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Environment & Science

Courtesy of Romeo Durscher / NASA

It is indeed dark during the day as a total solar eclipse makes its way from Oregon to South Carolina.

Fourteen states are in the path of total darkness.

Follow the astronomical phenomenon's journey across America along with NPR journalists and others experiencing the eclipse.

Our live blog will start at around 10 a.m. and end around 3 p.m.

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Katie Park and Leanne Abraham/NPR / Source: NASA

The excitement has been building for weeks and weeks. On Monday, August 21st the solar eclipse will finally be here. It will darken the skies along a path from Oregon to South Carolina. It's the first eclipse that will be seen from coast to coast in 99 years. Millions will don special glasses or watch through pinhole projectors. Eclipse enthusiasts say totality never disappoints.

Follow this live updating map tracking the position of the eclipse across the United States. The map will be live starting around 10 a.m. and end around 3 p.m.

Courtesy Photo / Asian Carp Regional Coordinating Committee

A necropsy (basically an autopsy for a fish) of the eight-pound Asian carp found just nine miles from the Great Lakes is finished. It shows that the fish was born and raised in central Illinois; proof for some that the barrier isn’t strong enough.

The Bruce Nuclear Generating Station right on Lake Huron in Ontario.
user Cszmurlo / Wikimedia Commons

A proposal by Ontario Power Generation to bury low- and medium-level nuclear waste less than a mile from Lake Huron.

U.S. officials want to block it. The Canadian government is considering the request.

We were expecting a decision any day, but the Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency has asked Ontario Power Generation for more information about the nuclear waste dump. So another delay.

What is the risk posed by low- and intermediate-level nuclear waste?

Courtesy of Wolfgang Bauer

The Next Idea

Think about a hot August day. Your car has been sitting out in a parking lot for hours and hours. Think of how hot it is when you get back inside and touch that steering wheel.

What if you could take all of that solar energy and use it for something besides burning your hands?

The blacklegged tick can transmit the bacteria that causes Lyme disease.
CDC

Experts tell us it’s important to treat Lyme disease early, and state officials say Lyme disease is the most common tick-borne disease in Michigan. 

But officials with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention say it can sometimes be confused with a similar condition that’s also transmitted by ticks, called Southern Tick-Associated Rash Illness, or STARI.

Varroa mites attached to honey bees.
Zachary Huang / MSU

Varroa mites are considered the worst pest of honey bees worldwide. The mites suck blood from the bees and transmit viruses to them.

Researchers have identified six genes in the mites that could be used to attack them.

Zachary Huang is an associate professor of entomology at Michigan State University.

“We found four genes that would reduce their reproduction and two genes that would kill them pretty fast, so those would be used for their control later, perhaps,” he says.

Lindsey Scullen / Michigan Radio

President Donald Trump has announced the United States will withdraw from the Paris Climate Accord. If Trump follows through on those plans, the country would pull out of the international agreement in November 2020. So what does that mean for Michigan, both now and in the future?

As part of Michigan Radio’s Issues & Ale event series, climate experts gathered on Tuesday night at Bill’s Beer Garden in Ann Arbor to discuss just that.

Photo by freestocks.org on Unsplash

One of the toughest things about being a parent in Flint right now is the uncertainty. If your kid gets diagnosed with ADHD, or struggles in school, there’s a part of you that wonders: is it because of the lead exposure?  

oil drill
creative commons http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

Environmental officials are investigating an oil spill that fouled a suburban Detroit drainage ditch and left residents complaining of a petroleum smell.

Ryan Schwarb of the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality says the spill reported Wednesday traveled about 1,000 feet down the Teske Drain in Clinton Township. Absorbent booms were placed in the waterway to collect the oil.

Stateside 8.10.2017

Aug 10, 2017

Today on Stateside, a health expert says it's unacceptable for the state to be behind on asbestos inspections. And we hear why one group offers black women a safe place to grieve, away from the pressure to always be strong. We also learn why Michigan needs more foster parents, and which waterfall in Michigan is the tallest.

Kyle Rokos / FLICKR - HTTP://J.MP/1SPGCLO

Jim Curtis lives in Ahmeek, a village in Michigan's Keweenaw Peninsula. That's right near the Douglass Houghton Falls.

Curtis said he's always wondered how the height of those falls compares to other waterfalls in Michigan. So he submitted this question to our MI Curious project:

"What is the tallest waterfall in Michigan, and how is that figured out?"

Asian carp
USGS

An Asian carp was caught this summer in a place where it shouldn’t be – beyond an electric barrier meant to keep the species out of Lake Michigan and the rest of the Great Lakes. Now, a researcher at Southern Illinois University is trying to figure out just how it got there.

map of michigan w/ inspection details
Office of the Auditor General

Michigan needs more asbestos inspectors but doesn’t have the funding to pay for them, according to the Legislature’s auditor general.

The audit released today says the asbestos program has fallen behind in inspections and follow-up reports on projects that require asbestos removal, as well as whether the cancer-causing fire retardant is properly disposed of in landfills. In some cases, the reports were cursory.

USFWSmidwest / FLICKR - HTTP://J.MP/1SPGCLO

The Michigan Department of Natural Resources doesn’t have enough people out in the field to keep an eye on everything in nature, so it relies on hunters, hikers, anglers, and activists to report things that are out of the ordinary.

But there was a problem with the department’s method of getting that information: red tape. The DNR had 15 different observation forms.

But now, there's an app for that.

Stateside 8.8.2017

Aug 8, 2017

Today on Stateside, we hear an official from the Michigan Department of Natural Resources explain which kinds of Asian carp threaten the Great Lakes and what a long-anticipated U.S. Army Corps of Engineers' report means for the fight against the voracious invaders. And, we hear Secretary of State Ruth Johnson explain why new voting machines used for elections in 11 counties today are "better in so many ways."

A silver carp laying on top of a cooler.
COURTESY OF ILLINOIS DEPARTMENT OF NATURAL RESOURCES

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has released a long-anticipated study on ways to prevent Asian carp from spreading from the Mississippi River system to the Great Lakes through a manmade canal.

Tammy Newcomb, a senior water policy advisor for the Michigan Department of Natural Resources, joined Stateside today to explain which kinds of Asian carp threaten the Great Lakes and why. 

Paulette Parker / Michigan Radio

It's primary election day for cities in Michigan. 

There have been scattered, unconfirmed reports of polls opening late and voters being turned away. 

But so far, the problems don't seem anywhere near the scale they were in last year's presidential race. 

Sea lamprey
Michigan State University

The sea lamprey is an invasive fish with a round mouth like a suction cup. It latches onto big fish like lake trout and salmon, drills its razor sharp tongue into them, and gets fat drinking their blood and body fluids. A single lamprey can kill up to 40 pounds of fish in its lifetime.

We spend about $20 million dollars a year to control lampreys. One of the main ways people do that is with a pesticide, but researchers are working on other ways to control the invasive species.

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

State agencies have weighed in on the controversial Enbridge Line 5 pipeline.

There’s still time for people to comment on a report about potential alternatives to the Enbridge’s Line 5 pipeline. The Michigan Department of Environmental Quality, Michigan Department of Natural Resources, Michigan Agency for Energy, Michigan Public Service Commission and Office of the Attorney General gave their thoughts over the weekend.

The line sends oil and liquid natural gas under the Straits of Mackinac.

water going into cup from faucet
Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Grayling water officials announced in July they had found trace amounts of perfluorinated chemicals, or PFCs, in the municipal water supply. The levels are nowhere near the concentration of PFCs considered to be a health hazard by the Environmental Protection Agency.

David Andrews, senior scientist with the nonprofit Environmental Working Group spoke with Stateside to help us understand this mysterious family of chemicals and explore exactly what the news means for the Grayling area.

Asian carp at Chicago's Shedd Aquarium.
Kate Gardiner / Creative Commons

On Monday, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers will release a study detailing the best ways to prevent Asian carp from getting into the Great Lakes.

A document outlining the study says the current defense – an underwater electric barrier – should be beefed up. The recommended plan would add complex noises – like the underwater recordings of a boat motor.

Courtesy of the Isley farm

Blooms of algae in Lake Erie have given rise to a toxin that got so bad three years ago, Toledo had to shut down its water system.

Fertilizer that runs off from farms, into rivers, and then into Lake Erie is a big reason those algal blooms exist.

But some farmers, like Laurie Isley and Jim Isley, are working to reduce that fertilizer contamination.

a picture of the lab in a can
NOAA GLERL

There are concerns that Lake Erie will experience the same kind of toxic cyanobacteria blooms this summer that caused Toledo’s water supply to be shut off three years ago.

Reseachers monitor Lake Erie to detect cyanobacteria blooms as early as possible, but it takes time to go out, gather samples, and then bring them back to the lab for analysis.

This year, however, a “lab in a can” is giving researchers a hand. 

Asian longhorned beetle
USDA

Officials want you to help them look for a tree killer.

It’s called the Asian longhorned beetle. It has a shiny black body with white spots, really long antennae, and sometimes, blue feet.

It’s not in Michigan yet, as far as anyone knows. But there are infestations in Ohio.

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.

Judge orders Flint and DEQ into mediation over water

Aug 2, 2017
Water running from tap
jordanmrcai / Creative Commons

A federal judge has ordered the state of Michigan and the city of Flint into mediation to try to resolve their differences regarding the future of Flint’s drinking water.

U.S. District Judge David Lawson on Tuesday appointed Troy-based attorney Paul Monicatti to facilitate an agreement between the city and the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality.

Screencap from Google Maps / Google

A group representing mayors and cities in the Great Lakes region has dropped its fight against letting Waukesha, Wisconsin, draw water from Lake Michigan.

The Great Lakes and St. Lawrence Cities Initiative says it has reached a settlement with a council representing the region's eight states. The council last year granted Waukesha permission to tap the lake, which ordinarily would be prohibited because the city is outside the watershed boundary.

Waukesha needs a new water source because its groundwater is contaminated with radium.

Jamie walking along beach
Courtesy of James Racklyeft

The pleasures of summertime on the Great Lakes carry a risk: drowning.

The Great Lakes Water Safety Consortium has been tracking drownings in the Great Lakes since 2010. They're up to nearly 590 deaths.

Most of those could have been prevented. The group's mission is to try and do just that. 

Water running from tap
jordanmrcai / Creative Commons

Water filters that you attach to your faucet are known to be good for filtering out heavy metals like lead and disinfectants like chlorine. But they’re not designed to filter out bacteria that can grow in the filter itself.

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