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Environment & Science

Enbridge's Line 5 runs from Superior, Wisconsin to Sarnia, Ontario.
Enbridge

The Enbridge Line 5 oil pipeline stretches from Superior, Wisconsin to Sarnia, Ontario. It crosses northern Wisconsin into the Upper Peninsula of Michigan and then under the Straits of Mackinac which connects Lake Michigan and Lake Huron.

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The path of the 64-year-old pipeline also crosses the Bad River Reservation in northeast Wisconsin.

According to Robert Blanchard, the chairman of the Bad River Band Tribal Council, the easement under which Enbridge has been operating the pipeline on the Bad River Reservation expired in 2013. Last week, the council voted not to renew the easement, which could eventually lead to removal of the section of the pipeline that crosses through the reservation.

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

Legislation has been introduced in Congress calling for a shut down of Enbridge's Line 5 if a federal study shows that it threatens the Great Lakes.

Line 5 is the controversial, 63 year-old underwater pipeline in the Straits of Mackinac.

The legislation would require the federal government to conduct a study to determine the economic and environmental risks to the Great Lakes from possible failures of Line 5, and it puts a 12 month deadline on completing the study.

Republican Dave Trott and Democrat Debbie Dingell are co-sponsors of the legislation.

Dan Mullen / U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

For the first time in the U.S., a bumble bee has been listed as an endangered species. 

It’s called the rusty patched bumble bee. The species is no longer found in Michigan, but small populations still exist elsewhere in the Great Lakes region.

Waves on Lake Michigan.
user ellenm1 / Flickr - http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

Tsunamis in the oceans are often triggered by earthquakes and volcanic eruptions. But scientists say there’s a kind of tsunami that’s also a common occurrence on the Great Lakes.

These waves aren’t nearly as big as the ones on the oceans, but they can be deadly.

One reported to be 10 feet tall hit a Chicago pier in 1954 and seven people drowned.

Here's a meteorological model of that event:

Adam Bechle is a researcher at the University of Wisconsin. He says tsunamis on the Great Lakes are not so different from the ones in the ocean.

Bruce Power / Ontario Power Generation

Controversy still swirls around a Canadian company's plan to bury low- and intermediate-level nuclear waste a little more than half a mile from the shores of Lake Huron.

Opponents of the proposal have slammed a study Ontario Power Generation recently submitted to the Canadian environment ministry.  

OPG's study concluded that the Bruce Nuclear site near Lake Huron is the right place for an underground nuclear waste repository.

What can we learn about water from the people in Bolivia?
Florence.S / Flickr - http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

For centuries, residents of the Great Lakes state have been able to take water for granted. But the Flint water crisis, coupled with 70,000 households in Detroit having their water shut off, have forced Michigan to confront water issues in a way we never have before.

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Valerie Vande Panne, an award-winning journalist, thinks that in order to learn from these water crises, we need to look to the south. To Bolivia. That's where people fought back, and won, against corporate water control.

The Chevy Bolt
Mark Brush / Michigan Radio

The Chevy Bolt won the 2017 North American Car of the Year. It’s a long-range electric car.

The EPA estimates the Bolt can travel 238 miles per charge, and GM thinks of it as an electric car that will have mass appeal. After a federal tax credit, the price of the car comes in around $30,000.

Tesla is planning to release a more affordable electric car. They call it the Model 3. But GM beat Tesla to it.

Karl Brauer is executive publisher at Auto Trader.

Hemlock woolly adelgid
Michigan DNR

State officials want you to check your trees for a tiny insect. It’s called the hemlock woolly adelgid, and it survives by sucking sap from hemlock trees.

This insect was first detected in Michigan in 2006.

steve carmody / Michigan Radio

Tomorrow, state and federal officials meet in Chicago to discuss the latest data on Flint’s water crisis.

Critics of the state’s handling of the Flint water crisis say they don’t want to hear the city’s tap water is safe to drink once again.

Flint’s water became contaminated with lead after the city’s water source was switched to the Flint River.   Improperly treated river water damaged city pipes. 

Stateside 1.6.2017

Jan 6, 2017

Today, we learn why it's harder than we thought for kids to do better than their parents socioeconomically. And, we hear why biologists are saying Earth is in the midst of a sixth mass extinction.

A map of the area in Oscoda Township surrounding the now closed Wurtsmith Air Force Base is shown. The red area is the base, while the area outlined in yellow is considered the affected area.
Courtesy of District Health Department No. 2

There’s an irony in Michigan. We are surrounded by the Great Lakes and have access to vast supplies of water. However, there are plenty of examples of water issues across the state. From the Flint water crisis, to the city of Ann Arbor's problem with 1,4 dioxane in the ground water. There's also dioxin in Midland and the oil spill in the Kalamazoo River

Recently, we added the contamination near Oscoda to that list of water problems in Michigan. The source looks to be the former Wurtsmith Air Force Base, which closed in 1993.

Environment Agency Survey Open / FLICKR - HTTP://J.MP/1SPGCL0

We could be on the cusp of learning a lot more about the native cultures that inhabited Michigan before European settlement.

Meghan Howey is a researcher at the University of New Hampshire joined Stateside to talk about how she and her team has been using technology to find Native American cache pits. 

Tom Benson / FLICKR - HTTP://J.MP/1SPGCL0

There have been five mass extinction events on planet Earth over the past 540 million years. Among these are the asteroid strike that is thought to have killed off the dinosaurs roughly 65 million years ago, and four less infamous extinctions, such as the “Permian event” that occurred 250 million years ago.

During these periods, at least three-quarters of all species on earth went extinct. The dinosaurs vanished, as did the giant insects of the Permian era.

Biologists now suggest that a sixth extinction is underway.

A diagram of the proposed deep geologic repository.
Ontario Power Generation

The Canadian company that’s proposing to bury its nuclear waste in an underground site near Lake Huron doubled down this week on that controversial site.

Ontario Power Generation was ordered to do a study of alternative sites – options other than the proposed 2,200-foot underground repository at the Bruce power plant near Kincardine, right by Lake Huron.

That report came out last week.

Tracy Samilton / Michigan Radio

The U.S. EPA estimates that companies in Michigan waste up to a third of the energy they buy because of inefficient buildings and equipment.

But most of the companies just keep paying those high energy bills, month after month, because they can't make a business case for a big energy efficiency project. The payback for the upgrades takes too long – often ten or more years.

Andy Levin is the CEO of Lean and Green Michigan.

Bruce Power / Ontario Power Generation

A Canadian company has not changed its mind about wanting to bury low- and intermediate-level nuclear waste a little more than a half-mile from Lake Huron on the Bruce nuclear site near Kincardine, Ontario.

Ontario Power Generation said a study the company recently completed shows that burying the waste is the right plan and the current proposed Bruce nuclear site is the right place. 

This is HAL 9000, antagonist in the novel (and film) 2001: A Space Odyssey. Hintze said HAL is an "expert system" that's likely a type 1 machine, or poorly designed type 2, that compares a collection of rules and statements with the environment.
Erin Williamson / Flickr - http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

What could artificial intelligence (AI) mean for us in the future? And when might intelligent machines and technology be at a point where they become an integral part of our lives?

Those are the questions that Michigan State University researcher Arend Hintze explores.

He's an assistant professor of Integrative Biology and Computer Science and Engineering, and he runs the Hintze Lab, where they research the evolution of natural and artificial intelligence.

Rolf Peterson outside Bangsund Cabin on Isle Royale.
Mark Brush / Michigan Radio

The winter study of the wolves and moose on Isle Royale is heading into its 59th year. The wolf-moose study is the longest running study of any predator and its prey in the world.

Scientists from Michigan Tech spend several weeks on the island in the middle of winter every year. They'll be heading back out soon.

Mark Savage / Entergy

This month the state should get some more information about the expected closure of the Palisades nuclear plant near South Haven.

The Michigan Public Service Commission sent a letter to Consumers Energy last month with a laundry list of questions about the planned closure.

A $1.8 million grant is going to help protect the Huron River satershed.

The money is coming through the Regional Conservation Partnership Program, as part of the 2014 Farm Bill.

Meghan Prindle is the Community and Landowner Outreach Coordinator for the Legacy Land Conservancy. She says the grant will help with several problems, including fertilizer runoff and erosion.

“This is largely going to take the form of reaching out to landowners and trying to help them tap into federal program funding,” says Prindle.

People protesting the Dakota Access Pipeline rallied in Grand Rapids Thursday. They want people to move money out of banks that support the project.

“We’re in front of this Chase bank right here,” Manistee resident Kareen Lewis said to the crowd of a few dozen people.

“We’re trying to bring awareness to divesting from anybody who is supporting that Dakota Access Pipeline,” she said.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

A new study shows Michigan’s skin cancer death rate is rising.

The study’s author suggests better education is needed. 

About 9,000 people die of melanoma every year in the United States. 

Dr. Robert Dellavalle is a public health professor at the University of Colorado-Denver. He examined the rates of diagnosis of melanoma and mortality rates across the U.S. between 2003 and 2013.

The former Wurtsmith Air Force base.
Mike Fritcher / Flickr - http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

There could be new proof that veterans and their families were exposed to perflourinated chemicals (PFCs) in their drinking water at the former Wurtsmith Air Force base in Oscoda. 

The base closed in 1993.

The Michigan Department of Environmental Quality is wrapping up its analysis of water found trapped in long-forgotten fire hydrants on the base. The results are part of a not-yet-released draft report by the MDEQ.

mark brush / Michigan Radio

Ohio State University researchers say the public is willing to pay part of the price to address Lake Erie’s cyanobacteria problem.  

US Forest Service

HOLLAND, Mich. (AP) - A Michigan agency is seeking public comment on a proposed quarantine of an insect from Asia that has caused the death of millions of hemlock trees across North America.

  The Holland Sentinel reports hemlock woolly adelgid has been detected in three counties in western Michigan in the past few years.

Wolf prints in the snow.
Rolf Peterson

Don’t grab your rifle just yet. Wolves are still on the federal endangered species list, so the law won’t take effect until they’re removed.

A 2014 state law allowing wolf hunting was recently struck down by the Michigan Court of Appeals on a technicality.

And at the polls, voters have said “no” to similar legislation multiple times.

Jill Fritz is the director of Keep Michigan Wolves Protected.

“We’re appalled at the open contempt for Michigan voters that Governor Snyder demonstrated by signing this third wolf hunting bill into law,” Fritz says.

Peter Payette / Interlochen Public Radio

Last month, we heard how an abundance of deer is reshaping the forests in northern Michigan. Deer are eliminating trees like maple, oak and cedar in many places.

The trees can’t reproduce because any seedling that sprouts up is eaten.

Today, we visit a forest in Leelanau County where a conservation group has taken an unusual step to address the problem.

DTE Energy / via Twitter

The Michigan Environmental Council says energy legislation signed into law by Governor Snyder on Wednesday is a vast improvement over earlier versions.

The initial package proposed to eliminate Michigan's 10% renewable energy mandate, as well as eliminate a mandate to reduce electricity demand by one percent per year.

Instead, after months of negotiations, the renewable mandate was boosted, to 15% by the year 2021, and electric utilities must still reduce demand by at least one percent a year.

Rachel Kramer / User: Flickr

Bald eagles came off the endangered species list in 2007 because they were doing so well. These days you can see more bald eagles than in any time in the past 50 years, according to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

The agency has just finalized a new rule about bald and golden eagles, which revises the permitting system for unintentional impacts on eagles.

Drilling permits at 89-year low in Michigan

Dec 20, 2016
Sam Corden / Interlochen Public Radio

2016 will soon close as the second slowest year in history for Michigan oil and gas development. State officials say so far, only 12 oil wells have been drilled, and six of those have been dry.

Data from the state show that last year, only 100 permits were issued for well drilling. That’s the lowest number since 1927. This year, that number’s plummeted to a mere 40.

A lot of factors are at play, including a growing market for alternative energy. But experts say the decline can be mostly attributed to an over-saturated global market.

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