Nofs resolution calls for swift, thorough oil cleanup

LANSING―State Sen. Mike Nofs pushed through the Senate today a resolution urging a seamless response to protect the health of Battle Creek area residents and reduce the environmental impact of a recent pipeline oil spill by Enbridge Energy Partners. Nofs championed the latest state and local efforts to contain the spill, which has dumped nearly 840,000 gallons of oil into the Kalamazoo River basin.

“It is absolutely essential that Enbridge and federal, state and local authorities work swiftly and closely together so we can minimize the impact of this oil spill on our community and the environment,” said Nofs, R-Battle Creek. “Time is of the essence for a quick and coordinated response.”

In calling for passage of Senate Resolution 174, Nofs reiterated the potential impact of the spill could be devastating on area residents, job providers and wildlife. Oil-soaked birds and dead fish have been spotted on the banks of the river and the pungent odor of the oil can be smelled for miles. He said an animal care center will be opened at the old Belcher Auction facility located near Interstate 94 and Old U.S. 27. Fish and wildlife specialists will be available to help rehabilitate affected animals.

Nofs also called on the federal government to cut the regulatory red tape which has prevented Enbridge from getting to its site to conduct a full assessment of the damage to the pipeline and ensure that the leak has been fully stopped.

“Any delay in stopping this leak due to government red tape is unacceptable and must be resolved immediately,” Nofs said.

The Enbridge Energy Partners pipeline leaked oil into Talmadge Creek, a tributary of the 166-mile long Kalamazoo River, whose watershed is home to tens of thousands of people in the 19th Senate District. The oil reached the Kalamazoo River shortly after the spill occurred. A thick layer of oil is now making its way west downriver, leaking past the barriers set up to contain it.

Residents wishing to volunteer to help with cleanup may sign up on Nofs’ website at www.SenatorMikeNofs.com.
 

Nofs urges complete and coordinated response to oil leak

LANSING―Nearly 840,000 gallons of oil leaked into the Kalamazoo River in Marshall Township on Monday, and is spreading westward toward Lake Michigan. State Sen. Mike Nofs has been in contact with authorities who said area residents are strongly encouraged to keep clear of the river until the cleanup is completed.

“It is going to take nothing less than a full and coordinated effort to make sure the cleanup of this oil leak is thorough and complete,” said Nofs, R-Battle Creek. “I have been in contact with state and local authorities and representatives with the federal Environmental Protection Agency, who are testing air and water quality every hour. I have also spoken with representatives from Enbridge Energy Partners, and the company has taken total responsibility for the spill and its cleanup. The full resources of my office are being deployed to assist in any way possible as we work together to cleanup the damage from this leak.

“This will not be an easy process and will likely take some time, but we will make sure it is done and done right.”

Nofs said residents should contact Enbridge Energy Partners with spill-related concerns at 800-306-6837, or Focus Wildlife at 800-214-9337.
 

Energy theft bills sent to governor

LANSING—Legislation designed to help prevent costly and dangerous energy theft is on its way to the governor for signing, said state Sen. Mike Nofs.

“In addition to being extremely dangerous, energy theft is also costly for customers, as utility companies offset the loss of revenue by raising rates for all users,” said Nofs, R-Battle Creek. “These bills will help deter residents from tampering with and stealing electricity or natural gas by increasing fines or penalties.”

Senate Bill 1314, sponsored by Sen. Nofs, establishes sentencing guidelines for individuals convicted of felony assault on a utility worker.

The legislative package also develops standards for utilities to shut off and re-establish service to locations where unauthorized use has occurred, creates penalties for electricity theft and criminalizes the assault of a utility worker performing his or her job.

Energy theft costs utilities approximately $6 billion annually.
 

Senate passes K-12 Budget with $11 per-pupil increase

LANSING – School districts, ISD’s and early childhood education will all see increased funding under the fiscal years 2010 and 2011 School Aid budgets approved by the state Senate Thursday, said Sen. Mike Nofs.

“I am pleased the Legislature was able to come together to approve a K-12 budget that provides an increase in funding for our schools, and that it was completed in time for the start of school districts’ new fiscal year,” said Nofs, R-Battle Creek. “Despite our difficult budget situation, we followed through on our commitment to get the budget done by July 1 and keep the education of our children as one of our top legislative priorities.”

Senate Bill 1163 awaits the governor’s signature.