Environment & Science

The Environment Report
9:32 am
Thu January 9, 2014

Food industry asks to label genetically engineered ingredients as 'natural'

March Against Monsanto, Vancouver, Canada
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

The food industry wants the government to give the okay for calling products using genetically engineered ingredients “natural” foods.

I went to my local grocery store looking for the term “natural” or “naturally” and I didn’t have to go very far.

In the cereal aisle I found products labeled “naturally flavored,” “100% natural,” and an “all natural pancake mix.” A couple aisles over, looking at the chips there were “all natural” pretzels, “naturally sweet” popcorn, and then there was a drink with a label that read “naturally flavored beverage with other natural flavors blended with vitamins.”

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Environment & Science
8:00 am
Wed January 8, 2014

State regulators to issue permit for controversial development in duneland, with conditions

The DEQ will require a land easement to minimize impacts to the unique interdunal wetland ecosystems on the property. This is the property just south of the proposed development.
Lindsey Smith Michigan Radio

A controversial development that’s proposed on 300 acres of critical duneland in Saugatuck is likely to get the state permit it needs to get the project rolling. The parcel has been at the center of a years-long legal battle.

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Stateside
5:28 pm
Tue January 7, 2014

A closer look at the future of ethanol and our renewable energy future

A cornfield in northern Ohio.
Mark Brush Michigan Radio

It’s been seven years since America hit the accelerator on corn-based ethanol fuels. Homegrown corn became the centerpiece of a push to find an alternative to foreign oil.

President Bush signed this expansion of the Renewable Fuel Standard in 2007, promising it would make us “stronger, cleaner and more secure.”

But, as is so often the case, something that offers great promise on one hand, takes its toll on the other hand. So the view of corn-based ethanol very much depends upon which side of the fence you’re standing on.

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Environment & Science
1:56 pm
Tue January 7, 2014

Could the extreme cold weather be tied to a warming climate?

Purple signifies the extreme cold in the U.S.
Credit NWS

The temperatures certainly are extreme. Last night, it was colder in Michigan than it was at the South Pole.

Parts of the state saw temperatures reach 16 below zero with wind chills exceeding 40 below zero.

The "polar vortex" has brought air to the Midwest that normally stays way up in the arctic.

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Environment & Science
9:25 am
Tue January 7, 2014

Keeping carp out of Great Lakes could take years and cost billions

A bighead carp at the Shedd Aquarium (perhaps a face only its mother could love).
Rebecca Williams Michigan Radio

A new report says a permanent solution to the Asian carp threat to the Great Lakes could take years to build and cost billions of dollars.

The report says it’s very possible for the invasive species to slip from the Mississippi River system into the Great Lakes. And that it’s possible for the species to live in the lakes and grow in population.

The report was prepared by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers for Congress.

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Environment & Science
9:00 am
Tue January 7, 2014

You could choose your own power company under new legislation

The Frankenmuth Bavarian Inn, right, and its competitor, Zehnder's of Frankenmuth, compete for the same customers. One of the businesses is allowed to buy power from the market while the other must buy from a Michigan power company. There's a 10% cap on buying power from out-of-state providers.
Credit Lester Graham / Michigan Radio

Michigan could deregulate the electricity market, allowing people to choose where they buy electricity.

In downtown Frankenmuth there are two very popular restaurants: the Frankenmuth Bavarian Inn and right across the street, Zehnder’s of Frankenmuth. Both are famous for their chicken dinners. And the owners are cousins -- both of them are Zehnders.

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Environment & Science
8:31 am
Mon January 6, 2014

Schools and offices closed with more snow and frigid temperatures today

A winter storm brought up to 10 inches of snow to some parts of the state
Sami Flickr

Snow has covered the state.

Up to 16 inches of snow was on the ground in Flint last night.

Even more snow is expected today in addition to extreme wind chills.

The wind chill could drop to 15 below to 30 degrees below zero today.

On top of that, more snow is in the forecast today for the region.

In West Michigan, 6 to 8 inches of snow could fall by tomorrow morning.  

Classes have been canceled at Michigan State University, Western Michigan University, Eastern Michigan University and Wayne State University.

Hundreds of schools and many state offices are closed today.

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Environment & Science
9:42 am
Sat January 4, 2014

This weekend's weather: snow, shovel, repeat

If you like what we've been having, you're going to love the weather forecast.

Temperatures will be more tolerable than the single-digit temperatures we've had for the past several days, with highs in the low 30s  today (Saturday). But the reprieve will be short lived: A winter weather advisory will be in effect for West Michigan from 4 p.m. today until early Monday morning. Snow totals could range from 3 to 6 inches.

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Environment & Science
9:00 am
Thu January 2, 2014

Why airports look like home to snowy owls

Credit Hundreds of snowy owls have descended on the Great Lakes and Northeast as part of this year's "irruption." / toddraden

Every year, some snowy owls make their way south from their Arctic homeland in search of food, and some of us here in the Great Lakes region have been lucky enough to spot these magnificent birds on tree branches, or poles, or … near airports.

Airports have wide open treeless spaces, and can look a lot like home to snowy owls. And for wildlife specialists who work at airports from the Great Lakes to the Northeast, this has been a busy winter.

Eight owls trapped in one week at DTW

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Environment & Science
9:12 pm
Sun December 29, 2013

Power back for Consumers Energy, DTE customers, but some LBWL customers still wait

Finally. 

The lights are back on, and the heat is warming the house, for the roughly 670,000 Consumers Energy and DTE customers who lost electricity from a severe ice storm.

"It was one of the worst storms in our history," says Debra Dodd of Consumers Energy.

Heavy ice brought down hundreds of lines, and in some cases, pulled the poles down with it.

Dodd says customers were patient, understanding and grateful to the line crews, who worked 16-hour days to repair the damage.

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Ice storm
3:46 pm
Thu December 26, 2013

As new ice storm worries loom, customers find ways to cope

This was Christmas dinner at the Putnam house
Judy Putnam

There are times when warm weather is not a good thing, and this is one such time.

Brian Wheeler is with Consumers Energy.  He says the severe ice storm that struck a big portion of the state early Sunday left extremely heavy ice on the trees.

"The ice has been pushing trees and tree limbs into different positions," says Wheeler.  "A rapid melt could cause them to snap back into a different position pretty quickly too, and as they move suddenly, they could interfere with power lines yet again."

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Environment & Science
1:46 pm
Wed December 25, 2013

Weather, altered behavior could be reasons few wolves killed in state hunt

The federal government wants to turn management of gray wolves in the western Great Lakes over to the states.
USFWS

The state Department of Natural Resources says hunters are unlikely to bag the limit of 43 wolves before the season ends on December 31. In fact, it’s been two and a half weeks since the last wolf was taken on December 5.        

State wildlife officials say an extreme cold snap in the Upper Peninsula may be responsible. They say it’s also possible wolves have learned to avoid hunters.

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Ice storm
5:51 pm
Tue December 24, 2013

Ice storm followed by high winds could mean more bad news

Power lines
Christoper Sessums Flickr

High winds are forecast for Wednesday.

And that could slow down the work to restore power to thousands of people after the weekend's severe ice storm.

The storm's path went through Lansing, Owosso and Flint.

Mary Palkovich is with Consumers Energy.

"This is the worst storm that Consumers Energy has had during Christmas week in its 120 year history," says Palkovich.  "It's unprecedented."

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Ice storm
5:42 pm
Tue December 24, 2013

Shelters trying to make Christmas bright for people without heat

digging out
Mark Brush Michigan Radio

Several hundred people across the state may be spending Christmas in an emergency shelter, after a severe ice storm on Saturday.

Dick Beauchamp is with the Red Cross in Genessee County.

The agency turned the second floor of its Flint office into a shelter.

About 50 people were there as of Tuesday morning.

Beauchamp said he expects more to show up.

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Weather
2:38 pm
Sun December 22, 2013

Update: Ice storms knock out power to 294,000 in Michigan

Credit weather.gov

JACKSON, Mich. (AP) - Winter has arrived in Michigan with an icy blast, sending freezing rain across a wide section of the Lower Peninsula and knocking out electrical service to 294,000 homes and businesses.

The state's largest utilities say it will be days before most of those blacked out get their power back because of the difficulty of working around ice-broken lines.

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Environment & Science
1:31 pm
Sun December 22, 2013

Michigan agencies step up invasive species fight

quagga mussel
lakescientist.com

LANSING, Mich. (AP) - Michigan officials say after years of planning, they're ready to put in place a strategy for controlling the spread of invasive species in the state's waterways.

The plan is described in the annual "State of the Great Lakes" report released Thursday by the Department of Environmental Quality.

Aquatic invaders such as quagga mussels cost the region hundreds of millions of dollars a year.

The newly developed strategy focuses on early detection of new invaders and a rapid response to rein them in.

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The Environment Report
8:06 am
Thu December 19, 2013

Ypsilanti family finds happiness in living off the land

Julia, Amelie, Eliah & Jason Gold.
Credit Kyle Norris/Michigan Radio

Meet the Gold family. They're modern day homesteaders. 

Their goal is to live as self-sufficiently as possible on their three-acre farm in Ypsilanti. (They often say they use yesterday's knowledge combined with today's technology.)

Two years ago they started the Michigan Folk School. The school promotes traditional folk arts and the preservation of forest and farmland.

To find out why the family started the school, and why they became homesteaders in the first place, listen to this week's Environment Report, right here.

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Environment & Science
12:39 pm
Tue December 17, 2013

Groups ask EPA to study Lake Superior basin mining

NOAA

ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP)  -- A coalition of 59 groups from Minnesota, Wisconsin and Michigan has asked the Environmental Protection Agency to conduct a broad review of the cumulative effects of expanded mining in the Lake Superior basin.

They've written to the EPA's regional administrator in Chicago, Susan Hedman, to ask the federal agency to study the long-term effects of mining activities, including copper mines proposed or planned for northeastern Minnesota and the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, as well as a proposed iron mine in northern Wisconsin.

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Environment Report
7:58 am
Tue December 17, 2013

Why are Great Lakes birds dying from botulism?

The common loon
Credit Steve Maslowski/U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

Imagine walking down a picturesque beach along Lake Michigan, and stumbling upon the carcasses of dead birds. That’s a very real and unpleasant problem along Lakes Michigan, Huron, Ontario and Erie. (It’s not as big of an issue in Lake Superior because of the lake’s colder water temperatures.)

Loons and other deep-diving birds are suffering from a disease called avian botulism. It’s form of food poisoning that kills wild birds in the Great Lakes ecosystem.

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Environment & Science
5:32 pm
Mon December 16, 2013

Governor to release energy plan this week

warrenski Creative Commons

Governor Rick Snyder intends to deliver the broad outlines of an energy plan for Michigan this week.

In a message delivered in November of 2012, the governor focused on energy efficiency. This year, the governor is expected to put more attention on renewable energy.

The state Public Service Commission released a report last month. It says Michigan utilities could afford to generate almost a third of their electricity using wind, solar, and other renewable resources.

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