Calling for Justice

An Open Letter to the Honorable William Collette:

I have seen the letter signed by Drs. Mann and Hansen and Bill McKibben on behalf of Vicci Hamlin, Barbara Carter and Lisa Leggio.  I’m a nobody from nowhere, but since I’m a resident of Michigan, a voter, a taxpayer and arrest-free (so far), I thought I would lend my voice.

I have no affiliation with the Michigan Coalition Against Tar Sands and as far as I know, I don’t know anyone who is, but I’m a supporter now.

I’ve been a law abiding citizen all of my life.  But as I watch the legal system allow corporations to kill us (BP), to sicken us (Enbridge, Exxon/Mobil, Freedom Industries, Duke Energy), and to poison our water supply (BP, etc etc), I begin to doubt that course of action.  I begin to believe that the legal system is a stacked deck.  I begin to consider other tactics.

I’ve read your reasoning on why you would not allow the affirmative defense of environmental necessity.*  And, as far as it goes, you are right.  But you are also wrong, in that the danger should not have to be so clear and present as you specify.  Oil, of course, can be seen.  Many other toxins cannot.  How does one respond to a danger that cannot be seen?  How does one respond to a danger that may reveal itself far into the future?  Your bar, sir, is too high.

Enbridge has not cleaned up their mess.  Their mess is making people sick.   Now they are “improving” their mess so that they can make an even bigger one the next time.  This is the company, after all, that has had hundreds of oil spills.

The justice system is failing us.  The environmental regulatory agencies are failing us.  People’s water supply is being poisoned as I write this.  No one in this world should have the right to poison water, I don’t care how “accidental” it is.  Water is the stuff of life.

How far is far enough?

So I wonder why three women, two of whom are grandmothers, are sitting in jail right now, awaiting sentencing because they cared enough about their communities to try to protect them, and the corporations spilling and poisoning are able to go free.

I wonder why these women are not out on bail.

Could you please enlighten me?






*”I am unsympathetic about people trying to use this courtroom as some sort of place to make public statements about their problems.

So here’s the point. ‘Environmental necessity.”  If there is somebody leaking oil on a piece of property and you race out in the yard, and you go in and you stop it, and they charge you with trespassing, I’d throw that out in a heartbeat.  That’s what I think of as ‘environmental necessity.’  I don’t think of coming in and chaining yourself to someone else’s construction equipment, in order to make sure that TV cameras come out and see you, for whatever purpose, is that type of thing I’m talking about.  That doesn’t work.  So no, I can’t allow that.”  Judge William Collette, term expires 2014.




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2 Responses to Calling for Justice

  1. ulvfugl says:

    Yup. It’s called justice. One law for them…. and another law for them…

    Court documents show many of the cases and settlement agreements follow a similar pattern, accusing the oil companies of “double-dipping” by collecting both special state funds and insurance money for the same tank cleanups. Some states say any insurance payouts should have gone to them since they covered the cost of the work.

    “It appears this was a really common practice and it’s very disconcerting,” Colorado Attorney General John Suthers said in a phone interview. “Basically the companies were defrauding the state.” Colorado has so far signed settlement agreements with three companies for $35 million, according to documents seen by Reuters.

    While the underground tank expert and the lawyer are reluctant to discuss details of ongoing litigation, Reuters found nine states have won settlements worth more than $105 million with four companies in the past three years – Chevron, Exxon, ConocoPhillips and its downstream arm Phillips 66, and Sunoco.

    In none of the settlements or comments to Reuters did companies admit wrongdoing.

    Lawsuits are pending in at least seven other states.

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