Rep. Singh laments legislative inaction on MI pipeline safety

Mar 16, 2016

East Lansing Democratic State Rep. Sam Singh wants greater oversight of oil pipelines criss-crossing Michigan. We ask Singh why, and get his views on the charges facing Ingham County Prosecutor Stuart Dunnings III.


Pipeline safety has become a growing worry for many in Michigan. Enbridge Oil’s Kalamazoo River oil spill in 2010 heightened existing concerns about the company’s 62-year old Line 5 running through the Mackinac Straits.

Recently, environmentalists have become concerned over the possibility of crude flowing through two nearly 100-year old lines through the St. Clair River near Port Huron.

Almost a year ago, East Lansing’s Democratic State Rep. Sam Singh co-sponsored a package of measures that would create greater oversight of private oil pipelines in the state. The bills have gone nowhere.

Current State talks about the pipeline legislation with Rep. Singh, and he also discusses the arraignment of Ingham County Prosecutor Stuart Dunnings on various charges including pandering.

INTERVIEW HIGHLIGHTS:

What is holding up the measures proposed a year ago?

“We are still waiting on what Governor Snyder will do. Colleagues of mine have been talking about this issue for a long time - there needs to be action. We have concerns with Pipeline 5, now we’ve read more recently about the pipeline that’s in the St. Clair River. We just had the Department of Environmental Quality decide that they can drill for oil in Southfield. The DEQ is out of control. The Governor is not showing any leadership. We need to get to the bottom line of making sure our pipelines are safe. That’s our drinking water. That’s who we are as a state. To see one of those accidents happen in our Great Lakes would devastate and bring economic devastation to our State as well.” — Sam Singh

Is this a party-line dispute?

“It shouldn’t be. There are things they can be doing right now that they have already suggested they can be doing. But the inaction that we’ve seen over a year is really troubling. You’d think they’d be much more aware, and wanting to deal with these types of issues. It’s another part of this disinvestment mentality that the Governor and his administration has had.” — Singh

Who needs to step up?

“The Attorney General should be taking a lead. He made a strong press statement when this report got released. He is our chief prosecutor. Why doesn’t he try to enforce Pipeline 5? If it’s not him, it could also be the DEQ and the Governor. They were both part of the initial task force, and we’re still not seeing this action.

Right now, Enbridge only has a $1 million liability for Pipeline 5. That’s not going to solve the problem. The problem we had in the Kalamazoo River cost over $1 billion. You would think that something that has happened in our own state - the worst inland oil spill in our own state. We want to see action out of the DEQ, the Attorney General, and the Governor.” — Singh

Thoughts on Stuart Dunnings’ charges

“Very surprising, very disappointing. It seems like it has been a multiple-year investigation that has led to these charges. Very disturbing. I can’t see how he can continue on in his role as prosecutor. Obviously that office is one of the top enforcement agencies in our county; dealing with a lot of issues including human trafficking.” — Singh