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carbon emissions

an electric plug attaches to an electric vehicle
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Senator Debbie Stabenow has introduced a new bill that would provide billions in tax credits aimed at incentivizing auto manufacturers to make products that would reduce carbon emissions.

The senior Democrat introduced the American Jobs in Energy Manufacturing Act on Monday. She says the bill would provide support to the private sector in making the transition to clean energy in legacy manufacturing communities.

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The plan to dig a nearly four-mile tunnel underneath the Straits of Mackinac and replace the Line 5 oil and gas pipelines continues to move forward.

Last week, Michigan’s Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy said the plan complies with environmental laws on wetland protection, cultural resources, and wastewater discharge.

But other state and federal agencies still need to weigh in on the project. And one big sticking point is climate change and whether carbon emissions from burning the oil and gas that flow through Line 5 should be a factor in deciding if the tunnel project gets greenlit.

Lester Graham / Michigan Radio

Some environmental groups are criticizing the Michigan Department of Natural Resources for a planned carbon offset program.

The DNR is planning a pilot program that would account for the carbon taken up by the Pigeon River Country State Forest. The forest absorbs carbon dioxide. That has value on a voluntary carbon market. Polluters can buy that carbon value as a way of offsetting their greenhouse gas emissions.

Ann Arbor at sunset.
Jodi Westrick / Michigan Radio

The city of Ann Arbor plans to become carbon neutral over the next 10 years. Ann Arbor City Council voted unanimously early Tuesday morning to adopt guidelines for community-wide carbon neutrality by 2030.

The A2 Zero Carbon Neutrality plan would significantly reduce carbon dioxide emissions, and offset the remaining emissions so that the community's overall carbon output is zero.

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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.

Ann Arbor city hall.
Heritage Media / FLICKR CREATIVE COMMONS HTTP://MICHRAD.IO/1LXRDJM

The city of Ann Arbor is considering a carbon tax on internal operations that rely on fossil fuels and carbon emissions. This comes three months after the city declared a climate emergency and set a goal of carbon neutrality for the city by 2030.

NASA

Ann Arbor's City Council has declared a "climate emergency." That includes the aggressive goal of reaching carbon neutrality for all of Ann Arbor by 2030.

The declaration is in line with a consensus among climate scientists: that humans need to move much faster in reducing carbon emissions if they wish to avoid the worst effects of a rapidly warming globe.

DTE Energy

DTE Energy says it is committing to achieve net carbon neutrality by the year 2050.

The term, "net carbon neutrality," means reducing carbon emissions, along with offsetting emissions by supporting outside carbon reduction efforts, in order to achieve a 100% reduction in CO2 emissions attributable to the utility.

Trevor Lauer, president and chief operating officer for DTE Electric, says the path to 100% carbon neutrality will require utilization of technologies that are not currently fully developed.

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When President Donald Trump announced in 2017 that the United States would pull out of the Paris Agreement, cities across the country declared that they would uphold the goals of the accord on their own.

Two years later, a handful of Michigan cities have plans in place to reduce carbon dioxide emissions, but many more are just in the process of putting a plan together. Which is good, says Jenna Jorns, because cities are especially vulnerable to the impacts of climate change. Jorns is the program manager for the Great Lakes Integrated Sciences and Assessments Center.

Ford Motor Company

Next time you're at the mall or grocery store, look around. You won't see many, if any at all, electric vehicles. Maybe a few hybrids.

But you'll see lots of pickup trucks and big SUVs, which by comparison still merit the derogatory phrase, gas guzzlers.

MSU

The University of Michigan has established a commission on achieving carbon neutrality, to help fight climate change. 

But student activists say the process is already deeply flawed.  

Carbon neutrality means reducing carbon emissions as much as possible, and balancing what's left with actions like planting forests, which absorb carbon, or buying credits with renewable energy companies.

Smokestacks spewing pollution
mdprovost ~ Prosper in 2011 / Flickr http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

A new study says the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency should consider the effects of burning fossil fuels on children in its regulation process - and not just adults, as it mainly does now.

The study conducted a systematic review of scientific literature on the effects on children's development and health from pollutants from fossil fuels.

Those pollutants include particulate matter, powerful toxins known as polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, and nitrogen dioxide, as well as carbon dioxide, which is warming the planet.

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).

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.

picture of DTE Trenton Channel power plant
Courtesy of DTE Energy

DTE Energy wants to replace three old coal plants with a huge new natural gas burning one. The company expects to break ground in 2019, DTE announced today. That's if it can convince the state that there is a need for the new plant, and that natural gas is the best way to fill it. 

Trevor Lauer, DTE Electric's president and chief operating officer,  says the plant will be capable of producing 1,100 megawatts. That's enough to power 850,000 homes.

Michigan Radio

A new study from Harvard University concludes that there is no "safe" level of air pollution.

Researcher Qian Di and colleagues find that particulate matter and ozone kills thousands of people every year, even at levels below the federal standard.  

James Clift of the Michigan Environmental Council says the message for the state is clear: DTE Energy and Consumers Energy should not delay shutting down their remaining coal-burning plants.

Reporters getting a closer look at the Chevy Bolt concept.
Mark Brush / Michigan Radio

Update, March 15, 2017:

Published reports indicate President Donald Trump will announce a re-opening of the mid-term review process for fuel economy regulations for 2022-2025, rather than an automatic relaxing of the fuel economy regulations that were established by the Obama administration during its completed mid-term review process.

Fiat Chrysler will bus some of its Michigan hourly workers to the Trump event in Willow Run today.  The workers will receive their regular pay. 

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President Donald Trump is scheduled to appear at the American Center for Mobility in Ypsilanti on Wednesday.  The center is a federally-designed testing site for autonomous cars.

While there, Trump could announce a new policy to relax fuel economy regulations on the auto industry. 

Automakers have asked to be let off the hook for fuel economy regulations that take effect between 2022 and 2025, and it appears the President plans to do just that. 

Average surface temperatures for 2015.
NOAA

Every day, you and I burn up all kinds of things.

We burn gasoline to get to work, mow the lawn, or fly to a conference. We burn natural gas, coal, or heating oil to heat our homes. And we burn up coal or natural gas when flipping on that light switch.   

Whenever we burn stuff, we release carbon dioxide into the atmosphere.

Burned a gallon of gas driving around town? You just put around 20 pounds of CO2 into the air.

That CO2 traps heat, and all the burning we do is causing the planet to warm dramatically.

Chart showing greenhouse gas emissions over time.
Michael Sivak and Brandon Schoettle / University of Michigan

Industries in the U.S. have made some progress cutting greenhouse gas emissions over the past couple of decades. But emissions are up from the transportation sector. This matters because transportation is the nation’s second-largest source of the emissions that are causing climate change.

front of vw car
User Mike Knell / Flickr / http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

German automaker Volkswagen has been handed an expensive lesson: don't mess with the EPA, and don't mess up our air. 

The U.S. Government has given Volkswagen a historic $14.7 billion spanking. 

Jack Lessenberry
Michigan Radio

This Week in Michigan Politics, Jack Lessenberry talks about Flint's role in the democratic race for president, and Governor Snyder volunteering to testify about the Flint water crisis in front of Congress. Lessenberry also talks about Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette's fight against the Obama administration's rules for Michigan to cut carbon emissions from power plants by 31 percent by 2030. 


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If you want to help reduce greenhouse gases - without a major change in life style, the best single action is to drive a more fuel efficient car.

According to a new study by researchers at the University of Michigan Transportation Research Institute,  if every American were to drive a car that gets 31 mpg, instead of the current average of 21.4 mpg, total U.S. carbon emissions would drop by 5 percent.  Driving a vehicle that gets 56 mpg would mean a 10 percent drop.

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Updated 2/8/16 at 1:32 pm and 2/10/16 at 2:50 pm

Many companies are making their carbon emissions public, to show they are doing their part to fight climate change.

But new research by Lux Research indicates most companies in the U.S. are either underestimating or overestimating their emissions.

Ory Zik is Vice President of Analytics for Lux Research.  He says estimating one's own carbon emissions is very difficult.  That's because electricity moves from region to region on grids.

Michigan Attorney General's office

NEW YORK (AP) - Former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg is embarking on a $10 million-plus ad campaign to take on opponents of President Barack Obama's plan to reduce power plant carbon emissions.

  Bloomberg's Independence USA political action committee announced plans Friday to run TV spots aimed at the attorneys general of Florida, Michigan, Missouri and Wisconsin.

VW showed off their Gold TDI Clean Diesel at the 2010 Washington Auto Show. The company has since admitted to evading emissions standards for the last seven years.
wikimedia user Mariordo / http://michrad.io/1LXrdJM

Today Volkswagen’s top U.S. executive is facing the wrath of Congress.

The hearing before a congressional oversight panel is in response to VW’s admission that is has been cheating on U.S. diesel emissions tests for the past seven years.

Last year General Motors CEO Mary Barra was lambasted by a congressional panel over GM's ignition recall scandal, and the Detroit News’ Daniel Howes expects today will be no easier for VW U.S. chief Michael Horn.

There’s no other way to look at it: Volkswagen cheated and lied to its customers.

The German automaker admitted to cheating on the US emissions tests for half a million of its diesel vehicles.

CEO Martin Winterkorn has stepped down and more heads are expected to roll by week’s end, but Detroit News business columnist Daniel Howes says this isn’t even the end of the beginning.

Alcantara

Alcantara, a small Italian manufacturer, is touting a rare achievement: carbon neutrality, meaning a zero carbon footprint.  

Alcantara is a luxury materials supplier for auto and other industries. Some of its products are used for interiors of luxury automobiles.

A coal-fired power plant
Holland BPW

President Obama’s plan to reduce carbon emissions will have a profound effect on Michigan’s energy policy overhaul, but no one agrees yet on how.

Governor Rick Snyder’s administration says it’s withholding judgment. Valerie Brader is the director of the Michigan Agency for Energy and the governor’s top advisor on energy policy.

Photo by d.boyd, Flickr

There's plenty of discussion about climate change and greenhouse gas emissions, but are we ready to actually do something substantive about reducing those emissions?

Based on a national public opinion survey by CLOSUP, the Center for Local, State and Urban Policy at the University of Michigan’s Ford School of Public Policy, the answer appears to be, "yes."

Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio

Monday is the deadline to give federal regulators feedback on a plan to cut carbon emissions in the United States by 30% by 2030. The Environmental Protection Agency says more than 1.6 million comments have been filed so far.

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