environmental protection agency

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

KALAMAZOO   (AP) - The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has announced it will be several more years before cleanup work begins on the next phase of an 80-mile stretch of the Kalamazoo River.

  According to agency officials, it will take at least until 2017 to select and implement a plan for cleaning 22 miles of the Kalamazoo River Superfund site.

Wood burning stove.
Rich Misner / Flickr

Michigan may soon pick a fight with the Environmental Protection Agency over wood burning stoves.

Nationwide, there are an estimated 12 million wood and pellet stoves. The EPA estimates wood stoves contribute about 13% of the nation’s soot pollution. 

Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio

Monday is the deadline to give federal regulators feedback on a plan to cut carbon emissions in the United States by 30% by 2030. The Environmental Protection Agency says more than 1.6 million comments have been filed so far.

Fred Thompson / Flickr

2014 is nearly over, but we won't know how much ethanol the U.S. EPA will require to be blended into gasoline for 2014, until 2015.  The EPA announced last week it will delay issuing the standard.

The ethanol industry and refining industry are on opposite sides of the Renewable Fuels Standard debate.  The RFS requires increasing amounts of ethanol in gasoline every year, unless there are compelling economic reasons to depart from the practice.

Earlier this year, the EPA indicated it was planning to lower the Renewable Fuels Standard for the first time since 2007 – because it appeared the amount of ethanol in gasoline would have to exceed 10% – and the effect of higher ethanol blends on older engines is unclear.

The delay on issuing that standard has generated relief among corn ethanol lobbyists.

User: ellenm1 / Flickr

Wetlands have all kinds of benefits for people and wildlife. But wetlands have also gotten in the way of farming and building. So, we’ve drained them over the years. 

The federal government has been trying to clarify what kinds of wetlands and small streams fall under the Clean Water Act.

Earlier this year, the Environmental Protection Agency and the Army Corps of Engineers proposed a new rule that they say would clear up confusion. 

Annie Snider is a reporter who covers water issues for Greenwire in Washington, D.C. The Clean Water Act was passed in 1972 and Snider says the EPA and Army Corps of Engineers took a broad approach to what fell under it.

"But in 2001, and then again in 2006, there were [Supreme] Court challenges that threw that into question. And after those, the questions of which waters, which streams, which creeks, which wetlands fall under federal power under the Clean Water Act was thrown into question," says Snider.

The 2006 ruling involved two cases out of Michigan. While one contested the rejection of a permit, in the other, the U.S. sued a Midland real estate developer for filling in a wetland property. The developer said the wetland was not a "navigable waterway" and therefore not covered by the CWA. However, until that point, the EPA interpreted "navigable waters" as being "waters of the U.S." and any waters or wetlands connected to one of these waterways. In its ruling, the Supreme Court rejected the Army Corps of Engineers and EPA's limitless authority over water.

After that decision, Snider says that regulators had to make case-by-case decisions about which streams and creeks are important to the downstream waters — the big rivers and lakes that do fall under the Clean Water Act.

Central Power Plant, Ann Arbor, MI
Press Release Distribution / prlog.org

A new study states that Michigan is one of five states that would see the most public health benefits from the EPA's proposal to reduce carbon emissions from power plants. 

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

It wasn’t the real thing, but federal and state agencies joined with local groups to respond to a mock oil spill in northern Michigan today.

“That boom is to keep out any oil from coming on this side,” one of the coordinators told reporters, as he pointed at crews lowering pillow-like yellow floaters into the Indian River. 

The booms were deployed just downstream from where an oil pipeline has sprung a make-believe leak.  A short distance away, officials from a variety of agencies manned a full command center, organizing the response in the mock disaster drill. 

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Environmentalists and others are trying to rally support in Michigan for proposed rules to force utilities to make power plants cleaner.

The Environmental Protection Agency wants tougher emission standards for the nation’s power plants.

The EPA’s Clean Power Plan aims to reduce carbon emissions from power plants by 30%  from 2005 levels by 2030. 

Lindsey Smith / Michigan Radio

For the first time ever, the Environmental Protection Agency is planning to require power plants to cut their carbon pollution. This week, the EPA is holding public hearings about the plan all around the country.

EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy says the agency has already gotten more than 300,000 comments.

Amy Temple / The Center for Public Integrity

Arsenic is nearly synonymous with poison. But most people don't realize that they consume small amounts of it in the food they eat and the water they drink.

Recent research suggests even small levels of arsenic may be harmful. In fact, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has been prepared to say since 2008 that arsenic is 17 times more toxic as a carcinogen than the agency now reports.

Women are especially vulnerable. EPA scientists have concluded that if 100,000 women consumed the legal limit of arsenic each day, 730 of them eventually would get lung or bladder cancer.

The EPA, however, hasn’t been able to make its findings official, an action that could trigger stricter drinking water standards. The roadblock: a single paragraph inserted into a committee report by a member of Congress, an investigation by the Center for Public Integrity found.

Photo courtesy of Carbon Green BioEnergy

Support is growing within the small business community for tighter limits on carbon emissions, which contribute to climate change.

That's according to research by the American Sustainable Business Council. One in five of the surveyed businesses said they had already been hurt by extreme weather events.

Many business owners say they've searched for their own ways to reduce energy costs to become more efficient.

David Levine is CEO of the council. He said small businesses want to see these changes implemented across the board.

Ford Motor Company / Flickr

State law forces power companies to get 10% of their power from renewable sources, like wind and solar, by next year. It’s a target they’re expected to meet.

The state issued a report last year that shows companies could get as much at 30% by 2035. But there’s no law that requires that, yet. It’s something a workgroup will consider as it works this summer to update Michigan’s energy policy.

State Senator Mike Nofs (R-Battle Creek) will help lead the group.

ckay / Creative Commons

A popular program to improve the environment around the Great Lakes could be extended. A task force including 11 federal agencies and led by the Environmental Protection Agency released a draft of the updated plan Friday for public review.

Congress has already approved $1.6 billion on the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative. An updated blueprint calls for another $275 million annually over the next five years. 

A big chunk of that money helped jump start efforts to clean up industrial pollution that happened decades ago. There are 14 of these so-called "toxic hot spots" in Michigan on a list of Areas of Concern. Cleanup efforts have been underway since the 1980s.

“They’ve been on the list for far too long. We need to give these harbor side and riverside communities some relief and get them cleaned up,” Cameron Davis said. He’s a senior advisor to the administrator at the Environmental Protection Agency.

Lindsey Smith / Michigan Radio

Michigan residents would save around $9 a month by 2020 under a plan to improve energy efficiency. That’s according to analysis released today by the Natural Resources Defense Council.

The group’s plan comes out less than a week before federal regulators are expected to unveil a new plan to drastically cut carbon emissions, which scientists believe contribute to climate change.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Clean air advocates in Michigan are cheering a U.S. Supreme Court decision that will allow stricter regulation of coal-fired power plants.

The high court decided this week to overturn a lower court ruling and allow the Environmental Protection Agency to slap new limits on pollution from power plants.

Doc Searls / Creative Commons

An inland lake north of Muskegon that was once one of the most polluted places surrounding the Great Lakes is making big progress. Most of the pollution in White Lake was caused by a chemical company that dumped waste into the water decades ago.

Efforts to clean the leftover chemicals from the environment have been underway since the late 1980s.

Lindsey Smith / Michigan Radio

The Environmental Protection Agency hopes to select a cleanup plan by this summer for an old landfill site in Kalamazoo that's full of toxic material.

The Allied site served as a dumping ground for the paper mill industry for decades. There are 1.5 million cubic yards of material at the site laced with polychlorinated biphenyl, or PCBs. Some neighbors have dubbed it Mount PCB.

Doc Searls / Creative Commons

An inland lake north of Muskegon is expected to reach a major milestone this year. Officials anticipate White Lake will be removed from a list of the most-polluted places surrounding the Great Lakes this year.

According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, most of the pollution in White Lake was caused by a chemical company that dumped waste into the water.

NOAA

ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP)  -- A coalition of 59 groups from Minnesota, Wisconsin and Michigan has asked the Environmental Protection Agency to conduct a broad review of the cumulative effects of expanded mining in the Lake Superior basin.

They've written to the EPA's regional administrator in Chicago, Susan Hedman, to ask the federal agency to study the long-term effects of mining activities, including copper mines proposed or planned for northeastern Minnesota and the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, as well as a proposed iron mine in northern Wisconsin.

Nathan Sharkey / Creative Commons

Michigan has lost millions of acres of wetlands over the last century. But the state’s still got roughly five million acres left. 

“Wetlands are really, really important to clean water. They’ve been called nature’s nurseries and nature’s kidneys,” said Grenetta Thomassey, who heads Tip of the Mitt Watershed Council in Petoskey.

Paul Ruesch / Environmental Protection Agency

People in Kalamazoo won’t have to wait much longer for a federal decision about what to do with an old landfill site that's full of toxic material.

The Allied site is where a paper mill dumped waste for decades. The pile is laced with polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs). They can cause cancer and other health effects, according to the Environmental Protection Agency.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

The Environmental Protection Agency will not extend the December 31 deadline it gave Enbridge Energy to finish dredging oil from portions of the Kalamazoo River.  In March the EPA ordered Enbridge to remove up to 18,000 gallons of submerged oil by the end of the year.

The oil is left over from the 2010 pipeline rupture. More than 800,000 gallons of crude oil leaked from the Enbridge pipeline. The spill affected almost 40 miles of the Kalamazoo River.

Enbridge says it cannot meet the deadline, but could complete the work by October of 2014. This month the company asked the EPA to extend that deadline.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

This week an oil pipeline company began another project to dredge oil that remains from the 2010 Kalamazoo River spill.

Enbridge Energy spokesman Jason Manshum says the company is working near the mouth of Morrow Lake in Kalamazoo County. But they have to complete the work before ice starts to form.

“If we need to look at doing something there in 2014 we certainly will. But right now our focus is to try to get this done while we still have favorable weather conditions,” Manshum said.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

An oil pipeline company will miss the EPA’s year-end deadline to complete its cleanup of the 2010 Kalamazoo River oil spill.

More than 800 thousand gallons of crude leaked from a pipeline owned by Enbridge Energy. The spill fouled more than 30 miles of the Kalamazoo River.

In March, federal regulators gave Enbridge until December 31st to finish removing the remaining submerged oil in the river.

Mark Brush / Michigan Radio

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 Velsicol 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.

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.

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.

EPA / YouTube

The new chief of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Gina McCarthy, will be speaking at a conference being held at the University of Michigan's Law School this evening.

It's part of a three-stop tour for the new EPA Administrator who has the tall task of leading the Obama Administration's efforts to control carbon emissions.

Here she is talking about their proposed efforts to curb emissions (can you tell she's from Boston?):

From an EPA press release:

...Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Gina McCarthy will begin a three-day trip where she will speak to students, businesses and other stakeholders on EPA's recent carbon pollution standards proposal for new power plants, and President Obama’s Climate Action Plan to reduce carbon pollution.

The EPA has proposed carbon pollution standards for new power plants, and the agency is hoping to work with states to develop standards for existing power plants.

The EPA's authority to regulate carbon dioxide emissions was supported by a 2007 U.S. Supreme Court decision. The intense political pressure and complexity around power plant carbon dioxide regulations has slowed the process for putting power plant regulations in place. It's been more than six years since the Supreme Court ruling.

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.”

EPA workers sample the air near the Enbridge oil spill in Michigan
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency

The Environmental Protection Agency has rejected Enbridge’s request to extend the deadline to cleanup up part of an oil spill in the Kalamazoo River.

The EPA ordered Enbridge to do additional dredging in five parts of the Kalamazoo River where there are still significant deposits of crude oil from the 2010 oil spill near Marshall.   A broken pipeline leaked more than 800 thousand gallons of crude oil into the river.

Enbridge expects to complete work on four of the five sites well before the EPA’s December deadline.

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