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Environment & Science

Cobb power plant in Muskegon, which shut down in April 2016
Tracy Samilton / Michigan Radio

Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette has joined a 20-state effort to halt the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's implementation of its Mercury and Air Toxics Rule, which is aimed at limiting mercury emissions from coal-burning power plants. The application for a stay alleges that the rule has already caused utilities to spend $9.6 billion, for only $4 billion to $6 billion in health benefits. "Those costs are huge," says Andrea Bitely, a spokeswoman for Schuette. She says the costs are...

Residents sue Marathon refinery over pollution

Feb 23, 2016
user braun / Flickr

A lawsuit was filed Monday in federal court, claiming air contaminants, noise and odor from Marathon's refinery in southwest Detroit is causing a continuous nuisance that's harming people who live nearby. The lawsuit is seeking class action status, damages of more than $5 million for area residents, and a court order to stop Marathon from releasing contaminants into the air and to cut noise and odor. "The area next to that Marathon refinery is one of the most polluted, if not the most...

Bert Cregg, MSU

You might’ve noticed there’s something strange going on with the spruce trees in your neighborhood. It’s called spruce decline and it’s mostly affecting Colorado blue spruce. Spruce decline is pretty much what it sounds like – the lower branches on the tree start turning brown and dying.

Bruce Power / Ontario Power Generation

P lans for a nuclear waste dump site near Lake Huron in Ontario are on hold, at least for now. The proposed Deep Geologic Repository (DGR) is the work of Canadian power company, Ontario Power Generation . Canada's environment minister, Catherine McKenna, is now requesting additional information from OPG about the project including: alternate locations for the project; cumulative environmental effects of the project; and an updated list of mitigation commitment for each identified adverse...

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.

Deb Nystrom / Creative Commons http://michrad.io/1LXrdJM

U.S. Rep. Debbie Dingell wants the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality to finish the job it started several years ago. In an open letter to MDEQ director Keith Creagh, Dingell urged the state to finalize stricter cleanup standards for the chemical 1,4-dioxane. "MDEQ has been working for years to simultaneously develop revised cleanup standards for not only 1,4-dioxane, but also over 300 other hazardous substances that are regulated by the state. EPA updated its findings on 1,4...

U.S. Forest Service

The Pine River is one of the fastest flowing rivers in Lower Michigan and one of the most popular. But its popularity created a problem the U.S. Forest Service wants to fix. The project would mean the end of a sandy bank, about 160 feet high, that attracts crowds of paddlers. The issue pits people’s enjoyment of the river against the river’s health and even public safety.

city of Detroit skyline
James Marvin Phelps / Flicker

Metro Detroit once had a high-tech water warning system designed to detect chemical spills in real time. Now, it sits unused. Built in 2006, the system was made up of a series of water monitoring devices at 14 plants from Port Huron to Monroe, mostly along Lake St. Clair and the Detroit River. The sensors sent data to computers utilized by the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality, Macomb County and the Detroit Water and Sewerage Department. The system was designed to detect terrorist...

DTE Energy

Michigan will halt efforts to meet new power plant emissions standards while they’re battled over in court. Michigan is one of 29 states suing the federal government over the Environmental Protection Agency’s Clean Power Plan. The U.S. Supreme Court preemptively put a hold on that plan last week before even hearing arguments. State officials say it now makes sense for Michigan to follow that lead, and stop moving forward until the courts offer some “clarity.” “The [Supreme Court’s] stay puts...

Doug Kerr / flickr creative commons http://michrad.io/1LXrdJM

If you want to help reduce greenhouse gases - without a major change in life style, the best single action is to drive a more fuel efficient car. According to a new study by researchers at the University of Michigan Transportation Research Institute, if every American were to drive a car that gets 31 mpg, instead of the current average of 21.4 mpg, total U.S. carbon emissions would drop by 5 percent. Driving a vehicle that gets 56 mpg would mean a 10 percent drop. "That's simply because in...

Ann Arbor is almost halfway to its deer cull goal

Feb 16, 2016
Tee Poole / Creative Commons http://michrad.io/1LXrdJM

The city of Ann Arbor says hired sharpshooters have killed 47 deer in designated parks and nature areas, since the city's deer cull began January 2. Sharpshooters have until March 1 to reach the city's goal of 100 deer. Until then, 14 city parks and nature areas remain under restricted hours while sharpshooters carry out the cull. Last week, the city of Ann Arbor reported that 1,050 pounds of venison have been donated to local charity Food Gatherers. Donating the meat is a requirement under...

Lindsey Scullen/Michigan Radio

Flint’s mayor, Karen Weaver, says she doesn’t want to waste any time getting rid of the city’s old lead service lines. It’s those lines – which bring water from the main to Flint houses – that have caused so much trouble in the city. Flint did not treat the water from the Flint River properly. That meant it ate away at those pipes and contaminated the water in many homes with lead.

A sentinel team, L to R: Dave Maynard, DEQ, Brian Petroff, a plumber with UA Local 370, and Flint residents Douglas Banks and Eric Harvey.
Rebecca Williams / Michigan Radio

Teams of plumbers, employees with the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality, and Flint residents have started visiting 400 homes in Flint this week. The state of Michigan calls these homes “sentinel sites.” The state says 156 of these homes are known to have lead service lines. Other homes are places where kids have tested high for lead in their blood. Bryce Feighner is with the MDEQ. "The purpose is to monitor these sites, which should be higher in terms of lead and monitor those over...

Jake Neher / Michigan Public Radio

A group of state House Democrats hopes the crisis in Flint will help bring attention to other issues they say threaten clean water in Michigan. They announced bills on Thursday that would increase regulations on fracking. Democrats say there’s an opportunity to have a serious conversation about fracking and other water quality issues. “Now that there’s a little more attention, this gives us an opportunity to go to our colleagues and say, hey look, here’s another threat, here’s another problem...

Rebecca Williams / Michigan Radio

Stop me if you've heard this one before. The people in charge of the drinking water in Flint didn't do their jobs correctly. A state-appointed emergency manager forced the city to switch where they got their drinking water from to try to save money. The city switched water sources from Lake Huron water from Detroit, to water from the Flint River. And when they made the switch, they failed to understand that there was something Detroit was adding to the water to protect them. Phosphates. These...

Pixabay / News Service

Officials with the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) dropped into Flint yesterday to offer support for residents reeling from the water crisis.

Deputy Undersecretary for Food, Nutrition, and Consumer Services Katie Wilson announced residents in Flint who participate in the Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) program can have lead testing done, paid for by the program. She explains the department wants to help families get through the crisis.

"It will definitely...

Photo courtesy of National Scenic Byways

The debate over fish farming in Michigan has arrived in Lansing. Hearings are taking place at the state Capitol as environmental groups argue against a permit issued by the Department of Environmental Quality. That permit allows the operation of a fish hatchery operated by the Harrietta Hills Trout Farm in Grayling to raise rainbow trout on a branch of the Au Sable River, which is located in the northern lower peninsula, about 50 miles east of Traverse City. Mark Luttenton, a professor of...

Sarah Cwiek / Michigan Radio

The US Environmental Protection Agency says it will conduct an inspection of Detroit’s wastewater treatment plant. In a statement issued Wednesday, the EPA confirmed plans to do a “performance inspection audit” next month. “Staff from the Michigan Dept. of Environmental Quality will also be involved in this audit, to assess current lab procedures and compliance with federal requirements under the Clean Water Act’s National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) program,” the statement...

Paulette Parker / Michigan Radio

Wayne County Executive Warren Evans is urging the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality to reject permit requests that would allow Marathon Oil and US Ecology to increase emissions and hazardous waste. The Marathon Petroleum Refinery in Detroit has been embroiled in controversy over its request to increase sulfur dioxide emissions. "Our request there is: Before you even contemplate an increase in the permitting, that you show us that you're making some concrete steps in controlling the...

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is defending its eGRID system against a critique by an analytics think tank. Companies all across the U.S. use eGRID to calculate their own indirect carbon emissions based on how much electricity they use. And it's not uncommon to see a company brag about a) their transparency on emissions and b) their progress in reducing their indirect emissions to fight climate change. Say you're Google, and you want to tell people how much carbon one of your data...

Rebecca Williams / Michigan Radio

It’s been almost four months since Flint went back to buying water from Detroit’s water system. Here’s the good news: Since January, more than 90 percent of water tests have come back below the federal action level for lead of 15 parts per billion. But there are still some insanely high lead levels in some homes. Take a look at a map of where those are , and you'll see there’s no pattern.

Sarah Cwiek / Michigan Radio

Flint’s ongoing water crisis, and the wider concerns it’s sparked about water quality throughout the state, was the subject of a town hall meeting in Royal Oak this weekend. Speakers included Sue McCormick, head of the state’s new largest water supplier, southeast Michigan’s Great Lakes Water Authority; Dr. Mona Hanna-Attisha, the Flint pediatrician who helped bring the city’s lead-in-water crisis to light; and Jim Nash, Oakland County’s water resources commissioner. A group of State House...

map of michigan
Screencap from Google Maps / Google / Google

The Michigan Department of Environmental Quality is holding public meetings on Tuesday about a proposal to divert water from Lake Michigan. Waukesha, Wisconsin wants to build a pipeline to the Great Lakes. It has a radium problem in its groundwater supply. Radium occurs naturally, but it’s a carcinogen.

The city wants to divert 10.1 million gallons a day from Lake Michigan in the beginning, and up to 16.7 million gallons a day by 2050.

Then the city would treat the...

wikieditor243 / wikimedia/commons

Updated 2/8/16 at 1:32 pm and 2/10/16 at 2:50 pm Many companies are making their carbon emissions public, to show they are doing their part to fight climate change. But new research by Lux Research indicates most companies in the U.S. are either underestimating or overestimating their emissions. Ory Zik is Vice President of Analytics for Lux Research. He says estimating one's own carbon emissions is very difficult. That's because electricity moves from region to region on grids. "If you look...

A dive team works on Line 5 under the Straits of Mackinac.
Mark Brush / Michigan Radio

Recently released information about the condition of Enbridge’s Line 5 oil pipelines in the Straits of Mackinac shows some signs of corrosion. But company officials continue to say the twin pipelines running under Lake Michigan are safe. In 2014, Michigan Radio and the state of Michigan asked Enbridge for more details regarding the safety of the pipeline. The company released some information to the state and to us, but stopped short of providing details about what their diagnostic tools were...

A sewage main for the Detroit sewer and water system.
Mark Brush / Michigan Radio

A new report from the Environmental Protection Agency says communities in the eight Great Lakes states will need close to $80 billion to update and replace wastewater infrastructure in the next 20 years. The recently released 2012 Clean Watersheds Needs Survey says national waste water management needs total $271 billion. That includes general water treatment plant infrastructure, storm water management systems, and aging sewage systems. The Healing Our Waters-Great Lakes Coalition said the r...

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. The nation’s capital had their own water crisis that, in the...

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services announced yesterday afternoon they’ve sent a “public health strike team” to Flint. HHS says it has sent in more than a dozen officers with the Commissioned Corps. That’s a uniformed service of public health experts. They’ll be doing follow-up medical visits with kids whose tests have come back with elevated levels of lead in their blood.

Gov. Rick Snyder said in a press release: "Heidi [Grether] has decades of experience in environmental quality issues, and has effectively served during times of crises and recovery."
Michigan Radio

Michigan Governor Rick Snyder will propose $30 million in state funding to help pay the water bills of Flint residents facing an emergency over the city's lead-contaminated water supply. Snyder will brief city officials and pastors about the proposal Wednesday and outline it to lawmakers next week in his annual budget proposal, according to a statement the governor's office provided to The Associated Press.

The aid would cover the portion of residential customers' utility bills...

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Numerous media outlets, including the Detroit Free Press and CNN are reporting a congressional committee has issued Darnell Earley a subpoena to testify about the Flint water crisis. Earley is a former Emergency Manager for the city of Flint. He is currently the Emergency Manager for Detroit Public Schools, but announced on Tuesday he would resign from that position on February 29, 2016. The House Oversight Committee had earlier invited Earley to testify on Wednesday along with several other...

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