Tracy Samilton | Michigan Radio

Tracy Samilton

Energy and Transportation Reporter / Producer

Tracy Samilton covers energy and transportation, including the auto industry and the business response to climate change for Michigan Radio. She began her career at Michigan Radio as an intern, where she was promptly “bitten by the radio bug,” and never recovered.

She took over the auto beat in January, 2009, just a few months before Chrysler and General Motors filed for bankruptcy.

Tracy’s reports can frequently be heard on Morning Edition and All Things Considered, as well as on Michigan Radio.

Her coverage of Michigan’s Detroit Three automakers has taken her as far as Germany, and China. Tracy graduated from the University of Michigan with a degree in English Literature.

Breanne Humphreys / U.S. Air Force

The U.S. Air Force says it will prioritize the PFAS cleanup at the former Wurtsmith Air Force Base in Oscoda, Michigan, allocating an additional $13.5 million for the effort.

Eilien Dumon / unsplash

U.S. Congressman Dan Kildee (D-Flint) says President Donald Trump is shortchanging the nation's response to coronavirus, and treating it like a public relations problem instead of a public health crisis.

One of the nation's largest electric utilities says it will reach net zero carbon emissions by the year 2040. 

It's the most ambitious goal yet for a U.S. electricity company. Five electric utilities, including DTE Energy, have committed to reaching net zero by 2050.

Net zero carbon emissions means a combination of eliminating and offsetting carbon dioxide emissions to achieve zero carbon emissions attributable to the company.


Michigan's new work requirement for the Healthy Michigan Plan began last month. But some state, county, and city officials are worried that too many remain unaware of the new law.

Michigan Radio

In a decision that energy analyst Joe Daniel of the Union of Concerned Scientists called a "Midwest Nice" rejection, the Michigan Public Service Commission sent much of DTE Energy's first proposed Integrated Resource Plan, or IRP, "back to the drawing board."

DEQ (now EGLE)

Federal district judge Janet Neff approved a settlement agreement between the state of Michigan, two Kent County townships, and Wolverine Worldwide.

Consumers Energy

Updated: 2/19/20

Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel is urging a federal appeals court to rule in favor of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission in a dispute over energy storage.

FERC said last year that energy storage companies can sell their stored electricity to the open market on the electric grid, just like a gas- or coal-burning plant can.

Nessel supports the FERC decision.

But the National Association of Regulatory Utility Commissioners appealed, saying FERC was acting beyond its authority.

Tracy Samilton / Michigan Radio

Tom and Michelle Joliat's lovely home in Metamora, Michigan is situated high on a hill with a stunning view of the woods below.  

Normally, it's peaceful and idyllic here. Metamora Township is a rural area about 25 miles southeast of Flint.  

But in the distance, you can sometimes hear the faint drone of the U.S. EPA drilling yet another monitoring well. The wells are monitoring the movement of a plume of groundwater contaminated with 1,4 dioxane and other toxic chemicals.

surgical scissors on tray
Wikimedia Commons

Michigan and ten other states are urging the U.S. EPA to set stricter limits on emissions of a known carcinogen called ethylene oxide, or EtO.  The chemical is used to sterilize medical equipment.   In a letter to the EPA, state attorneys general say the agency is six years behind schedule in setting stricter limits on EtO.  The chemical is linked to a higher risk of breast cancer, among other health issues.   

View of Detroit
Kahari King / Unsplash

The city of Detroit should see a half percent to one percent increase in job growth in the next five years, according to a University of Michigan forecast.

That may not seem like much, but it's a faster pace than the forecast for the state's job growth. 

Tracy Samilton / Michigan Radio

The city of Saline held a second meeting on Sunday about recent racist incidents - but this time, no one showed up to make racist remarks.

That doesn't mean the meeting was easy. Many people who came were deeply distressed about what has happened, and shared painful experiences of their own involving racism.

pit filled with green liquid

Update: Thursday, February 6, 2020

The attorney for Gary Sayers called a single witness on Thursday, a structural engineer who testified that the buildings on the Electro-Plating Services property are structurally sound.

6th Circuit Court Judge Hala Jarbou told attorneys she wants closing arguments to be based on facts presented at trial. She ordered both sides to get a transcript of the proceedings, write their final pleadings, and make closing arguments on April 1.

a doctor inspecting a model of a spinal cord.
Teeradej / Adobe Stock

After a four week trial, a federal jury has found four Detroit area doctors guilty of conspiracy and health care fraud. 

Prosecutors say they operated an "assembly line" practice involving unnecessary spinal injections and high dose opioid prescriptions.   

A photo of the pit in the EPS basement before the 2017 emergency clean-up.

When Detroit firefighters found pits filled with liquid in the basement of a warehouse owned by Gary Sayers, state officials had to assume the worst.

That's because similar pits in the basement of Electro-Plating Services in Madison Heights were heavily contaminated with hexavalent chromium, a known carcinogen.  

Chromium turns liquids green, which resulted in a "green ooze," spilling from the EPS site onto I-696 in December.

Now, test results show that the liquid in the warehouse pits is in fact contaminated, but primarily with heavy metals. 

Tracy Samilton / Michigan Radio

A defiant Siwatu-Salama Ra vowed to continue fighting against "unjust prosecutions" on Friday outside the 3rd Circuit Court in Detroit, where she had just pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor charge of brandishing a weapon.

Ra spent nine months in prison for brandishing an unloaded gun at another woman during a dispute.  She claimed it was self-defense. She had no criminal record; the other woman involved in the dispute had three criminal convictions and was on parole at the time.

Tracy Samilton

President Donald Trump touted the benefits of the nation's new North American free trade agreement, known as the U.S-Mexico-Canada Agreement, at an event at the Warren factory of Dana, Inc.

The president signed the agreement Wednesday.

Trump said the new deal will bring jobs and factories back to the U.S.

pxfuel/creative commons

A bill making its way through the state Senate could make it harder for communities to deny permits for gravel and sand mining.

Kevin Cotter is General Manager of Bay Aggregates, a mining company in Bay City.

He testified before a Senate committee hearing on Wednesday.

Fiat Chrysler

The state's Air Quality Division has told Fiat Chrysler that its plans related to permits for its new assembly plant in east Detroit "fall short of expectations."

In a letter to a company official on January 24, AQD Director Mary Ann Dolehanty asked Fiat Chrysler to provide more information about its outreach efforts to people who live near the proposed site.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Michigan's new law letting anyone vote absentee could create big backlogs on election day.

Currently, local clerks can't count absentee votes until the day of the election. Nor can they prepare them, by taking the inner envelope, that contains the ballot, out of an outer envelope.

Element5 Digital / Unsplash

Synagogues, mosques and other houses of worship can soon apply for federal grants to improve security.  

The new federal law is called the Protecting Faith Based and Nonprofit Organizations From Terrorism Act. President Donald Trump signed the Act into law this week.

Mark Savage / Entergy Corporation

A new bill would create a citizens advisory panel for the decommissioning of nuclear power plants.

Democratic State Representative Jon Hoadley introduced the bill. 


Preliminary test results indicate pollution from Electro-Plating Services in Madison Heights is not contaminating drinking water, nor is it moving into residential areas.

Seymore Johnson AFB

Consumers Energy will pay $545,000 to settle a dig notice violation case filed with the Michigan Public Service Commission.

green ooze
Michigan Dept. of Transportation

The city of Madison Heights is suing the owner of a business called Electro-Plating Services. Gary Sayers’ company was the source of the now infamous toxic green ooze that appeared on I-696 in December. The trial for the lawsuit against Sayers resumes on Thursday.

Michigan Radio reporter Tracy Samilton has been covering it and she joined Morning Edition host Doug Tribou for an update.

State of the Takata Air Bag Recalls

Toyota and Honda have recalled millions more cars over problem airbags. 

Honda says it's recalling 2.7 million cars with Takata air bags that have a risk of exploding when they inflate in an accident. 

headshot of martin philbert
The University of Michigan

The University of Michigan has put its provost, Martin Philbert, on administrative leave, following several accusations of sexual misconduct. The provost is the university's second highest ranking administrator.

Tracy Samilton / Michigan Radio

Former Livingston County District Judge Theresa Brennan has been sentenced to six months in jail, after pleading guilty to perjury.  


Thirty years before toxic green ooze spilled onto a Madison Heights road, the state's Pollution Emergency Alerting System hotline received a complaint about chemical storage pits dug into the basement of Electro-Plating Services (EPS).

For three years, it appears the state took no action. Then, in 1993, another complaint was made to the hotline. This time, the state investigated.

A photo of the pit in the EPS basement before the 2017 emergency clean-up.

Democratic US Representative Rashida Tlaib of Detroit is asking the U.S. EPA to help clean up another contaminated property owned by Gary Sayers. Sayers owns a warehouse in Detroit as well as Electro-Plating Services in Madison Heights.

Tracy Samilton / Michigan Radio

Contaminated water is still migrating off the property of Electro-Plating Services, despite pumps installed inside the building. 

That's according to Tracy Kecszemeti, the Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes and Energy's district supervisor of materials management.

Read more: First day of trial: regulators paint grim picture of conditions at Electro-Plating Services