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Preview: The Environment Report Podcast

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: Wed, 18 Jan 2017 22:25:48 +0000


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 .)

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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.

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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.

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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

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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

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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Caviar, climate change and a Great Lakes fish

Tue, 06 Dec 2016 15:54:20 +0000

Scientists have been worried about the herring population in Lake Superior recently. In fact, last year they warned it might collapse. Lake Superior is the only one of the Great Lakes with a large population of this native fish. This fall, new rules protecting herring took effect in Wisconsin and Minnesota and things appear more stable. But there may still be a big problem lying beneath the surface.

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1, 4-dioxane, asbestos make EPA's list of high priority chemicals

Thu, 01 Dec 2016 16:26:37 +0000

The Environmental Protection Agency just put out a list of ten high priority chemicals. These are the first chemicals the agency will review for risks to human health and the environment under a new law that Congress passed this summer.

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What happens if the Trump Administration scraps the Waters of the U.S. Rule?

Tue, 29 Nov 2016 16:25:40 +0000

On the campaign trail, President-elect Donald Trump said that he would rescind the Waters of the U.S. Rule , which outlines what kinds of water bodies are federally protected. Environmentalists say the rule is necessary to safeguard our ecosystems and drinking water. But many in the agriculture industry don’t like the rule—they say it’s an over-reach, and they’re worried it will give the federal government more say over what they can (and can’t) do on their fields. The Waters of the U.S. Rule (a.k.a. the Clean Water Rule) isn’t actually being enforced right now. There were so many challenges to the rule when it was enacted in August of 2015, that it’s been stayed in the 6th Circuit Court of Appeals. But many farmers are still worried. That’s because the rule protects certain wetlands and small streams from development. An uncertain future Doug Darling is the co-owner of Darling Farms, in Maybee, Michigan. He’s also a director at-large for the Michigan Farm Bureau. He says the farm has

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What happens if there's an outright denial of climate science from the White House?

Tue, 22 Nov 2016 17:19:55 +0000

This year is likely to be the hottest on record. Scientists with the World Meteorological Organization announced that recently, as world leaders met in Morocco to talk about limiting the impacts of climate change. President-elect Donald Trump has called climate change a hoax, and he’s said he’ll withdraw from the Paris climate agreement. Andy Hoffman is a professor with the Ross School of Business and education director for the Graham Sustainability Institute at the University of Michigan. He says we don’t really know what the president-elect’s climate policy will look like.

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Kalamazoo officials improve city's lead testing, results are better than before

Thu, 17 Nov 2016 15:59:00 +0000

New test results show lead levels in Kalamazoo’s water system have dropped. The federal limit for lead in water is 15 parts per billion. Last time the city tested, in 2014, Kalamazoo’s lead level was 13 parts per billion. Now it's down to 4 ppb. 13 ppb was close enough to worry Shannan Deater, Kalamazoo’s Environmental Services Programs Manager. She says some of the higher lead results in 2014 weren’t really a good, representative sample. Documents obtained under the Freedom of Information Act show one high sample in 2014 was taken from a vacant home on East Alcott St., for example. The longer water sits, the more lead can leach into it. After the first result came back at 22 ppb, the city re-sampled the home twice - one sample came back at 298 ppb and a second at 57 ppb. In this instance, the state included all three samples from this home in Kalamazoo's overall lead level calculation. Records show the city replaced the lead service line and the home was sold. This year, the city only

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Will there be big changes in how we get our energy?

Tue, 15 Nov 2016 17:32:45 +0000

President-elect Donald Trump has called global warming "a very expensive hoax ," despite agreement among the vast majority of climate scientists that climate change is happening now and is mainly human-caused. Trump has also put climate change skeptic Myron Ebell in charge of his EPA transition team.

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What hungry deer mean for Michigan's northern forests

Thu, 10 Nov 2016 16:08:52 +0000

With the start of firearm season next Tuesday, hunters will spread out across Michigan in search of white-tailed deer. Long, cold winters in the recent past have not helped deer thrive up north, particularly in the Upper Peninsula. But foresters and conservation groups say there are still far too many deer in northern Michigan, and they are creating severe problems for forests.

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Nestle's permit to pump more water almost went unnoticed. State now says full public review coming.

Tue, 08 Nov 2016 20:36:50 +0000

Nestle owns a water bottling plant in Stanwood, Michigan, north of Grand Rapids. It bottles spring water for its Ice Mountain and Pure Life brands. The company wants to increase the amount of water it pulls out of the ground at one of its wells. The well is about 35 miles north of Stanwood in Evart, Michigan. To do that, it needs a permit from the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality, and the public is supposed to weigh in on whether the company should get that permit. But a lot of people didn’t hear about it – until it was almost too late. This issue had flown under most people’s radar until Garret Ellison at MLive published a story about it last week . The DEQ said it had received zero comments from the public until that article was published. It was published three days before a 45-day public comment period was about to end. Carrie Monosmith is the chief of the environmental health section for the DEQ’s drinking water office. The public comments go to her. Last Friday she

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Resurgence of avian botulism suspected in death of birds in Northern Michigan

Thu, 03 Nov 2016 20:34:13 +0000

In the last few weeks, roughly 600 birds have died along the shore of Lake Michigan. They washed up on the beaches within the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore, with more dead birds reported on beaches in the Upper Peninsula.

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A price war over a popular Great Lakes fish

Tue, 01 Nov 2016 16:56:34 +0000

It’s the busy time of year for commercial fishing on the Great Lakes. But the price of whitefish is about half what it was three years ago, because of problems with international trade.

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Chemical plumes in Oscoda, Michigan continue to seep from former U.S. Air Force base

Tue, 25 Oct 2016 21:03:38 +0000

Residents of a northern Michigan town are getting briefed today on a threat to their drinking water. For decades, fire crews trained at Wurtsmith Air Force Base not far from Lake Huron. But while the base closed more than 20 years ago, the chemicals used to extinguish the flames continue to seep into nearby wells and streams. The plumes of perfluorinated chemicals (PFCs) have been migrating from the former air force base into surrounding neighborhoods and the Au Sable River. PFCs have also been detected in fish in Lake Huron.

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