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State Briefs

By The Associated Press • Mar 29, 2019 at 8:00 AM

Governor halts controversial Great Lakes pipeline tunnel project

LANSING (AP) — A law that Michigan's Republican-led Legislature hurriedly passed during a lame-duck session in December authorizing the construction of an oil pipeline tunnel beneath the channel linking lakes Huron and Michigan is unconstitutional, the state's Democratic attorney general deemed in an opinion Thursday.

Shortly after Dana Nessel issued her first legal opinion since taking office in January, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer ordered state agencies to stop any work on the project.

Nessel said the new law violated the state Constitution because it went beyond what the bill's title reflected.

The measure authorized a deal between then-GOP Gov. Rick Snyder and Canadian pipeline company Enbridge to drill the tunnel through bedrock under the Straits of Mackinac. It would house a replacement for a more than 4-mile-long segment of Enbridge's Line 5, which carries crude oil and natural gas liquids between Superior, Wisconsin, and Sarnia, Ontario.

Nessel and Whitmer were elected in November 2018 after criticizing the pipeline tunnel plan during their campaigns. After both were inaugurated, Whitmer asked Nessel to assess the constitutionality of the bill.

Remains in Indiana cemetery may be those of Michigan woman

OSCEOLA, Ind. (AP) — Authorities say human remains found last week in a northern Indiana cemetery may be those of a Michigan woman who vanished last year.

The St. Joseph County Prosecutor's Office said Wednesday that "there are some strong indicators" that the remains found March 21 on the property of the Chapel Hill Funeral Home/Cemetery in Osceola, Indiana, are those of Natily Nacole Franklin, but positive identification still must be made through DNA and/or dental records.

The prosecutor's office said in a statement that the remains have been sent to Indianapolis for an anthropological examination, during which DNA samples and dental X-rays will be taken for further examination and comparison.

Michigan State Police and police in Indiana’s St. Joseph County have been investigating Franklin's disappearance since November 2018.

Car belonging to missing man found outside church

BELLEVILLE (AP) — Authorities have recovered the car of a Washtenaw County man who disappeared this week after not missing a day of work in 30 years.

The Ann Arbor News said Marcus Esper's 2013 Buick LaCrosse was found Wednesday night outside a church in Belleville.

Esper is a 56-year-old white man from Superior Township. He is 6 feet, 1 inch tall, and weighs about 235 pounds.

A family member said Esper had planned to rent storage space in Ypsilanti Township. He hasn't been seen since Monday.

Belleville Police Chief Hal Berriman said investigators were getting a search warrant to examine the car's interior.

Anyone with information can call 734-994-2911.

Mexican man in drug case disappears after low bond, police say

DETROIT (AP) — Police believe a man charged with possessing 10 pounds of heroin and 4 pounds of cocaine has fled to Mexico after a Detroit-area judge required him to pay a bond of just $200.

Jose Antonio Lopez, a citizen of Mexico, didn't appear in court March 12. Defense attorney William Winters said he hasn't heard from Lopez.

Detroit Police Chief James Craig said "it's an outrage" that Lopez's bond was set so low by a visiting weekend judge on March 2.

Wayne County Prosecutor Kym Worthy said her office typically doesn't have an assistant prosecutor at weekend arraignments. But she said a high bond in Lopez's case was a "no-brainer."

DTE Energy says it will accelerate plan to cut coal use

DETROIT (AP) — DTE Energy says it will reduce carbon emissions by 50 percent by 2030.

The southeastern Michigan utility says it will be relying more on wind, solar power and natural gas to create electricity while closing some coal-burning plants sooner than planned. DTE says it wants to cut carbon emissions by 80 percent by 2040, a decade earlier than announced two years ago.

The utility this week is filing its latest plan with state regulators. Chief executive Gerry Anderson said DTE is "in the midst of a fundamental energy transformation."

DTE says it will close three coal-fired plants in 2022: St. Clair, Trenton Channel and River Rouge. By 2024, the utility says less than 50 percent of its electricity will be produced by coal.

DTE and Consumers Energy say they will stop using coal by 2040.

Human remains discovered in Eaton County

EATON RAPIDS TWP. (AP) — Mid-Michigan authorities said the remains of a female have been discovered in a wooded area.

The Eaton County Sheriff's Office said the remains were discovered Wednesday evening in Eaton Rapids Township. The remains were in an advanced state of decomposition, the Sheriff’s Office said.

Sheriff's Office detectives and evidence technicians assisted by the Michigan State Police Crime Lab and Michigan State University Anthropology Department recovered the remains and turned them over to medical examiners.

The Sheriff's Office said it has no information on the cause or manner or date of death or the identity of the person.

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