Environment & Science

Stateside
5:08 pm
Wed August 28, 2013

Slowing down climate change, one cloned tree at a time

A stand of red pine trees in the Huron-Manistee National Forest.
Photo courtesy of Joseph O'Brien, USDA Forest Service

David Milarch co-founded Archangel Ancient Tree Archive in 2008. 

His vision?

To spread the genetics of the world's remaining ancient forests. His work attracted the attention of journalist and science writer Jim Robbins, and the result was the book The Man Who Planted Trees: Lost Groves, Champion Trees and an Urgent Plan to Save the Planet.

To listen to the interview, click the link above.

Environment & Science
3:01 pm
Tue August 27, 2013

Enbridge gets state permit to dredge in Morrow Lake, now to find a suitable location

Dredging work needs to be done between mile posts (MP) 36 and 39 as tagged on this MDEQ map.
Michigan Department of Environmental Quality

This week Enbridge Energy got a permit that will allow the company to dredge some of the oil that remains from the Kalamazoo River oil spill. But the company still needs to find the right location to do the work.

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Stateside
1:11 pm
Tue August 27, 2013

What is causing the Green Bay dead zone and can it be fixed?

Excess algae is creating a dead zone.
NOAA Great Lakes Environmental Research Laboratory Flickr

An interview with Don Scavia, an aquatic ecologist with the University of Michigan and the director of the Graham Sustainability Institute.

There's a "dead zone" in Green Bay.

That may sound like a title of a Stephen King novel, but it is happening in Lake Michigan's Green Bay. A growing dead zone with so little oxygen that fish can't survive. Neither can smaller critters.

Don Scavia is an aquatic ecologist with the University of Michigan and the director of the Graham Sustainability Institute. He joined us today to talk about what’s causing this dead zone and what can be done to fix it.

Listen to the full interview above.

The Environment Report
11:52 am
Tue August 27, 2013

Will Enbridge Energy's new pipeline in Michigan be safer?

The new pipeline will run right behind David Gallagher's home.
Mark Brush Michigan Radio

A new oil pipeline is going underground in Michigan.

Enbridge Energy says this new pipeline will be bigger (36 inches vs. 30 inches) - it will pump more oil to the Marathon refinery in Detroit - and they say the pipeline will be safer. (The map in the slideshow above shows where the new line is going in.)

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Environment & Science
10:57 am
Tue August 27, 2013

Public asks state to reject development plans, consider buying dune land in Saugatuck

A number of people cited concerns about impacts to the unique ecosystems on the property. This is the property just south of McClendon's.
Lindsey Smith Michigan Radio

Many people are asking the state to consider paying millions of dollars for a few hundred acres of land in Saugatuck. The land is sandwiched between Saugatuck State Park and a nearly 200-acre nature preserve.

Community leaders tried to buy the property a few years ago. They were outbid by a wealthy businessman. After a years-long legal battle over development rights, the property was listed for sale this month.

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Environment & Science
7:38 pm
Mon August 26, 2013

Company says Detroit pet coke piles cleared away (almost)

The pet coke piles in Detroit, near their height earlier this summer.
Sarah Cwiek/Michigan Radio

DETROIT (AP) - A company says it has removed piles of petroleum coke from Detroit's riverfront, but will need more time to haul away other materials from storage sites.

The city-imposed deadline for Detroit Bulk Storage to get rid of the petroleum coke is Tuesday.

Spokesman Daniel Cherrin says the company has asked for additional time to remove limestone aggregate and that it may take until early next month to clear it all away.

Bob Warfield, a spokesman for Mayor Dave Bing, says daily inspections show the petroleum coke was being removed.

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Stateside
5:59 pm
Mon August 26, 2013

Nuclear waste repository might be built on the shore of Lake Huron

Derek A Young Flickr

An interview with Detroit News reporter Jim Lynch.

A proposal by a Canadian power company to store nuclear waste at a site within a mile of Lake Huron is setting off alarm bells on this side of the border.

Ontario Power Generation is drawing up plans to store low-to-medium level nuclear waste at an underground repository it wants to build in Ontario near the town of Kincardine. That is on the shore of Lake Huron and critics, including some state lawmakers, worry that storing nuclear waste so close to the lake could threaten the drinking water for 40 million people.

Detroit News reporter Jim Lynch has been following the story and he joined us today from Detroit.

Listen to the full interview above.

Environment & Science
11:38 am
Mon August 26, 2013

After years-long legal battle, developer lists dune land property for sale in Saugatuck

The view of the McClendon property from the mouth of the Kalamazoo River.
Lindsey Smith Michigan Radio

After years of legal wrangling over development rights, energy giant Aubrey McClendon has put a huge property up for sale in Saugatuck. The 300-acre parcel includes coastal dunes near Lake Michigan.

McClendon bought the land in 2006 for about $40 million. He spent millions on engineers, architects, designers; and then battling Saugatuck Township in court for the right to develop the land.

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Environment & Science
8:30 am
Fri August 23, 2013

285 miles of new oil pipeline being installed across Michigan, neighbors in the path

The new Enbridge pipeline being installed northwest of Jackson, Michigan.
Mark Brush Michigan Radio

Enbridge Energy has begun the next phase of replacing an oil pipeline that crosses Michigan. They hope to have 285 miles of new pipeline online sometime next year.

Seventy-five miles of new pipeline were installed during "phase 1" of Enbridge's maintenance and repair project. During this next phase, they're putting in the remaining 210 miles of pipeline. They started last month and they've got around 25 to 30 miles of pipeline in the ground. Their goal is to get around 2.5 miles of new pipeline installed each day.

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Environment & Science
1:50 am
Fri August 23, 2013

Comstock Township denies Enbridge special zoning to dredge oil from Kalamazoo River

Enbridge workers surveying the Kalamazoo River in May 2013.
Lindsey Smith Michigan Radio

It now appears even less likely Enbridge Energy will meet a federal deadline to dredge oil from the bottom of the Kalamazoo River. The cleanup is related to the company’s 2010 pipeline spill.

Enbridge wanted special permission from Comstock Township to build a dredge pad, a place to process the waste and truck it to a nearby landfill.

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Stateside
5:57 pm
Thu August 22, 2013

Great Lakes water levels are improving thanks to cool, wet summer weather

NOAA

An interview with MLive meteorologist Mark Torregrossa.

There has been a healthy degree of grousing this year by lovers of hot weather.

We had a cool and rainy spring, and certainly this summer has not been a replay of last year's hot, dry season.

But here's something to think about: the cooler, wetter weather is "good medicine" for our Great Lakes and those all-important water levels.

MLive meteorologist Mark Torregrossa joined us today to talk about why.

Listen to the full interview above.

Environment & Science
3:56 pm
Thu August 22, 2013

Michigan getting more federal money to cleanup brownfield sites

Work continues to cleanup Flint's Chevy in the Hole
Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio

Michigan is getting about $1.5 million from the federal government to help with the continued cleanup of polluted former industrial sites.

The grant money will fund brownfield assessments, job training and cleanup of sites in Genesee County and southeast Michigan. 

“By redeveloping these sites, cleaning them up and redeveloping them…we’re essentially contributing economic activity to these communities,” Susan Hedman, the region 5 EPA administrator, said at a news conference in Flint, “Creating jobs….and transforming communities.”

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The Environment Report
9:00 am
Thu August 22, 2013

Finding Michigan's most remote spot

Ryan and Rebecca Means with their daughter, Skyla.
Robin Adams Photography

You can listen to the interview with Rebecca and Ryan Means above.

When was the last time you were someplace so remote, you didn’t see another person, or even a road for miles?

Getting that far away from civilization can be hard to do in the U.S. But a husband and wife team from Florida is setting out to do that. Rebecca and Ryan Means are both wildlife ecologists, and they started Project Remote. They’re mapping and visiting the most remote spots in all 50 states. They're preparing to go remote along the Canadian border in a few weeks, visiting Minnesota, North Dakota, Montana and Idaho.

Ryan Means says they got started on their mission a few years ago.

“We’ve always been interested in remote areas and as biologists and outdoor enthusiasts in general. Then about three years ago, we realized that with the advent of GIS computer software capabilities, coupled with Rebecca’s, my wife’s, great proficiency using this kind of technology, we could actually calculate remote areas,” he says.

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Environment & Science
2:49 pm
Tue August 20, 2013

Proposed nuclear dump site a mile from Lake Huron draws concern

Ontario Power Generation wants to bury nuclear waste less than a mile from Lake Huron.
Credit daBinsi / Flickr

Local environmental activists are concerned over a proposal that would create a nuclear waste dump less than a mile from the shores of Lake Huron. Community members met at a town hall meeting this week at Wayne State University to discuss the proposal.

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The Environment Report
9:00 am
Tue August 20, 2013

Helping Michigan cities plan for a warmer future

Screenshot of the interactive climate change map.
Great Lakes Adaptation Assessment for Cities

Cities in the Great Lakes region are trying to adapt to our changing climate.

Megan Hunter is the chief planning officer for the City of Flint.

“You know, we have to sort of think about how we can make ourselves more resilient for storms and unusual weather occurrences,” she says.

“We’re a city that is really stretched thin, we have very limited resources, so when we have an extreme weather event, it’s really hard for us to adapt with our limited finances.”

She says one of the things they have to think about is how to support vulnerable people in the city. That means things like creating more cooling centers during heat waves.

People like Megan Hunter are getting help from a project based at the Graham Sustainability Institute at the University of Michigan. It’s called the Great Lakes Adaptation Assessment for Cities (GLAA-C).

That group teamed up with Headwaters Economics to create an interactive map. It shows how 225 counties in the Great Lakes region are being impacted by changes in the climate that have already happened. It draws on data about economics, infrastructure and vulnerable populations.

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Environment & Science
1:01 pm
Mon August 19, 2013

Judge dismisses lawsuit aimed at stopping 'fracking' in West Michigan

Gas pipeline marker in Michigan.

A judge dismissed a lawsuit seeking to stop any oil and gas drilling on state land in western Michigan.

The area in question is Allegan State Game Area, the Barry State Game Reserve and Yankee Springs Parks and Recreation Area.

Yvonne Zip reports for MLive that a group called "Michigan Air Land Water Defense" filed the lawsuit last October. The group said the state should first assess the environmental impacts of horizontal hydraulic fracturing on public land.

Zip reports that Barry County Judge Amy McDowell said the lawsuit is jumping the gun:

In her opinion, McDowell called the plaintiffs' claims premature, since the leases auctioned were classified as non-developmental, which means that no surface drilling can occur without an application to the state for a change of status.

"As asserted by Defendants, the mere act of leasing oil and gas rights, in and of itself, does not constitute actual or imminent injury," wrote McDowell. "If the DNR initially classified that lease as 'developmental' or 'developmental with restrictions' prior to a review of the impact on protected areas, then this Court may have reached a different conclusion."

So far, no reclassification permit has been sought by a lessee, so the plaintiffs failed to establish "actual or imminent injury," the judge wrote.

Environment & Science
11:32 am
Mon August 19, 2013

After 12-year-old girl was attacked, officers kill black bear

A black bear.
Photo by Alan Vernon

Here's how the Michigan Department of Natural Resources describes last Thursday's bear attack on 12-year-old Abby Wetherell:

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Environment & Science
12:22 pm
Sun August 18, 2013

Feds to survey Detroit River for invasive lamprey

Sea Lampreys attached to a fish
Activistangler.com

DETROIT (AP) - A team with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service will estimate the abundance of sea lamprey in the Detroit River this month to determine what control measures might be needed.

The eel-like lamprey invaded the Great Lakes during the 1920s and has remained ever since. Lampreys attach to fish with a mouth resembling a suction cup. Their sharp teeth dig through a fish's scales and skin and feed on blood and body fluids.

The average lamprey will destroy up to 40 pounds of fish.

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Environment & Science
12:45 pm
Sat August 17, 2013

Botulism tied to soaring loon deaths in Michigan

Loons and chicks
Michigan Loon Watch

DETROIT (AP) - An increase in annual loon deaths from a strain of botulism is sounding alarms among Michigan wildlife officials.

The Detroit News reports that it's been common over the years for common loon deaths to hit the hundreds but the numbers reached several thousand in in 2010 and 2012. Experts say invasive species such as mussels and gobies, and algae called Cladophora may be factors.

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Environment & Science
4:01 pm
Fri August 16, 2013

Green Bay is developing a large 'dead zone'

Algae like this is a leading cause of dead zones
NOAA Great Lakes Environmental Research Laboratory Flickr

Lake Michigan’s Green Bay is developing dead zones similar to those found in Lake Erie and the Gulf of Mexico. In these zones, the oxygen content in the water is so low, virtually no fish, insects, or worms can survive.

According to a report by the Associated Press, in a public webinar on Thursday scientists said the dead zone may cover as much as 40% of the Bay. Tracy Valenta, a water resources specialist for the Green Bay Metropolitan Sewerage District, said that the zone starts approximately eight miles northeast of the city and may extend more than 30 miles.

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