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Environment & Science

Erol Ahmed on Unsplash

A lot of cities have pledged to cut greenhouse gas emissions in the wake of President Trump's decision to withdraw the U.S. from the Paris climate accord.

That could mean things like cleaner busses – or energy efficiency. But a sizable chunk of our carbon footprint can be traced to how we get and use our food.

Roxbury Group

Cities like Flint and Detroit are redeveloping former industrial sites along their waterfronts.

Now it's hopefully Ann Arbor's turn, says a developer working for DTE Energy. David Di Rita is with the Roxbury Group.

He says DTE Energy wants to redevelop the former MichCon coal gasification plant on Broadway, along the Huron River.  The plant was closed in 1938.  

In 2010, oil spilled into a creek near the Kalamazoo River from Enbridge Line 6b
Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

The U.S. government has fined Enbridge Inc. more than $1.8 million after accusing the Canadian oil transport company of missing deadlines for pipeline inspections following a gigantic oil spill in southwestern Michigan.

Stateside 5.3.2018

May 3, 2018

Today on Stateside, we learn the EPA is telling Michigan to clean up smog just as the agency unwinds clean air regulations. And, as foreign car makers ditch the Detroit auto show, organizers consider a date change.

Detroit industry
Don...The UpNorth Memories Guy... Harrison... / FLICKR - http://bit.ly/1xMszCg

The EPA has handed down a clear message to Michigan: your air is not clear. The agency says too many people are living in areas with unacceptable smog levels, and it is giving the state three years to come up with a plan to clean up the air.

Michal Pech on Unsplash

Air quality has gotten better in the U.S. over the last several decades.

But more recently, nitrogen oxide and carbon monoxide emissions have not been decreasing the way people expected.

Microbeads on a penny.
Courtesy of The 5 Gyres Institute

Microplastic pollution appears to affect creatures at the bottom of the food web the most. That’s one of the main takeaways from an analysis of 43 studies looking at the effects of microplastics on aquatic life.

Microplastics are tiny beads that get into waterways from our consumer products or tiny fibers that wash out of our clothing.

The John Ball Zoo's Amur tiger
Courtesy of John Ball Zoo

The Michigan Legislature is considering a bill that would allow both zoos and other facilities to breed large carnivores, such as lions, tigers, and bears.

Such breeding was outlawed in 2000. But House Bill 5778 would lift that ban.

Ln beetles are predatory, and scientists hope that they will spread and eat adelgids off the hemlocks.
Courtesy of Mark C. Whitmore

An invasive insect is attacking hemlock trees in Michigan and along the East Coast. The hemlock woolly adelgid is an aphid-like bug, and it can kill hemlocks.

In Michigan, people are watching what happens out east, where the pest has been established longer.

Wind turbines
Priscilla Du Preez / Unsplash

Stateside has been looking into changes to the Public Utility Regulatory Policy Act (PURPA). The federal act requires electric utility companies to buy energy from solar, wind, and other renewable generators as long as they don’t have to pay more than it costs to generate that power themselves.

Michigan Congressman Tim Walberg's bill would alter PURPA in a way that would let utilities decline to purchase energy from renewable resources.

We recently talked to the Congressman and a solar energy provider, but we felt like we needed to know more about PURPA itself.

A factory next to a harbor
Jacob Szetela / http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

A trio of bills making their way through the state legislature would change how environmental regulations are determined in Michigan.

The Great Lakes from space.
NASA

Republicans who correct misinformation on climate change can be even more persuasive than scientists.

Eric Jones / USGS

Some people in Michigan could feel the earthquake that happened last week in Ontario.

It turns out, earthquakes east of the Rockies can be felt much farther away than earthquakes out West.

Oliver Boyd is a research geophysicist with the U.S. Geological Survey.

Title screen of 'Beneath the Surface.'
Detroit Public Television

The Keystone XL and Dakota Access pipelines have made national headlines, but could Enbridge's Line 5 under the Straits of Mackinac pose the biggest environmental risk of all?

That's the question posed by a documentary airing tonight on Detroit Public Television.

It's called "Beneath the Surface: The Line 5 Pipeline in the Great Lakes."

The study found fruits and vegetables were the category of food Americans throw away the most.
FDA

In the U.S., we waste about a pound of food per person per day. The things we throw away the most often? Fruits and vegetables.

Lisa Jahns is a research nutritionist with the USDA’s Agricultural Research Service. She’s an author of a new study looking at American diets and what we throw away.

“Healthier diets were linked to greater food waste,” she says.

Piping plover
USFWS

Piping plovers are little shorebirds, and they're an endangered species in the Great Lakes region. But they’re making a comeback thanks to conservation efforts and even some heroics.

Michigan Department of Environmental Quality

More than 100 Brighton homes will be tested for the cancer-causing chemical trichloroethylene (TCE), according to state officials. 

Sharon / FLICKR - http://bit.ly/1xMszCg

Have you seen any stink bugs in your house? Over the last few years, the brown marmorated stink bug has invaded the southern half of the Lower Peninsula. The invasive species is more than just a nuisance. It’s a threat to crops, too.

Amy Irish-Brown, a senior educator at Michigan State University Extension, and Jim Engelsma, president of J. Engelsma Orchards, Inc., joined Stateside to discuss the characteristics of stinkbugs that make them so difficult to monitor, control, and predict.

From the Collections of The Henry Ford / Benson Ford Research Center

As President Trump and Chinese leaders swap threats of trade tariffs, we've heard a lot of talk about what a 25 percent Chinese tariff might mean to soybean farmers in the U.S. and specifically in Michigan, one of the top soybean-producing states.

Workers install solar panels on a roof
Alex Snyder / Wayne National Forest/Wikimedia Commons

Starting some time next year, electric utilities will be able to submit lower reimbursements to the Michigan Public Service Commission to compensate their solar customers.

Right now, when a customer with a solar roof creates more electricity than needed, it becomes available to the grid.

Utilities pay the customer the same rate that they themselves charge.

Mike Bell / Flickr - http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

This truly is the winter of our discontent – even if spring officially arrived a month ago.

As challenging as the snow, ice, and flood advisories are across the Lower Peninsula, snow has really hammered the Upper Peninsula. In just one example, more than two feet of snow fell in Menominee over the weekend. Some drifts were ten feet high. And that snow is threatening deer in the U.P.

Michigan Association of Environmental Professionals

Protecting the Great Lakes and Michigan's natural resources is a crucial task that's best accomplished by Michiganders working together.

That means all Michiganders, including the First Peoples. How can non-Indigenous people be good allies to Indigenous people?

Michigan officials have approved an energy company's request to build two natural-gas-fired turbines outside Detroit.

Sybil Kolon
Rebecca Williams / Michigan Radio

In Michigan, we have laws in place that give the state the power to essentially rope off polluted areas instead of cleaning them up. Instead, those laws tell the public: don’t drink the water or build your house here.

NOAA Great Lakes Environmental Research Laboratory / FLICKR - http://bit.ly/1xMszCg

Late summer is when we wind up seeing those unwelcome blooms of cyanobacteria and algae in western Lake Erie.

But right now, spring, is when the blooms are set up by a sort of equation: fertilizer plus spring rain equals phosphorus loading, which leads to those late-summer algal blooms.

Michigan's Iron Belle Trail
Michigan Department of Natural Resources

Hiking and bicycling routes that will traverse Michigan have secured $10.5 million in private donations. Gov. Rick Snyder on Tuesday shared the fundraising update on the Iron Belle Trail at an Ann Arbor event. He was joined by philanthropists including officials with the Ralph C. Wilson Jr. Foundation, which has pledged roughly $5.5 million for trail design and development in Washtenaw County and Detroit. A group has been formed to help raise an additional $155 million in private money.

There are land use restrictions at more than 2,000 sites around Michigan. Officials say they are necessary at sites with environmental contamination to keep people from coming into contact with harmful chemicals.
Kaye LaFond / Michigan Radio

 

At more than 1,600 sites across the state of Michigan, you can’t drink the groundwater. Well, you could, but it wouldn’t be safe or legal.

quagga mussels in lake michigan
Greg Marks / NOAA Great Lakes Environmental Research Laboratory

The U.S. Senate is expected to soon take up an authorization bill for the Coast Guard that includes the "Vessel Incidental Discharge Act."  

Environmental groups think the Discharge Act would be really bad for the Great Lakes.

The Discharge Act gives the U.S. Coast Guard sole authority in setting regulations for ballast water discharges into the lakes. 

The Mackinac Bridge
Mark Brush / Michigan Radio

An electrical cable that leaked hundreds of gallons of mineral oils into the Straits of Mackinac will be inspected – as soon as the weather clears up.

Unified Command is a team of local, state and federal officials that responded to the spill reported earlier this month. The owner of the cable line, American Transmission Company is also on the team.

The plan is to send a remotely operated vehicle (ROV) under the water to inspect the line.

A male deer
Michigan DNR / http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

Wildlife biologists are worried about how prolonged wintry weather will affect deer in Michigan's Upper Peninsula.

State Department of Natural Resources supervisor Terry Minzey says things looked good for the U.P. deer herd a month ago, but the situation has deteriorated as winter has held on.

Deer fitted with radio collars for DNR studies have suffered a 13.5 percent mortality rate so far this winter, with 11 percent of adult female deer dying.

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