Environment & Science | Michigan Radio
WUOMFM

Environment & Science

Jeff Reutter / Ohio State University

Scientists have concluded it's going to be more difficult than they initially thought to reduce phosphorus loads into Lake Erie by 40%.

That's the target set by Great Lakes states.

Phosphorus is a crop fertilizer that also encourages cyanobacterial blooms. 

Rebecca Muenich worked on a study to evaluate ways to control the blooms. 

Meunich is a former researcher at the University of Michigan's Graham Sustainability Institute, and now an assistant professor at Arizona State University.

Dustin Dwyer / Michigan Radio

The swirling liquid rushes into concrete channels behind a black chain-link fence.

“That is what sewage looks like,” says Nicole Pasch, who works in Environmental Services for the city of Grand Rapids.

Pasch is showing off the wastewater treatment facility, along with the various stages the sewage has to pass through before it can be sent back into the nearby Grand River, which flows into Lake Michigan.

"Here we are again:" Decades after PBB crisis, echoes seen in current PFAS crisis

Nov 18, 2019
Dale Young / Bridge Magazine

In 1973, an accident at a chemical plant in the small town of St. Louis in the middle of Michigan’s mitten triggered one of the largest mass poisonings in American history.

PFAS clean-up costs are increasing. Michigan taxpayers may have to foot the bill.

Nov 18, 2019
Terry and Tom Hula exit a shed that contains a 1,500-gallon water tank on their property in Belmont.
Steve Jessmore / Bridge Magazine

Terry Hula loves Christmas. So much so, she and her husband, Tom, bought a home 28 years ago that was surrounded by a Christmas tree farm.

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

The state of Michigan is a step closer to establishing the limits of PFAS in drinking water. PFAS is a family of chemicals that have been discovered in high levels in drinking water at sites across the state. Yesterday the Environmental Rules Review Committee voted to move the draft regulations forward. If approved, the new regulations will be among the strictest in the nation. The next step is a public comment period along with public hearings, which are expected to be announced before year's end. 

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

Ohio Governor Mike DeWine has rolled out a comprehensive water quality plan for his state. The plan has been named H2Ohio.

water faucet
Flickr user Bart / http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

The Flint water crisis showed the state—and the country—that clean drinking water isn't something we can take for granted. But it isn’t just Flint. Recent water samples put St. Clair Shores on the list of Michigan communities with high levels of lead in their water. Other areas of the state are worried about PFAS contamination.

Multi-colored books.
Kimberly Farmer / Unsplash

Today on Stateside, we hear from two sisters working to increase Muslim representation in the books at libraries. Plus, we talk to the director of the Detroit Zoo about the role that zoos can play in addressing the impacts of climate change. 

Lester Graham / Michigan Radio

We know that burning fossil fuels releases a lot of greenhouse gases. But there are other human-caused sources that contribute to climate change. As Lester Graham with the Environment Report found, one of them is how farmers plant crops.

man vaping
Fotofabrika / Adobe Stock

Doctors at a Detroit hospital have performed a double lung transplant on a man whose lungs were damaged from vaping.

No other details of the transplant were released Monday by Henry Ford Health System, which has scheduled a news conference Tuesday. The patient has asked his medical team to share photographs and an update to warn others about vaping.

U.S. EPA

 

Gary Sayers, the owner of a Madison Heights electroplating company, has been sentenced to a year in prison. 

That's after he violated hazardous waste storage laws for more than two decades.

Mackinac Bridge
Mark Brush / Michigan Radio

Fourteen civic, environmental and tribal groups have urged Governor Gretchen Whitmer to take immediate new steps to protect the Great Lakes in case of a possible wintertime rupture of Enbridge's Line 5, the pipeline that runs under the Straits of Mackinac.

In an October 25 letter, the groups asked Whitmer to tighten standards that would trigger a shutdown of Line 5 during rough seas and ice.

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

Former Governor Rick Snyder stirred controversy when he appointed business and industry representatives to the Environmental Rules Review Committee (ERRC), a regulatory oversight board to oversee rulemaking within the Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy.

 

Now, that board is slowing down the advancement of new drinking water standards that limit acceptable levels of chemicals from the PFAS family in Michigan’s drinking water.

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

Researchers say the harmful cyanobacteria bloom on Lake Erie this past summer was the fifth largest since they began ranking them going back to 2002.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration says the bloom covered about 700 square miles by the end of August.

woman walking on beach
soupstock / Adobe Stock

High Great Lakes water levels are threatening some homes and other structures. On Tuesday, Governor Gretchen Whitmer and the Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy (EGLE) announced a new plan to aid Michigan shoreline property owners affected by land erosion by those high lake levels.

State of Michigan

For the third consecutive year, Flint water is testing below state and federal action levels for lead, according to data the state released on Wednesday.

In the first half of 2016, at the height of the city’s water crisis, Flint’s 90th percentile result for lead-in-water samples was 20 parts per billion.

Mark Brush / Michigan Radio

When you call the city of Melvindale’s Department of Water and Public Works these days, you’ll hear a message that goes like this:

“If you’re calling regarding recent lead sampling results for the city of Melvindale, please note that the water supply we are provided from Great Lakes Water [Authority] is safe. This applies to properties that have lead service lines going into their home.”

Want to support more reporting like this? Consider making a gift to Michigan Radio today. 

A sea lamprey close up
T. Lawrence / Great Lakes Fishery Commisison

A number of destructive invasive species have invaded the Great Lakes in the past several decades. These non-native creatures can do significant damage to native ecosystems. Biologists work hard to control them, but it's an ongoing battle. 

Cory Brant of the Great Lakes Fishery Commission has captured the story of one particularly prolific invasive species in his new book Great Lakes Sea Lamprey: The 70 Year War on a Biological Invader.

a portrait of Governor Stevens T Mason
Courtesy of the Michigan History Center

 

Today on Stateside, one University of Michigan professor says we are in the midst of a "Re-Englightenment" when it comes to cultural attitudes about climate change. Plus, we talk to Democratic Congresswoman Elissa Slotkin about her work on a package of bills aimed at protecting U.S. elections from foriegn interference.

people holding climate change protest signs
Bob Blob / Unsplash

 

Science shows climate change is real and humans are contributing to the problem. So, how did something science-based cause such a cultural and political divide?

University of Michigan professor Andrew Hoffman has an answer to that question.

In September, he wrote an article called “Climate Change and Our Emerging Cultural Shift.” It addressed the unique backlash to climate change science among some religious communities.

wikipedia

Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer has launched a new initiative to guide the state's transformation to cleaner energy. It's called MI Power Grid. 

The Michigan Public Service Commission is in charge of the initiative. 

MPSC Chair Sally Talberg says part of MI Power Grid will be focused on energy customers, to help them benefit from the transition, and reduce their energy use and costs.

Common loon is one of the climate endangered species in Michigan.
User: jackanapes / Flickr

More than 50 percent of Michigan’s birds could go extinct if nothing is done to combat climate change.

That's according to a report from the Audubon Society.

Two people pick vegetables from a set of tall plants
Adam Rayes / Michigan Radio

With all the news about climate change, pollution, and habitat destruction, it’s easy to be pessimistic about the environmental challenges facing the world. Our Climate Crew series features people who are stepping up in their own communities to do something about it.

Kevin Randall stands in front of a river
Courtesy of Kevin Randall

With all the news about climate change, pollution and habitat destruction, it’s easy to be pessimistic about the environmental challenges facing the world. Our Climate Crew series features people who are stepping up in their own communities to do something about it. 

A fellow teacher tipped us off about Kevin Randall, who teaches biology at Grandville High School. We talked to him about what he’s been doing to make his school a little greener.

map of Line 5
Enbridge Energy

A tribe in Northern Wisconsin still wants Line 5 off their land, despite a $24 million offer from Enbridge.

The Bad River Band of Lake Superior Chippewa sued Enbridge Energy earlier this year, asking them to immediately shut down the portion of the Line 5 oil pipeline that runs through their reservation.

Lester Graham / Michigan Radio

A half-century ago, within the span of two years, three of America’s rivers caught fire. One of them was in Michigan. Those fires ignited the environmental movement. 

On this date, October 9th, 50 years ago, the Rouge River caught fire. 

Adobe Stock

The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services confirmed on October 2 a person in Battle Creek who contracted Eastern Equine Encephalitis (EEE) has died, bringing the total number of human fatalities to four.

On October 8, MDHHS announced that it has completed all aerial pesticide spraying, which covered more than 557,000 acres across 14 counties.

Michigan hemp farmers harvest first legal crops

Oct 8, 2019

Fall in Michigan means harvest time for farmers, and many Michiganders are already flocking to apple orchards and pumpkin patches to reap the benefits of that harvest. A very different group of farmers are celebrating their first harvest as well.

A male Kirtland's Warbler in a jack pine forest in Michigan, USA.
Joel Trick / USFWS

The Kirtland's warbler is being removed from the federal endangered species list after a successful battle to save it from extinction.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service said Tuesday that the yellow-bellied songbird has recovered but will continue to rely on habitat preservation measures for long-term survival.

sugar beet laying on the ground
ExQuisine / Adobe Stock

Salt helps to keep Michigan’s roads clear in the winter. But it also eats away at the pavement and pollutes the lakes and streams it washes into.

A bill that passed the state Senate calls for an experiment - swapping or at least supplementing road salt with sugar beet byproducts.

Pages