Environment & Science | Michigan Radio
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Environment & Science

PFAS foam on lakeshore
Michigan Department of Environmental Quality / Flickr http://bit.ly/1xMszCg

The Environmental Protection Agency has released draft recommendations for industrial chemicals known as PFAS.

The EPA says the guidance will inform final cleanup levels for groundwater used as drinking water.

City of Flint Water Plant
Adobe Stock

Five years ago, the city of Flint switched its water to the Flint River. Citizens soon complained of dirty, foul-smelling water. Doctors found evidence of high lead levels in children. Outside researchers proved the city’s water (because of a lack of corrosion control) was corroding pipes, bacteria levels skyrocketed, and thousands of people were without clean water.

That began five years ago. Now, many people still say that Flint, Michigan doesn’t have clean water.  

The problem is, those claims are misleading. 

Dennis Schroeder / National Renewable Energy Lab

Some cities in Michigan are putting together climate change action plans. Part of that is making everything more energy efficient in order to reduce the greenhouse gas emissions that contribute to climate change. One of the big concerns is making sure low-income households are not left behind.

A Michigan lawmaker is urging swift action to combat climate change.

U.S. Senator Gary Peters hosted an Earth Day field summit in Lansing Monday.

Peters says the impacts of climate change are not a problem for future generations to tackle.

“They are significant, they are costly and they are already being felt here in Michigan,” Peters said.

Peters says the Midwest is particularly vulnerable to the challenges posed by climate change.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Across the state Michiganders are taking part in projects to mark Earth Day, and not all of them are taking place far away from the state’s urban centers.

In Saginaw, dozens of volunteers are spending the day cleaning up vacant lots. It’s part of a larger program to put in plants that attract pollinating insects and wildlife across the city.  

Zachary Branigan is the executive director of the Saginaw Basin Land Conservancy.

He says there’s a wildlife corridor that goes right through the city of Saginaw and Bay City, up and down the Saginaw Valley. 

steve carmody / Michigan Radio

Oscoda residents will meet with high ranking U.S. Air Force officials this week to discuss the cleanup of PFAS contamination at the former Wurtsmith Air Force base.

Assistant Secretary of the Air Force for Installations, Environment and Energy, John Henderson, will hold a public forum in Oscoda next Wednesday, April 24 at 4 p.m. at the Oscoda Township Community Center.

Antonio Espree
Mercedes Mejia / Michigan Radio


A man leans out of a car door and lifts his binoculars to the sky.
Kaye LaFond / Michigan Radio

More than four million people crossed the Straits of Mackinac last year. But they are also one of the busiest migration spots for raptors, or birds of prey, in the United States.

United States Geological Survey

Environmental advocacy group Center for Biological Diversity has sued the Trump administration and the U.S. Interior Secretary for not making protection decisions for wildlife.   

Three of the 24 species the lawsuit cites are native to Michigan. The yellow-banded bumblebee, purple lilliput, and round hickorynut are native to Michigan. The group says these species are not currently protected by the Endangered Species Act.

work being done during an external inspection of Line 5 in the Straits in 2016.
Enbridge

Governor Gretchen Whitmer is in talks with Enbridge about a proposed tunnel under the Straits of Mackinac for its Line 5 pipeline. That's according to the Detroit News.

sandhill crane
Ray Hennessy / Adobe Stock

Two Michigan lawmakers are pushing for a hunting season for sandhill cranes.

Last week, House Resolution 61 and Senate Resolution 30 were introduced by Rep. Jim Lower (R-Cedar Lake), and Sen. Dale Zorn (R-Ida). Lower introduced a similar resolution (HR 154) in 2017.

The resolutions call on Michigan's Natural Resources Commission to add sandhill cranes to the game species list. And they urge the commission to seek the required approval from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to establish a hunting season for the birds.

An adult spotted lanternfly.
U.S. Department of Agriculture

Invasive species can cause major damage to an ecosystem. They compete with native flora and fauna for resources, and often lack any natural predators to control their populations. 

Large scale U.P. coal plant closes

Apr 15, 2019

 

The Presque Isle Power Plant in Marquette is now closed. The plant had been the biggest producer of coal-fired energy for the Upper Peninsula.

 

First image of a black hole
Event Horizon Telescope collaboration et al.

It was considered impossible. It was said to be like taking a picture of a grapefruit on the moon but with a radio telescope.

That’s how 29-year-old computer scientist Katie Bouman explained an international effort to capture an image of a black hole. She finally made history Wednesday morning after she and a team working on an Event Horizon Telescope project were able to accomplish that very goal.

Wind turbine
Tim Wang / flickr http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

Lake Erie could become home to an offshore wind farm in the next few years.

The proposed Icebreaker Wind project is a six-turbine wind farm that could be built off the coast of Cleveland.

Dave Karpinski is with the Lake Erie Energy Development Corporation.

“For the Cleveland area, it's a chance to be a leader in this new emerging industry in the US,” he said.

Karpinski says the wind farm would create clean energy and jobs with little impact to residents and the environment.

Lester Graham / Michigan Radio

China is not taking as much U.S. recycled material as it has in the past. The Chinese economy is slowing down and it doesn’t need to import as much paper and plastic. It’s also finding that so much U.S. recycled material is contaminated that it ends up in China’s landfills.

From the top of a mountain, a snowy landscape with trees reveals a view of Lake Superior in the distance.
Kaye LaFond / Michigan Radio

Most wind energy projects in Michigan are on farmland in the southern part of the state. They are often controversial even there, but one company wants to put a wind farm in an Upper Peninsula forest. Many community members don’t feel that’s the right place either.

Kaiti Chritz | Potter Park Zoo

A Lansing zoo confirms its critically endangered black rhino is pregnant. Potter Park Zoo officials say it took almost a year to get the female rhino pregnant.

The rhino's name is Doppsee. While it is too early to see a fetus, lab test show she is expecting.

According to the International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources (IUCN) there are only 5,000 black rhinos remaining in the wild and only about 60 at zoos in the United States.

NOAA

The Michigan Department of Natural Resources is starting spring work on maintaining the state’s fish population.

The DNR says it expects to collect about 30 million eggs from walleye in the Muskegon River in the coming weeks. The state also collects eggs from steelhead on the Little Manistee River.

Jennifer Fassbender

State environmental regulators are nearing a long-awaited decision on a permit to expand a hazardous waste facility in Detroit.

U.S. Ecology first applied for a permit to expand storage capacity ten-fold at its Detroit North facility in 2015. But the application stalled in the face of major political and community opposition.

Adobe Stock

The company that owns and operates Detroit’s massive trash incinerator abruptly announced Wednesday that it’s closing down the facility.

The controversial incinerator is near the I-75/I-94 interchange on the city’s near east side, adjacent to the Midtown area. It’s been operating for three decades, though never without controversy.

Picture of Lake Superior
Isabella Isaacs-Thomas / Michigan Radio

A new report commissioned by the Environmental Law and Policy Center urges Great Lakes states to mitigate and prepare for the "profound" effects of climate change.

The report, authored by more than a dozen Midwest and Canadian researchers, says Great Lakes states will see more very hot days, increases in heavy rainfall and flooding, declines in crop yields, and threats to drinking water.  

picture of wallpaper
michigan history center

 

In the 19th century, wallpaper became an increasingly popular home decor trend among Americans. Influenced by the culture of Victorian England, these wallpapers were adorned with loud patterns, flowers, animals, and a lot of colors.

But those bright, vibrant hues held a dark secret.  

“In the mid-19th century, green became a very popular color. And the way to get the various hues of green was to mix it with arsenic,” explained the Michigan History Center's Rachel Clark. 

Mark Brush / Michigan Radio

A new set of rules takes effect this week for boaters and fisherman in Michigan.

Beginning Thursday, watercraft users will be required to take steps to prevent the spread of aquatic invasive species.

The smooth, rosy trunk of a cherry tree is marked with big, oozing dead areas, called cankers.
George Sundin / Michigan State University

Bacterial canker is a devastating tree disease that affects sweet cherry orchards around the country. There is currently no good way to treat it, but some Michigan scientists are trying to harness bacteria-killing viruses to control it.

Tracy Samilton / Michigan Radio

Several hundred Ann Arbor high school and university students walked out of class Friday to urge swifter action on climate change.

University of Michigan student Logan Vear is an organizer. 

She points to a new report from the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change that warns that humans must completely eliminate their carbon dioxide emissions by 2050. That would give the world a fighting chance of limiting global warming.

But many companies - including Michigan's two largest utilities - only promise to reduce their CO2 emissions by 80% by then.

"And I think there are a lot of existing deadlines like that, not only in Michigan but across the nation, that obviously are not good enough," says Vear.

beagle
Humane Society

The Humane Society of the United States is pushing for the release of three dozen beagles it says are being force-fed fungicides in a West Michigan laboratory.


Nathan Bishop

Federal lawmakers, two from Michigan and two from Illinois, have introduced bills that would require the federal government to address concerns about petroleum coke exposure.

Petroleum coke is a byproduct of refining crude oil. 

The legislation calls for federal agencies to complete a study of the health and environmental risks posed by petroleum coke. It also would require the implementation of federal safety regulations for the storage and transportation of petroleum coke. The standards would be based on the study's findings.

a computer that says foxconn
Christopher Bulle / Flickr - http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

The Michigan-based water law non-profit “For Love of Water,” or "FLOW," filed an amicus brief this week in support of a lawsuit against the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources.

 

Last April, the WDNR approved the City of Racine's request to withdraw an annual average of 7 million gallons of Lake Michigan water per day and send it to their customers in another community, Mount Pleasant.

steve carmody / Michigan Radio

A new report raises questions about the citizen science projects that emerged during the Flint Water Crisis. 

But critics charge the report’s authors have ulterior motives.

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