Daily Briefs

Michigan, Enbridge reach deal to boost safety of pipelines


TRAVERSE CITY, Mich. (AP) — Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder and Canadian oil transport company Enbridge Inc. announced an agreement Monday intended to boost the safety of twin oil pipelines beneath the waterway where Lakes Michigan and Huron converge.

The deal does not call for the decommissioning of Line 5 as environmental groups have demanded, although it does include a procedure for temporarily halting the flow of oil through the 5-mile-long (8-kilometer-long) underwater segment when storms cause sustained periods of high waves.

It also calls for a study to examine the possibility of digging a tunnel beneath the Straits of Mackinac through which the existing pipelines — or a new one — could be routed. The two 20-inch (50-centimeter) lines have lain on the lakebed since 1953.

It also calls for steps to allow faster detection of and quicker response to a potential spill.

"Business as usual by Enbridge is not acceptable and we are going to ensure the highest level of environmental safety standards are implemented to protect one of Michigan’s most valuable natural resources," Snyder said.

Line 5 is a 645-mile (1,040-kilometer) line that runs from Superior, Wisconsin, through northern Michigan to Sarnia, Ontario.

The company says the 5-mile (8-kilometer) underwater segment is safe, but environmental groups and some officials have raised concerns about recent disclosures of gaps in protective enamel coating.

 

Conyers gives up  Judiciary post amid sex harassment probe


WASHINGTON (AP) — Even while fiercely denying allegations of sexual harassment, Michigan Rep. John Conyers is giving up his leadership position as top Democrat on the House Judiciary Committee, acknowledging a congressional probe into his possible misconduct had become an unwelcome distraction.

The 88-year-old lawmaker indicated he would not resign from Congress and would keep fighting the allegations first made public a week ago that he sexually harassed female staff members.

Conyers pledged full cooperation with the House Ethics Committee. The longest-serving active member of Congress, Conyers is the only African-American to have held the position of chairman or ranking member on the Judiciary panel, which oversees a range of U.S. law enforcement issues from civil rights and impeachment of federal officials to sexual harassment.

News website BuzzFeed reported last Monday that Conyers’ office paid a woman more than $27,000 under a confidentiality agreement to settle a complaint in 2015 that she was fired from his Washington staff because she rejected his sexual advances. BuzzFeed also published affidavits from former staff members who said they had witnessed Conyers touching female staffers inappropriately or requesting sexual favors.

The House Ethics Committee is reviewing the allegations of harassment and age discrimination.

Conyers, first elected to the House in 1964, made clear he would prefer to keep his Judiciary post but had come to realize he could not “in light of the attention drawn by recent allegations made against me.”

Rep. Jerrold Nadler, D-N.Y., is the next most-senior Democrat on the committee.