it was in all caps.
The National Wildlife Federation confirmed the wildlife habitat designation and stated at the time, “It’s better to avoid these disasters in the first place.” The NWF added that if Enbridge really cared about wildlife and people, it would shut down the 70-year-old Line 5 pipeline in the Straits of Mackinac.
Michigan Radio did a short online story relaying that information.
Three weeks later, the National Wildlife Federation sent an email, revealing that the corporate habitat team at NWF had no record of Enbridge or its partner 7th Legacy contacting them. Any corporation with more than 20 employees is required to go through a more thorough process than the online certification tool offered to individuals.
NWF said the person from 7th Legacy who submitted the certification application put the name Enbridge on the certificate and ignored the vetting process “when they (Enbridge) clearly have more than 20 employees.”
We emailed Enbridge, asking a few questions, including:
“Although the application was submitted and filled out by a 7th Legacy member, it appears Enbridge failed to verify the certification was submitted correctly before issuing news releases and otherwise publicizing the NWF certificate. Why was it not vetted?”
“Does Enbridge intend to issue a news release indicating the certificate was incorrectly obtained?”
We received this response from Enbridge:
"We followed the process NWF put in place and NWF sent a certification to Enbridge. At no time did NWF reach out to us to make us aware of any issues with our application. Whether or not there may be a quibble with the process, the fact is that the Talmadge Creek area is now a thriving wildlife habitat."
The National Wildlife Federation responded to that Enbridge statement by sending this screenshot of their website.
The NWF added, “There’s a disclaimer on the certification page and process that there is a (different) procedure/process for companies with more than 20 employees. Unless Enbridge has experienced a radical change in size, we can confirm they did not follow the process.”
Enbridge is among the corporate sponsors of Michigan Radio.