Governor appoints U.P. professor to pipeline advisory board

LANSING — An Upper Peninsula researcher has been appointed to a new board created to help protect the Mackinac Straits and surrounding waters.

Governor Rick Snyder announced the creation of the Michigan Pipeline Safety Advisory Board Thursday. In addition to officials from a plethora of state agencies, Michigan Tech professor and Great Lakes Research Center director Guy Meadows was named to the board to represent public universities.

“It’s my understanding that we’ll be providing technical expertise in a wide variety of areas to help preserve the pristine environment of the Straits of Mackinac and to preserve all of the stakeholders’ interests in that area — everything from environmental concerns to tourism to safe navigation to the safety of the bridge and the safety of the environment,” said Meadows.

“With growing public concern over the pipeline beneath the Straits of Mackinac and the memory of the Kalamazoo River spill five years ago, I believe this advisory board will play an important role, helping ensure we control Michigan’s energy future while safeguarding our natural resources,” said Governor Snyder.

The Great Lakes Research Center has been studying the area for the last three years. Researchers have gathered data using supercomputer modeling of water flow, an environmental monitoring buoy, and advanced acoustic imaging of areas where pipelines cross the Straits.

“We’re involved in the environmental monitoring side of the equation,” said Meadows. “We certainly have been working there for the last three years pretty diligently. We brought some very high tech tools to bear on the problem, and we are trying to make all of that stuff available to all sides of the discussion.”

The creation of the board coincided with the signing of an agreement between state officials and Enbridge Partners, L.P., banning the transport of heavy crude oil through the Line 5 pipeline beneath the Straits.

[Photo courtesy Michigan Tech Great Lakes Research Center]

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