The board assembled to advise Governor Rick Snyder on pipeline safety held its last public meeting Monday.
The group of environmental and government advisors was created to make recommendations to minimize risks on nearly 400 pipeline-water crossings in the state of Michigan. The board’s most important role was advising the governor on Enbridge Energy's Line 5, the controversial oil and gas pipeline under the Straits of Mackinac.
This month, they will present their final report to the governor. It includes the board’s findings on Line 5.
Board Co-Chair and Director of the Department of Natural Resources, Keith Creagh, said the board will make its positions clear to lawmakers and the governor before dissolving at the end of the Snyder administration.
“To the best of our ability, we’ll make certain that the legislators know that the Pipeline Safety Advisory Board has not taken a position, pro nor con, on the establishment or construction of a tunnel,” he says.
The Legislature will likely vote this week on the bill to create a commission to oversee a tunnel for the section of Line 5 that runs under the Straits.
Board member Jennifer McKay said it’s important to her that the board clarify it doesn’t have an affirmative or negative position.
“Not only the public, but particularly lawmakers who that are currently evaluating Senate Bill 1197 right now know that it was not the recommendation of the Pipeline Safety Advisory Board that the tunnel be the recommended option moving forward,” she says.
Sean McBrearty is a program organizer with Clean Water Action. He says he's unhappy with the board.
“The Snyder administration has used the Pipeline Safety Board meeting process as a bait and switch where thousands of people came out and gave public comment at these meetings. All the while the governor worked out secret deals with Enbridge behind closed doors,” he says.
The board says it will not make an official recommendation about the future of the pipeline. The state House will likely vote on the bill during this week’s lame duck session.
Editor's note: Enbridge Energy is one of Michigan Radio's corporate sponsors.