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environment

Ian Geoffrey Stimpson / FLICKR - http://bit.ly/1xMszCg


The Michigan Department of Environmental Quality is now considering a proposal that could put Michigan in the forefront of potash mining. 

satellite map of Michigan, the Great Lakes
National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)

There are a lot of baffling things about President Trump, but perhaps the most baffling is this: Usually, when you win a close election, you do everything you can to hang on to those voters who gave you victory.

Trump won the last election by a tiny margin, and he won it in the Great Lakes states, flipping Michigan, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin and Ohio.

Lake Superior
Helena Jacoba / Flickr - http://michrad.io/1LXrdJM

More than three centuries of thriving marine commerce and those notorious storms in the Great Lakes have given Michigan a wealth of historic shipwrecks. There are nearly a thousand on the bottomlands of the state's 13 designated underwater preserves alone. But Michigan's mostly volunteer system of protecting the shipwrecks is showing signs of trouble. 

CREDIT SAKUTO / FLICKR - HTTP://BIT.LY/1XMSZCG

The Michigan legislature is considering three bills that would change how the state of Michigan determines environmental regulations. They would create an environmental rules committee that could reject or change any rule the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality issues.

The legislation would also create an appeals board to review permits and an environmental science advisory board, which the state once had, but was ended a decade ago. 

Disruption Books, 2017

When it comes to protecting the environment, our existing laws have failed us.

So says environmental activist Maya van Rossum. In her new book, The Green Amendment, she says existing laws don't ban pollution or development.

She writes, "Industries are perfectly able to pollute the air and water not in spite of, but because of, the Clean Air Act and the Clean Water Act – they simply need the right permits to do so."

Researchers manipulating the number of plant species in an experimental plot to determine how biodiversity impacts the productivity of ecosystems.
David Tilman

Biodiversity.

It's one of those scientific terms we hear and think, "That's a good thing. We need it,” without truly knowing why it's a good thing.

A University of Michigan and Smithsonian study now helps us understand. The researchers found biodiversity is even more powerful and important than they thought it would be.

Chesapeake Bay Program / FLICKR - HTTP://J.MP/1SPGCLO

Casting a fishing line into the water is just about as Michigan as you can get. And for some families, it's a legacy passed down through generations.

It might be easy to take fishing in Michigan for granted. But nearly sixty years ago, a group of fishing fanatics got together near the Au Sable River to ensure that trout-fishing in Michigan would remain strong for years to come.

That group was--and is still--called Trout Unlimited.

Bottled water.
John McDonnell / flickr http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

Back in January of this year, when I first decided to embark on reporting about bottled water in Michigan, I had literally no idea what I was in for. That’s probably a good thing, because I plowed ahead naively optimistic and enthusiastic.

asian carp on bucket
COURTESY OF ILLINOIS DEPARTMENT OF NATURAL RESOURCES

At the same time the Trump Administration is pushing to slash funding for the Great Lakes, a commercial fisherman has discovered a live Asian carp just nine miles from Lake Michigan.

Duane Chapman is a research fish biologist who leads Asian carp research for the U.S Geological Survey. He told Stateside how the Asian Carp Regional Coordinating Committee is formulating its next steps.

Lindsey Scullen / Michigan Radio

Greenversal is a program packed with environmental news — local, national and international. It's all put together by a student from Ann Arbor's Huron High School.

Megan He's Greenversal is one of 15 projects that’s been honored by the EPA for environmental activism. She won the 2016 President's Environmental Youth Award for Greenversal, her website and YouTube channel that has her weekly environmental news reports.

Sunrise over trees and water
mikebabcock / http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

 


The Great Lakes Economic Forum is being held this week in Detroit and Windsor. This is the third forum held by the Council of the Great Lakes Region, which includes business, government, and labor union organizations.

Mark Fisher, CEO of the Council of the Great Lakes Region, joined Stateside to discuss the importance of cross-border trade and the economic impact of the Great Lakes. 

Fish in Lake St. Clair have a virus (VHSV) that is causing thousands of them to wash up dead on the shore.
jpowers65 / Flickr - http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

There are two environmental stories making news today.

First, fish in Lake St. Clair have a virus (VHSV) that is causing thousands of them to wash up dead on the shore. Luckily, eating a fish with VHSV is not expected to cause any adverse health problems for humans, but with that many fish dying in the lake, this could cause a problem for the ecosystem. 

Second, Nestle has put in a bid to pump more Michigan groundwater to produce Ice Mountain bottled water for consumers, but they were denied. However, that's not the end of the story.

DPROVOST ~ PROSPER IN 2011 / FLICKR HTTP://J.MP/1SPGCL0

Poor air quality in Detroit is putting people into the hospital, and even killing some. It's making them sick and unable to go to work or school.

That's not opinion. That's a fact with scientific data to back it up.

Empty classroom
Motown31 / Flickr - http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

Hundreds of Detroit parents angered by school closure threats are having their kids opt out of the state's M-STEP test. They say the standardized tests are used to justify closures. 

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. 

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