Michigan Department of Environment

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A former state employee has been charged with embezzlement after investigators discovered that he stole more than $855,000 paid by well owners who needed permits. Authorities say the figure likely reached $1.5 million, but the statute of limitations has run out on some of Joseph Pettit's alleged acts. Pettit worked at the Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes and Energy. Companies that drill or operate gas or oil wells must pay a performance bond to the state, but the bond typically is returned when a well changes hands.

Edenville Dam photo
Katy Kildee/Midland Daily News / Associated Press

A group responsible for offering new safety measures after two Michigan dams failed last summer destroying 150 houses and causing over $200 million damage delayed sending the governor its final recommendations, which include increased monitoring of dams and other risk reduction measures.

The Michigan Dam Safety Task Force has been working on recommendations that would require Legislature approval to reduce the threat of dam failures after two dams failed in Midland County last May, forcing the evacuation of 10,000 people.

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The Michigan Public Service Commission has some authority over Enbridge’s plans to build an oil pipeline tunnel beneath the channel that connects two of the Great Lakes, a state administrative law judge ruled Friday.

The agency can evaluate the need for the project and whether it would be designed, constructed and operated safely, Judge Dennis W. Mack said. But the commission should not delve into broader issues such as how the pipeline contributes to climate change, he added.

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A western Michigan company faces a $115,000 fine as part of a proposed consent order with the state over safety concerns tied to the use of a chemical used to make chlorine tablets for swimming pools. WOOD-TV reports that Kassouni Manufacturing in Belding also has been ordered by the Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes and Energy to prevent future air quality violations. The state says trichloroisocyanuric acid was not disposed of properly at the facility, northwest of Grand Rapids. The chemical can catch fire and release chlorine gas when exposed to small amounts of water.

Enbridge headquarters photo

A webinar is scheduled to help keep the public informed about the application permitting process for Enbridge Energy’s Line 5 tunnel project. The webinar will start at 6 p.m. Thursday, according to the Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy (EGLE). Enbridge has proposed building a utility tunnel under the Straits of Mackinac. The tunnel would relocate the portion of the Line 5 oil and natural gas liquids pipeline that currently rests on the bottom of the straits.

Water faucet photo
Public domain image / Wikimedia.org

A state grant will help connect 14 rural homes in northern Michigan to a municipal water system after their wells were found to be contaminated with potentially toxic chemicals.

The Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes and Energy said Tuesday it had awarded the grant to Blair Township in Grand Traverse County.

The state is paying $74,520 of the project's cost, which totals $93,150. The township was required to match 20% of the state's contribution.

Lake Michigan photo
3bylunch via Wikimedia | CC BY 2.0 / Wikimedia.org

State regulators say they want to make it easier for lakeshore property owners to get permits to temporarily fix the effects of high waves and strong winds.

The permit fee is being reduced to $100, and a public notice in most cases won't be required. The goal is to stabilize eroding shore with sandbags, although the bags must eventually be removed.

The Michigan Department of Environment says it has issued more than 100 shoreline protection permits since Oct. 1. The agency says it's expediting permits if there's a threat to homes, health and safety.