Fall 2020
In This Issue
  • 2020 Annual Conference
  • State Reports
  • Speakers' Bureau
  • 2020 Annual Meeting
  • What Can You Do?
  • More About Lake Michigan Issues
Chicago Harbor - Photo by Lisa Harris
2020 Annual (Virtual) Conference
This year's theme
"Lake Michigan: The Good, The Bad, and the Ugly"
Join us on Friday, October 16 & Saturday, October 17 for our virtual Annual Conference, where we showcase the educational part of our work!

Friday from 12:45pm - 2:00pm Central
Saturday from 9:00am - 1:00pm Central

Please register by October 12 here. Once you have registered, you will be emailed the Zoom link to attend.

We are happy to be able to reach out to members and partners alike this year, and while these events are free, please make a donation which will help to fund our important work of education, advocacy, and communications!
Kieran Fahey - City of South Bend
Friday, October 16, 2020
Normally, LWVIN would have field trips on Friday, welcoming you to hike trails and learn about our watershed first-hand. 

This year, we will feature a Zoom presentation at 1:00 pm Central about a very important project in our watershed – the Smart Sewer System in South Bend, Indiana. Kieran Fahey will speak about the city's CSO system and how they implemented AI to increase stormwater capacity.

Other archived links will also be provided highlighting various virtual hikes that you can take at your leisure through the newly christened Indiana Dunes National Park, as well as other interesting and celebratory information.
Saturday, October 17, 2020
We are pleased to welcome Dr. Indra Frank, Environmental Health and Water Policy Director from the Hoosier Environmental Council! 

There are coal-burning plants all along the perimeter of Lake Michigan – and every one of our four states has plants that are closing. Listen to Dr. Frank as she details the challenges that these plants present, and find out the best way to meet these challenges safely.
Dr. Indra Frank, HEC
Nikki Troutman and Ashley Williams
Photo by Kyle Telechan
Completely in tune with 2020’s activist movements on so many fronts, LWVLMR is proud to present panelists Nikki Troutman and Ashley Williams from Just Transition Northwest Indiana. Theirs is a wonderful story of citizens becoming informed about coal ash problems, and working with the power plant to ensure that when it closes, there will be a “just transition,” for the coal ash, for the workers, and for the community as a whole. Practical advice for accomplishing this in your own community will be given as well.
We will also have an informational session about the work that LWVLMR does, our Speakers Bureau, our networking partners, and our on-line auction. Funds from the auction will go towards hiring a communications intern.
Help us with our Annual Conference fundraising effort!
League members, friends, and area businesses are invited to make an auction donation to help support the programing of the League of Women Voters of Lake Michigan Region. Auction items with a Lake Michigan theme are especially needed. All auction items will be posted on the virtual platform BiddingForGood.com. Auction bids will be received up until the close of the Annual Meeting on November 14, 2020.

Watch for an announcement from LWV-Lake Michigan Region once the auction goes live in mid-October to place your bids. To make an auction item donation, please complete the donation form here

A fundraising committee person will follow-up with you on details for auction item delivery. All donors will be reimbursed for auction item shipment cost if requested.

Thank you for helping us to make the biggest fundraiser of the year for LWV-Lake Michigan Region a smashing success on this virtual platform!
State Reports

Arcelor-Mittal Spills
Remember the 2019 Arcelor-Mittal chemical spill into the Burns Waterway that killed over 3,000 fish, closed beaches, and shut down the Ogden Dunes water treatment plant temporarily?

Because the State of Indiana has been failing to enforce federal environmental rules, the Environmental Law and Policy Center in Chicago, hand in hand with the Hoosier Environmental Council in Indiana became partners in a lawsuit against Arcelor-Mittal Steel Mill’s frequent violations of the Clean Water Act.

Although the lawsuit was filed in December, the steel mill has had at least 13 self-reports of toxic dischargers this summer. For instance, in the period from June 1 to 5, the Indiana Department of Environmental Management reported that the toxicity limit was exceeded by 2050%! Ammonia has been the main culprit this summer, but other chemicals are monitored too.

Recently, Luxembourg-based ArcelorMittal has been purchased by an American company, Cleveland-Cliffs Inc., which is a Cleveland-based iron ore and steel company.

Leagues in NW Indiana are keeping on top of this, monitoring the progress of the lawsuit, and attending public hearings, so stay tuned!


Line 5 Update
The following is an update on Enbridge’s Line 5 pipeline at the point where it transports Canadian oil through the Straits of Mackinac to Sarnia, Ontario. The current pipeline is 65 years old and has had significant problems including recent anchor strikes causing damage to the pipeline. Enbridge is proposing to build a tunnel under the Straits to house the pipeline and has applied to EGLE (Environment, Great Lakes and Energy) for a permit to build this tunnel.

EGLE requested that Enbridge include alternatives to the proposed tunnel but Enbridge only provided alternatives that keep Line 5 in place. They did not explore other routes through other existing pipelines and did not offer anything like a real alternative.

The proposed tunnel would be bored 60 feet beneath the lake bed into gravel and sometimes sand (not into bedrock as Enbridge touts) with tunnel openings on the north and south sides of the Straits. The construction period in the permit application covers three months of vegetation clearing followed by six months of excavation, including blasting, two years of tunnel construction, eight months of pipeline installation and then six months of backfill and construction of ground facilities. Construction would take place 7 days a week, 24 hours a day with lots of trucks, disturbance, dust and public resource demands over a long period of time.

Impact zones from construction of a tunnel would cover 41 total acres (that’s 31 football fields!), 16 acres on the north shore of Lake Michigan and 25 acres on the south shore. Construction on the north shore would come within 50 feet or less of Lake Michigan.

Enbridge is not proposing any mitigation for filing in wetlands in emergent and forested areas, describing “a majority of wetlands are of low quality”. They are, however, offering to relocate 5,800 plants on the federally threatened list (Dwarf Lake Iris and Houghton Goldenrod) and they boast that they will remove invasive Phragmites.

Rock and mud from boring would be conveyed back to the north Emmet County construction zone and processed for discharge into Lake Michigan. Enbridge acknowledges that the project would not meet EGLE water quality and coastal zone standards.

Enbridge already has a less than stellar record of oil spills in Michigan and elsewhere and the proposed impacts to Great Lakes' water quality during the process of proposed tunnel construction are severe. Enbridge proposes to keep oil flowing through the current aging Line 5 as they build a tunnel, ever increasing the risk of a major oil spill into our waters. Additionally, if constructed, climate impacts of an oil pipeline for the next 99 years would be devastating given the damaging effects that the continued burning of fossil fuels has on our climate. Enbridge’s proposed tunnel would be of benefit to Enbridge but there is little to no benefit for the rest of us and, worse, it poses significant risks to our waters. The bottom line is that oil does not belong in our Great Lakes.

The League of Women Voters Lake Michigan Region is a coalition partner with Oil and Water Don’t Mix, opposing this pipeline.

Asian Carp
The Army Corps has proposed a $778. million dollar barrier in Illinois to keep Asian Carp out of Lake Michigan. This barrier would include electric, bubble and acoustic deterrents with a flushing lock. It would still allow barge traffic. Michigan has reaffirmed their commitment to pay $8 million dollars of Illinois’ $10 million dollar portion of pre-construction engineering work. Illinois still hasn’t supported the project. It needs a non-federal partner before construction begins. In July, the House approved an increased federal share to 80%. It is pending in the Senate. President Trump’s proposed budget does not include funds.

Michigan Ballot Proposal
Michigan uses oil, gas and mineral lease royalty payments from state land to fund land conservation through the Michigan Natural Resources Trust Fund. This conservation protects our drinking water sources, natural outdoor spaces and wildlife habitats. This law, created in 1984, has provided $1.2 billion in grants. The fund was designed to cap out at $500 million. We need to increase the cap to keep the fund going. No taxes are involved.
Speakers' Bureau

The LWVLMR Education Committee is working closely with the Advocacy Committee to bring you local LWV programming even through the pandemic. We will be offering a Zoom Training to our speakers, so if you would like to host a Zoom LWV meeting, they will be familiar with your system and comfortable in virtually presenting the ideas to your group. We also look forward to resuming in-person presentations, once it is safe to do so.

But that isn’t all! We are actively recruiting new speakers from our local Leagues! If you have a Lake Michigan cause that you simply can’t wait to share with others, please contact Cheryl Chapman at ccfritter@yahoo.com or Elizabeth Joy Guscott-Mueller at ejg@guscottmuellerlaw.com for more information. We will need your name, Local League, and topic. Speakers present their topic for 30 to 45 minutes, normally have a little show and tell (photos, diagrams, how to, suggestions for advocacy or action, etc.) and then offer a Q and A at the end.

Current topics include algal blooms, rain gardens, stormwater challenges and solutions, chemical spills from tanks, Line 5 in MI, CSO’s, PFAS, and current water related issues in each of our 4 states. New challenges seem to present themselves all the time, but then, so do new solutions! The League can make them happen if we simply educate ourselves, our communities, and our lawmakers.
Native Plants Reduce Water Pollution
Stormwater Management
The Watershed Model
2020 Annual Meeting
This year's Annual Meeting will be held on
Saturday, November 14 from 9:15am Central to 11:00am Central
(estimated time needed) via Zoom.

Each member League is entitled to one voting delegate.
Please make sure your member League is represented!

Space is limited, so RSVP here soon!
You will receive a follow up email with Zoom link and electronic
meeting packet with the agenda and other materials.

We will elect new officers, the new budget, our program, and take care of other business.

We look forward to seeing you!
2019 Annual Conference and Meeting - Photo by Lisa Harris
What Can You Do?
Vote like the Lake depends on it!
Find out more about Lake Michigan Issues
Grand Mere State Park - Photo by Lisa Harris
Winter Shelf Ice - Photo by Lisa Harris