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Environment & Science

blacklegged tick
Scott Bauer / USDA Agricultural Research Service, Bugwood.org

Washtenaw and Livingston counties have been named "known risks" for ticks infected with Lyme disease.

That's according to an assessment by the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services.

Erik Foster is a state medical entomologist. He says the counties got this label due to residents being diagnosed with Lyme disease after tick bites.

“It’s really important knowing that the ticks are now in the area,” he said.

Foster says adult deer ticks – which are the size of an apple seed – are currently the main threat to residents.

wind turbines in a field
Mark Brush / Michigan Radio

DTE Energy says it will rely heavily on wind power double its renewable energy production by 2022.

The state’s largest utility submitted its latest plans to comply with Michigan’s renewable energy portfolio standards to the Michigan Public Service Commission Friday. Those standards require utilities to get 15% of their energy from renewable sources by 2021.

Hastings Lake, MI
Christine Riggle / FLICKR - http://bit.ly/1xMszCg

The League of Conservation Voters recently issued a blog post about what the group calls “Five bad ideas for Michigan.” Those ideas touch on a range of bills that would affect environmental rulemaking and permitting, water withdrawal by private companies and farms, state ballast water regulations that protect from invasive species, control of Michigan’s Natural Resources Trust Fund, and the state’s ability to have stronger regulations than federal standards.

satellite map of Michigan, the Great Lakes
National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)

A new analysis of heat wave patterns published in Nature Climate Change found changes could come to the Great Lakes region as soon as 15 years from now. It found human-caused greenhouse gases will have more influence on heat waves than natural variability.

Tiangong 1
Rockey Raybell / FLICKR - http://bit.ly/1f2P1w6

Michigan’s emergency operations center is being activated Thursday in preparation for this weekend’s expected crash landing of a Chinese space station.

It is highly unlikely that any part of the space station that survives the reentry into the Earth’s atmosphere will land in Michigan. But the Michigan state police is getting ready just in case.

Company tries to push Lake Erie wind farm forward

Mar 29, 2018
Map of Project Icebreaker.
LAKE ERIE ENERGY DEVELOPMENT CORPORATION

A Cleveland company that’s trying to build the first offshore wind farm on the Great Lakes has been waiting since last July for the state of Ohio to certify its project. This month, the group filed more reports in the hopes of moving the Lake Erie project forward. 

This photo of Microcystis, a kind of cyanobacteria, was taken in Lake Erie.
Rebecca Williams / Michigan Radio

When you think about greenhouse gasses that are driving our warming climate, maybe you think about power plants or your car. But lakes can release greenhouse gasses, too, and the amount of nutrients that get into lakes from farms and cities matters.

Courtesy of BWL

The commissioners who run the Lansing Board of Water and Light have unanimously approved the construction of a new natural gas plant.

The public utility says the new plant will complement its renewable energy projects and will allow it to close its two remaining coal-fired plants, Eckert in 2020 and Erickson in 2025.

The new plant will be located at the Erickson Power Station facility in Delta Township. 

DTE energy in Detroit
Ian Freimuth / flickr user

DTE Energy wants to put a new natural gas plant on the grounds of a Ford Motor Company research facility in Dearborn.

The Michigan Department of Environmental Quality held a public hearing about it Tuesday night.

Ford will shut down some boilers it currently uses to power the research facility. DTE will take over providing that power with the new plant, and provide additional energy it generates to the electrical grid.

Part of the new line 6B pipeline in central Michigan.
Mark Brush / Michigan Radio

State officials have given Enbridge Energy permission to install 22 more anchor supports along twin pipelines at the bottom of the waterway linking Lakes Michigan and Huron.

The Michigan Department of Environmental Quality issued a permit last week allowing the supports for Line 5 in the Straits of Mackinac. Installing the additional anchor supports will minimize the span distance within the Straits of Mackinac.

According to the DEQ press release, each of the 22 anchors will be installed using 10-inch diameter screws with a total lake bottom impact of nine cubic yards.

Sea lamprey
Photo courtesy of USFWS

People who battle sea lampreys are happy with the big spending bill President Trump signed on Friday.

Lampreys are an invasive fish that drink the blood and body fluids of fish like lake trout and salmon.

Marc Gaden is the communications director for the Great Lakes Fishery Commission. 

“For lamprey control there’s $7 million [in] additional funds and that will be used primarily for lamprey infrastructure,” he says.

Gaden says that infrastructure includes things like barriers and traps.

Marty Heller

Just 20% of Americans are responsible for 46% of the food-related greenhouse gas emissions in the U.S. That’s one of the findings of a new study in the journal Environmental Research Letters.

Stateside 3.26.2018

Mar 26, 2018

Today on Stateside, the Department of Environmental Quality responds to charges of slow action and a cozy relationship with polluter Wolverine Worldwide. And, the reporter who broke the Nassar scandal explains how the story came together.

Department of Environmental Quality / FLICKR - http://bit.ly/1xMszCg

A state website reports there are 28 sites in 15 communities with known PFAS contaminated levels in the water. 

PFAS is an acronym for a group of widely used industrial chemicals known as per-and-polyfluoroalkyl substances. The department has been accused of being too slow in clean up and too cozy with polluters.

Lansing Board of Water and Light

The Lansing Board of Water and Light meets Tuesday to vote on issuing bonds for a new natural gas plant, but opponents plan to make a last-ditch effort to change the minds of board members.

The city-owned utility held public meetings before choosing a natural gas plant to replace two coal-burning plants. "But that was several years ago," says Rebecca Payne with the Lansing Environmental Action Team. "Things on the energy market are changing overnight."

A cyanobacterial bloom on Lake Erie in 2013.
Mark Brush / Michigan Radio

Environmental groups are waiting to see what Ohio will do next, after the state finally declared the open waters of Lake Erie are "impaired."

Gail Hesse is with the National Wildlife Federation.

She says the declaration shows Ohio's leaders are no longer in denial about how badly the lake is polluted. 

"They've been dragging their feet and been recalcitrant in making this designation," says Hesse. "So this is an important step."

An old image of a two-masted schooner ship
Courtesy of Craig Rich

 


 

She sank in Lake Michigan during a squall in 1873. 
 
Now Michigan shipwreck hunters say they've discovered the final resting place of the Lizzie Throop, and it's a big find: the two-masted schooner is an important part of West Michigan's maritime history. 

DTE's River Rouge plant
DTE Energy

Tracy Samilton also spoke with Morning Edition host Doug Tribou about the issues surrounding the transition to natural gas

The President of the United States says coal is coming back, but in reality coal is going away.

The fight is over what will replace it.

Even utilities are dumping coal. In Michigan, DTE Energy wants to shut down three coal-burning power plants and replace them with a billion dollar natural gas plant.

But environmentalists think there's a better way.  

Stateside 3.21.2018

Mar 21, 2018

Today on Stateside, an Anishinaabe teen previews the plea to protect water she'll deliver to the UN General Assembly tomorrow. And, a maple syrup producer explains he's yearning for chilly nights and warm days.

Courtesy of Stephanie Peltier

Tomorrow is World Water Day, and the beginning of the International Decade for Action on Water for Sustainable Development.

That’s also the day a very special speaker will stand before the world leaders of the UN General Assembly, delivering a plea to protect the water.

Life-size sculptural reconstruction of Australopithecus sediba, an extinct human relative that roamed southern Africa 2 million years ago.
Sculpture Elisabeth Daynès /Photo: S. Entressangle / Museum of Natural History

The University of Michigan now owns what is considered to be the only lifelike reconstruction of an extinct human relative that roamed southern Africa 2 million years ago.

The university’s Museum of Natural History commissioned a full-body, fleshed reconstruction of the Australopithecus sediba from the Daynès Studio in Paris.

The Daynès Studio has also produced several models for the Field Museum in Chicago, most notably the popular Australopithecus afarensis specimen commonly known as “Lucy."

Power plant
Courtesy of Duke Energy

A majority of Americans now say all levels of government need to act on climate change.

That’s one finding from the latest survey in a series of National Surveys on Energy and Environment.

A photocopy of a photo of Line 5 being installed in 1953.
State of Michigan

Enbridge Energy has started drilling on property it owns on the north and south sides of Line 5, the oil and gas pipeline it owns under the Mackinac Straits.

Spokesman Michael Barnes says the company has agreed to look at ways to replace the aging pipeline. 

That could mean a new pipeline in a tunnel, inside a horizontally drilled tube, or in a trench.

"It tell us what the composition of the rock is, and so that will help both the state and us analyze what alternatives may be best possible for that area," says Barnes.

President Donald Trump at the 2018 Conservative Political Action Conference
Gage Skidmore / FLICKR - http://bit.ly/1f2P1w6

The Trump administration has been in office for a little more than a year, and it’s done a lot to change the federal government’s stance on environmental issues -- from announcing the U.S.’s withdrawal from the Paris climate agreement, to opening up thousands of miles of U.S. coastline to offshore drilling.

John Westrock / Flickr - http://bit.ly/1xMszCg

 


 

New information has come to light about the way the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality handled an important warning on possible toxic chemical contamination of groundwater in Belmont, in west Michigan. 

steve carmody / Michigan Radio

This week, Michigan lawmakers are scheduled to discuss a measure that would prevent communities from sterilizing wild animals to control their populations.

CDC

It’s been a tough flu season. Health experts are always looking for ways to outsmart the influenza virus.

David Brenner thinks he’s found a new way: a type of ultraviolet light called far-UVC.

windmill in field
cwwycoff1 / Flickr Creative Commons HTTP://MICHRAD.IO/1LXRDJM

Last year, the Trump administration announced it would withdraw the U.S. from the Paris climate agreement, and repeal the Clean Power Plan, or CPP. That’s the Obama-era policy to reduce carbon dioxide emissions from electric power generation by 32% by 2030, below 2005 levels.

But in a new study, a group of researchers found that the U.S. can meet its commitment to the international climate agreement without the Clean Power Plan.

A packed public comments hearing on the recent Nestle permit.
Lindsey Smith / Michigan Radio

80,945 against to 75 in favor.

These numbers show the scope of the public opposition to a new proposal from Nestle.

The company wants to be able to pump a lot more water out of the ground in West Michigan that it can bottle and sell under its Ice Mountain brand.

Courtesy of Michigan Barefoot Memories

The already-stunning photo ops at the Straits of Mackinac just got even better.

Rare blue ice has formed at Mackinac, and it’s a bonanza for photographers, such as Michigan Barefoot Memories.

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