Environment & Science

Stateside
5:07 pm
Wed September 4, 2013

How has this summer treated Michigan farmers?

This was taken at the Allendale Farmers Market summer 2008.
user tami.vroma Flickr

The end of summer is at hand and we wanted to find out how the year treated Michigan farmers so far.

They were slammed in 2012 by a cold, wet spring and a hot, dry summer.

Earlier this summer we spoke with Macomb Township farmer Ken DeCock to see how things were going for him and got mixed reviews. So we wanted to check in with him to get an end-of-summer view.

He joined us today from Boyka's Farm Market in Macomb Township. Tree fruit specialist William Shane with the Southwest Michigan Research and Extension Center also joined us.

Listen to the full interview above.

Stateside
5:07 pm
Wed September 4, 2013

Poor air quality in Michigan is not limited to areas of industry

DTE's St. Clair Power Plant in East China, Michigan.
user cgord wikimedia commons

If we asked you to name the areas in Michigan most likely to have poor air quality, chances are pretty good you'd start with the Detroit area, or southeast Michigan. Certainly with all of the vehicles, the industry, and the dense population, it's not too surprising that the Detroit area most often has the most polluted air.

But some of the most beautiful, most scenic areas of Michigan also suffer from poor air quality.

MLive meteorologist Mark Torregrossa joined us today to help is find out where and why this is happening.

Listen to the full interview above.

Environment & Science
9:58 am
Wed September 4, 2013

Here comes Comet ISON

This comet’s orbit will bring it near the sun in November 2013. Some are predicted it’ll be briefly as bright as a full moon then, but, unfortunately, as its brightest it’ll also be near the sun’s glare
NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory

Michigan stargazers will get a treat this fall.

Comet ISON was first spotted last year, and since then some have said it could be the ‘comet of the century’.

The comet should first appear in the night sky in mid-November.    If it survives a close pass by the sun, it would reappear in December.

John French is the interim director of the Michigan State University-Abrams Planetarium.    He hopes Comet ISON will live up to the hype.

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The Environment Report
8:55 am
Tue September 3, 2013

Making Michigan wine with cheaper solar energy

Installing the solar panels on the vineyard.
Interlochen Public Radio

Crain Hill Vineyards in Leelanau County is touted as the first in Michigan to run 100% on solar power, and a start-up energy business sees an opportunity for homes and farms because of the steep price drops to install solar in the last year.

Robert Brengman owns Crain Hill Vineyards with his two brothers. He says it’s been a goal from the beginning to tread lightly in this place.

“We’re looking at having a zero carbon footprint on this vineyard, in this winery. I mean that to me is exciting,” Bregnman said. “I think it’s a little part. And we’re trying to do our part of keeping this beautiful area the way it is.”

They won’t be buying electricity generated by burning fossil fuels. There are three new solar arrays mounted on steel poles on a south facing slope that are within sight of the winery’s tasting room.

Tom Gallery designed the system for Crain Hill and says the arrays are built to gather as much sunlight as possible.

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Environment & Science
9:09 am
Mon September 2, 2013

More Michigan utility customers get credit for generating excess power

(file photo)
Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio

LANSING, Mich. (AP) - More wind and solar energy users in Michigan are getting billing credit for excess power they generate.

State regulators issued a report last week showing utility customers with their own windmills and solar panels onsite increased the net metering program's production size by 55% from 2011 to 2012.

There also were more than 300 additional residential or business customers taking part in the program last year than the year before.

Environment & Science
10:00 am
Fri August 30, 2013

The 'last weekend of summer' could include a risk of wildfires

This has been a below-average summer for wildfires in Michigan.  Though parts of the Lower and Upper Peninsulas have been under a ‘high fire danger’ warning for much of August.

Jim Fisher is with the Department of Natural Resources.  He says three-day weekends can add to the problem.

“Usually on three-day weekends there’s many more people out and about in the woods doing things, including having campfires…it does usually cause more fires on those weekends when its drier,” says Fisher.

The Environment Report
9:00 am
Thu August 29, 2013

Hunting for plastic pollution in the Great Lakes

Rios-Mendoza on the deck of the Sea Dragon, preparing to go out to test Lake Michigan's waters for plastics.
Lewis Wallace

You can listen to today's Environment Report above.

A research expedition recently set sail from Chicago to search for a Great Lakes garbage patch.

So-called "garbage patches" or islands are actually collections of tiny plastic particles that are choking up regions of the world’s oceans. The expedition has been testing the waters of Lakes Huron and Michigan for a similar phenomenon.

I met up with expedition organizer Asta Mail at a marina in downtown Chicago. It’s a hot day, and a street vendor immediately offers us bottled water.

Mail points down at a plastic bottle in Lake Michigan. It’s pretty easy plastic hunting.

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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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