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Environment & Science

bat with white nose syndrome
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Headquarters / Flickr / http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

It's hard out here for a bat. Especially if it's a bat in Michigan, according to Detroit News reporter Charles E. Ramirez . He writes that the three biggest threats to bat populations are: "disease-causing fungus, wind turbines and loss of habitat."

steve carmody / Michigan Radio

Flint homeowners are getting new kits to test their tap water from the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality. For nearly a year, Flint residents have been able to pick up testing kits at water distribution sites. The state would test the water samples for the presence of lead. The new testing kits will now contain two bottles. Residents will be instructed to fill the smaller bottle first. State officials say the test will produce three results. The intent is to assess if home water...

https://www.flickr.com/photos/cogdog/9090732482

The Next Idea Every year, the United States spends $218 billion growing, transporting, and processing food that no one ever eats. That's billion. The financial, resource, and environmental costs of all the wasted food in the United States is staggering. A report called ReFED, "Rethink Food Waste Through Economics and Data ," has outlined the challenges facing food systems in the United States. Looking at the entire supply chain, the study has found enormous waste all across the system, from...

Jason James/flickr / http://michrad.io/1LXrdJM

In his article for The Conversation , University of Michigan Professor Andrew Hoffman discusses why academics and scientists are losing relevance in the eyes of the public and how they can - and must - reverse this trend. Hoffman is the Holcim Professor of Sustainable Enterprise at U of M. "People are guided by motivated reasoning, and in these politically divided times, information is being coded as liberal or conservative and science falls into that as well," said Hoffman. Hoffman argues...

user: Soil Science / Flickr

State officials are accepting more feedback on proposed new statewide standards for more than 300 environmental contaminants, including dioxane. The last public comment period ended in mid-September. This week the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality released revised proposed rules with a new comment deadline of October 18, and an additional public hearing scheduled for October 17 in Lansing. According to Sue Leeming, Acting Chief of MDEQ's Remediation and Redevelopment Division, the...

A brown marmorated stink bug is shown in Kalamazoo, Mich.
Michigan State University Department of Entomology

If you've seen a small shield-shaped brown insect slowing crawling on the walls inside your home, you might be housing one of Michigan's newest invaders: the brown marmorated stink bug.
This particular stink bug doesn't harm humans. They don't bite or spread disease, but they do eat plants and tree fruit. Since they first hitchiked to the United States about 20 years ago, but weren't seen in Michigan until 2010, they have become a pest to farmers and gardeners alike.

Lester Graham / Michigan Radio

We're coming up on the 50th anniversary of the partial meltdown at the Fermi 1 nuclear power plant next to Lake Erie. The plant, located a few miles northeast of Monroe, inspired the 1975 book We Almost Lost Detroit by reporter John Grant Fuller. The owner of the Fermi 1, DTE, published its own account of the meltdown called We Did Not Almost Lose Detroit . DTE says what happened at Fermi 1 has been exaggerated.

Michael Keegan, a member of the Coalition for a Nuclear-Free Great Lakes, joined Stateside to look back at the near-disaster half a century ago, where nuclear technology is at in 2016, and where it's going.

Ann Arbor water bills might increase. Here's why.

Oct 4, 2016
water faucet
Laura Nawrocik / Flickr http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

Ann Arbor residents might see an increase in their water bills over the next few years to fund a project that will help continue disinfecting and filtering water. In conjunction with Ann Arbor's capital improvement plan , the city will recommend replacing pre-treatment basins, which help disinfect, filter and soften drinking water. "Pre-treatment involves removing hardness and other impurities from the water using lime," says Brian Steglitz, Ann Arbor's water treatment services manager....

The eastern massasauga rattlesnake.
USFWS

The eastern massasauga rattlesnake is now listed as a threatened species. Scott Hicks is a field supervisor in Michigan with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. He says the massasauga’s new status is due to the loss of its wetland habitats.

Terry Kreeger / Wyoming Game and Fish Department/CWD Alliance

Archery season for deer started over the weekend, and that means state officials are gearing up to test more deer for chronic wasting disease . The disease is contagious, and it’s always fatal for the animals. It creates tiny holes in their brains, and deer get very skinny and start acting strange. Since it was first found in wild deer in Michigan last year, seven deer have tested positive, with an 8th case suspected.

Lindsey Scullen / Michigan Radio

If there’s an unwanted thicket in your backyard, you know getting rid of it isn’t easy. Bushes, shrubs and invasive species can be in hard-to-reach places. And beating down the weeds once, with bobcats or brushcutters, doesn’t mean they won’t sprout up again later. That’s why father-son duo Mike and Doug Mourer of Twin Willow Ranch have been working their way around southeast Michigan with goats in tow. They call their service “all-natural brush clearing.” We visited the goats while they...

Enbridge Line 5 runs from Superior, Wisconsin to Sarnia, Ontario.
Enbridge

UPDATED 10/4/16 at 12:50 pm The Michigan Department of Environmental Quality says Enbridge Energy can install four additional anchor supports on the Line 5 pipeline that runs beneath the Straits of Mackinac.

The MDEQ issued a permit for the four supports to maintain the integrity and safety of the pipeline.

Enbridge still needs a permit from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

Enbridge wanted approval to install up to 18 additional supports, but those are...

People drop off recycling at Recycle Here! in Detroit.
screen grab from YouTube / Model D TV

A couple weeks ago, Jay from Detroit submitted this question to our MI Curious project: Why doesn’t Detroit have a public recycling system? There is a recycling program in the city, so I reached out to Jay in order to understand what, exactly, he was asking. (Jay has asked to be referred to only by his first name, for reasons that will become clear.) Jay’s question, it turned out, was borne of a much more particular frustration: one that has to do with recycling when you live or work in a...

steve carmody / Michigan Radio

State officials confirm a Berrien County deer has died from a disease that killed more than 12,000 Michigan deer in 2012. Epizootic Hemorrhagic Disease , or EHD, is spread by flies. The disease causes extensive internal bleeding. There have been no cases reported in Michigan during the past few years. But four years ago, Michigan experienced its largest EHD outbreak ever, which devastated some deer herds. However, that’s the exception. Most EHD outbreaks kill fewer than 100 deer. “The 2012...

Ken Lund / FLICKR, CREATIVE COMMONS HTTP://MICHRAD.IO/1LXRDJM

DTE Energy's coal-fired power plant in Monroe has been named one of the nation's "super polluters" in a report by the Center for Public Integrity, a non-partisan, non-profit investigative news organization. The report said the Monroe plant ranks 11th in the country for the most greenhouse gases emitted into the air and 140th for the most toxic air releases. That's out of 20 thousand power plants, factories and other industrial sites reporting to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency....

Sea lamprey
USFWS Midwest / Flickr

We spend a lot of money to control sea lampreys. The U.S. and Canada spend $21 million dollars a year to keep them in check. The invasive fish drills holes into big fish like trout and salmon, and drinks their blood and body fluids. A single lamprey can kill 40 pounds of fish. Managers are always looking for new ways to control the blood suckers and keep tabs on where they are in the Great Lakes system. Now, scientists are testing the idea of using environmental DNA – or eDNA. It’s a tool that’s been used a lot to see if Asian carp are in a river or lake; it detects genetic material from the fish.

Courtesy Joel Tonyan / Flickr http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

225 million years. That's the amount of time it takes Earth -- and our Solar System -- to travel around the Milky Way Galaxy's galactic center. We may not definitely will not live to see an entire orbit. But today we're celebrating progress. Specifically, we're celebrating "National Galactic Tick Day." What's a galactic tick? It's one centi-arcsecond of a rotation around the Milky Way's galactic center. In layman's terms, we're celebrating the tiniest fraction of progress in our rotation,...

Double-crested cormorant
USFWS

There’s now more evidence that manmade chemicals can spread far and wide. Researchers have found a chemical called PFPIA in cormorants, northern pike and bottlenose dolphins. The chemical has been used in pesticides, and it belongs to a group of chemicals called perfluorinated acids. They’re used to make cookware non-stick and make carpets stain resistant. Amila DeSilva is a research scientist at Environment and Climate Change Canada. “What’s concerning about perfluorinated acids is this...

Part of Flint's  hand-written records showing drinking water lines last updated in 1984.
Image courtesty of Jacob Abernethy / U of M

New research suggests there may be many more lead service lines in Flint that need to be replaced than previously thought. A team of University of Michigan researchers examined 171 drinking water service lines removed as part of Flint’s “Fast Start” program. The pipes had connected homes to city water mains. Based on the city's records, they expected around 40% of them would contain lead, but they found 96% did. More from a summary of findings by the U of M researchers: …we can now conclude...

Jerry Linenger with ham radio equipment in the Russian Mir Space Station Base Block module.
NASA

Imagine you’re 14 years old, camping in Ontario with your family. It’s July 20, 1969, and you’re watching on a small TV as Neil Armstrong becomes the first man to set foot on the moon. You decide: I want to go to space. And so you grow up to become an astronaut. You go into space on the shuttles Discovery and Atlantis. You spend five months on the Russian space station Mir. You ultimately rack up 143 days and 52 minutes in space, over 2,177 orbits of the earth, and you fly 54.5 million miles through space. And after all that, you come home to Michigan to settle down in Suttons Bay. That’s just a brief look at what retired Navy Captain and astronaut Jerry Linenger has done.

Flickr user NASA Goddard Space Flight Center/Flickr / http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

In this all-too-fast-paced era we live in, it's comforting to see something that's managed to stick around for 225 years – the Old Farmer’s Almanac. What Massachusetts schoolteacher and bookseller Robert B. Thomas started in 1792 is still with us. The 2017 edition is now out.

New phase announced in Dow dioxin cleanup near Midland

Sep 27, 2016
User mgreason / wikimedia commons

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, has proposed a new phase in its multi-year plan to clean up dioxin contamination from Dow Chemical's Midland plant. Discharges from the plant in the last century boosted levels of dioxins in the Tittabawassee and Saginaw rivers and their floodplains. Dioxins are toxic chemicals that may cause cancer and other serious health problems. The latest phase targets six miles of a contaminated 21-mile section of the Tittabawassee River and its floodplain. The...

Honey bees in a GVSU hive.
Rebecca Williams / Michigan Radio

You can thank a honey bee for pollinating about one of every three bites of food we eat. But as you’ve likely heard, bees are in trouble. They’re getting hit hard by pesticides and diseases and pests, and they’re losing habitat. Two Grand Valley State University professors are using technology to track the health of hives in a new way.

Average surface temperatures for 2015. NOAA
NOAA

Michigan could benefit from cleaner energy. That was the message of a report released Monday on model scenarios about Michigan’s energy future. The Michigan Agency for Energy’s report details what could happen in Michigan under the Clean Power Plan – and without it. The Clean Power Plan is the Obama administration’s plan for reducing carbon pollution. Michigan is among the 29 states and state agencies suing to block it. The pending court case has caused Michigan to go “pencils down,” and hold...

Flickr user Andy Rogers/Flickr / http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

When you think about water pollution, you might think about massive sewer overflows, factory pollution or agricultural runoff. But there’s another source of water pollution that might be in your backyard: septic systems that have failed. They pollute lakes and streams around the state – and in fact, around the country. Sean Hammond , deputy policy director for the Michigan Environmental Council, is calling for better rules for septic systems and inspections. “We are the only state in the country to not have a statewide septic code,” Hammond said.

Reviving Michigan's coastal marshes

Sep 22, 2016
Allison Smart, a biologist with the Little River Band of Ottawa Indians, examines wild rice in Arcadia Marsh.
Peter Payette

Most visitors to northern Michigan are looking for sugar sand beaches on the Great Lakes. But if you’re a spawning fish or a migratory bird, you might be looking for a coastal marsh. The Great Lakes used to be lined with coastal marshes that were full of native plants and wildlife. But in lower Michigan, many of these places been drained, plowed, polluted and, more recently, overrun by exotic plants from other parts of the world. Some conservation groups are working to restore and protect the marshes we have left.

Flickr user/_chrisUK / http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

As the summer road construction season moves into its final weeks, you might find yourself wondering: instead of pouring time and money into patching roads that crack every year during the winter, why not make better concrete?

Average surface temperatures for 2015.
NOAA

Every day, you and I burn up all kinds of things. We burn gasoline to get to work, mow the lawn, or fly to a conference. We burn natural gas, coal, or heating oil to heat our homes. And we burn up coal or natural gas when flipping on that light switch. Whenever we burn stuff, we release carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. Burned a gallon of gas driving around town? You just put around 20 pounds of CO2 into the air. That CO2 traps heat, and all the burning we do is causing the planet to warm...

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

Michigan and its Midwest electric grid operator, MISO, believe they've come up with a solution to a potential shortage of electricity that could happen as early as 2018. That's the year yet another power plant in the grid will shut down (this time in Indiana); Michigan's Consumers Energy shut down six smaller power plants in April. The shutdowns mean there might not be enough electricity generation capacity during times of peak demand. The proposal could also help keep Michigan's alternative...

Deb Nystrom / Creative Commons http://michrad.io/1LXrdJM

Update Friday, September 23: Recreation on the Huron River has been resumed and, so far, water tests show no threat to human health, according to an updated press release by the city of Ann Arbor. It is believed that the leak was caused after a motorist drove through barriers near the entrance to Gallup Park. The investigation of that incident is ongoing. Raw sewage flowed out of the pipe from Saturday, September 17 to Monday, September 19. More from the city’s press release : The Huron River...

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