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Environment & Science

three mexican gray wolf pups
Courtesy of the Binder Park Zoo

Tests confirm two Mexican gray wolf pups at southern Michigan zoo have died of a rare mosquito-borne virus as health officials work to curb the spread of the virus in people and animals.

Binder Park Zoo in Battle Creek says results received this week confirm the pups that died in early September were killed by Eastern equine encephalitis, which is also known as Triple-E. The two wolves were part of a litter born June 14 to a breeding pair of wolves at the zoo. The one wolf pup who survived appears healthy and is being monitored along with her parents. 

Lester Graham / Michigan Radio

A lab error is being blamed for a positive test for chemical contamination with a chemical in the PFAS family in the River Raisin watershed.

white woman smiling in front of foliage
Courtesy of Logan Vear

 


The constant barrage of news about climate change, drinking water contamination, and pollution in the Great Lakes region can feel overwhelming. If you care, it’s hard to know what to do or where to start.

That's where Stateside's new series comes in. We're featuring ordinary people who identified a problem – no matter how big or small – and chose to act. 

Enbridge Energy

Enbridge Energy says it will begin to immediately install 54 additional steel supports along a section of Line 5 in the Straits of Mackinac. That's after the company received a permit from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers for the work.

Mike Shriberg is with the National Wildlife Federation. He says it's a good idea to add the supports, but even so, the aging Line 5 needs to be shut down as soon as possible.

Consumers Energy

A newly introduced bill in the state House would allow people to buy shares in a solar array. The concept is called community solar. The bill was introduced by Representative Michele Hoitenga (R-Manton).

Each subscriber would pay a portion of the cost of constructing the solar array, and they would get a credit on their electric bill for the electricity produced.

Ed Rivet is with the Michigan Conservative Energy Forum. 

He says under the bill, 10 or more people or groups could support clean energy even if they can't install their own rooftop solar panels.

That could include renters and condo owners, businesses or places of worship.

A group of elementary school children hold signs at the Washtenaw County protest.
Katie Raymond / Michigan Radio

 

“Climate strikes” are being held around the world today, including here in Michigan. The youth-led movement aims to pressure corporations and governments to do more to reduce the greenhouse gases that are causing climate change.

"Do Not Eat" advisory for deer in Oscoda still in effect

Sep 20, 2019
Lester Graham / Michigan Radio

With hunting season in Michigan beginning October 1, the Michigan Department of Natural Resources and the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services are reminding hunters about the “Do Not Eat” advisory for deer taken within 5 miles of Clark’s Marsh in Oscoda Township.

The advisory was originally issued in October of 2018, after venison was tested and found to have extremely high levels of PFOS (perfluorooctane sulfonic acid), the most common chemical in the PFAS family. 

Lester Graham / Michigan Radio


Andrei / Adobe Stock

The Home Depot announced Tuesday that it will stop buying from its suppliers any rugs and carpets that contain PFAS chemicals.

"Excluding PFAS from the carpets and rugs we sell is another example of our shared commitment to building a better future for our customers and the planet," Ron Jarvis, The Home Depot's vice president for environmental innovation, said in a written statement.

A solar farm developed by Cypress Creek Renewables
Cypress Creek Renewables

The Michigan Public Service Commission has given the green light to a case settlement between Consumers Energy and independent solar companies that could dramatically increase solar power in Michigan.

Michigan currently has about 167 megawatts of capacity from solar, which is not a whole lot.   Consumers Energy has agreed to buy 584 megawatts of additional solar from independent companies over the next four years.  

Noah Hyte is with Cypress Creek Renewables, one of the companies party to the agreement. He says there's enough sun in Michigan to make it worthwhile to build lots of solar here.

Sam Corden / Interlochen Public Radio

Last week, the Trump administration revealed it would be repealing the Clean Water Rule, also called the Waters of the United States Act. Now, activists in the Great Lakes region are worried about how these rollbacks will affect the Great Lakes.

steve carmody / Michigan Radio

Michiganders have mixed reactions to the Trump administration rolling back a key Obama-era environmental regulation.

The administration says revoking an Obama-era rule on waters and wetlands would provide "much-needed regulatory certainty" for farmers, homebuilders, and landowners.

a picture of a smoky forest with charred trees
Unsplash

When you think about the modern environmentalist movement, you probably picture progressive supporters with liberal political views. 

But in a piece recently published in The Conversation, University of Michigan Professor Alexandra Minna Stern notes that more and more white nationalists are latching onto environmental concerns and calling themselves "eco-fascists.”

Trump administration to revoke water protection rule

Sep 12, 2019
northern michigan wetlands
ehrlif / Adobe Stock

The Trump administration plans to revoke an Obama-era regulation that provided federal protection to many U.S. wetlands and streams.

Two Environmental Protection Agency officials with knowledge of the plan told The Associated Press the administration plans to substitute the rule with its own version.

water facuet flowing into title of documentary
Flint: The Poisoning of an American City press kit

Flint was once a city of prosperity and thriving industry. Its successes were touted as an example for other U.S. cities. An old promotional film celebrating Flint's achievements in business and public education, summed it up this way:

three books with an apple on top, a few crayons, and some ABC blocks sit on top of a wood desk
Unsplash

 


Today on Stateside, how "energy resilient" is Michigan? We talk to the chair of the Michigan Public Service Commission about a newly-released assessment of the state's energy infrastructure. Plus, the rise and fall of a 19th century Chrsitian utopian society in Michigan's Thumb region. 

Do not eat the fish because of pfas sign
Lester Graham / Michigan Radio

A report from the National Wildlife Federation report is urging state governors and lawmakers in Minnesota, Wisconsin, Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and New York to take steps to address the growing issue of PFAS in the Great Lakes. The report says state action is crucial, as it is unclear as to whether a “divided Congress and ambivalent White House” will do enough to confront the problem. 

black rhino by an african watering hole
lnichetti / Adobe Stock

The Trump administration says it will issue a permit to a Michigan trophy hunter to import the skin, skull and horns from a rare black rhinoceros he shot last year in Africa.

sturgeon baby
Photo courtesy of USFS, Rob Elliott

Sturgeon are a long-grey, spiney, prehistoric fish that can live up to 100 years old.

But overfishing and habitat destruction has decimated their population across the state.

Lake Huron waves crashing
n_his_image / Adobe Stock

Rising water levels in the Great Lakes are bringing pieces of shipwrecks ashore along Michigan's Lake Huron shoreline.

A groundwater well head
Engdao / Adobe Stock

Company officials from Michigan Seamless Tube have requested that the city of South Lyon ban water wells on land adjacent to its plant. That's because a plume of contaminated groundwater is spreading from the MST plant. 

Two sheets of paper, one with a meeting agenda, one with a resolution in support of Enbridge's Line 5 tunnel.
Kaye LaFond / Michigan Radio

Cheboygan County passed a resolution to support Enbridge’s construction of a tunnel underneath the Straits of Mackinac at their board meeting Tuesday morning. 

 

Eight counties — Cheboygan, Delta, Dickinson, Houghton, Iron, Gogebic, Grand Traverse and Ontonagon — have now passed nearly identical resolutions.

user MirkoB / Wikimedia Commons

Sometimes, bad things can lead to good things.

New research by ecologist Cory Suski of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign suggests that pollution in the Chicago Area Waterway System is deterring invasive silver carp from moving into Lake Michigan.

Oshki founder Jackson Riegler picking up platstic on a beach.
Photo courtesy of Jackson Riegler

Nearly 22 million pounds of plastic end up in the Great Lakes each year. University of Michigan student and West Michigan native Jackson Riegler is stepping up to face that challenge, and he's doing it through fashion. 

Riegler is the founder of Oshki, a company that uses plastic waste to create sustainable apparel.

The Ann Arbor emissions testing facility
Wikimedia Commons

Environmental Protection Agency employees at a Grosse Ile facility will not be returning to work on Monday. The Large Lakes Research Station was closed on Wednesday, despite backlash from local, state, and federal politicians. The Grosse Ile workers were supposed to move to an emissions testing facility in Ann Arbor, but many are concerned about the safety of the facility, as they have yet to receive results from air quality testing.

A combine on a soybean farm
Laurie Isley

Between the ongoing trade war with China and one of the wettest springs to date, this year has brought major challenges for Michigan’s farmers and growers.

Laurie Isley owns Sunrise Farms in Lenawee County, where she and her husband grow corn and soybeans on a thousand acres. She’s also the president of the Michigan Soybean Promotion Committee.

led light bulbs on a light blue background
voloshin311 / Adobe Stock

Consumers Energy CEO Patti Poppe pulled no punches at a kickoff event for the utility's campaign to encourage customers to use less energy in the war against climate change.

"I cannot stress firmly enough that we are in a crisis and must take action right now," she said.  "We can't do this ourselves, we need your help."

City of Flint Water Plant
Adobe Stock

This post has been updated with new information about the testing of Flint's water.

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.

Noelle Riley / Interlochen Public Radio

At least eight counties have passed resolutions supporting Enbridge Energy’s proposed tunnel under the Straits of Mackinac. The tunnel through bedrock would replace the Line 5 twin oil pipelines that currently sit on the lakebed.

An aerial view of algae blooms in Lake Erie.
NOAA DERIVED IMAGE FROM EUMETSAT COPERNICUS SENTINEL-3A SATELLITE DAT / NOAA

 

It was this time five years ago that the city of Toledo placed a city-wide ban of tap water.

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