Shortly before Thanksgiving, some rural businesses in Michigan’s Thumb region faced a difficult request. At the peak of the fall harvest, Consumers Energy asked several customers to voluntarily curtail their natural gas usage for 10 hours a day. The shutoff didn’t last long, but agri-business leaders say it highlighted an ongoing concern for the future of Michigan’s energy infrastructure.
There’s a special kind of library in the basement of the Plant Biology Labs at Michigan State University. Here, instead of taking a book off of a shelf, you can open a folder and find a dried plant that’s 150 years old and still green. The MSU Herbarium is an important resource for research biologists on campus.
Emerald ash borers are tiny creatures, smaller than a penny, with metallic green shells and big, black eyes. They’d almost be cute if they weren’t so destructive. This tiny beetle’s big appetite has had a devastating impact on forests in the U.S.
At the end of each month, we check in with Great Lakes commentator and journalist Gary Wilson for updates on environmental stories from around the basin. For today’s Great Lakes Month in Review, we’ll be talking about what impact the recent midterm elections could have on environmental policies, both in Washington and in Michigan.
Killer shrimp might sound like the name of a B-grade horror film you’d see on the Syfy channel. But unlike Sharknadoes, the tiny crustacean poses a real threat, especially in the Great Lakes. Its voracious appetite has earned it a spot on the state’s recently updated banned species list, which identifies potential invasive aquatic pests.
Many Michigan deer hunters consider the opening day of firearms season a state holiday. Thousands of sports-people joined the hunt starting this past Saturday. Last year 43-percent of Michigan hunters were successful, for a total of about 385,000 deer harvested.
In recent years, Canada has included its First Peoples populations in its efforts to expand renewable, clean energy projects. Lumos Energy president Chris Henderson has spent the last two-and-a-half decades working, as his website states, “at the intersection of clean energy, sustainable development, environmental action, economic development, and Aboriginal communities”.
Warnings about the climate change have gotten increasingly dire over the past decade. In its latest report, released earlier this month, the International Panel on Climate Change says mitigating the effects of global warming will require immediate action. But while a majority of Americans believe climate change is happening, most don’t think it will have an impact during their lifetime, and some think that’s why belief hasn’t necessarily translated into political will. The scientific community continues to push for action.
In middle of the 20th century, America’s rivers were in rough shape. Decades of urban growth and industrial pollution had turned many of them into dumping grounds for everything from hazardous chemicals to human waste. A burgeoning environmental movement and high profile events like the 1969 fire on the Cuyahoga River finally pushed Congress to take action. In 1972, it passed the Clean Water Act, giving the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency the authority to regulate water pollution. But which waterways the agency can regulate has been a source of conflict and confusion. In March, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency proposed a rule it says clarifies its jurisdiction.
Michigan has its share of infrastructure issues. You probably notice it most when you’re dodging potholes in your car. But while road funding has been a hot topic lately, the state has plenty of other pressing infrastructure needs. The American Society of Civil Engineers estimates that Michigan will need to invest around $15-billion in its drinking and waste water systems over the next 20 years.
In March of 2011, an earthquake and tsunami in Japan resulted in a nuclear disaster at the Fukushima Nuclear Power Plant. Three of the plants six reactors melted down, and substantial amounts of radioactive material was released. That includes contaminated water that escaped from the three units. Containing that water has proven to be an ongoing problem confronting those who are working to clean up Fukushima.
Stopping new invasive species from taking hold in the basin has become a top priority for Michigan and other Great Lakes states. At the top of their hit list: Asian carp. The non-native fish have already infiltrated the Mississippi River system, crowding out native species and creating a nuisance for boaters.
The boom in oil production in North Dakota and Western Canada has turned the Great Lakes region into a transportation corridor for crude oil. The domestic production of oil has become a cornerstone of energy policy in both the U.S. and Canada. But several high-profile spills, including the one into the Kalamazoo River in 2010, have raised questions about the safety of how we transport oil.
At the end of each month, we check in with Great Lakes commentator and journalist Gary Wilson for updates on environmental stories from around the basin. For today’s Great Lakes Month in Review, we talk about a summit on water resources led by the region’s mayors and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s update to the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative.
The gray wolf was declared an endangered species in 1975 after overhunting decimated their population. After a decades long recovery, their numbers rebounded and they were taken off the Endangered Species List in 2012. Now some states, including Michigan, are considering using hunting as a way to control potential wolf human conflicts.
Residents of Michigan’s Thumb region are looking across Lake Huron with some concern these days. The Canadian utility provider, Ontario Power Generation, is seeking approval to build an underground nuclear waste disposal site near the town of Kincardine, Ontario.
Here on Current State we do lots of reporting on environmental programs and policies in the Great Lakes region, but it’s always good to remember that taking care of our waters often happens because someone decides to fight pollution one empty bottle at a time. That’s happening in Jackson this coming weekend.
When we think of capturing solar energy, we often think of the large, clunky panels on rooftops that are expensive and inefficient. But what if your windows could capture the energy of the sunlight as it passes through them to help run your coffee maker or heat your house in the winter?
In the wake of another massive algae bloom in Lake Erie, farmers in the Great Lakes Basin are trying to convey message that they will regulate their own use of fertilizers in order to avoid more government regulation.
At the end of each month, we check in with Great Lakes commentator and journalist Gary Wilson for updates on environmental stories from around the basin. For today’s Great Lakes Month in Review we’re focusing on the Toledo water crisis, which was in the news for several weeks this month, and could be again.
Starting in 2017, the state of Minnesota will ban the use of an antibacterial chemical in consumer products. Triclosan has been found in the waters and fish of the Great Lakes, and a number of health organizations in Canada are urging their government to ban the chemical as well.
The National Wildlife Federation has a new president and CEO. Collin O’Mara was recently in Michigan for an environmental tour of the Detroit Area, and stopped by Current State. For a CEO, he’s fairly young at 30 years old. Current State’s Melissa Benmark asked him what environmental values he brings to this position that might be different than someone in their fifties or sixties.
Residents of Toledo and northwest Ohio got the go-ahead to resume drinking city water yesterday. Since Saturday, more than 400,000 residents of the area had been warned not to consume or use the water after health officials determined unsafe levels of microcystin. The potentially deadly bacteria, which was likely created by an algae bloom in Maumee Bay on the west end of Lake Erie, can cause serious liver and nerve damage.
If you’ve found yourself putting on a sweater or light jacket on cool evenings this summer, you’ve probably wondered what’s going on with the weather. The polar vortex that visited us so harshly last winter made a return visit a few weeks ago, dropping temperatures below normal. It turns out that there’s at least one upside to climate change; one that could help our farm economy.
Few sights on the American landscape are as iconic as an old-fashioned farm windmill. From the era of Civil War through today, they harnessed the wind to pump water and run machinery. Today, farmers have other means of generating power.
MSU Grad Bill Schneider operates Wildtype Native Plant Nursury in Mason, Michigan. Current State’s Peter Whorf has been taking us there this summer to hear about Schneider’s work and expertise in the field.