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The Environment Report



Michigan Radio's "The Environment Report" hosted by Rebecca Williams explores the relationship between the natural world and the everyday lives of people in Michigan. New episodes every Tuesday and Thursday.



Last Build Date: Sat, 25 Feb 2017 20:21:17 +0000

 



No lethal control for cormorants in the Great Lakes this spring

Thu, 23 Feb 2017 15:28:20 +0000

For more than a decade, double crested cormorants could be killed in 24 states in the eastern U.S. In the Great Lakes, it was mainly done to protect sport fish like perch and bass. But last spring a federal judge stopped the program, saying the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service wasn’t doing the research on cormorants necessary to justify killing them. Sport fishing groups hoped that research would have been done by now and the program could resume.


Media Files:
https://cpa.ds.npr.org/michigan/audio/2017/02/20170223_TER_CormorantsBallastWater.mp3




Highland Park residents lighting up their streets with solar power

Tue, 21 Feb 2017 14:42:48 +0000

Energy costs can be a huge burden on low-income communities. That’s especially true in Highland Park. The tiny enclave within Detroit was literally left in the dark after it ran up a big street lighting bill. But there are some small bright spots popping up—thanks to solar power, and the efforts of one community group. (Support trusted journalism like this in Michigan. Give what you can here .)


Media Files:
https://cpa.ds.npr.org/michigan/audio/2017/02/20170221_TER_HighlandParkSolar_1.mp3




IJC urges U.S. and Canada to keep microplastics out of the Great Lakes

Thu, 16 Feb 2017 17:18:14 +0000

The International Joint Commission, a treaty organization that advises the United States and Canada, says the two countries should do more to keep microplastics out of the lakes. Microplastics are tiny pieces of plastic that are five millimeters or smaller. Microbeads are used in things like soap and toothpaste. Microfibers are tiny fibers that wash off our synthetic clothing, like fleece. Those tiny plastics can end up in the Great Lakes and can get into fish.


Media Files:
https://cpa.ds.npr.org/michigan/audio/2017/02/20170216_ter_tris_microplastics.mp3




Is Line 5 needed to heat the Upper Peninsula?

Tue, 14 Feb 2017 15:25:33 +0000

An environmental group in Traverse City is challenging the claim that Enbridge’s Line 5 is necessary to keep residents of the U.P. warm. The twin pipelines that run under the Straits of Mackinac deliver natural gas liquids that can be turned into propane.


Media Files:
https://cpa.ds.npr.org/michigan/audio/2017/02/20170214_TER_Line5Propane.mp3




Some EPA, State Dept climate pages changing under Trump administration

Thu, 09 Feb 2017 15:06:50 +0000

Shortly after the election, researchers from the U.S. and Canada got together to start backing up scientific data from federal agencies in the U.S. They’re also keeping a close eye on how the Trump Administration is changing federal websites, and they're already finding some changes. One of the groups heading up this effort is called the Environmental Data and Governance Initiative. (You can see EDGI's report on changes to some EPA websites here , and its report on the State Department and Department of Energy here .)


Media Files:
https://cpa.ds.npr.org/michigan/audio/2017/02/20170209_TER_TrumpandClimateData.mp3




Judge sides with controversial trout farm along Au Sable River

Tue, 07 Feb 2017 15:57:52 +0000

An administrative law judge has sided with a company called Harrietta Hills Trout Farm that's operating in Grayling. It produced nearly 69,000 pounds of rainbow trout last year. The state granted a permit to the company in 2014. But some groups challenged that permit, and it ended up in court. Last week, the judge issued a proposal for decision that the business should keep the permit that’s allowing it to expand. Opponents of the fish farm are vowing to keep fighting the permit.


Media Files:
https://cpa.ds.npr.org/michigan/audio/2017/02/20170207_TER_FishFarmsWetlandsClimate_0.mp3




Study finds fluorinated chemicals in fast food packaging

Thu, 02 Feb 2017 17:20:39 +0000

A new study found fluorinated chemicals in one third of the fast food packages researchers tested. The chemicals keep oil and grease from leaking through. The researchers found that out of 407 food packages tested, 46% of food contact papers and 20% of paperboard contained fluorinated chemicals. Scientists have found this class of chemicals doesn't break down in the environment, and some kinds of fluorinated chemicals are linked to health problems.


Media Files:
https://cpa.ds.npr.org/michigan/audio/2017/02/20170202_ter_whitman_fastfood.mp3




Will grass carp spread in the Great Lakes?

Tue, 31 Jan 2017 15:33:56 +0000

There are grass carp in three of the Great Lakes, but it’s not too late to do something about it. That’s one of the conclusions of a new risk assessment on this type of Asian carp by the United States and Canada .


Media Files:
https://cpa.ds.npr.org/michigan/audio/2017/01/20170131_ter_grasscarp_carpchallenge.mp3




What's the fate of one of the largest pollution cleanup projects in Michigan?

Thu, 26 Jan 2017 13:52:53 +0000

There are a lot of former industrial sites in Michigan that need to be cleaned up. The pollution left behind in one town in the middle of Michigan is particularly bad. The Velsicol Chemical Company (known as Michigan Chemical up until 1976) produced a lot of toxic chemicals in St. Louis, Michigan. It operated from the 1930s up until the late 1970s, and it was responsible for the notorious PBB incident that contaminated people throughout the state. The amount of pollution left behind in this town is pretty staggering. The old Velsicol chemical plant was simply knocked over and buried in 1982 with a concrete cap. So all those chemicals are still left in the ground. (To see a timeline of how the company left behind its toxic footprint, go here .) The town had to shut off their wells and switch to a new water supply. And just a couple years ago birds were dropping dead in people’s yards. So they had dig up the soil to try to get rid of the DDT and other chemicals that were left behind.


Media Files:
https://cpa.ds.npr.org/michigan/audio/2017/01/20170126_TER_StLouisSuperfund.mp3




"Goldilocks days" and a warming climate

Tue, 24 Jan 2017 17:21:21 +0000

2016 was the hottest year on record . When we talk about climate change, we usually talk about extreme weather events: extreme heat, drought, flooding. But scientists have also studied what’s likely to happen with the best weather days. Days that are not too hot, not too cold, or humid or rainy. Just right.


Media Files:
https://cpa.ds.npr.org/michigan/audio/2017/01/20170124_TER_ClimateChangeMildWeather.mp3




Researchers uncover possible new hidden threat to honey bees

Thu, 19 Jan 2017 16:06:14 +0000

Researchers have found a chemical that’s widely used on crops such as almonds, wine grapes and tree fruits can be bad for bees. They’ve found it makes honey bee larvae more susceptible to deadly viruses.


Media Files:
https://cpa.ds.npr.org/michigan/audio/2017/01/20170119_TER_SOTSandBees_0.mp3




Hunters and anglers react to federal land transfer push by House Republicans

Tue, 17 Jan 2017 13:56:39 +0000

Earlier this month, Republicans in the U.S. House made it easier for the federal government to give up control of public lands to states. Many of the most avid users of these lands, especially hunters and anglers, are on edge about the idea. (Support trusted journalism like this in Michigan. Give what you can here .)


Media Files:
https://cpa.ds.npr.org/michigan/audio/2017/02/20170117_TER_HuntingFederalLands.mp3




Bumble bee added to the endangered species list

Thu, 12 Jan 2017 16:40:42 +0000

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.


Media Files:
https://cpa.ds.npr.org/michigan/audio/2017/01/20170112_TER_BeesandTsunamis.mp3




Why state officials want you to look for this tree-killing insect

Tue, 10 Jan 2017 14:41:05 +0000

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.


Media Files:
https://cpa.ds.npr.org/michigan/audio/2017/01/20170110_TER_AutoShowWoolyAdelgid.mp3




Making energy efficiency projects pay off, right away

Thu, 05 Jan 2017 21:09:51 +0000

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. “There just are very few businesses, and certainly non-profits," says Levin, "that can do anything where they're going to spend $200,000 or $500,000 or $1 million – and break even in 2025 or 2030 or something.” The problem also means more heat-trapping gases, like carbon dioxide, for the planet. But thanks to a new financing tool, there’s a way for companies, non-profits, and government agencies to save energy and save money. Lean and Green Michigan runs Michigan's PACE program, which stands for Property Assessed Clean Energy. It works like this: a company takes out a


Media Files:
https://cpa.ds.npr.org/michigan/audio/2017/01/20170105_TER_PaceLoans.mp3




New questions about wolves on Isle Royale as study enters its 59th year

Tue, 03 Jan 2017 13:50:00 +0000

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. At one point in the 1980s, there were 50 wolves on the island. Last year, the researchers found there are just two wolves left, and they’re in rough shape. These wolves are father and daughter – and also half-siblings because they share the same mother. Rolf Peterson is a research professor at Michigan Tech who's been studying the wolves and moose on Isle Royale for 47 years. He says when he returned to the island this summer, those two wolves seemed to be surviving. “As late as September, we had a visitor report of two wolves howling that seemed pretty reliable and I had them on camera in June, on a remote camera," he says. "No reproduction this year and that’s to be expected


Media Files:
https://cpa.ds.npr.org/michigan/audio/2017/01/20170103_TER_IsleRoyaleWolfUpdate.mp3




Keeping hungry deer away from one northern Michigan forest

Thu, 22 Dec 2016 13:53:38 +0000

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.


Media Files:
https://cpa.ds.npr.org/michigan/audio/2016/12/20161222_TER_DeerFence.mp3




Federal agency changes rules on accidental eagle deaths

Tue, 20 Dec 2016 16:19:19 +0000

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.


Media Files:
https://cpa.ds.npr.org/michigan/audio/2016/12/20161220_TER_OilDrillingandEagleRule_0.mp3




For this family, leaving Flint during the water crisis wasn't easy

Thu, 15 Dec 2016 15:29:10 +0000

A year ago, Flint Mayor Karen Weaver declared a state of emergency in the city. Now, officials say the water is improving, but it’s still not safe to drink without a filter. The water crisis has forced some people to make tough choices. Dana Banks and her husband Charles were both born and raised in Flint, and they still have a lot of family here. Their church is here. Their house, right near downtown, is the first home they bought together.


Media Files:
https://cpa.ds.npr.org/michigan/audio/2016/12/20161215_TER_BanksFamily.mp3




New evidence that some bats might be able to fend off white-nose syndrome

Tue, 13 Dec 2016 16:03:00 +0000

There’s some hopeful news about a disease that’s killing bats. White-nose syndrome is killing millions of bats in 29 states including Michigan, and five Canadian provinces. It’s a disease caused by a fungus. But there might be a glimmer of hope. Researchers have found some bats in the U.S. appear to have developed resistance to the disease.


Media Files:
https://cpa.ds.npr.org/michigan/audio/2016/12/20161213_TER_BatsResistWhiteNose.mp3