For years, environmentalists have been calling on the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to regulate coal ash. That’s the byproduct of coal that’s produced when it’s burned for electricity. In December, the agency did just that, issuing the first ever federal guidelines about its storage and disposal.
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.
At the end of each month, Current State checks 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 the dramatic rise in lake levels this fall, the latest legal updates on Asian carp, and the U-N’s stance on the Detroit water shut-offs.
Where you live in Michigan makes a big difference when it comes to the price you pay for electricity, especially if you’re living in the Upper Peninsula. Turning on a light bulb there could cost you more than double than it would in the Lower Peninsula, and energy bills in the UP are expected to grow even bigger now that the power plant supplying most of the region’s electricity could be retired.
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.
We were first introduced to drones by the United States military, which has been using them, controversially, it must be pointed out, for years in places like Afghanistan, northern Pakistan and Yemen. But like many other technologies that have been pioneered by the military, such as computers, duct tape and GPS, drones have numerous commercial applications. And one of the biggest sectors where drones could become a game-changer is in agriculture.
In several Michigan communities, planning for a future affected by climate change is beginning. Monroe, East Jordan, Ludington, St. Joseph and Grand Haven are all taking part in a new program called “Resilient Michigan”.
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.
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.
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.
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.
We recently reported on a snakebite incident in Lower Michigan. A young, barefoot visitor to an Ann Arbor botanical garden was bitten by an Eastern Massasauga Rattlesnake, the only rattlesnake native to our state. The young girl was hospitalized and recovered. The incident has triggered an advisory from a group of Michigan naturalists of the risk of an encounter with this species of snake in our state.
Lake Superior Magazine’s September issue will includes its annual Best of the Lake list. The article highlights reader favorites in dozens of categories, from best spectacular views to best boat ride to best fish sandwich.
Lansing Township Planning and Development Director Steven Hayward stands at the site of the former General Motors metal forge along West Saginaw. GM used the solvent 1,4 dioxane in its manufacturing process before the plant was shut down a decade ago. The contamination will be cleaned up by RACER Trust, the company charged with managing some 90 former General Motors properties across the country.
This week, Lansing area residents had an opportunity to learn more about what’s happening at the large vacant tracts of land along West Saginaw where General Motors factory buildings once stood. The three sites were torn down in 2005 and in the last 18 months, officials have found chemical contamination on the grounds including 1,4 Dioxane.
Fishing in Michigan is big business. The state DNR estimates that anglers spent $2.4 billion in trip-related expenses and equipment in 2011. Besides Michigan’s Great Lakes and rivers, our inland lakes attract considerable fishing as well. In fact, six Michigan lakes were recently included in a national fishing magazine’s “100 Best Bass Lakes of 2014” list.
Bill Schneider has operated Wildtype Native Plant Nursery in Mason for the past 17 years. As a true native Michigander, Schneider has degrees from both Michigan State University and the University of Michigan. He moved to northern California in the 1980’s where he further developed in his growing interest in native plants.
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 focus on the Great Lakes & St. Lawrence Cities Initiative. The group includes 114 mayors of cities throughout the Great Lakes Basin.
Coal ash is the byproduct generated by coal-fired electric power plants. It's commonly mixed with concrete as a road construction filler, and it's also sometimes spread on farm fields. Some studied have linked coal ash exposure to lung cancer.
One of the bills that cleared the Michigan legislature this session was a provision that allows certain bio-waste materials to be re-used for beneficial purposes. These substances include things like cement kiln dust, wood pulp and coal ash. Coal ash is the leftover residue from coal burned by electric power plants.
Michigan is famous for being the Great Lake state, but is also permeated by hundreds of rivers and streams. According to the state Department of Transportation, there are 36,000 miles of streams in Michigan.
From now through early June, some volunteers will be standing guard over the Black River in Northern Michigan. They’ll be on the banks of the river making sure that the lake sturgeon, a rare and threatened species in the state, are able to leave their homes in Black Lake and successfully spawn in the Black River. Why do the fish need guarding?