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Environment & Science

A lighthouse on Pelee Island in Lake Erie.
Richard Hsu / Flickr

A new partnership has a plan to keep Lake Erie clean. The MI CLEAR group is made up of farmers, conservationists, environmental leaders, and more. Those groups are teaming up with the Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development.

Jamie Clover Adams is the Director of the Department of Agriculture. She said the multiple perspectives will help improve the lake’s water quality on a variety of fronts.

“This didn’t happen overnight and it’s not gonna be fixed overnight,” she said. “This is a very complex problem that will call for many solutions.”

Wolverine tannery neighbors threaten suit to force cleanup

Oct 15, 2017
Map from the MDEQ of affected area
MDEQ

Residents who live near an old leather tannery waste dump in western Michigan are threatening to sue Wolverine World Wide to force it to clean up the site.

Attorneys for 40 residents near the long-forgotten dump sent Wolverine a notice of intent to sue on Friday.

They want the Rockford-based global footwear company to remove contaminated soil from the 76-acre property, rebury it in a pit lined with a hazardous waste liner and then encircle the property with a slurry wall to contain polluted water.

Courtesy Photo / Air National Guard | Tech. Sgt. Nic Kuetemeyer

A combat center in northern Michigan has become the third military installation in the state to test positive for contaminated groundwater.

Capt. Brian Blumline says preliminary results came in this week for tests conducted at five locations at the Alpena Combat Readiness Training Center earlier this year. He says all the sites showed elevated levels of perfluorooctanoic acid and perfluorooctyl sulfonate.

The contaminants are from fire-fighting foam that used to be involved in training at the base.

group of activists
Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

More than 3,000 progressive activists are expected to be in Detroit later this month for the Women’s Convention.

Many of them will receive an education on Flint’s and Detroit’s water issues.

Groups from Flint and Detroit plan to host a workshop for  conventioneers on the eve of the weekend-long event.

Pete Markham / Flickr - http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

Lake Superior is cold, deep and clear. But it’s no longer the clearest of the Great Lakes.

Lakes Michigan and Huron have gotten clearer, bumping Lake Superior to number three.

Scientists have been able to figure how much clearer by using satellite imagery.

Kerry Wixted / Flickr - http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

Forests in our region are under attack from a shrub.

The culprit is an ornamental plant called Japanese barberry. It was introduced from Asia in the late 1800s. It’s been in used in landscaping in Michigan for decades, but it’s considered invasive.

I just found out I have some in my front yard.

They’re pretty, with bright red berries that birds love to eat.

bill mckibben
Lester Graham / Michigan Radio

Despite consensus among most scientists that climate change is real, and that humans are contributing by burning fossil fuels, there is still resistance to actually doing something about it.

Oil, gas, and coal companies are fighting it. So are businesses that rely on fossil fuels, and politicians who are more worried about the economic costs today than they are about threats to life and the economy down the road.

corn in a box
Maia C / FLICKR - HTTP://J.MP/1SPGCL0

The United States was once considered an agricultural nation, but these days, most people are two or three generations away from the farm. Fewer than two percent of Americans live on farms, and many don’t understand where their food comes from, how it’s grown, or how it’s processed.

A new effort at Michigan State University is trying to change that. The College of Agriculture and Natural Resources is leading an initiative called Food @ MSU.

The Velsicol Superfund sites in St. Louis, Michigan.
Kaye LaFond / Michigan Radio

Researchers find there could be more health effects lingering decades after a toxic contamination of Michigan’s food supply.

steve carmody / Michigan Radio

A couple hundred Michigan water activists gathered in Flint this weekend.

They represent a variety of different groups, from water rights activists in Detroit and Flint to groups opposed to corporations bottling and selling Michigan water.

Conferences speakers included representatives of the Council of Canadians, Flint Democracy Defense League and the Detroit People’s Water Board

twurdemann / Flickr - http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

A recent article in The Conversation asks this question: “If we stopped emitting greenhouse gases right now, would we stop climate change?”

The article’s author Richard Rood, a climate change scientist with the University of Michigan, brought Stateside the answer today.

Stateside 9.28.2017

Sep 28, 2017

Today on Stateside, we learn Toledo water is safe to drink despite bacteria blooms, "but we're not out of the woods yet." And, campus sexual assault researchers say the focus on due process comes at victims' expense.

eutrophication&hypoxia / Flickr - http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

If you’ve been on social media the past 24 hours, you might have noticed photos trending of what looks like the Chicago River on St. Patrick’s Day.

But nobody will be dying that river for another six months, and this river isn’t in Illinois.

Mark Savage / Entergy

The Palisades nuclear power plant will stay open until 2022 after all.

Late last year Entergy, the company that owns the plant, announced that Palisades would shut down early, in the fall of 2018.

Palisades spokesman Val Gent says they told employees Thursday morning, when executives unfurled a big banner that read “2022.”

Courtesy of Kraig Biocraft Laboratories

The silky strands made by spiders are prized for their strength and suppleness. Now, scientists in the Great Lakes region are using technology to reproduce spider silk. And there's a wide range of users – from the Army to a famous British fashion designer.

Two beekeepers looking at a frame.
Rebecca Kruth / Michigan Radio

Most veterinarians probably don't picture themselves working with bees. But thanks to new federal regulations, more and more might soon find themselves with six-legged patients.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Michigan State University’s yet-to-be completed massive physics research facility is about to achieve an important milestone.

In the next three to four weeks, M-S-U’s Facility for Rare Isotope Beams, also known as FRIB,  will accelerate its first particles.    

When the $730 million facility is operational in 2022, it will become a leading center for scientific research.   

pressure gauge
Observe The Banana / Flickr - http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

The Next Idea

 

So many innovative ideas begin with inventors observing simple events. Take Newton’s falling apple, for example, or Archimedes’ overflowing bathtub. 

For Emil Ureel of West Michigan, it was building an ice rink in his backyard — or rather designing a refrigeration system to keep it from melting.

 

“I thermodynamically ended up producing a chiller system from a used central air unit,” Ureel said. “Going through the process, I learned something related to thermodynamics that’s referred to as saturation vapor pressure.”

image of Asian carp at the Shedd Aquarium
Kate Gardiner / http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

People worried about Asian carp infecting the Great Lakes have been anxiously awaiting a long-overdue carp "battle plan" from the Army Corps of Engineers — a report held up for six months by the Trump Administration.

Now the Army Corps is free to talk details, and as it does, the reaction among some in Michigan is disappointment and disbelief.

That's because the Army Corps says it will take eight years — until 2025 — to get this fix in place.

MRPOLYONYMOUS / Flickr - http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

Does killing coyotes make things safer for livestock?

Last winter, Stateside did a story about a sporting goods store near the Irish Hills that held a bounty hunt on coyotes. The store said the hunt came in response to customers who expressed worry about their chicken coops and family dogs.

Megan Draheim, a lecturer in conservation biology and human dimensions of wildlife at Virginia Tech, joined Stateside today with a differing perspective. She said there’s no evidence that killing coyotes makes livestock safer. In fact, she said it can make the coyote-human problem even worse.

Courtesy photo / 110th Attack Wing, Battle Creek Air National Guard Base

There’s a new guy running the drinking water division at the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality.

Eric Oswald served 12 years of active duty in the Air Force. He spent the last five years as a commander at the Air National Guard Base in Battle Creek.

Oswald is not a drinking water expert.

Courtesy of Michigan Department of Natural Resources

Before Europeans arrived in Michigan, “moose were pretty much all over” the state, said Rachel Clark of the Michigan History Center.

After that arrival, the moose population declined as settlers began over-hunting the animal and damaging its habitat.

deer
mwanner_wc / creative commons

One deer in Genesee County has tested positive for epizootic hemorrhagic disease (EHD), according to the Michigan Department of Natural Resources.

The Michigan Department of Natural Resources Wildlife Disease Laboratory and the Michigan State University Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory say the free-ranging white-tailed deer died from the disease, which can be found in wild ruminants such as white-tailed deer, mule deer and elk.

One of the anchors used to hold Line 5 in place under the Straits of Mackinac.
Screen shot of a Ballard Marine inspection video / Enbridge Energy

Monday's meeting of the Michigan Pipeline Safety Advisory Board was filled with worry about the condition of Line 5, the two 64-year-old Enbridge pipelines carrying oil and liquid natural gas under the Straits of Mackinac.

Enbridge recently revealed there are areas of the pipeline where the protective coating has worn off. At first, the company said the areas were "Band-Aid" sized. But then, the story changed.

The Mackinac Bridge
Mark Brush / Michigan Radio

The state pipeline safety board met for the first time Monday since it was revealed that Enbridge’s Line 5 pipeline had lost some of its coating.

The controversial pipeline sends oil and liquid natural gas under the Straits of Mackinac. The board was updated on the coating issue. But it’s waiting on a plan and repair schedule from Enbridge before deciding what to do next. 

The board did recommend state universities start a new study on the risks of the pipeline.

Congressman Fred Upton
Republican Conference / Flickr - http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

The U.S. House of Representatives has rejected an amendment to cut the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency by nearly 25%. The cut would have reduced the EPA budget by nearly $2 billion.

Rep. Fred Upton, R-St. Joseph, joined Stateside to talk about why he voted against the proposal. Upton said the budget cut would have ended vital programs that protect the Great Lakes.

security camera
CWCS Managed Hosting / Flickr - http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

 


You are being tracked. Your actions are being tracked by government, retailers, credit agencies, social media, and it all goes much deeper than you might realize. 

Jonathan Weinberg, a professor of law at Wayne State University, joined Stateside host Lester Graham to discuss the state of surveillance on the average person today, and where it might go in the future.

Asian carp jumping out of water
michiganoutofdoors.com

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers held a public meeting in Muskegon last night on its $275.4 million plan to keep invasive fish species out of the Great Lakes.

A recent study found that electric barriers and complex noises, like the sound of boat motors, are the most effective ways to keep certain fish away. So the plan to keep Asian carp out of Lake Michigan includes both.

A diver inspects Enbridge's Line 5 pipeline under the Straits of Mackinac for a possible dent.
Enbridge inspection video shared with the state of Michigan

Michigan’s energy chief says Enbridge downplayed the significance of damage to the protective coating on its oil and gas pipeline that runs under the Mackinac Straits.

Parts of the coating were removed while workers installed safety anchors on a portion of Line 5 that runs beneath the Straits of Mackinac.

The patches where the metal was scraped bare are close to a foot in diameter. That's much larger than Enbridge initially reported.

U.S. Supreme Court
U.S. Supreme Court

The number of state and federal lawsuits related to climate change has been on the rise since 2006.

Sabrina McCormick is an associate professor of environmental and occupational health at The George Washington University Miliken Institute School of Public Health. She's the lead author of a study in the journal Science that finds the role of climate science in court is changing.

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