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Environment & Science

The Detroit incinerator
tEdGuY49 / Flickr - http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

Citizen environmental groups are planning to sue Detroit’s incinerator over alleged repeated emissions violations if the facility doesn’t clean up its act.

The groups are Environment Michigan and the Ecology Center. They plan to file an allowed citizen-initiated lawsuit under the federal Clean Air Act.

Environmental groups oppose DTE's latest rate proposal

Jan 24, 2019
DTE's River Rouge plant
DTE Energy

The Michigan Environmental Council, the Natural Resources Defense Council, and the Sierra Club are speaking out against DTE Energy's most recent rate case before the Michigan Public Service Commission.

"DTE's proposal is unprecedented in the sheer amount of money they're requesting - over $2.8 billion," said Ariana Gonzalez, senior energy policy analyst for the Natural Resources Defense Council. "And we don't feel they've made the case for that amount of money."

A sign that says "Honor the Treaties" hangs between two trees against a snowy landscape.
Kaye LaFond / Michigan Radio

On a chilly day in early January, the ground at Camp Anishinaabek is covered in a foot of snow, extra crusty from thawing and re-freezing. The outdoor firepit where campers gather in warmer weather is deserted, and instead, they've congregated in a dark, slightly smoky tent.

A dead fish lies on the grass.
Michigan Department of Natural Resources

Largemouth bass virus has been found in two more northern Michigan lakes. Samples from Beaver Lake in Alpena County and Avalon Lake in Montmorency County have tested positive. This follows a recent discovery of the disease in Cedar Lake in Iosco County. Both Beaver Lake and Cedar Lake have now seen fish kills related to LMBV.

Enbridge gas pipeline explodes in Southeastern Ohio

Jan 22, 2019
Daniel Fleming / Flickr Creative Commons http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

The rupture of an Enbridge gas pipeline outside of Summerfield, Ohio sent flames into the air at 10:40 a.m. Monday and caused the evacuation of nearby residents.

The Noble County Sheriff's Office said first responders extinguished the fire Monday.

person weighing weed on scale
Unsplash

Today on Stateside, Michigan regulators allow unlicensed dispensaries and growers to reopen in midst of a medical marijuana shortage. Plus, a software engineer who traded building software for building kitchen cabinets.

Lunar eclipse
Nicky Zhang / Unsplash

Those willing to risk a chilly evening and a late bedtime Sunday night will be met with a stunning reward - the only total lunar eclipse of 2019. And this one will be a super blood moon.

What's a super blood moon? According to NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, the moon will simultaneously be in the full moon phase of its orbit and reaching the perigee, the moon's closest position to Earth (about 363,300 kilometers, to be exact). This is why it appears much larger than a regular full moon, or "super." When the moon passes through Earth's shadow, it will turn a reddish color, hence the "blood" aspect of the name.

Lester Graham / Michigan Radio

Bees are disappearing. You might have heard that colony collapse disorder of European honeybees can nearly wipe out a hive. But native bees are also in trouble. 

There are several kinds of bumblebees in Michigan. A recent survey found during the last 20 years, there were a dozen that were fairly common.

sugar in measuring spoon
Flickr

The Michigan Department of Environmental Quality has settled a lawsuit against Bay City’s Michigan Sugar Company.

The MDEQ filed a lawsuit against Michigan Sugar Company in August of 2017. The lawsuit claimed the company’s sugar beet processing plant violated air and water quality regulations.

Lester Graham / Michigan Radio

The partial federal government shutdown could have wide-ranging consequences for the Great Lakes. There already are some problems, but things could get worse if the shutdown drags on.

Fraser home falling into the sinkhole.
Bryce Huffman / Michigan Radio

Human error.

That’s what Macomb County Public Works Commissioner Candice Miller says caused the massive sinkhole in Fraser in December 2016.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Michigan's former drinking water regulator has pleaded no contest to a misdemeanor in the Flint water investigation.

It's a break for Liane Shekter-Smith, who was facing felony charges, including involuntary manslaughter, in an investigation of Flint's lead-tainted water and a Legionnaires' disease outbreak.

Smith pleaded no contest Monday to disturbance of a lawful meeting and agreed to testify against others, if necessary. Special prosecutor Todd Flood praised her "candor and truthfulness." A message seeking comment was left for Smith's attorney.

A graph shows annual average temperature values for the State of Michigan from 1895 through 2018. The graph varies widely from year to year but shows a general upward trend.
Kaye LaFond / Michigan Radio

New Year, new data. Climate change continues to affect the mitten state. Here are four places you should keep watching for it.

Southern lower Michigan didn’t get a white Christmas in 2018. In fact, it hardly got any snow at all in December, with snow totals falling way below average across the region.

Cobb power plant in Muskegon, which shut down in April 2016
Tracy Samilton / Michigan Radio

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is proposing a big change to a rule that requires coal burning power plants to slash mercury, arsenic and other emissions. Mercury and arsenic are neurotoxins.

The EPA under the Obama administration required coal burning power plants to control emissions of mercury and arsenic for the first time. 

flickr.com/jasoncartwright / https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/

The holidays are here, and for a lot of people that means there are suddenly many, many cardboard boxes piled up around the house.

I called up someone who is way overqualified to talk about the problem. Amy Butler is head of sustainability at Michigan State University

“I use boxes a ton,” she laughs.

Butler says there are lots of creative ways to re-use the boxes in your home.

Michigan Department of Natural Resources

State officials have named eight navigable waterways as the first state-designated water trails in Michigan.

The water trails total about 540 miles and flow through more than a dozen counties in the Lower Peninsula, according to the state Department of Natural Resources. They are intended for paddleboarders and boaters on lakes, rivers, canals and bays.

A diver inspects Enbridge's Line 5 pipeline under the Straits of Mackinac for a possible dent.
Enbridge inspection video shared with the state of Michigan

From following the aftereffects of the Flint Water Crisis to the new discoveries of PFAS in the state, here is some of most important stories Michigan Radio covered on the environment.

Ripple Effects of the Flint Water Crisis

brianne bee looking at lot behind house
Max Johnston

As Traverse City grows, its tree canopy is shrinking. The city is trying to protect trees within city limits, but no one can agree on the best way to do it.

Right now, it’s relatively easy to cut down trees in Traverse City.

You’ll need a permit to do it on public property. But if you buy a lot for development, cut away.

Clevergrrl / FLICKR - HTTP://BIT.LY/1XMSZCG

When Donner and Blitzen deliver their holiday packages, they don't leave much advice about what to do with the trash.

And Americans produce lots of extra trash between Thanksgiving and New Year's day.

That's according to to Lauren Westerman, resource recovery specialist with the Kent County Department of Public Works. 

Lester Graham / Michigan Radio

A combination of state and federal proposals to change protections of wetlands and streams could damage waterways. 

The Trump administration proposes to strip some protections from wetlands and other bodies of water. State legislators propose removing protections for wetlands smaller than ten acres. They also don’t want Michigan agencies to exceed federal rules.

Google maps

Fourteen Michigan water treatment plants from Port Huron to Monroe now have a coordinated early warning system.

Kelley Karll, an engineer with the Southeast Michigan Council of Governments, says there's a lot of heavy industry and freighter traffic on both the Canadian and U.S. side of the shared waterway, which includes the St. Clair River.

She says it's a risk for the three million people who depend on the treatment plants for drinking water.  Now, an upstream water treatment plant can immediately warn a downstream plant of a threat.

State capitol
Lester Graham / Michigan Radio

Scientists and public health advocates are voicing concern over a bill currently making its way through Michigan’s lame-duck Legislature. They say that SB 1244,  sponsored by state Senator Jim Stamas (R-Midland), could prevent the state from using the most up-to-date science when determining what levels of toxic contamination should trigger a cleanup. 

ASIAN CARP REGIONAL COORDINATING COMMITTEE

Michigan’s outgoing governor is trying to convince his counterpart in Illinois to support a project aimed at keeping asian carp out of Lake Michigan.

Asian carp are seen as a threat to the Great Lakes fishing industry. The invasive fish has moved up from the Deep South along the Mississippi River basin, reaching a point several miles from Lake Michigan.

Snyder's pipeline safety board holds its last meeting

Dec 10, 2018
map of Line 5
Enbridge Energy

The board assembled to advise Governor Rick Snyder on pipeline safety held its last public meeting Monday.

The group of environmental and government advisors was created to make recommendations to minimize risks on nearly 400 pipeline-water crossings in the state of Michigan. The board’s most important role was advising the governor on Enbridge Energy's Line 5, the controversial oil and gas pipeline under the Straits of Mackinac.

A woman wearing warm clothing holds a sign that says "Shut Down Line 5, No Tunnel".
Kaye LaFond / Michigan Radio

Demonstrators gathered in Petoskey on Saturday, opposing the state's plan to build a tunnel under the Straits of Mackinac, which would house twin oil pipelines owned by Canadian company Enbridge Energy.

deqmiair.org

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency says Michigan and 19 other states have complied with a 2008 rule to reduce their pollution that was drifting into other states. But air quality experts say there's much more to be done.  

Ozone is a harmful gas created when sunshine, heat and pollutants like nitrogen oxides and volatile organic compounds interact. Those pollutants, which come from power plants, manufacturing, and vehicles, can drift from one state to another. 

Janice Nolen is with the American Lung Association. 

Lester Graham / Michigan Radio

Some cities in Michigan could lose half of all their trees due to disease or pests. Foresters are working to reduce the potential devastation.

“So, I just wanted to show you, this is a neighborhood with old maple trees," Kerry Gray said as she led the way down a tree-lined street in Ann Arbor. She's the urban forester for the city. She’s worried about losing a lot of the city’s trees to a pest or disease. It’s happened before.

hurricane michael satellite image
NOAA

This week, Stateside has been bringing you a series of conversations about the recent National Climate Assessment, a report compiled by 13 federal agencies that breaks down how climate change is projected to impact different regions of the United States.

Andrew Hoffman is a the Holcim Professor of Sustainable Enterprise at the University of Michigan’s Ross School of Business. He joined Stateside to talk about the risk climate change poses to the economy, and how that risk might help convince people skeptical about climate change to change their mind. 

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