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Environment & Science

A woman wearing warm clothing holds a sign that says "Shut Down Line 5, No Tunnel".
Kaye LaFond / Michigan Radio

Demonstrators gathered in Petoskey on Saturday, opposing the state's plan to build a tunnel under the Straits of Mackinac, which would house twin oil pipelines owned by Canadian company Enbridge Energy.

deqmiair.org

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency says Michigan and 19 other states have complied with a 2008 rule to reduce their pollution that was drifting into other states. But air quality experts say there's much more to be done.  

Ozone is a harmful gas created when sunshine, heat and pollutants like nitrogen oxides and volatile organic compounds interact. Those pollutants, which come from power plants, manufacturing, and vehicles, can drift from one state to another. 

Janice Nolen is with the American Lung Association. 

Lester Graham / Michigan Radio

Some cities in Michigan could lose half of all their trees due to disease or pests. Foresters are working to reduce the potential devastation.

hurricane michael satellite image
NOAA

This week, Stateside has been bringing you a series of conversations about the recent National Climate Assessment, a report compiled by 13 federal agencies that breaks down how climate change is projected to impact different regions of the United States.

Andrew Hoffman is a the Holcim Professor of Sustainable Enterprise at the University of Michigan’s Ross School of Business. He joined Stateside to talk about the risk climate change poses to the economy, and how that risk might help convince people skeptical about climate change to change their mind. 

Picture of Lake Superior
Isabella Isaacs-Thomas / Michigan Radio

The federal government’s recent National Climate Assessment broke down how our planet’s changing climate is projected to impact the United States region by region. Headlines about the report have used words like "chilling," "ominous," and "devastation."

So what changes can residents of the Great Lakes state expect to see in coming decades?

Michigan History Center

If you are looking for an unusual summer vacation, think about applying to the Michigan Department of Natural Resources as a temporary lighthouse keeper.

The Tawas Point Lighthouse off the shores of Lake Huron is accepting applications for spring and summer through February 1, 2019. 

Running faucet
Melissa Benmark / Michigan Radio

Environmental groups are hoping legislation to address emerging contaminants in Michigan will move during the lame duck session. But lawmakers say there isn’t enough time to pass the bills – and any action will likely wait until next session.

PFAS chemicals are a family of contaminants that are polluting water across the state.

The Michigan League of Conservation Voters says it wants the Legislature to address the issue.

Katie Parrish is with the League. She says some bills have been waiting for a year.

damaged road and car
Vicky Ingram

On Black Friday, the federal government released its National Climate Assessment.

Compiled by 13 federal agencies, the landmark report spells out the consequences we’re already seeing — and that we’ll continue to see worsen over time — as a result of climate change. 

A satellite photo of the Great Lakes
NOAA Great Lakes Environmental Research Laboratory/Flickr

Mayors from Great Lakes cities have united with leaders from First Nations communities to criticize proposed new rules for approving Great Lakes water withdrawals.

The Anishinabek Nation, a political advocacy group representing 40 First Nations communities in Ontario, has joined forces with the Great Lakes and St. Lawrence Cities Initiative, made up of mayors from the Great Lakes region. The groups are concerned about proposed new procedures for approving water withdrawal requests under the Great Lakes Compact, the agreement governing the removal of water from the Great Lakes basin.

Do not eat the fish because of pfas sign
Lester Graham / Michigan Radio

 

Today, we speak to MLive reporter Paula Gardner, co-author of an investigative report that found PFAS chemicals are still being released in large quantities by businesses across the state. Plus, a new bill proposed in the state Senate would remove protections from some Michigan wetlands on private property. Opponents say it would have devastating effects, but supporters say it's protecting property owners from government overreach.  

Wetland in Kalamazoo
Mark Brush / Michigan Radio

 


A bill sponsored by State Senator Tom Casperson would remove protections from some Michigan’s wetlands, inland lakes, and streams. In a recent letter, Ducks Unlimited, Michigan United Conservation Clubs, Michigan Trout Unlimited, and the National Wildlife Federation outlined their opposition to the proposed legislation.

Stateside's Lester Graham talked to a business leader who supports the bill, as well as an enviornmentalist who opposes it. 

Photo by Ryan Hafey on Unsplash

Environmentalists are cautioning state lawmakers against legislation about tree and foliage removal. Bills making their way through the state Legislature would prevent local governments from passing ordinances prohibiting their removal in certain areas.

Environmental groups say cities and townships should be allowed to prevent people from cutting down some trees and vegetation in order to protect wildlife, water and the environment.

The Mackinac Bridge connects Michigan's upper and lower peninsulas
flickr user Always Shooting / http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

Several former members of the Mackinac Bridge Authority joined with environmental groups Tuesday to oppose legislation that would give the Bridge Authority control of a utility tunnel beneath the Straits of Mackinac.

The bill is part of an agreement announced in October between Enbridge Energy and Governor Rick Snyder to give the Mackinac Bridge Authority control of a tunnel that would house the Line 5 pipeline.

NOAA

Divers are planning to collect zebra and quagga mussels this week in Muskegon. It’s part of a national effort to study chemical pollution, called Mussel Watch.

The mussels are invasive species, but they’re also good study subjects.

Tracy Samilton / Michigan Radio

Michigan and the Midwest are already feeling the effects of climate change, which will grow and worsen as temperatures climb throughout this century, according to a new report.

The second part of the fourth National Climate Assessment looks at impacts, risks, and mitigation efforts across the U.S. It’s the work of scientists and experts from across a variety of federal agencies. While officially released by the White House, its conclusions are sharply different from the Trump administration’s position on climate change

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Melissa Benmark / Michigan Radio

More homes in Benton Harbor have tested positive for elevated levels of lead in the water.

The city was put under an advisory for its drinking water results in October.

Since then, another 27 homes out of 159 tested have shown levels of lead that are above the federal action level of 15 parts per billion.

Ten of those homes had levels more than double the action level.

Landfill.
flickr user Redwin Law / http://michrad.io/1LXrdJM

The Michigan Department of Environmental Quality is offering communities grants to help start recycling programs. The total amount approved for the grants is $500,000.

Bryan Weinert of Recycle Ann Arbor says the money won't go far, but it's at least a start to improving the state's "embarrassingly" low recycling rate.  

The national average for recycling is about 30%.  Michigan is at about 15%.

Asian Carp Regional Coordinating Committee

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has released a costly final draft of its plan to keep invasive Asian carp out of Lake Michigan.

But environmentalists say it will be worth every penny.

The plan at the Brandon Road Lock and Dam, about 60 miles south of Chicago, would cost about $775 million.   

Drew YoungeDyke is with the National Wildlife Federal.  He says the cost, although dramatically higher than the Corps' first draft plan, would be a small fraction of the cost to the fishing industry, if Asian carp got into the lakes.

USFWS MIDWEST

The U.S. House has passed a bill to drop legal protections for gray wolves across the lower 48 states, reopening a lengthy battle over the predator species.

Long despised by farmers and ranchers, wolves were shot, trapped and poisoned out of existence in most of the U.S. by the mid-20th century.

flight of beers
Flickr/ Quinn Dombrowski

 

Today, there's no federal or state restriction on the level of PFAS contamination considered a public health threat. What there is, is an advisory. We speak to a former EPA official who helped create it. Plus, what can we learn about our own freshwater seas from researchers studying the African Great Lakes?

Do not eat the fish because of pfas sign
Lester Graham / Michigan Radio

How well has the State of Michigan responded to the problem of PFAS contamination of our groundwater? That was the focus of a Grand Rapids hearing Tuesday convened by U.S. Senator Gary Peters, D-Mich.

Dustin Dwyer / Michigan Radio

A scientist at the state Department of Environmental Quality says he felt like he was “at the edge of the abyss” when he first realized the possible effects of widespread PFAS contamination in Michigan.

Robert Delaney made the comments at a public hearing in Grand Rapids on Tuesday, hosted by Senator Gary Peters.

Delaney wrote a report on the potential harm from PFAS chemicals in 2012.

Image shows astronaut Andrew Feustel outside of the International Space Station floating above the Earth.
NASA

Since being selected as an astronaut by NASA in 2000, Lake Orion native Andrew Feustel has been on three space missions and spent more than 61 hours on space walks outside the shuttle. 

While floating 250 miles above the Earth earlier this year, Feustel added something new to his space resume: singer-songwriter. He recorded a music video for “All Around the World,” a song written by his friend Gord Sinclair. 

Courtesy: Michigan Saves

Soon, you’ll start seeing your energy bills start to rise each month because of the cold weather. That’s never fun. But, you might be paying a lot more than necessary to heat your home. We decided to look into whether a new efficient furnace adds up to much in the way of energy savings.

An illustration of the Parker Solar Probe heading toward the Sun.
NASA/Johns Hopkins APL/Steve Gribben

On August 12, 2018, NASA's Parker Solar Probe launched into space on a mission to unveil some of the greatest mysteries surrounding our sun.

The probe features a 10 square meter heat shield made from carbon foam that can withstand up to 3,000 degrees without incinerating. The front of the probe is covered in a synthetic sapphire crystal that reflects around six megawatts of sunlight; enough energy to power a small village.

Justin Kasper is a lead investigator on the project. He joined Stateside at our recent Ann Arbor live show to talk about what he hopes to learn from the information collected by the probe.

RES

Renewable Energy Systems hopes to build a 130 megawatt wind farm on privately owned timberlands in the Upper Peninsual of Michigan.  The Summit Lake Wind Project would be able to generate enough electricity to power the equivalent of 45,000 homes.

National Park Service

A coalition of environmental groups is petitioning the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to drop a practice the groups say is responsible for converting grasslands, woodlands, wetlands, pastures and other non-crop acreage to corn and soybean fields.

The petition says the EPA's own data from 2008-2012 shows that up to 7.8 million acres of non-cropland has been converted to corn and soybeans, the feedstock for biofuels, in violation of a provision of the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS).

Trillium Wood Farm co-founder holding a piglet.
Elise Thorp

For years, sisters Allie and Elise Thorp defended animal rights by practicing strict vegetarianism and supporting activist organizations like PETA. But after deciding to reintroduce meat into their diets, the two discovered an unexpected way to promote animal welfare: raising livestock.

A graph shows three years of test results for lead in water, with the most recent tests, in 2018, clearly being the most elevated.
Kaye LaFond / Michigan Radio

Benton Harbor is offering to test the water at any home in the city, after initial tests showed elevated levels of lead in eight homes.

Lester Graham / Michigan Radio

State agencies in Michigan have issued a ‘Do Not Eat’ advisory for deer in Oscoda Township near the closed Wurtsmith Air Force Base.

The state tested deer tissue from areas across the state known to have PFAS chemical contamination, including places such as Grayling, Rockford, and Oscoda Township.

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