environment

Environment & Science
12:37 pm
Tue April 8, 2014

Company considers drilling for oil west of Ann Arbor

A drilling rig in Appalachia.
Creative Commons photo by user Meridithw

Ben Freed over at The Ann Arbor News has more about the plans being developed by Traverse City-based West Bay Exploration Company. Freed reports the company has approached landowners in Scio Township looking to obtain their mineral rights.

West Bay says it would drill for oil using a "traditional" method. The company's vice president, Patrick Gibson, said it wouldn't use horizontal hydraulic fracturing, or fracking:

“We’re a conventional oil and gas exploration company, we do not utilize hydraulic fracturing,” Gibson said.

“What we’re looking for is geological formations that are already fractured so that we don’t have to do any fracturing ourselves, hydraulic or otherwise.”

Landowners are being advised to educate themselves before signing contracts offered by the company. MSU's extension office offers insights into oil and gas leasing on this page.

Environment & Science
4:43 pm
Mon April 7, 2014

U.S. Supreme Court won't review UP mining dispute

Kennecott Eagle MIne in September, 2011
Credit Kennecott Eagle Minerals

The U.S. Supreme Court declined to take a case trying to stop the development of a new copper and nickel mine in Michigan's Upper Peninsula.

The high court let stand a lower court's rejection of the Huron Mountain Club's arguments that the mine needs federal permits.

The Club owns a 19,000-acre wildlife and nature preserve that includes an 11-mile stretch of the Salmon Trout River.

The Eagle Mine is located a few miles upstream, and some mining will take place under the river.

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Economy
5:26 pm
Sat March 22, 2014

Poll: People worry more about the price of fueling their car than heating their home

John DeCicco is a research professor at the U of M Energy Institute. He says the reason for the higher sensitivity to gas prices may be found by looking through the car windshield.
Steve Carmody Michigan Radio

People are more worried about being able to afford fuel for their cars than heating their homes. That’s the finding of a new poll by the University of Michigan.

The U of M Energy Institute asked people about their energy costs and found that most people are twice as sensitive to increasing gasoline costs than they are to rising home energy costs.

John DeCicco is a research professor at the U of M Energy Institute. He says the reason for the higher sensitivity to gas prices may be found by looking through the car windshield.

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Environment & Science
1:16 pm
Wed March 19, 2014

Senators want faster action on stopping Asian carp

DNR

TRAVERSE CITY – A group of U.S. senators wants the federal government to move faster on preventing Asian carp from reaching the Great Lakes through waterways in the Chicago area.

Eleven senators from states in the region sent a letter Tuesday to the assistant secretary of the Army, whose office oversees the Army Corps of Engineers. The letter asks a series of questions about when the Corps might begin tasks such as adding barriers at the southernmost lock in the Chicago Area Waterway System.

It also asks what authorization the Corps needs from Congress to move more quickly toward short- and long-term solutions.

The Corps issued a report in January with options for blocking the invasive carp's path to Lake Michigan, but says Congress and regional stakeholders must choose the final plan.

Weather
12:28 pm
Tue March 11, 2014

Record set for ice cover on Lake Michigan, not on Great Lakes

Lake Michigan as photographed by a NOAA satellite on March 8, 2014.
NOAA

My neighbors and I officially had our last "pond hockey" game over the weekend. We moved everything off the ice as things started to melt.

So the ice in the region has reached its peak, right? No one thinks we're going to be hit with another prolonged polar vortex, do they? 

Let's hope not.

With the most frigid part of this winter over, let's look at the record books for ice cover on the Great Lakes.

Here's what we know.

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Environment & Science
3:11 pm
Wed March 5, 2014

Great Lakes ice levels approaching record set in 1979

Great Lakes ice levels as of March 4th, 2014. The blue areas show open water.
Credit NOAA

The last time I posted on this (on Feb. 26), the ice levels on the Great Lakes had dropped off.

There had been a slight warm-up and some strong winds that had opened up the water.

But it's been cold since then, and the ice levels have increased on the Great Lakes. Here's a graphic showing you where the ice levels stand as of yesterday. The blue areas show the open water:

As I mentioned in my previous post, ice formation on the lakes is dynamic – constantly changing.

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Environment & Science
12:43 pm
Thu February 27, 2014

More action needed to clean up Lake Erie, says international agency

Algae blooms have once again become common in western Lake Erie.
Mark Brush Michigan Radio

Massive algae blooms and dead zones in Lake Erie: These used to be major environmental problems around the most urbanized Great Lake back in the '60s and '70s, but they are problems once again.

Now, an international agency that keeps an eye on the health of the Great Lakes is calling for more action.

The International Joint Commission, a U.S.-Canadian agency, wants sharp cutbacks on phosphorus runoff getting into Lake Erie.

The amount of phosphorus available in rivers and lakes is one of the main drivers of algae growth. The more you have, the more the algae blooms.

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Environment & Science
11:17 am
Wed February 26, 2014

Watch a time-lapse video of the ice forming on the Great Lakes

The Great Lakes on Feb. 16, 2014.
GLERL

Update: March 5, 2014, 3:36 p.m.

The Great Lakes are again icing up and approaching the 1979 record. See this post for more.

Original post: February 26th, 2014, 11:17 a.m.

This frigid winter has us watching the record books again. The record for the most amount of ice cover on the Great Lakes was set back in 1979. That's when the ice cover reached the 95% mark.

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Stateside
3:52 pm
Wed February 12, 2014

Health professionals trained in environmental issues also learn to share knowledge with community

A physician administers a vaccination.
CDC CDC


It takes a lot of heavy lifting to become a physician, a nurse, a dietician or other health-care professional. Long years of coursework and clinical training leave little room to learn other important skills – the kind of skills that can make a health professional an important player in the public policy sphere and prepared to tackle some of our most urgent environmental health challenges.

That's why the Ecology Center is offering a new fellowship program that can train health professionals about effective civic engagement and environmental health risks.

Listen to the full piece above.

Environment & Science
3:02 pm
Fri February 7, 2014

Ice bridge to Isle Royale is complete, will new wolves cross it?

Lake Superior on Feb. 4, 2014. Can you find the ice bridge to Isle Royale in this photo? It's there.
MODIS NASA

The last time I checked, the ice bridge to Isle Royale had not fully formed, but there's an ice bridge now.

Michigan Technological University's Rolf Peterson confirmed it in an e-mail to me last night.

"There's been a good ice bridge for the past 10 days."

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Environment & Science
12:42 pm
Fri January 17, 2014

Managers at Sleeping Bear Dunes want take down more diseased Beech trees

A beech tree in Michigan killed by beech bark disease.
Joseph O'Brien U.S. Forest Service

For a beech tree, the end comes in two parts.

It starts with the wooly beech scale opening up a wound, then a fungus gets into that wound and can eventually kill the tree (either by girdling it or by weakening it until it falls over).

The disease has been around in Canada and parts of the U.S. for more than a century. It was discovered in Michigan in 2000.

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Stateside
8:46 pm
Thu January 9, 2014

What will Gov. Snyder say about the environment in his State of the State address?

Lisa Wozniak
http://www.michiganlcv.org/

Gov. Snyder delivers his State of the State address a week from today. He'll likely talk about new policy initiatives and proposals and issues concerning everything from transportation and infrastructure to education. Lisa Wozniak, however, will be listening intently to what the Governor has to say about one specific topic: the environment.

Lisa Wozniak is the Executive Director of the Michigan League for Conservation Voters, and she joined us today.

Listen to the full interview above.

The Environment Report
9:32 am
Thu January 9, 2014

Food industry asks to label genetically engineered ingredients as 'natural'

March Against Monsanto, Vancouver, Canada
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

The food industry wants the government to give the okay for calling products using genetically engineered ingredients “natural” foods.

I went to my local grocery store looking for the term “natural” or “naturally” and I didn’t have to go very far.

In the cereal aisle I found products labeled “naturally flavored,” “100% natural,” and an “all natural pancake mix.” A couple aisles over, looking at the chips there were “all natural” pretzels, “naturally sweet” popcorn, and then there was a drink with a label that read “naturally flavored beverage with other natural flavors blended with vitamins.”

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Environment & Science
11:52 am
Wed November 27, 2013

This is what it sounds like to be attacked by a turkey

Not the turkey of interest, but a close facsimilie.
wikimedia commons

Back in 2007, I was doing a story on CAFOs in Wood County, Ohio.

I was waiting for my interviewee to return home when I spotted a gang of turkeys appear at the edge of the woods.

I had some time to kill, so I channeled my inner Marlin Perkins, got out my "shotgun" microphone, and attempted to record some wild nature sounds. (A "shotgun" microphone does not shoot anything, it's simply a long microphone that collects sound from far away.)

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Stateside
4:28 pm
Thu November 14, 2013

Why do we have the lowest recycling rate in the Great Lakes region?

A recycling sorter.
skatebiker Wikimedia Commons

The state’s paltry recycling numbers have caught the attention of Gov. Rick Snyder, who’s pinpointing recycling as a top priority. The Department of Environmental Quality is trying to come up with a proposal to expand recycling in Michigan.

“If we could accomplish our 50 percent recycling goal, the value of that material if diverted from the landfill is about $500 million dollars a year,” said Kerrin O'Brien, the executive director of the Michigan Recycling Coalition.

O’Brien talked to us in the studio along with Barry Rabe, professor of Environmental Policy at the University of Michigan, where he directs the Center for Local, State and Urban Policy.

Click on the audio link above to listen to the full interview.

The Environment Report
8:30 am
Tue November 12, 2013

More bike lanes in Michigan mean more cyclists

You'll be seeing more of these signs in Michigan
Credit MDOT

More communities in Michigan are embracing bike lanes.

Grand Rapids plans to add 40 more miles of bike lanes in the next few years. Detroit has an aggressive approach to implementing them and they're popping up in places like Adrian and South Haven, not to mention the biking hot spots of Traverse City and Marquette.

Josh DeBruyn is the bike and pedestrian coordinator for MDOT. Part of his job is to deal with the applications that towns send him when they apply for grants to help install bike lanes.

DeBruyn says he gets double to triple the amount of applicants that he can actually fulfill for these kinds of grants.

He also says he hears from plenty of people and organizations about what he calls "motor vehicle angst" - or drivers who are frustrated and sometimes aggressive with cyclists.

You can listen to my interview with him here:

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Environment & Science
3:20 pm
Fri November 8, 2013

What fall smells like in Michigan and around the world

For many Michiganders, leaf smells are a major indicator of fall's arrival.
user hyperboreal Flickr

Wet leaves, cider, campfire — for many Michiganders, these are the smells of fall.

But our friends over at WNYC’s Radiolab wanted to get an idea of what autumn smells like all over the world.

So with the help of Google Maps and talented olfactory nerves, the Radiolab crew is compiling a map that highlight the scent of autumn around the U.S. and beyond.

Here are some the responses so far from Michigan. Leaves seem to be the big winner:

  • “Salt, smoke and sweet rotting apples”

  • “Leaf-burning, skunks”

  • “Cider spices and dead leaves”

  • “Cold, crispy leaves and firepits”

  • “Musky leaves”

And the rest of the world:

  • “Roasted chestnuts and sea salt” - Istanbul, Turkey

  • “Roasted chestnuts, cigarette smoke, wet asphalt, diesel fumes, fresh-baked bread” - Lyon, France

  • “Salt and damp seaweed” - Coronado, CA

  • “Its spring here [sic]” - Melbourne, Australia

- Melanie Kruvelis, Michigan Radio Newsroom

Stateside
4:41 pm
Thu November 7, 2013

Will proposed regulations change fracking in Michigan?

A drilling rig used for fracking.
Eusko Jaurlaritza Flickr

Michigan’s Department of Environmental Quality proposed a list of new rules for hydraulic fracturing in the state — commonly known as fracking.

Fracking is a process where developers pump high-pressure streams of water and chemicals into a well to clear a path to hard-to-reach deposits of natural gas.

So just what are these proposed new rules? And what could they mean to the future of fracking in Michigan?

James Clift is the policy director of the Michigan Environmental Council. He joins us to discuss the new regulations.

Listen to the full interview above. 

Environment & Science
3:08 pm
Tue November 5, 2013

Michigan non-profit says it has cloned John Muir's giant sequoia

John Muir
Credit Wikimedia Commons

Michigan-based Archangel Ancient Tree Archive announced this week that it has successfully cloned a giant sequoia tree planted by renown conservationist John Muir.

About 130 years ago, Muir transplanted the tree from Yosemite to his home in Martinez, California.  Now 75 feet tall, the tree suffers from two fatal fungal diseases.

Archangel's co-founder David Milarch said a forester from the John Muir National Historic Site sent cuttings from the sick tree to Archangel.

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Environment & Science
3:57 pm
Tue October 22, 2013

How one city in Wisconsin may change how we protect the Great Lakes

Lake Michigan.
Jennifer Guerra Michigan Radio

An interview with Noah Hall, a Wayne State University law professor.

A water dilemma is brewing in Wisconsin.

The city of Waukesha (near Milwaukee) is asking for permission to tap into Lake Michigan for drinking water — to the tune of 10.1 million gallons per day.

Waukesha is in a real bind. The aquifer that has provided most of its drinking water for the last century has dropped so far, that the water left behind has unhealthy levels of radium and salt.

So the city of 70,000 is under a federal order to find a new source, and Lake Michigan is just 15 miles away.

But Waukesha has the bad luck to be a mile and a half outside the watershed boundary that encircles the five Great Lakes.

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