Environment & Science

The Environment Report
9:00 am
Tue November 5, 2013

Michigan challenge to EPA greenhouse regulations to be heard by U.S. Supreme Court

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency wants to regulate carbon emissions of coal-burning power plants and other smokestack industries. Michigan's Attorney General joined a lawsuit against the EPA that will be heard by the U.S. Supreme Court.
Credit Lester Graham / Michigan Radio

Listen to The Environment Report.

The EPA says greenhouse gases are pollution. The Supreme Court has agreed. But Michigan sued the EPA saying you can’t regulate that pollution from smokestack industries because it would hurt the economy.

The Supreme Court has already ruled the EPA has the authority to regulate the carbon emissions that contribute to climate change. The agency found CO2 emissions from fossil fuels endanger the public health and the environment. That was regarding a case involving cars and trucks. But whether that pollution comes from a tailpipe or a smokestack, it’s the same pollution.

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Environment & Science
1:02 pm
Mon November 4, 2013

Report calls reasons for Michigan wolf hunt 'half-truths and falsehoods'

A hearing held earlier this year in Lansing on a proposed wolf hunt in Michigan's Upper Peninsula.
Steve Carmody Michigan Radio

John Barnes, a reporter at MLive, described the reasons given for characterizing the push for a hunt in that way.

One falsehood he found was a quote given to Michigan Radio's Steve Carmody by a Michigan Department of Natural Resources official last May.

Carmody wanted to know if the town of Ironwood, Michigan really was afraid of wolves, after State Senator Tom Casperson (R-Escanaba) said the town was "living in fear" of the wolves.

Carmody spoke with Adam Bump, a Bear and Furbearer Speicialist with the MDNR. Here's what Bump said:

Bump now says he misspoke.

Michigan Radio tried to reach Bump for a comment, but he was not available to us.

During an interview on today's Stateside, John Barnes said Bump was confused during the interview.

"He was thinking about a separate incident that did not even occur in Michigan. It occurred in Denver. It had to do with a book he was reading, and he just tripped over his words, he says. And did not mean to infer that wolves are showing no fear of humans. In fact, we checked, and there's no such incident that has been recorded like that in the city of Ironwood. And Adam acknowledges that he made a mistake on that," said Barnes.

One farmer, many wolf kill reports

Barnes also writes about other problems with the argument for a hunt, including the fact that one farmer in Michigan's Upper Peninsula "accounted for more cattle killed and injured than all other farmers in the years the DNR reviewed."

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Stateside
4:10 pm
Thu October 31, 2013

Forecaster says get your snow shovels ready

If you are in a part of Michigan that gets lake effect snow, you might want to get your snow shovel out from the back of the garage.

 MLive Meteorologist Mark Torregrossa thinks we could be in for an early dose of lake effect snow.

The Environment Report
9:22 am
Thu October 31, 2013

Scientists pushed to engage the public through social media

NCI

Environmental Health Sciences professor Andrew Maynard teaches one of the University of Michigan's only classes focused on blogging.

Here you can listen in on an exchange he has with his students:

Maynard says learning how to communicating online is a skill crucial to his students' professional success.

“I would say very strongly scientists should blog, and they should blog because it forces them to become very familiar with the state of the science in specific areas,” says Maynard.

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Environment & Science
9:00 am
Tue October 29, 2013

Cold wind, rain, hail don't keep people from Sandhill Cranes

Greater Sandhill Cranes at the Michigan Audubon Society's Haenle Sanctuary near Jackson.
Credit Lester Graham / Michigan Radio

For some people it’s not geese flying south… or robins… but another much bigger bird that signals winter is on its way.

This past weekend a couple dozen or so people gathered in a remote area near Jackson to watch cranes, the Greater Sandhill Crane to be specific.

“Yeah! I thought it would be beautiful to see several hundred of them coming in at the same time. I think they’re gorgeous,” said Beth King from Durand.

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Energy
2:01 pm
Sun October 27, 2013

Hearings this week to shape future of DTE’s proposed new nuclear reactor in Michigan

Fermi 2 sits near to Lake Erie in Monroe County.
James Yeo Creative Commons

This week, federal nuclear regulators will hold hearings related to DTE’s proposal to build another nuclear reactor in Monroe County. Plans submitted to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission in 2008 call for a roughly 1,500 megawatt reactor.

DTE wants to build Fermi 3 near Fermi 2. Fermi 2 has been operating in Frenchtown Township for 25 years. Fermi 1 partially melted down in the 1960s and was permanently closed in the early 1970s.

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Environment & Science
12:24 pm
Sat October 26, 2013

EPA plans cleanup of dioxin-tainted Tittabawassee River segment

Imerman Park sits on the flood plain of the Tittabawassee River. Signs along the trail warn walkers about dioxin contamination in some of the park's soil.
Shawn Allee/The Environment Report

BAY CITY, Mich. (AP) - The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is making plans for cleanup next year of a 4-mile-long segment of the Tittabawassee River contaminated with dioxin from a Dow Chemical Co. plant in Midland.

It's part of a multi-year strategy to remove tainted sediments from the Tittabawassee and Saginaw rivers that were polluted by water and air emissions from the plant from the late 1890s to the 1970s.

A 3-mile stretch near the plant was completed in September.

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The Environment Report
5:27 pm
Thu October 24, 2013

Tracking Asian carp by what they leave behind

Asian carp at the Shedd Aquarium in Chicago
flickr Kate Gardiner

Audio for The Environment Report for Oct. 24th

There’s a lot of time, money and effort being spent to keep Asian carp out of the Great Lakes.

To keep them out, we first have to know where the carp are.

Biologists often go out and sample water from rivers and lakes to look for carp. They test the water for genetic material, and some of those tests have turned up positive for Asian carp.

Last year, 20 samples turned up positive hits in Lake Erie. The positive DNA hits raise alarm bells that an invasive carp species might be establishing a population in the Great Lakes.

But the presence of carp DNA does not mean an actual fish was swimming in that area.

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Environment & Science
9:02 am
Thu October 24, 2013

It's getting colder, but hummingbirds haven't left the state yet

An adult male Rufous hummingbird.
Allen Chartier Great Lakes Hummernet

With the chill in the air now, you might guess that most hummingbirds would have ditched Michigan for a more tropical place.

The Ruby-throated hummingbird is the bird you’re most likely to see in Michigan, and it has flown south, for the most part.

But Allen Chartier still wants you to keep an eye out on your backyard feeders.

He studies hummingbirds and he’s the project director for Great Lakes Hummernet.

“The chances that what you’re looking at is a Ruby-throat is about 50/50, because there are western species that start showing up.”

He says you might get a chance to see a Rufous hummingbird.

“I kind of think of these little birds as each one has certain superpowers, and the Ruby-throat’s superpower is that it’s the smallest bird that can fly across the Gulf of Mexico nonstop. Now the Rufous hummingbird’s superpower is that it’s very cold tolerant. So there are many of these birds that have stayed around in Michigan and Ohio until January and then they move on.”

He says the males are a reddish-brown color with a glowing orange throat and a white breast. But the females look a lot like Ruby-throats.

So if you see one, take a picture of it and e-mail to Chartier. He says he’ll identify the bird and use your sighting in his research.

Here’s his e-mail address: amazilia3 at gmail.com

Stateside
3:54 pm
Wed October 23, 2013

Is eating local good for the environment?

Eat more locally-grown, fresh fruits and vegetables
jamesjyu via flicker

There's much talk in Michigan---and across American---about the local food movement.

For many food activists, eating locally sourced foods isn't just a pleasure, it is a moral obligation. They maintain locally sourced food is better for the entire planet than shipping food thousands of miles across oceans, across continents.

Is eating local always worth it? What works and what doesn't?

Dr. Margot Finn is a lecturer at the University of Michigan. She specializes in food, popular culture, and class, and she joined us today in the studio.

Listen to the full interview above.

Environment & Science
6:33 pm
Tue October 22, 2013

State proposes new “fracking” rules

A natural gas well.
World Resources Institute

State environmental regulators have rolled out proposed new rules to cover hydraulic “fracking” for natural gas. “Fracking” is a process where developers pump water and chemicals into a well to clear a path to hard-to-reach deposits of gas.

Michigan Department of Environmental Quality Director Dan Wyant says the rules are partially a response to public concerns over drilling innovations. They allow developers to use fracking to tap into hard-to-reach gas deposits. 

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Environment & Science
3:57 pm
Tue October 22, 2013

How one city in Wisconsin may change how we protect the Great Lakes

Lake Michigan.
Jennifer Guerra Michigan Radio

An interview with Noah Hall, a Wayne State University law professor.

A water dilemma is brewing in Wisconsin.

The city of Waukesha (near Milwaukee) is asking for permission to tap into Lake Michigan for drinking water — to the tune of 10.1 million gallons per day.

Waukesha is in a real bind. The aquifer that has provided most of its drinking water for the last century has dropped so far, that the water left behind has unhealthy levels of radium and salt.

So the city of 70,000 is under a federal order to find a new source, and Lake Michigan is just 15 miles away.

But Waukesha has the bad luck to be a mile and a half outside the watershed boundary that encircles the five Great Lakes.

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Stateside
3:56 pm
Tue October 22, 2013

Brace yourself — it may be an early winter for Michigan

The South Haven lighthouse, covered in snow.
user Cseeman Flickr

An interview with meteorologist Mark Torregrossa.

As I grabbed my gloves and heavy coat this morning, I noted that the thermometer was 33. Just ten days ago, it was 79 degrees. That’s Michigan's weather for you — always keeping us on our toes.

With talk of snowflakes in Flint and friends in Northern Michigan grumbling on Facebook about predictions of snow on October 22, we wondered: Is Michigan facing an early winter?

Meteorologist Mark Torregrossa joins us to discuss what’s ahead for Michigan weather.

Listen to the full interview above.

The Environment Report
9:43 am
Tue October 22, 2013

Endangered mussel delaying Grand River whitewater project

A freshly dead snuffbox mussel Dunn's crew found near Riverside Park in Grand Rapids.
Lindsey Smith Michigan Radio

You can listen to today's Environment Report above.

North America has the most diverse population of freshwater mussels in the world. There are roughly 300 species. But almost 40 have gone extinct in recent history. The presence of one kind of endangered freshwater mussel is delaying projects to restore parts of the Grand River in West Michigan.

To find out more, I meet up with Heidi Dunn and her two-man crew at Riverside Park in Grand Rapids. They’re hunting for a beloved endangered animal - well, an endangered mussel – that Dunn loves.

“They’re not the charismatic megafauna. You know, like eagles and bears and other things like that. These are not warm cuddly fuzzies. They’re biological rocks,” Dunn said.

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Environment & Science
2:20 pm
Mon October 21, 2013

Senators unhappy about Canada's nuclear waste plan

Bruce Power Ontario Power Generation

DETROIT (AP) — U.S. Sens. Debbie Stabenow and Carl Levin of Michigan are asking Secretary of State John Kerry to intervene in a Canadian plan to store nuclear waste underground near Lake Huron.

Ontario Power Generation proposes a radioactive waste disposal facility at the Bruce nuclear power site in the city of Kincardine. If approved, it would house more than 200,000 cubic feet of waste about a mile from the lake.

In a letter Monday to Kerry, the Democratic senators say they're concerned how storing so much radioactive material that close to the lake would affect the environment and industries such as fishing and tourism.

They ask Kerry to urge the Canadian government to reconsider its plans.

The company says the underground rock formations would keep the waste safe for thousands of years.

Environment & Science
3:38 pm
Thu October 17, 2013

This contest is giving Michigan drivers the chance to be highway planners

A highway.
user Joe Shlabotnik Flickr

An interview with Sarah Szurpicki.

So there you are, driving to and from work or school every day.

Chances are, there's probably a stretch of highway you drive that seems particularly soul-numbing and doesn't let you get any sense of place or community.

If you could design a highway, what would it look like? And could it improve, rather than just carve up your city?

That's the idea behind Highways for Habitats, a contest being run by the Michigan Municipal League's Let's Save Michigan Initiative.

Sarah Szurpicki is a project coordinator with the Let's Save Michigan Initiative, and she's been involved in many efforts to revitalize cities in the Great Lakes region. She joins us today to discuss the contest that would allow drivers to play transportation planner. 

Listen to full interview above. 

The Environment Report
9:00 am
Thu October 17, 2013

Michigan town looks forward to cleaning up mess left behind by chemical company

A granite marker was placed on the site of the former Vesicol Chemical Corp. plant site in St. Louis, Michigan warning people to stay away.
Mark Brush Michigan Radio

You can listen to today's Environment Report above.

Forty years ago a chemical mix-up led to one of Michigan’s worst environmental tragedies, and it’s not over yet.

The mix-up occurred in early 1973 at the former Michigan Chemical Corporation plant (which later became the Vesicol Chemical Corporation) in St. Louis, Mich. The company accidentally shipped flame-retardant chemicals to livestock farms around the state.

Farmers thought they were getting a feed supplement. Instead, they were dosing their animals with the toxic chemical PBB.

The problem wasn’t discovered for another year -- and the chemicals were passed up the food chain to humans.

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Environment & Science
3:40 pm
Tue October 15, 2013

Have your say on Michigan renewable energy report by Wednesday

Wind turbines make up the bulk of Michigan's renewable energy sources.
warrenski Creative Commons

Wednesday is the deadline to comment on a report that's likely to shape renewable energy standards in Michigan. People can submit comments on the state’s website here.

The state-issued report says renewable energy production is getting cheaper and more efficient. In Michigan, the vast majority is from wind turbines.

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Environment & Science
1:55 pm
Mon October 14, 2013

PCB cleanup in Portage Creek in Kalamazoo finishing under budget, ahead of schedule

EPA workers have dredge and refilled sections of Portage Creek in downtown Kalamazoo that were contaminated by PCBs. Soon the water will be rerouted through the creek.
Paul Ruesch Environmental Protection Agency

For decades, paper mills dumped waste into the Kalamazoo River. Some of it had polychlorinated biphenyls; or PCBs. People can be exposed to PCBs by eating fish from the Kalamazoo River. PCBs can cause cancer, and other health problems.

Workers are wrapping up a project to remove toxic chemicals from Portage Creek near downtown Kalamazoo.

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Environment & Science
1:18 pm
Fri October 11, 2013

Federal judge approves Lake Michigan coal-dumping deal

The SS Badger.
user rexp2 Flickr

Federal District Court Judge Janet T. Neff approved a plan that would allow “the country’s last coal-dumping ferryboat” to continue operations as it shifts from unloading coal waste into Lake Michigan to storing the ash elsewhere.

The agreement settles a dispute between the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the Lake Michigan Carferry company over the coal ash discarded in Lake Michigan, and the impacts of such discharging.

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