Thursday, July 30, 2020, 7 pm EDT

The Upper Peninsula Environmental Coalition Livestream Series

“The Energy Show” Presents:


Intentional Communities: Living Sustainably with a Shared Purpose


“The Power Behind the Power Lines: How UP Electric Utilities Work”


With guest Mike Furmanski, electric superintendent for the City of Escanaba


And, a UPEC Bonus: Line 5 Update


Thursday, July 30, 2020, 7 pm EDT, livestreamed via Facebook and Zoom (links below)


For most of us, when we want to turn on a light or recharge our phone we flip a switch or plug it in … and it just happens without a second thought. We know about generating plants and power lines—and our monthly bills—but how does the whole system work? Join The Energy Show, an Upper Peninsula Environmental Coalition (UPEC) livestream series, on Thursday, July 30 at 7 PM EDT with Mike Furmanski, the superintendent of Escanaba’s electric utility, to find out.


Michigan has many electric utilities. Furmanski will explain the ins and outs of running the City of Escanaba’s utility. Then he’ll explain the different types of utilities—investor owned, cooperatives, municipal—and the bulk power transmission system in Michigan, called MISO, plus other networks that allow us to receive seamless electrical service to our homes. Our speaker will give us a picture of utility rates in the UP, telling us that electricity is only one part of the cost of providing power to our homes and businesses. And he’ll talk about the future: where do renewable energy sources fit into this picture?


The second part of this episode of The Energy Show is “Bone of Contention: Line 5 in the Straits of Mackinac.” Line 5 is constantly in the news these days. From the 1953 easement to recent damage of the pipeline in the Straits, your UPEC hosts, Horst Schmidt and Evan Zimmermann, will wind through the current legal wrangles between the State of Michigan and Enbridge, the pipeline owner.




Meeting ID: 839 8732 5278; Passcode: upec2020

UPEC and FOLK say Enbridge’s Line 5 “a disaster in waiting,”

call for it to be shut down permanently


The Upper Peninsula Environmental Coalition and Friends of the Land of Keweenaw held a virtual press conference on July 9th to discuss the following joint position statement on Enbridge Line 5.


Enbridge Line 5: A Disaster in Waiting

A Statement from the Upper Peninsula Environmental Coalition and Friends of the Land of Keweenaw           


The Upper Peninsula Environmental Coalition (UPEC) and Friends of the Land of Keweenaw (FOLK) support Governor Gretchen Whitmer and Attorney General Dana Nessel in their efforts to hold Enbridge responsible for the safety of Line 5. The main purpose of Line 5 is not to supply propane to Michiganders; it is to transport light crude oil and natural gas liquids (propane) to Sarnia, Ontario.  The Governor’s UP Energy Task Force spent a year listening, reviewing and developing viable alternative propane supplies to replace Line 5.  They came up with 14 recommendations that would set up a modified system of obtaining propane from multiple sources for UP residents, especially in the case of unexpected disruptions.  If implemented, the report suggests citizens of the UP would be able to reliably receive propane at reasonable costs and end the need for an ill-planned tunnel project under the Straits of Mackinac. 

Enbridge, a Canadian company, recently revealed that an anchor supporting the east pipeline had shifted, sustaining significant damage. A rupture of the pipeline would have realized our worst fears. 

This fast moving scenario led to a confrontation between Governor Whitmer and Enbridge.  The governor demanded full disclosure and full shutdown of the pipeline.  The company, after partial compliance, restarted pumping through the west line.  Attorney General Nessel stepped in and filed a request for an injunction.  The court ordered all pumping be stopped on Line 5 and Enbridge was to provide all documents related to the damage.  According to media reports, the company complied.  The arguments at the hearing on June 30th revolved around state jurisdiction and restarting pumping on the west line of Line 5.  Judge James Jamo will rule within the next two weeks provided Enbridge can substantiate their safety claim.

Why are we so concerned?  Enbridge is responsible for tens of millions of gallons of oil spills from 1996 through 2014, including the Line 6 rupture in 2010 along the Kalamazoo River. What makes it worse is a culture of manipulation of regulatory and political systems in North America.  As recent news reports show, Line 5 remains in constant danger of being damaged. Assurances by Enbridge and its allies ring hollow, which is why we support the Governor and Attorney General’s actions to protect our Great Lakes and the State's citizens by shutting down Line 5.

Recent UPEC livestreams • View anytime on YouTube


Intentional Communities: Living Sustainably with a Shared Purpose (July 23)

This UPEC “This Is It!” livestream featured Professor Chelsea Schelly of Michigan Technological University, who discussed intentional communities — planned residential living communities designed to have a high degree of social cohesion and collaboration through shared technologies, economies, and activities of daily life.  Several intentional communities were offered as examples of the diversity of forms they can take.


“Waste No More: New Legislation Points Toward Recycling in Michigan’s Future” (June 27)

UPEC’s “This Is It!” livestream interactive conversation, held on June 27, 2020, explored new bipartisan legislation that could transform recycling and waste reduction in Michigan. Horst Schmidt and Evan Zimmermann, president and vice president of UPEC, respectively, hosted the livestream and presented the latest news on Michigan’s waste problems, past and present, and a recent bipartisan legislative move to address them. They’ll were joined by Sean Hammond, the policy director at the Michigan Environmental Council, who relayed what he has been working on during the past five years to change our waste to resources — bringing Michigan into the 21st century. 

“Enbridge Line 5—Decision Time” and “Large Solar Farms & Migratory Birds” (June 13, 2020)

Jim Olson, Founder and President of the group FLOW (For Love Of Water), and Joe Kaplan of Common Coast Research & Conservation.  Olson will discuss issues surrounding Enbridge Energy’s Line 5, a major oil and gas pipeline that crosses the length of the Upper Peninsula, passes through the Straits of Mackinac on the lakebed, and continues through the Lower Peninsula to Sarnia, Ontario.  Kaplan will talk about the potential dangers large-scale solar farms pose to migrating birds.


The Future of Energy in the UP: Make Your Voice Heard (June 8th, 2020)

Kalvin Hartwig from We The People Michigan (WTPM) talks and listens about the future of energy in the UP.  Hartwig is the Enaagide'enmad Shkakimikwen Inini / Environmental and Energy Issues Organizer–Upper Peninsula for WTPM.  

What If I Sneeze Outdoors?: How Michigan is Planning for Covid-Responsible Recreation (May 30, 2020)

Conan Smith, head of the Michigan Environmental Council, discusses the work of a statewide outdoor recreation workgroup to develop recommendations for  Governor Whitmer and state agencies for a systematic, phased reopening of outdoor recreation activities and facilities to safeguard people from infection by Covid-19.

Line 5: What’s the Fuss? (May 12, 2020)

This livestream looks at the controversy over re-permitting Enbridge’s Line 5 oil pipeline, which passes through the Upper Peninsula and crosses the Straits of Mackinac along the lakebed. Jeff Towner, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers retired wildlife biologist and UPEC Board member, and Mike Ripley of the Chippewa Ottawa Resource Authority are the guests. Towner explains the regulatory path Enbridge has to go through for the Line 5 tunnel approval.  Ripley discusses tribal efforts to shut down Line 5 because of the dangers a spill would pose to their fisheries, which they operate under rights recognized by the Treaty of 1836.

  • Download Jeff Towner’s slideshow (PDF format)

  • Download Mike Ripley’s slideshow (PDF format)


Celebrate the U.P.! 2020 {Virtually} (April 25, 2020

Our first-ever Virtual Celebrate the U.P.! was a hit! The live audience enjoyed a program featuring engaging and informative presentations on water, climate, food and much more.

​2020 UPEC Photo Contest Winners

We’re delighted to share the winning images from our 2020 Photo Contest! Out of nearly 100 entries, these were judged to be the “best of the best” in our four categories:

  1. Nature panoramas: “Grand view” by Jeffrey A. Weir

  2. Humans engaged with the natural world: “Rock awe” by Phil Bellfy

  3. Hidden beauty: “Swan song” by Elizabeth J. Bates

  4. Wonderful fluid water: “Autumn swirls” by Joan Haara

Thanks to everyone who entered!  Enjoy!

© 2020 UPEC