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The Michigan Oil & Gas industry, Line 5 and why we so desperately need Climate Justice

April 7, 2021

There was a recent article posted on MiBiz about the Oil & Gas industry in Michigan that was very instructive. 

The article, headlined, Michigan’s oil and gas producers weather pandemic amid long-term demand questions, provides an interesting window into the mindset of some in the extraction industry in Michigan.

The story from MiBiz features the voices of Adam Wygant, director of the Department of Environment, Great Lakes and Energy’s Oil, Gas and Minerals Division, along with Jason Geer, president and CEO of the Michigan Oil and Gas Association

The most instructive comments came from the Michigan Oil and Gas Association CEO, who stated:

“Oil has been pretty cheap, and that has definitely impacted our ability to drill. The pandemic crashed prices into negative territory, and that gives you pause on whether you want to make the investment. The price of oil is starting to go up, and high prices mean more activity for us. We feel pretty good that if the price continues to hover in the $60 range, we’ll probably have a pretty good summer.”

Geer’s statement not only reflects the importance of profitability for the oil and gas industry in Michigan, it reflects a desire to maintain a longterm commitment to a fossil fuel-driven economy.

Later in the article, the focus shifts to the issue of the Enbridge Line 5 that runs through Michigan. The MiBiz article mentions that there are indigenous and environmental groups that are wanting to include Climate Change as a major talking point on why Line 5 should be discontinued. Again, Geer thinks that the Michigan Oil & Gas industry will be fine, since for him it all comes down to the cost of fossil fuels and consumer demand.

The Michigan Oil and Gas Association doesn’t hide its commitment to maintaining Line 5. Their three page “fact sheet” on how Line 5 benefits Michigan, is filled with out of context data and doesn’t factor in the longterm cost of environmental damage from Line 5, nor does it include the impact of maintaining Line 5 in regards to Climate Change.

The Michigan Climate Action Network recently sent out information about including Climate Change in the Line 5 debate, stating:

Within weeks, the Michigan Public Service Commissioners (MPSC) will decide whether or not to consider the impacts of climate change in their review of Enbridge’s proposed Line 5 oil tunnel. MPSC staff is encouraging them to exclude all evidence about climate impacts, even though this project would carry billions of gallons of oil for up to 99 years. It is unconscionable that this could be the case in the time of our climate emergency.

Michigan Climate Action Network is inviting people to add their name to pressure the Michigan Public Service Commission to consider the impacts of Climate Change with regards to the Enbridge Line 5.

Since the COVID 19 pandemic set in over a year ago, we have posted several articles about why we can’t go back to normal once the pandemic is over. What has been normal, is what is killing us, and that is definitely the case with Climate Change. In June we wrote:

Virtually every week there is a new study that comes out about human-caused climate change and the need for radical structural change before it is too late. Unfortunately, most of the white-led environmental groups are still spending most of their energy trying to either get people to change their personal consumption habits or appeal to governments to enact change. We have to stop being fooled by these approaches, start coming to terms with the seriousness of climate change and start learning from Black, indigenous and other communities of color that are rooted the struggle against White Supremacy, Settler Colonialism and Capitalism.

We need to radically imagine a different kind of future. We can no longer afford to think that we can maintain our current levels of consumption and our way of life, by simply using green energy. This is a false solution and it is a lie. We cannot return to normal after the pandemic, since before the pandemic, the systems of White Supremacy, Capitalism, Heterosexism, Ablism and Patriarchy were the norm. If we want a future as human beings, then there needs to be serious, radical and revolutionary goals to work towards. Here is a short list, all of which are connected to Climate Justice, if we are willing to do the intellectual, emotional, social and cultural work to see how these things are connected.

  • We need to acknowledge that we are all living on indigenous land.
  • We need to ask indigenous communities what they want from us moving forward.
  • We need Defund the US military. The US military is one of the largest consumers of fossil fuels and its primary function is to occupy other people’s lands and protect the interests of global capitalists.
  • If we Defund the US military ($850 billion for 2020), then if make sure that money goes to Black, indigenous and latinx communities to decide how to use it, imagine how that could radically alter lives in those communities.
  • Defund the Police. Again, it would reduce violence against, Black, indigenous and latinx communities and re-direct police budgets to those communities.
  • All environmental groups must incorporate into their mission an anti-Settler Colonial, anti-White Supremacy and anti-Capitalist framework.
  • Abolish the Prison Industrial Complex.
  • Abolish Immigration and Customs Enforcement.
  • Abolish the Agri-business system of food and practice Food Justice and Food Sovereignty.
  • End all Fossil Fuel Subsidies and demand reparations from the fossil fuel industry for decades of ecological destruction, the murder of countless Black, indigenous and latinx people and the role that the fossil fuel industry has played in deny climate change.
  • Make all utilities publicly controlled, and by public I mean community-based control.
  • Make public transit free.
  • Make housing free for everyone.
  • Make health care free for everyone.
  • End wage slavery.
  • End representative government and move towards direct democracy and local control.

Another World is Possible!!!!

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