WUOMFM

michigan department of environmental quality

Aaron Selbig/Interlochen Public Radio

Mining companies would be able to modify onsite facilities without an environmental permit amendment under legislation that has passed the Michigan House.

Lawmakers voted 63-45 on Tuesday to advance the bill to grant companies more flexibility in moving and adjusting their mining sites and buildings. The proposed change would allow mining companies to modify the facilities provided they give Michigan's Department of Environmental Quality a 30-day notice and if the changes don't add environmental risk.

A copper mine in the Upper Peninsula.
Richie Diesterheft / Flickr - http://michrad.io/1LXrdJM

Some environmentalists are worried a bill moving through the state Legislature would give mining companies too much leeway.

Under the bill, mining operators would be able to make certain changes to their permits without going through an amendment process or public review. Instead, they’d be required to give written notice of modifications to the Department of Environmental Quality.

A factory next to a harbor
Jacob Szetela / http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

A trio of bills making their way through the state legislature would change how environmental regulations are determined in Michigan.

Lindsey Smith / Michigan Radio

Last week, Michigan Radio published a story about the Village of Beverly Hills, Michigan; a Detroit suburb located in southern Oakland County. The village currently has the highest 90th percentile for lead in water in the state.

A box of Ice Mountain brand water bottles
Steven Depolo / http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

The Michigan Department of Environmental Quality has approved a permit for Nestle to increase the volume of water it pumps from its well in Osceola County from 250 gallons per minute to up to 400 gallons per minute.

More than 80,000 people spoke out against Nestle's permit request, but the MDEQ said it cannot base its decision on public opinion.

This Week in Review, Weekend Edition host Rebecca Kruth and senior news analyst Jack Lessenberry discuss potential political blow-back that could stem from the state's approval of Nestle's permit.


The MDEQ's Bay City Business Center
Michigan Department of Environmental Quality

There’s little doubt that the most appalling part of the Snyder administration has been the laughably misnamed Michigan Department of Environmental Quality.

You have to give the MDEQ this: It never misses an opportunity to show that it doesn’t care about the environment, or what the citizens of Michigan think, unless they happen to be executives of large corporations.

Two women
Lindsey Smith / Michigan Radio

Jennifer Gilchrist moved from New York City back home to the Detroit suburb of Beverly Hills in 2016. She moved to help take care of her mom Joellen, a retired Detroit high school teacher, and to fix up her childhood home.

That’s when a plumber told them they had a lead service line.

DTE energy in Detroit
Ian Freimuth / flickr user

DTE Energy wants to put a new natural gas plant on the grounds of a Ford Motor Company research facility in Dearborn.

The Michigan Department of Environmental Quality held a public hearing about it Tuesday night.

Ford will shut down some boilers it currently uses to power the research facility. DTE will take over providing that power with the new plant, and provide additional energy it generates to the electrical grid.

Part of the new line 6B pipeline in central Michigan.
Mark Brush / Michigan Radio

State officials have given Enbridge Energy permission to install 22 more anchor supports along twin pipelines at the bottom of the waterway linking Lakes Michigan and Huron.

The Michigan Department of Environmental Quality issued a permit last week allowing the supports for Line 5 in the Straits of Mackinac. Installing the additional anchor supports will minimize the span distance within the Straits of Mackinac.

According to the DEQ press release, each of the 22 anchors will be installed using 10-inch diameter screws with a total lake bottom impact of nine cubic yards.

Lindsey Smith / Michigan Radio

Michigan’s Department of Environmental Quality should update its rules on the level of lead that’s considered acceptable in drinking water.

That is the one thing most everyone at a public hearing in Lansing Thursday night did agree on.

But many Flint activists and environmentalists say the proposed changes to lead rules don’t go far enough. Others, especially those running community water systems, say changes go way too far, presenting major legal and cost issues.

GABRIELLE EMANUEL / Michigan Radio

New tests show lead is still a concern in the water in Flint schools.

Two-thirds of the more than 700 recent water samples taken at Flint’s 13 school buildings came back with no detectable levels of lead. But about 3% of the samples tested at or above the federal action level of 15 parts per billion. The highest spikes were recorded at Doyle Ryder Elementary.

bottle of water
Wilson Hui / Flickr / http://michrad.io/1LXrdJM

The Michigan Legislature is considering three bills that would change how the state determines environmental rules. One of the bills would create an environmental rules committee that could reject or change any rule the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality issues.

Vincent Duffy / Michigan Radio

Some state lawmakers want to shift control of environmental rules from the Department of Environmental Quality to state-appointed boards, a move environmentalists say would put the fox in charge of the henhouse.

Senate Bill 652 would create an 11-member committee, mostly from industry groups like manufacturing, small business, oil and gas, and agriculture, to oversee all DEQ rule-making. And SB 653 would form another board with the ability to modify or reverse DEQ decisions.

Michigan Department of Natural Resources

Copperwood Resources, a subsidiary of Highland Copper, has entered into a legal settlement with the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality over part of its exploratory drilling operation at Porcupine Mountains Wilderness State Park.

The agreement concerns environmental damage from the mining company's test drilling last spring along a county road right-of-way (233 feet on each side of the road) at the park.

wetlands
Flickr/barbaragaillewis / http://michrad.io/1LXrdJM

The Michigan Legislature is considering three bills that would change how the state determines environmental rules.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

One of the Flint residents to first sound the alarm about the city’s water problems testified today that state environmental officials refused to listen.

Lee Anne Walters testified against Department of Environmental Quality officials charged with various crimes related to the Flint water crisis.  

Judge's gavel
Pixabay.com

The state has filed a lawsuit against the shoe company believed to have caused ongoing groundwater contamination in Kent County.

The Michigan Department of Environmental Quality wants Wolverine Worldwide to come up with a timeline for the remediation.

steve carmody / Michigan Radio

The government's chief prosecutor in the Flint water crisis criminal case suggests top officials pressured state employees to switch Flint’s water source before the city was ready to treat it.

Special Counsel Todd Flood says he plans to call two dozen witnesses this month for the preliminary hearing for four current and former Department of Environmental Quality staffers. The four face a variety of charges related to the Flint crisis.

Bilal Tawwab, Dr. Lawrence Reynolds, and Flint Mayor Karen Weaver
Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

The head of Flint's public schools says he wants the state to agree to a comprehensive plan to monitor water in district schools.

Flint school buildings had some of the highest lead levels in their tap water when the city’s water crisis began, but little testing has taken place since.

Lindsey Smith / Michigan Radio

Michigan’s Department of Environmental Quality is vowing to strengthen lead-in-water rules because of the Flint water crisis. At a public meeting in Lansing Wednesday night, state regulators said they cannot wait on the federal government to finish its own version of the new rules.

Lindsey Smith / Michigan Radio

Michigan’s Department of Environmental Quality is unveiling changes to lead in water rules this week.

Communities in Michigan with lead water pipes will have special interest in a public meeting Michigan's Department of Environmental Quality is hosting Wednesday night.

There are lead service lines in older communities across Michigan. Because of their age and population size, it’s fair to say the bulk of Michigan’s lead service lines are in cities in Southeast Michigan.

I spent a lot of time trying to determine which Detroit suburbs have lead service lines and how many. I wanted to see how far out into the suburbs lead was found in underground water pipes.

It was relatively easy (albeit an expensive FOIA bill near $2000 for these "public documents") to track down which communities were testing lead lines. But figuring out how many lead pipes were in each community is nearly impossible.

Water faucent in Flint.
Mark Brush / Michigan Radio

Michigan’s drinking water regulators need more resources to do their jobs correctly. That’s one of the major takeaways of a detailed federal audit released Thursday afternoon.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency launched the audit almost two years ago, right after the state at least started to acknowledge that there was a serious problem with Flint’s drinking water.

Lead service line
Lindsey Smith / Michigan Radio

Most water systems operators around the state had a hint this was coming.

The Flint water crisis has reverberated among water professionals working from Muskegon and Grand Haven all through the state and to the Detroit metro area; where the bulk of the state's drinking water lines are still buried.

Saugatuck Dunes
Norm Hoekstra / Creative Commons

Some Michigan residents are saying no to a potential development along the Kalamazoo River in Saugatuck.

The Michigan Department of Environmental Quality held a public meeting last night to hear from residents about a proposed development project along dunes on Lake Michigan.

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.

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

The state is ordering Enbridge Energy to take swift action to fix portions of the Line 5 energy pipeline that runs beneath the Straits of Mackinac.

Enbridge reported to the state that small portions of enamel coating were accidentally removed in two places. The coating protects the oil and gas line that runs beneath the Straits of Mackinac from corrosion.

Melody Kindraka of the state Department of Environmental Quality says there’s no immediate threat to the Great Lakes, but it’s concerning that the problem was the result of human error.

water faucet
Laura Nawrocik / Flickr http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

The Michigan Department of Environmental Quality is investigating whether a shoe manufacturer is responsible for water contamination in West Michigan.

In the 1960s, Wolverine Worldwide used a licensed dump site near Rockford to get rid of waste from its leather tanning process. Two chemicals used in the process, PFOS and PFOA, are now showing up in nearby residential wells.

map of michigan w/ inspection details
Office of the Auditor General

Michigan needs more asbestos inspectors but doesn’t have the funding to pay for them, according to the Legislature’s auditor general.

The audit released today says the asbestos program has fallen behind in inspections and follow-up reports on projects that require asbestos removal, as well as whether the cancer-causing fire retardant is properly disposed of in landfills. In some cases, the reports were cursory.

Power plant
Courtesy of Duke Energy

The state House has passed a bill (HB 4205) that would restrict the ability of state agencies to write regulations that are tougher than federal rules. Environmental groups are lining up against the bill.

Under the measure, agencies would not be able to create rules that are more stringent than federal ones - unless directed to by state law, or if the director of a state agency proves a "clear and convincing need" to exceed the federal standard.

Pages