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environment

President Trump's latest budget proposal calls for eliminating funding for protecting the Great Lakes which includes cleaning up polluted areas,  preventing and controlling invasive species, and restoring habitats to protect native species.
Gage Skidmore / Flickr - http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

President Donald Trump’s proposed budget shifts spending from domestic areas to security areas. One of the programs that would be cut under the proposal is the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative (GLRI).

That money has been used to do the following: clean up polluted areas called Great Lakes Areas of Concern, prevent and control invasive species, reduce nutrient runoff that contributes to harmful blooms of algae (which led to Toledo's water system shut down), and restore habitat to protect native species.

Lester Graham / Michigan Radio

President Donald Trump’s proposed budget was leaked last week. It looked like money to protect the Great Lakes would be cut by 97%. That leaked document was wrong.

Trump’s budget proposal completely eliminated funding for the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative.

Tom Whitten / FLICKR - HTTP://J.MP/1SPGCL0

 

It's an especially precarious time for Lake Erie's future.

That's according to Jeffrey Reutter, an aquatic biologist and limnologist from Ohio State University who has studied the lake since 1971.

It's his belief that if we lose the EPA, we lose Lake Erie.

Courtesy of Scott Brown

Michigan has the largest population in the world of starry stonewort, an invasive macroalgae that stifles native plants and fish. 

Starry stonewort loves the clean, clear, and calcium carbonate rich waters of Michigan’s inland lakes. It grows in dense mats which can range in thickness from a few inches to a little over six feet.

American Ginseng
Flickr user Forest Farming / http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

We know hunters who take deer or goose out of season are poachers. But what about those who take a plant from a park or a reserve without permission?

They too are poachers and plant poaching can be a huge, illegal business.

oak wilt
Greg Blick / http://j.mp/1SPGCl0 cropped

The Michigan Department of Natural Resources will discuss efforts to combat oak wilt disease in trees on Belle Isle in Detroit.

Public informational meetings are scheduled Thursday at the Nature Zoo and Great Lakes Dossin Museum on the island park in the Detroit River.

The state says oak wilt is a fungus that can spread from tree to tree through underground root connections, or grafts. Spores also can be spread by beetles attracted to the fungus' smell.

Courtesy of Michael Bernitsas

The Next Idea

Earth’s water is a natural medium for collecting energy, taking in about 97% of what we receive from the sun. After reflection and radiation, water stores over 2 million TWh (terawatt hours) per year. The world’s annual energy consumption is about 150,000 TWh. Clearly, we could benefit from using water for power.

John Vucetich/Rolf Peterson / Michigan Tech University

The Isle Royale Wolf-Moose Project has been tracking the rare ecosystem on Isle Royale for almost 60 years. What makes Isle Royale rare is that the island, located in Lake Superior roughly 50 miles from the Upper Peninsula, has just two main animals inhabiting it. The food chain is simple: The wolves are the predators and the moose are the prey.

(Support trusted journalism like this in Michigan. Give what you can here.)

Recently, the tracking of the wolves and moose on Isle Royale led to an unlikely musical creation. 

Flickr user/United Nations Photo / http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

Word came down recently that Shell — the second-largest oil company in the world — has announced that it will link top executive bonuses to progress being made on managing greenhouse gas emissions.

In other words, if they don’t hit targets for reducing greenhouse gas emissions, they’ll get hit in the wallet.

It’s yet another example of business — in this case, a mammoth oil company — recognizing that its long-term survival depends on its ability to reduce the environmental impact of what it’s producing.

A bioretention garden on Evergreen Avenue in Detroit's Warrendale neighborhood.
Dave Brenner

The Next Idea

My work in ecological design leads me to think about how the billions of dollars that governments must invest to replace and repair infrastructure can achieve more for American cities. Over the past several years I’ve focused my work on Detroit. Many cities, including Detroit, have some pipes more than a century old moving wastewater, stormwater, or drinking water underground. A handful of cities with industrial legacies, like Detroit, also have thousands of abandoned structures awaiting demolition. When a road is rebuilt, new pipes are laid, or when a building is demolished, I see the possibility of achieving many different, complementary benefits for residents and the environment at the same time.

Courtesy Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources / Flickr Creative Commons -- http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

The International Joint Commission (IJC) says the U.S. and Canada should create a strategy to reduce toxic chemicals called polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs) in the Great Lakes. This comes from a new IJC report released Wednesday.

"The PBDEs polluting our Great Lakes are toxic substances of great concern," says the Canadian Section's IJC chair Gordon Walker in a press release

Fiat Chrysler Automobiles / creative commons http://j.mp/1SPGCl0, cropped

The mayor of Warren is defending a social media post that caused some panic and confusion among residents this week.

In a Facebook post late Wednesday, Jim Fouts referenced a “major environmental scandal brewing in Macomb County” that “could be a mini version of what happened in Flint.”

Following the post, Macomb County Executive Mark Hackel says his office was flooded with calls about the safety of the area's drinking water.

Speaking at a press conference on Thursday, Hackel scolded Fouts for stirring up panic.

Eric Bronson, Michigan Photography

Animals, get your best pose ready. 

The University of Michigan is snapping pictures of wild animals in an effort to document how populations of meat-eating animals vary across terrain, according to a press release.

Photographs are being taken in three areas: The U-M Biological Station, the upper peninsula and a wildlife refuge near Saginaw.

tEdGuY49 / Flickr - http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

With thousands of tons of trash burned every day, Detroit has the largest urban incinerator in the country.

Now its long and controversial history has a new chapter. The Great Lakes Environmental Law Center has filed a letter serving notice that it intends to sue Detroit Renewable Power, the operator of the incinerator.

Nick Schroeck, the executive director of the Great Lakes Environmental Law Center, joined Stateside to talk about the lawsuit and why they are filing it.

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. RamirezHe writes that the three biggest threats to bat populations are: "disease-causing fungus, wind turbines and loss of habitat."

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. 

Plastic bag
user Newtown grafitti / Flickr -- http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

LANSING, Mich. - Efforts to rid Michigan communities of plastic shopping bags would be banned under a bill set to advance in the Republican-led Legislature.

The House Commerce and Trade Committee could vote on the legislation Tuesday. The measure won Senate approval in May.

The bill would prohibit local governments from enacting ordinances that regulate, prohibit or impose a fee on the use or sale of "auxiliary containers" - which is defined as reusable or single-use bags, cups, bottles or other packaging from stores and restaurants.

user Alchemist-hp / wikimedia commons

The Michigan Department of Environmental Quality has proposed approving a permit for a company that plans to develop a gold, zinc and copper mine in Michigan's Upper Peninsula.

The agency announced the decision Friday about the mining permit for Aquila Resources for the Back Forty Project in Menominee County. The project also includes a proposed processing facility in Lake Township.

A public hearing is planned for October 6.

The MDEQ says it determined the application meets the requirements for approval under Michigan's mining law.

University of Michigan public policy assistant professor Catherine Hausman says we need to be concerned about what happens to the environment when methane leaks from natural gas.
Steven Depolo / Flickr - http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

The natural gas industry tells us that using natural gas is environmentally friendly. The industry says natural gas has fewer impurities than coal, and tells us its combustion yields mostly carbon dioxide and water vapor, so there’s less pollution.

But the main ingredient of natural gas is methane. And methane is one of the biggest contributors to climate change.

That’s why University of Michigan public policy assistant professor Catherine Hausman said we need to be concerned about what happens to the environment when methane leaks.

She also believes the utilities have little incentive to plug natural gas leaks. She recently wrote about the issue in an article at TheConversation.com and she joined Stateside to talk more about it. 

Enbridge Energy says they’ll spend $7 million over the next two years to buy new clean up tools in case there’s a spill along its Line 5 pipeline.   There has been a lot of controversy surrounding Line 5 where it crosses at the Straits of Mackinac. At the
Enbridge Energy

Officials with Enbridge Energy say they’ll spend $7 million over the next two years to buy new clean up tools in case there’s a spill along its Line 5 pipeline.

 

There has been a lot of controversy surrounding Line 5 where it crosses at the Straits of Mackinac. At the Straits, the oil and liquid natural gas pipeline splits into two smaller diameter pipelines to make the underwater crossing.

 

Grocoff: "If we wish to sustain the climate to which we and all living things have adapted, then we need to design systems more like old growth forests and less like tree farms."
Jim Sorbie / Flickr - http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

The Next Idea

If the first Industrial Revolution was characterized by centralization of our water, energy, food and organizational infrastructures, then the next Industrial Revolution will be characterized by the decentralization of these human-designed systems. Biomimicry, innovation inspired by nature, will be our framework for sustainable solutions to human challenges.

user cseeman / Flickr

UPDATED at 4:30 pm on 4/22/16 

Imperial Oil of Canada is still tracking chemical levels in the St. Clair River after a spill earlier this week. 

The company announced that Tuesday night an unknown amount of low-concentration hydrochloric acid overflowed into the river. Testing shows no negative impacts, the company said. 

Bill would sack local bans on plastic bags

Apr 22, 2016
velkr0 / Creative Commons http://michrad.io/1LXrdJM

Local bans on plastic grocery bags wouldn't be permitted, under a bill in the state Senate.

The bill would block local ordinances that regulate bags, take-out food containers and other types of packaging.

Sen. Jim Stamas, R-Midland, says the bill would allow the state to set one standard for plastic bags and other materials, as opposed to "piecemeal" bans that vary between communities.

As summer approaches, effort to stop oak disease continues

Apr 4, 2016
Courtesy of Michigan's Department of National Resources

With the weather warming up, trees around the state will soon fill with leaves again.

But not for some red oak trees in the state.

Oak wilt, an invasive fungal disease that can easily kill red oak trees, has spread to trees across the state, mainly in northern Michigan. Once infected with oak wilt, red oak trees die within three weeks of infection — and there’s no treatment for the disease once it has spread.

Save The Wild UP / Flickr - http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

A Michigan-based environmental organization is taking a new approach to protect a patch of land near the Yellow Dog River in northern Marquette County in the Upper Peninsula. The Yellow Dog Watershed Preserve started a crowd funding campaign to raise money to purchase the 695-acre property to protect it from development.

Emily Whittaker, the special projects manager at the Yellow Dog Watershed Preserve joined Stateside to talk about the Yellow Dog River Community Forest campaign and what makes the land so special.

Joe Gruber

Katrina Watkins stood on her front porch in Detroit’s McDougall-Hunt neighborhood staring at the vacant, overgrown stretch of land across the street.

“I have been trying to get the city out here to cut this for years,” she said.

Ewashtenaw.org: http://bit.ly/1XCy6qr / Washtenaw County

For the last 30 years, a plume of a colorless, odorless toxic chemical has been steadily creeping toward one of the main water supplies in the city of Ann Arbor.

Photo by Marcin Szczepanski

The Next Idea

There are lingering fears that nothing will be the same in Flint. But maybe things shouldn’t be the same. What if there is a better way for Flint and other cities to harvest and deliver life-enhancing water?

People across the nation are judging Flint as an epic failure of leadership and poor choices. There is no doubt that Flint’s water crisis is an unqualified failure of democracy, but it is also a century-old failure of design and systems thinking.     

Lead pipes
Mitch Barrie / Flickr - http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

The Flint water crisis has attracted attention and outrage from all over the globe, but unfortunately, the city of Flint isn’t the first to have its population affected by lead.

Due to the age and condition of lead water lines, it’s entirely possible that other cities around the country are currently suffering from elevated lead levels.

The most recent large-scale example of lead poisoning was discovered in 2001 in Washington D.C.

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