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Environment & Science

Consumers Energy

Consumers Energy plans to dramatically increase its use of solar energy by the year 2040.

It's a big part of the utility's first long-term energy plan, required by Michigan's new energy law.

CEO Patti Poppe says solar is clean energy, and the cost of providing it is likely to come down by 35% by 2040.

And she says solar is one of the best options for providing electricity at times of peak demand.

Field of corn
Flickr/Vampire Bear

 


Globally, climate change is going to cause serious upheaval. But the kinds of changes will vary from place to place. That means there are likely to be both winners and losers in a changing climate.  

As science refines its predictions about the impact of climate change, it's getting easier to see who will end up in each column. 

Bruno Basso is a Michigan State University Foundation Professor in the Earth and Environmental Sciences Department. He spoke with Stateside about his new study on climate change and crop growth in the Midwest.

Flickr http://bit.ly/1xMszCg

Environmental groups say a bill headed for Governor Rick Snyder’s desk could increase the amount of invasive species in the Great Lakes.

The bill involves ballast water. That’s water large ships collect to help stabilize their vessel. The ships gather the water in one region, taking plant and animal species with them, and then when the ship doesn’t need the water, it dumps it someplace else. The bill loosens the treatment regulations on that water before it’s dumped into the Great Lakes.

Michigan Department of Natural Resources

A dredging project in Grand Traverse Bay Harbor in Michigan's Upper Peninsula has been delayed due to permit and contracting issues.

The Michigan Department of Natural Resources says dredging expected to start this spring will be postponed until at least fall. It's part of efforts to save Buffalo Reef off Gay, northwest of Marquette.

Michigan Radio

Until recently, if a home solar array produced more electricity than the house used, it would go through the meter onto the grid. Residents with solar power arrays got paid for that power at the same rate as the power company charged other residents.  Power that comes in/power that goes out: same price. This even exchange is called net metering.

northern cardinal
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service / Flickr - http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

 


Malaria is incredibly common across the world in mammals, birds, and reptiles. So it's not surprising that birds in Michigan, just like birds elsewhere, suffer from a variety of malaria-causing parasites. 

What is surprising is just how many blood parasites you find in birds with malaria. 

A new study published in the journal Parasitology Research discovered a far greater range of blood parasites than expected in birds tested in southwest Michigan. 

Lester Graham / Michigan Radio

Eleven years ago on a cold January day, volunteers for the Huron River Watershed Council, Rochelle Breitenbach and Mary Bajcz trudged through the snow and thicket to get to a pristine little stream that flows into the Huron River.

The DEQ PFAS Investigation Map near Rockford, MI
From Google map provided by Wolverine Worldwide

The Michigan Department of Environmental Quality is advising people to avoid swallowing the foam that appears on top of the water in the Rogue River near Rockford, Michigan.

The foam is highly contaminated with PFAS, an emerging group of chemicals linked to reproductive, developmental, liver, and kidney problems. 

The agency says PFAS is not easily absorbed through the skin, so contact with the water is OK. But children who might accidentally ingest the foam should be kept from face contact with the water, or swimming.

Raquel Baranow / Flickr Creative Commons http://bit.ly/1xMszCg

 

Update: On June 18th, 2018, The Home Depot announced it would phase out paint stripping products containing methylene chloride and NMP by the end of the year.  

The Environmental Protection Agency and at least one retailer have done an about face on a chemical linked to dozens of deaths, but health advocates want more.

Methylene chloride is an ingredient in paint strippers. It’s sold at hardware stores and it’s also used commercially.

Serious acute risks

Invasive hitchhikers found in laker ballast water

Jun 3, 2018
USFWSmidwest / FLICKR - http://bit.ly/1xMszCg

A new study may settle a debate over whether ships that travel between the Great Lakes, but don't go into the ocean, can transport invasive species.

These ships, known as lakers, are exempt from regulations that require ocean-going vessels to maintain ballast water treatment systems.

Samples from ten U.S. and Canadian flagged lakers taken during the summer of 2017 in western Lake Superior turned up six species of non-native zooplankton that had not been found in the area previously. 

Lindsey Smith / Michigan Radio

Despite overwhelming disapproval by the public, the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality approved a permit allowing Nestlé to increase the amount of water it pumps out of a well in Osceola Township.

Nestlé bottles that water for its Ice Mountain brand.

Now, the Michigan Citizens for Water Conservation is contesting that permit.

A green roof can help reduce the heat island effect.
EPA

The amount of tree cover in our cities is dropping, and we have more paved surfaces. Those are the main findings from a national study by the U.S. Forest Service.

Gary Stolz / USFWS

This time of year, it’s good to keep an eye out for turtles that might be slowly crossing the road.

Lori Sargent is a wildlife biologist with the Michigan Department of Natural Resources.

“They’re on the move because they’re looking for good nesting spots and some species move more than others,” she says.

She says Blanding’s turtles and snapping turtles are the ones you’ll see on the road most often. Sargent says Blanding’s turtles are on the decline in Michigan, mainly because so many get hit by cars.

Today on Stateside, we hear about a new report making an economic case for shutting down Enbridge's Line 5 pipelines. Plus, the Kent County team of clinicians who make house calls for kids experiencing a mental health crisis.

To hear individual interviews, click here or see below. 

Friends of the Porkies

Officials are looking for partners and sponsors to help celebrate the 100th anniversary of the Michigan state park system.

A year-long celebration of the state park centennial is planned to begin in May 2019. The Department of Natural Resources says there are opportunities for businesses, associations and others to take part.

Among options are sharing information about the centennial, underwriting portions of the educational campaign, hosting a cleanup or display and leading events such as geocaching challenges and vintage RV parades.

Lindsey Smith / Michigan Radio

Three communities in Michigan are taking a much closer look for lead in their drinking water this year.

Lake Michigan
Jennifer Guerra / Michigan Radio

Lake Michigan’s E. coli and swimming advisories are down from previous years. A recent study says that’s both good and bad.

The study looks at Lake Michigan’s beaches from 2000 to 2014. You can read the full study here.

Chelsea Weiskerger, a PhD student at Michigan State University who co-authored the report, says the lower E. coli numbers mean that beaches are cleaner and safer for recreational use.

steve carmody / Michigan Radio

Demolition crews have nearly completed tearing down Flint’s Hamilton Dam.

The crumbling 95-year-old landmark became a backdrop for many national television stories about Flint’s water crisis during the past few years.

However, the dam will soon be no more.

Crews have been demolishing the dam for the past few months. They expect to finish next month.

Stateside 5.25.2018

May 25, 2018

Today on Stateside, we hear how Michigan's utilities are investing in the state's energy future, and the reaction from environmentalists. Also, we look at the fraught history of privatized healthcare in Michigan prisons. 

To find individual interviews, click here or see below. 

Natural gas plant
World Resources Institute

Utility companies are shutting down some of their older, less efficient coal-burning power plants. 

To generate the electricity to replace those old plants, utilities have to decide whether to build more coal-fired plant or go with natural gas, nuclear, renewable energy, or some combination.

DTE Energy recently decided to replace some of its older coal-burning plants with a natural gas burning plants, incorporating little additional renewable energy.

Asian Carp Regional Coordinating Committee

The Asian carp action plan for this year is out. It's the plan U.S. and Canadian agencies put together to try to stop carp from spreading.

Charlie Wooley is the deputy regional director for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service's Midwest region. 

“The most important priorities for us in controlling Asian carp is to keep them out of the Great Lakes,” he says.

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

Governor Rick Snyder has signed a temporary order that bans ships from dropping anchor in the Straits of Mackinac. That’s following an incident in April when a ship dragged an anchor across the bottom of the straits, causing a mineral oil spill and damage to the Line 5 fuel pipeline.

“Maritime maps have been marked for some time with the Straits of Mackinac as an advisory to not drop your anchor, but there’s been no rule or regulation technically prohibiting it, and so this rule now prohibits that,” said Snyder Communications Director Ari Adler.

Tracy Samilton / Michigan Radio

The state's energy regulating agency has issued some decisions that should relieve some of the financial burden on large companies that want to become greener.

Dripping faucet
Aunt Jojo / Flickr - http://bit.ly/1xMszCg

 


 

The EPA held a national PFAS Summit in Washington on Tuesday to dive into issues surrounding the per-and-polyfluoroalkyl substances which have contaminated groundwater in sites across the country, including 31 known sites here in Michigan. 

Juliet Berger and other birders look through their binoculars at a warbler.
Emma Winowiecki / Michigan Radio

Mornings in Michigan is our series about morning routines and rituals around our state. This time of year, some people get up early to see migrating birds arriving in Michigan. Mike Kielb and his wife sometimes get up at 4 a.m.

UC San Diego Health

The first major results are in from the American Gut Project. It’s a citizen science project to get a better understanding of the microbial communities inside our bodies.

People pay $99 to send in a sample – a swab from their hands, their mouth, or a stool sample.

Daniel McDonald is the project’s scientific director at the University of California-San Diego.

“So it turns out that most of the people sending us samples tend to send us fecal samples. We think it must just be the sexy thing to do,” he says. “But I think a lot of individuals are sending us these samples because they’re curious to learn a little bit more about these organisms that are important for your health that we are just beginning to understand in the scientific community.”

Site for Sustainable Business Park
Kent County Department of Public Works

As population increases so does waste, filling up landfills at a faster rate. One solution to this problem is to rethink the old ways of managing solid waste.

The Kent County Department of Public Works is doing just that.

The County has decided to take land designated for a future landfill and use it instead for a "sustainable business park." The park will house companies and technology that reuse, repurpose, or convert solid waste, generating economic development while saving landfill space.

Mosquitoes after a blood meal.
R. Rico-Hesse lab.

It’s not just the mosquito bite that’s a problem. When a mosquito bites you, it also drools on you.

Silke Paust is an assistant professor of pediatrics at Baylor College of Medicine and Texas Children’s Hospital.

“During this poking around phase, basically, and during the feeding, it automatically secretes saliva proteins," she says.

She says there are more than 100 proteins in mosquito saliva. Paust and her team found those proteins trigger a complex immune response.

drinking fountain
jasongillman / pixabay

Northern Michigan University in the Upper Peninsula has reopened three buildings but turned off drinking fountains while campus officials investigate high lead levels in water.

The school says lead in water samples exceeded the federal action level of 15 parts per billion. The buildings are Thomas Fine Arts, the Learning Resources Center and the Physical Education Instructional Facility - known as PEIF.

morels, mushrooms
Mercedes Mejia/Michigan Radio

It’s that time of year again, when hunters hit the woodlands in search of that elusive Michigan delicacy: the morel mushroom.

Phil Tedeschi, vice-president of the Michigan Mushroom Hunters Club, gave me some foraging tips this month as we walked the woods of a secret location somewhere in Washtenaw County. 

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