by Becky Andrus | Nov 30, 2021 | Regional News
Governor Whitmer Takes Action to Protect the Great Lakes
To protect Michigan’s waters, administration believes state court should have final say in Line 5 case
LANSING, Mich. – Governor Whitmer today announced that the State of Michigan is shifting its legal strategy to give Michigan state courts the final say in protecting the Great Lakes by voluntarily dismissing the governor’s lawsuit against Enbridge in federal court. The governor’s goal remains protecting the Great Lakes, which means shutting down the Line 5 dual oil pipelines in the Straits of Mackinac as soon as possible. By clearing the way for the lawsuit filed by Attorney General Dana Nessel to go forward in Michigan state court, today’s action seeks to protect the Great Lakes and our state’s natural resources, which support 1.3 million jobs, including 350,000 jobs in Michigan, and generate $82 billion in wages annually.
“Today, I took further action to protect the Great Lakes from an oil spill and help us stay focused on getting the Line 5 dual oil pipelines out of the water as quickly as possible,” said Governor Gretchen Whitmer. “While I respectfully disagree, the federal court has now decided to keep the lawsuit I filed in November 2020. I believe the people of Michigan, and our state courts, should have the final say on whether this oil company should continue pumping 23 million gallons of crude oil through the Straits of Mackinac every day. After today’s action, Attorney General Dana Nessel’s lawsuit, filed in June 2019, should now be able to move forward expeditiously in state court. Our goal here remains the same: protecting the Great Lakes, protecting Michigan jobs, and protecting Michigan’s economy.”
“Michigan state courts should have the right to determine what happens in our Great Lakes,” said Dan Eichinger, Director of the Department of Natural Resources. “No oil company should be able to dictate to Michiganders what happens in our sovereign lands and waters. This dismissal ensures that the people of Michigan have a say in protecting our Great Lakes.”
“The National Wildlife Federation strongly supports Governor Whitmer’s courageous and steadfast legal strategy to shut down Line 5 and protect Michigan’s interest in the Great Lakes from interference by a Canadian oil company,” said Mike Shriberg, Regional Executive Director of the National Wildlife Federation’s Great Lakes Regional Center. “Line 5 is an urgent threat to the Great Lakes and the Governor’s move to cut through Enbridge’s legal delay tactics is the best way to move forward toward what really matters: protecting the Great Lakes from a catastrophic oil spill.”
“The governor’s action today is an important step to protect our Great Lakes from the ticking time bomb of a catastrophic oil spill by allowing the state’s strong legal case to move forward and shut down the dangerous, aging Line 5 pipelines in the Straits of Mackinac,” said Lisa Wozniak, Executive Director of the Michigan League of Conservation Voters. “Governor Whitmer and Attorney General Nessel are again showing that they are dedicated to protecting our Great Lakes, the source of drinking water for millions and a critical driver of our economy.”
Line 5 is 68-year-old dual oil pipeline running along the bottom of the Straits of Mackinac with 23 million gallons of oil flowing through it every day. The governor and Department of Natural Resources Director Dan Eichinger issued a Notice of Revocation and Termination of Easement to Enbridge in November 2020 and filed in state court to enforce this action. Enbridge then removed the case to federal court. Although the state sought to return the case to state court, earlier this month, the federal court denied that request and decided to hear the case.
In June 2019, before the governor filed her lawsuit, Attorney General Dana Nessel filed a separate lawsuit in state court to shut down the Line 5 dual pipelines that run through the Straits of Mackinac. The Attorney General’s lawsuit remains in state court, although the judge in that case has paused the lawsuit while the Governor’s lawsuit proceeded in federal court.
Today the governor filed a notice in federal court to voluntarily dismiss her lawsuit. The governor’s voluntary dismissal of her lawsuit should enable the Attorney General’s case to move forward in state court where this matter finally belongs and can move quickly to shut down the dual pipelines and protect the Great Lakes from a catastrophic oil spill. The Attorney General has taken the position that her lawsuit in state court should proceed. While the governor has taken action to reshape the state’s legal strategy, she is not withdrawing the Notice of Revocation and Termination of Easement, which she issued to Enbridge on November 13, 2020.
Today’s action does not impact Enbridge’s efforts to build a tunnel under the Straits of Mackinac.
Securing Michigan’s Energy Needs
To ensure Michigan’s energy needs are met, Governor Whitmer has been laser-focused on diversifying the state’s energy needs to ensure access to cheaper clean energy sources. Under Governor Whitmer’s direction, the five-step MI Propane Security plan further ensures propane security for the residents of our state and businesses by:
- Protecting consumers from price gouging and provide accessible heating assistance for families in need.
- Sending clear signals to encourage market participants to invest in the development of alternative propane sourcing options.
- Leveraging the tools of state government to encourage the development of alternative sourcing options.
- Monitoring propane supply and coordinate responses to potential disruptions with the energy industry.
- Maximizing propane efficiency while reducing energy costs in Michigan through efficiency, weatherization, and the transition to electrification and renewable energy.
Since early in 2019, the Whitmer Administration has been working with industry to preparing for and deploy alternatives to ensure energy security for both of Michigan’s peninsulas in the event of a Line 5 closure.
by Becky Andrus | Nov 30, 2021 | Transportation
$10 million federal grant will enhance connectivity in Detroit, with Lt. Gov. Garlin Gilchrist and MDOT project manager Jon Loree
On this week’s edition of the Talking Michigan Transportation podcast, conversations with senior Michigan Department of Transportation (MDOT) project manager Jonathan Loree and Michigan Lt. Gov. Garlin Gilchrist about some key MDOT projects aimed at enhancing connections for travelers in the city of Detroit.
Listen now: https://www.buzzsprout.com/1374205/9632163-10-million-federal-grant-will-enhance-connectivity-in-detroit-with-lt-gov-garlin-gilchrist-and-mdot-project-manager-jon-loree
The U.S. Department of Transportation announced on Nov. 22 $1 billion in Rebuilding American Infrastructure with Sustainability and Equity (RAISE) grants, including a grant for the long-planned intermodal facility in the New Center area of Detroit. This would allow for development of new passenger rail and intercity bus facilities in Detroit to accommodate growing ridership projections.
The news comes as MDOT continues work on some other key connectivity initiatives in Detroit:
- A conversion of the I-375 freeway to an urban boulevard with safe access for pedestrians and cyclists; and
- A study to transform Michigan Avenue from I-96 through the historic Corktown neighborhood to Campus Martius Park downtown and allow safer access for other users as well as economic development.
Loree explains the projects and his work with City of Detroit officials, business owners and residents.
In a second segment, Lt. Gov. Gilchrist talks about growing up in Detroit and how rethinking transportation is aiding Detroit’s comeback. As discussed on a previous podcast, he talks about the social and environmental justice components of the I-375 project and how the same principles apply to developing the intermodal facility and rethinking Michigan Avenue.
Podcast photo: Q-Line (M-1 Rail) on Woodward Ave. in Detroit.
First portrait: Jonathan Loree, senior MDOT project manager.
Second portrait: Michigan Lt. Gov. Garlin Gilchrist.
by Becky Andrus | Nov 30, 2021 | Regional News
Oakland County Launches Program To Support Success For Residents In Futures For Frontliners, Michigan Reconnect Education Programs
Waterford, Michigan – Oakland County Michigan Works! is launching a first-of-its-kind program that provides residents enrolled in the state’s Futures for Frontliners and Michigan Reconnect programs with funding to cover the costs of books, supplies and other related expenses, as well as supportive services such as transportation and childcare, as they return to school to obtain an advanced degree or credential.
Futures for Frontliners, targeting essential workers during the COVID-19 pandemic without college degrees or credentials, and Michigan Reconnect, focusing on residents 25 years old or older with less than an associate’s degree, cover tuition costs for participants, but not other expenses associated with returning to school or completing a training program.
“Supporting our residents who aspire to earn credits or credentials to get better jobs is vital to their future and the economic strength of our county,” said Oakland County Executive David Coulter. “Our workforce offices, career advisors – and now these financial resources – are here to help residents succeed.
Coulter added the program aligns with Oakland80, Oakland County’s goal to have 80 percent of eligible county residents getting a training credential or college degree by 2030.
“Oakland80 is an ambitious goal, but it’s one that is attainable,” said Coulter, noting that 61 percent of the county’s adults already have a college degree or training certificate. “It’s a win-win for our county. Our residents get the training they need to set them on a successful career path. And businesses will know that Oakland County is full of skilled and trained workers who can fill the jobs at their companies when they’re making decisions on where to locate.”
Futures for Frontliners is a state scholarship program for Michigan residents without college degrees who worked in essential industries during the state’s COVID-19 shutdown in the spring of 2020. The scholarship provides frontline workers with tuition-free access to a local community college to pursue an associate’s degree or a skills certificate.
Michigan Reconnect is a scholarship program for residents age 25 and older that pays tuition to attend one’s in-district community college, or a large tuition discount for attending an out-of-district community college. Persons interested in a skills certificate from a private training provider can received a $1,500 scholarship toward enrollment in an approved training program.
“We’re very excited to be able to offer this unique program in Oakland County, made possible through the American Rescue Plan,” said Jennifer Llewellyn, director of Oakland County Michigan Works! “With the new year and semester approaching, teams at our six Oakland County Michigan Works! service centers are ready to qualify eligible adults for this valuable support to help them return to school and training programs, as well as address other needs they may have.”
Oakland County residents who are enrolled in these state of Michigan programs and in need of such supportive services should contact their local Oakland County Michigan Works! service center to schedule an appointment to discuss with a career advisor.
Oakland County Michigan Works! operates service centers in Novi, Oak Park, Pontiac, Southfield, Troy, and Waterford, where they assist more than 105,000 job seekers annually. Services include career coaching, interviewing and job search workshops, placement assistance, training courses and job trend information.
The service centers also assist more than 3,000 employers seeking help with talent recruitment, apprenticeship programs, job fairs, candidate pre-screening, hiring and training support, layoff support and labor market data.
Service center staffs are available in-person or by virtual appointment to work one-on-one with job seekers to build their resumes, prepare for job interviews and help address other needs. To schedule a meeting, call 248-858-5520 and select the office nearest to you. The service centers are hosting several virtual workshops for job seekers. A schedule can be found at OaklandCountyMIWorks.com.
by Becky Andrus | Nov 30, 2021 | Regional News
Gov. Whitmer Signs Executive Directive to Continue Connecting Families, Communities, Small Businesses to High-Speed Internet
Governor focused on collaborating with legislature to effectively use Bipartisan Infrastructure Plan to deliver high-speed internet, create more good-paying jobs for Michigan workers
LANSING, Mich. – Governor Gretchen Whitmer today, in preparation for the billions in federal funds Michigan is expected to receive over the next five years specifically for high-speed internet from the newly-enacted Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, also known as the Bipartisan Infrastructure Plan, issued an executive directive (ED) to state departments and agencies to collaborate with the legislature and ready the state to continue expanding high-speed internet access. The state will continue working to lower the cost of internet service, and help families, communities, and small businesses get and stay connected to affordable, reliable high-speed service.
“Right now, we have an historic opportunity to put Michiganders first and use the billions in funding we are expected to receive under the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act to ensure every home and business in our state has access to an affordable, reliable high-speed connection that meets their needs and that they know how to use,” said Governor Gretchen Whitmer. “With this executive directive, we are getting ready to deliver critical resources to communities across Michigan to help them enhance internet access and get their residents connected. Investments in high-speed internet create economic prosperity and ensure families and small businesses can rely on their connections to work, learn, and access critical information and services. The new infrastructure bill’s funding will build on work we have already done in this space and help us usher in a new era of prosperity for our state. I look forward to working with the legislature to invest these dollars and get the job done.”
“Every Michigan home and business needs the access to the infrastructure that makes high-speed internet access possible, and the connection must be affordable and reliable,” said Lt. Governor Garlin Gilchrist II. “Today’s executive directive recognizes that high-speed internet is the single most empowering infrastructure that we can invest in. Governor Whitmer and I will remain laser-focused on ensuring that the federal dollars being made available through the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act are spent strategically and efficiently, so that we can take full advantage of this once-in-a-generation opportunity to bring high-speed internet service to every person, family, and community in our state. We look forward to partnering with the legislature, local leaders, and all those who are ready to focus on getting Michiganders connected so that we can get this done.”
The ED directs state departments to take a range of actions to help Michigan continue expanding high-speed internet, including:
- Putting Michigan workers and businesses first, prioritizing in-state businesses and workers as the state continues building up high-speed internet infrastructure.
- Helping local communities build more efficiently, using the “dig once” principle to complete work on water, high-speed internet, the road, and other utilities simultaneously wherever possible.
- Prioritizing the improvement of high-speed internet infrastructure in communities with the slowest speeds first to ensure we are making equitable investments.
- Collaborating with local service providers to develop an even more granular, comprehensive map of internet coverage in Michigan to strategically close the digital divide.
- Developing a digital equity plan to identify barriers to internet access, make long-term plans with counties and communities to improve access, and assess how enhanced access improves a range of other social, economic, and health-related outcomes.
To view the full executive directive, click the link below:
Bipartisan Infrastructure Plan
The historic Bipartisan Infrastructure Plan, formally known as the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, will send billions of dollars to Michigan to help Governor Whitmer continue fixing the damn roads, create millions of good-paying jobs, ensure small businesses can safely transport goods, expand the state’s electric vehicle charging infrastructure, replace aging water infrastructure, including lead service lines, and expand high-speed internet access.
More details on the bipartisan Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act can be found here.
Whitmer-Gilchrist Administration Actions
High-speed internet enables communities to develop, attract, and retain jobs and businesses. It expands economic opportunity for families, enhances educational experiences for students, and allows for remote access to key health care services.
Governor Whitmer has taken several actions to move Michigan towards her goal of 100% access to high-speed internet and 95% adoption by households over the next five years. She signed the bipartisan Broadband Expansion Act of Michigan, funding the Connecting Michigan Communities Grant Program, that fills internet access gaps in underserved communities. To date, the program has expanded service to 18,900 homes and businesses, having an estimated annual economic impact of up to $38.4 million.
The governor also established the Connecting Michigan Taskforce to lead Michigan’s efforts to strengthen and grow high-speed internet infrastructure across Michigan and she created the Michigan High-Speed Internet Office, a team dedicated to coordinating the state’s high-speed internet work and aligning that work with economic development opportunities.
Michigan has also won several federal grants to expand high-speed internet. This includes $363 million through the Federal Communication Commission’s Rural Digital Opportunity Fund Auction — higher funding per capita than was secured in any other state — $32.6 million through the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s ReConnect Program, $5.3 million through the FCC’s COVID-19 Telehealth Grant Program, and $25 million through the CARES Act to support distance learning and internet-capable device purchases for students in need.
by Becky Andrus | Nov 30, 2021 | Health and Wellness
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Nov. 29, 2021
CONTACT: Bob Wheaton, 517-281-1701, [email protected]michigan.gov
COVID-19 Omicron variant illustrates importance of getting vaccinated, including booster doses, wearing masks, other mitigation strategies
MDHHS is monitoring to identify any presence in Michigan, but has not yet detected new variant
LANSING, Mich. – While the COVID-19 Omicron variant has not been detected in the state, the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services is monitoring for it and advising residents that the presence of variants makes it even more important to get vaccinated, including the booster does to increase protection, wear masks and take other precautions.
“Ensuring that as many Michiganders as possible are vaccinated remains the best protection we have against COVID-19 – including variants of concern.” said Dr. Natasha Bagdasarian, Michigan’s chief medical executive. “We are asking Michiganders to continue to use critical mitigation measures, such as getting vaccinated and getting boosters when eligible, wearing a mask, and getting tested regularly. Increased transmission fuels the development of more variants of concern.”
The CDC has declared Omicron – which emerged in South Africa – to be a variant of concern. There appears to be evidence that it is more transmissible, based on preliminary information
The MDHHS Bureau of Laboratories has re-analzyed the genetic sequencing data from 31,000 positive COVID-19 samples sequenced in its lab and has identified no cases of the new variant
“It’s still early, and there is much that we need to learn about the Omicron variant,” said Dr. Alexis Travis, senior deputy director of MDHHS’s Public Health Administration. “We know what protection measures are needed to reduce the spread of COVID and prevent additional mutations of the virus. We need Michiganders to continue to do their part to keep themselves and their loved ones safe.”
In addition to getting vaccinated and wearing masks – particularly indoors and in crowded areas – other things people can do to protect themselves and their loved ones include:
- Getting tested for COVID-19, especially before gatherings.
- Physically distancing from others and avoiding crowds
- Washing hands frequently with soap and water and cleaning hands with alcohol-based hand rub.
- Covering your mouth and nose with a bent elbow or tissue when you cough or sneeze
- Self-isolating until you recover if you develop symptoms or test positive for COVID-19.
MDHHS has issued a public health advisory that all Michiganders, regardless of vaccination status, should wear a mask in indoor public settings and those who are not fully vaccinated or who are immunocompromised should avoid large crowds or gatherings.