Environment & Science

Mark Brush / Michigan Radio

Ohio lawmakers are close to a compromise on legislation aimed to reduce farm runoff into Lake Erie and other Ohio waterways.

The goal is to stop the spread of the toxic algae that contaminated Toledo's drinking water supply last summer.

"I think this bill will make sure the nutrients won't get in the water system, and we'll have less algae blooms over time," said Ohio State Senator Bob Peterson who co-sponsored the bill.

Michigan Lt. Gov. Brian Calley wears the "Google Trekker."
Lindsey Smith / Michigan Radio

Today, Google released into the world more than 40 images of iconic places in Michigan.

Google is known for capturing 360-degree street view images with their camera. For these latest images, the camera was strapped onto a backpack and taken to places cars can't go.

Here's a video produced by Google that shows the "Google Trekker" in action in Michigan:

Rusty Tanton / Flickr/user

Lawmakers want to overhaul our nation’s chemical safety law, but there’s a lot of disagreement about how to do that.

In the U.S., chemicals are innocent until proven guilty.

If officials at the Environmental Protection Agency want to ban a chemical, they need to provide a lot of proof that it’s harmful for us or the environment. As the EPA's Dale Kemery once explained to me, "EPA can ban chemicals if it can demonstrate that they present an unreasonable risk. This is a relatively high regulatory standard and requires a substantial amount of high quality exposure and hazard information."

The law we currently have on the books is 39 years old. It’s called the Toxic Substances Control Act or TSCA. It’s been widely criticized as toothless and outdated.

Allen Kurta / Eastern Michigan University

  

The northern long-eared bat is a little thing with brown fur.  And its ears are longer than average, for a bat.

In winter, it hangs out in mines and caves in the Upper Peninsula.

Snyder endorsed the report from the Michigan Department of Technology, Management and Budget indicating a notable decrease in unemployment in Michigan over the past month.
gophouse.com

Governor Snyder is joining the debate as the Legislature embarks on the first major re-write of Michigan’s energy policy in many years. He will deliver a speech on the topic in metro Detroit.

“Hopefully, we can establish a strong energy policy for Michigan that can last the next decade or so,” he says. The governor says he has some things he’d like lawmakers to keep in mind.

Could drones detect leaks at oil and gas sites?

Mar 12, 2015
Reid R. Frazier / The Allegheny Front

Some people think drones could help detect pollution and dangerous leaks from the oil and gas business. The technology is taking off, but federal regulations could hold back the use of these drones.

FLICKR USER MOONFLOWERDRAGON / FLICKR

Do you know what's being done with the blood, plasma, tissue or any other samples you hand over to a biobank? Does knowing the intended use of donations help or hinder people’s willingness to donate?

 A new study, published in the Journal of the American Medical Association and conducted by researchers at Michigan State University and the University of Michigan, tried to address these questions.

The old Velsicol chemical plant site from across the Pine River.
Mark Brush / Michigan Radio

The City of St. Louis, Michigan needs a new water system. That’s because pollution from the old Velsicol Chemical plant is leaking into St. Louis’ water supply

They’re planning to get that water upriver from the city of Alma.

Listen as we ride along with this dog sled team

Mar 10, 2015
Kara Holsopple / Allegheny Front

Racing across a frozen landscape behind a team of dogs — it’s not just for Alaskans. Dog sledding is popular in our neck of the woods, too. 

We got a chance to go along for a ride.

Matt Philips and Sarah White are unloading precious cargo—their dogs—from the backseat of a black hatchback.

Holland BPW

One of the top Republicans in the state House has introduced bills that would make sweeping changes to Michigan’s energy policies. It comes ahead of Governor Rick Snyder’s address on the issue next week.

Kalamazoo Valley Bird Observatory

It’s another big year for the majestic white birds from the north.

Snowy owls summer in the Arctic. Sometimes they fly south in the winter in big migrations called irruptions.  In a typical year, we might end up with a few dozen snowy owls in the Great Lakes region.

But in an irruption year the owls can come south by the hundreds or even thousands.

Diane McAllister

People who identify birds for the Great Backyard Bird Count logged a record 5,090 species this winter. That’s just about half the bird species in the world.

It’s part of a huge data collection effort each winter. It’s run by the Cornell Lab of Ornithology and the National Audubon Society, and also Bird Studies Canada.

Detroit’s regional board of water commissioners will vote on new rates next week.

The board will vote on a proposal that would increase Detroit retail customers’ combined water and sewer rates by 12.8%, while suburban wholesale customers would see rates jump a combined 6.4%.

The scientific community largely agrees climate change is taking place. Yet the public debate over climate change is often polarizing.

Andrew Hoffman wanted to explore just what causes people to accept or reject the scientific consensus on climate change. The result is his new book How Culture Shapes the Climate Change Debate.

Hoffman is the Director of the Erb Institute for Global Sustainable Enterprise at the University of Michigan. He is also a Professor of Sustainable Enterprise.

user crossn81
Flickr

Before the ice melts, let's take time to celebrate one of winter's great gifts: the sea caves at Apostle Islands National Lakeshore.

Eighteen miles west of Bayfield, Wisconsin is where you can find the island chain in Lake Superior. The islands and the ice have created a breathtaking natural art gallery.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Everyone knows this has been a brutally cold winter in Michigan.

And not just for people.

Polar cold temps have resulted in Michigan lakes and rivers icing over to record degrees. That’s left little open water for ducks to feed.

User:Phils1stPix / Flicker

 

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service commissioned a report on the commercial grass carp industry. Grass carp are one of four species of Asian carp that officials are concerned about.

They’re used to control vegetation in lakes and ponds, and some people like to eat them. 

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Today’s wintry mix of snow, rain and sleet is not stopping Michigan State University’s major nuclear science project from moving forward into a new construction phase. 

350 truckloads of concrete are being poured today into the pit that will eventually be the Facility for Rare Isotope Beams. 

That’s enough to cover a football field in two feet of concrete. 

user metassus / Flickr

Michigan has joined the appeal of a federal judge’s decision to restore endangered species protections to the gray wolf.

Animal rights and wildlife groups challenged the de-listing in an effort to stop wolf hunting in Michigan and other Midwestern states. Michigan voters rejected wolf hunting last year – although that referendum was circumvented by the Legislature. However, wildlife groups succeeded in court where they failed politically when a federal judge last month restored the protections.

Sai Pradeep Reddy Kobaku / university of Michigan

ANN ARBOR, Mich. (AP) - It may be the tiniest University of Michigan logo ever made, but it's more than just an effort to show "how small can you go."

Researchers at the Ann Arbor school's College of Engineering have replicated a 3-micron-thick, two-layered block "M" to test a system that they say could be used to deliver drugs at different times and rates or to different parts of the body.

Gray wolves.
USFWS / Flickr

TRAVERSE CITY, Mich. - Michigan is joining the federal government in appealing a decision that restores legal protections for gray wolves in the western Great Lakes region.

Federal Judge Beryl Howell ruled in December that the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service erred by dropping the region's wolf population from the list of endangered and threatened species in 2012.

Lindsey Smith / Michigan Radio

People living near a Superfund site in Kalamazoo seem to like the compromise cleanup plan posed by the city. About a hundred people came to the first public meeting Thursday night to learn more about the plan and to provide feedback.

Flickr user Ian Geoffrey Stimpson / Flickr

Michigan has always been rich in natural resources. And now potash, the mineral element from which potassium comes, has been found in the state as well.

Dan Calabrese, who recently wrote about what the discovery of potash means for Michigan's economy, says the element could have big benefits for Michigan, because it is a crucial element of all forms of agricultural fertilizer.

Rodney Campbell / User: Flickr

Michigan Radio's M I Curious project is a news experiment where we investigate questions submitted by the public about our state and its people.

In December, longtime Ann Arbor resident Ellen Rusten asked this question:

"It seems to me that there are fewer chickadees in Ann Arbor than there were 40 years ago. Is that true and, if so, why?"

Steve Carmody

Many Flint residents have been complaining about the quality of their tap water since the city stopped getting water from Detroit. Some people blame the Flint River. The city’s been using the river since April as its drinking water source. 

Mobile technology can help pinpoint when and where children are exposed to air pollution.
American Chemical Society

A team of researchers in Spain attached sensors to school age kids. Then, they used a smartphone to track how much air pollution (black carbon, a component of soot) they were exposed to at home and school in real time. The researchers did this work as part of a larger epidemiological study on air pollution and brain development.

Mark Nieuwenhuijsen is an author of the study in the journal Environmental Science & Technology. He says the real time monitoring fills in gaps in data and gives a better picture of what the children are exposed to during the day.

He says they’re working to make this technology available to everyone.

How the Great Lakes look from space as of yesterday (Feb. 23, 2015).
NASA

With below freezing and single digit temperatures expected to continue through the week, ice cover on the Great Lakes is expected to continue to increase.

We hit a peak for the season yesterday with almost 86% ice cover for the Great Lakes -- that's well above where we were at this time last year (62%).

Icare4autism.com

Arsenic is poisonous. But scientists are still trying to figure out what it does to us at very low doses.

A research team has found breastfed infants have lower exposure to arsenic than babies who exclusively drink formula.

Lindsey Smith / Michigan Radio

Kalamazoo residents will get a chance to weigh in on a compromise plan for an old landfill that’s full of toxic material. The Allied Site once served as a dumping ground for the paper mill industry.

There’s 1.5 million cubic yards of wood pulp and waste laced with toxic chemicals at the site. Kalamazoo officials want it gone. But that’s too expensive.

A new report released by the Graham Sustainability Institute looks at Michigan's options for regulating hydraulic fracturing of natural gas in Michigan.

The report says current regulations are written for smaller wells drilled to a depth of 800 to 2,000 feet, using about 50,000 gallons of water each. But high-volume fracking, using wells drilled as deep as 10,000 feet, could take off in Michigan if economic conditions become favorable for it. There are currently only 13 high-volume wells in Michigan, compared to 12,000 conventional shallow wells.

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