Will Michigan Allow Nestlé to Operate below the Ground and above the Law?

By Jim Olson In the coming weeks, Liesl Clark, the director of the Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy (EGLE)—and ultimately, Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer—will make the final decision required by state law on a Nestlé water bottling permit to remove another 210 million gallons of groundwater a year virtually for free from… Read more »

The Marriage of the Rights of Nature and the Public Trust Doctrine

By Jim Olson The citizens of Toledo, Ohio, desperate to end the continuing plague of toxic algal blooms covering the western one-third of Lake Erie, in February 2019 passed by referendum a municipal ordinance that enacted the “Lake Erie Bill of Rights.” The Bill of Rights holds that “Lake Erie, and the Lake Erie watershed,… Read more »

Turning the Spotlight on Line 5 in the Great Lakes

Last week the Michigan Attorney General’s Office chose not to appeal a lower court ruling upholding the constitutionality of a law that facilitates the framework for an oil tunnel under the Straits of Mackinac—forgoing any further challenge, but, in reality, yielding no strategic legal ground.

The Man Who Biked to Work

By Jim Olson In the late 1950s, I would ride my bike from East Bay, on the other side of the ridge that runs along Old Mission Peninsula, to near downtown Traverse City, and I would notice a man on a bike. It seemed odd because in the 1950s no one rode bikes to work,… Read more »

The MEPA Turns 50

Photo: Kolke Creek in the headwaters of the AuSable River was protected by MEPA after the Michigan Supreme Court prohibited discharge of 1 million gallons of oil-field treated wastewater. Editor’s note: This is part 1 of a series on the history of import of the MEPA. By Jim Olson Serendipity can mean chance, destiny, and… Read more »

The Edenville Dam Failure and Flooding Disaster in Midland County

The accounts of the failure of the Edenville dam on the Tittabawassee and Tobacco Rivers and the devastating damage and threat to safety and life beg the question: How did the owner and a dam stamped as a red-zone for hazardous risk escape regulatory enforcement before it failed? Who is responsible? What’s really behind dam failures, infrastructure collapse, and increasing events across the country with catastrophic loss to people, communities, property, and quality of life?

High Water, Public Rights, and Michigan Shoreland Protection

Water levels in Lake Huron and Lake Michigan won’t drop anytime soon. Private waterfront homeowners rush to save their homes from loss. Citizens seek to preserve their public right to a walkable beach along the shore below the natural high water mark, and the State of Michigan and municipalities struggle to save valuable infrastructure for water, sewage, roads, dams, parks, and recreation.

State Points to Fatal Flaw in ‘Line 5’ Tunnel Law

What may seem like dry legal arguments over the interpretation of a few words sometimes can have ripple effects on people, health, safety, and the environment. Such is the case with arguments heard June 3 before the Michigan Court of Appeals over the fate of the proposed Enbridge oil pipeline tunnel under the Straits of Mackinac, which promises to leave a lasting mark on the future of the Straits and the people of the Upper Great Lakes.