Environmental Protection Agency

Perhaps no state in the country is more aware of water safety than Michigan. Seeing the Flint water disaster play out since 2014 has given us all a harsh lesson in not taking safe water for granted. 

Yet President Trump's proposed budget takes an ax to the budget of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), one of the agencies most responsible for protecting our water.

The EPA’s Office of Environmental Justice is meant to defend communities that face a disproportionate share of the effects of pollution. But that office’s funding could be cut entirely in the 2018 budget.

Greenversal is a program packed with environmental news — local, national and international. It's all put together by a student from Ann Arbor's Huron High School.

Megan He's Greenversal is one of 15 projects that’s been honored by the EPA for environmental activism. She won the 2016 President's Environmental Youth Award for Greenversal, her website and YouTube channel that has her weekly environmental news reports.

 

How worried should you be about pesticide residue on produce? 

Yesterday, we spoke with a veteran food scientist who said not to be alarmed. Today, chlorpyrifos is the topic of conversation. It's a widely-used pesticide sold by Dow Chemical. 

We’ve heard a lot about lead service lines after the Flint water crisis. But that’s not the only way lead can get into your drinking water.

Three years ago today, the city of Flint switched to the Flint River for its drinking water. We all know how that story goes.

So now, three years later, how has what happened in Flint changed the way we look at our drinking water?

Early budget indications suggest the Trump administration could slash funding for the Great Lakes.

There are many possible cuts to EPA programs. Great Lakes restoration money could be cut by 97%, and money for beach monitoring could be also at risk.

There’s been a lot going on at the Environmental Protection Agency lately.

First, the Trump administration barred anyone at the EPA from communicating with the public. Then, a White House official announced that EPA research could be subject to review by the administration.

The Trump administration has sent strong signals that it’s going to be friendly to industry.

Every year, the EPA awards over $4 billion in grants and other means of assistance.

Within hours of President Trump taking the oath of office, an email went out to Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) officials ordering them to freeze all contract and grant awards, effective immediately.

That leaves many wondering how that could affect federal aid to Flint, especially as the U.S. Senate approved $170 million to address the lead in Flint’s drinking water last month.

 

In April 2014, the fateful decision was made to change Flint's drinking water source to the Flint River.

That led to what is known world-wide as the Flint water disaster.

But it took activist citizens like Lee Anne Walters working with Virginia Tech engineer Marc Edwards to rip apart layers of denial and stonewalling from state and Environmental Protection Agency officials.
 
In 2001, Edwards proved that people in Washington D.C. were drinking lead-poisoned water after the city changed water treatment chemicals. So, when Walters and other worried Flint residents called, he answered.
 
They joined us today, a year after the city officially declared a state of emergency.

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.

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.

State and federal officials are celebrating the completion of a twenty-year river cleanup effort in southeast Michigan.

The River Raisin was once one of the most polluted rivers in Michigan. It will soon be clean enough for both commercial navigation and recreational use.

The Environmental Protection Agency says the cleanup effort is in its final stage, which is set to be finished by the end of October.

Cameron Davis is senior advisor to EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy.

Because of the Flint water crisis, the U.S. EPA wants more transparency about where the nation’s lead lines are. Specifically, the EPA wants to know how many lead service lines there still are underground, and they want to know exactly where they are. As we reported Tuesday, many Michigan cities do not know this basic information, it’s not just Flint.

The EPA also wants water systems to post the results from water tests to prove cities are in compliance with the Lead and Copper Rule.

This week, the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality gave the feds an update on these requests.

The U.S. EPA is stepping up enforcement of the federal rule designed to prevent people from being exposed to too much lead in their drinking water. Today, the agency is sending letters to 49 states responsible for implementing the federal rule. The EPA already has the primary responsibility for overseeing the Lead and Copper Rule in Wyoming and Washington D.C.

Big businesses often oppose increased regulations. But not always: take the Clean Power Plan. The Environmental Protection Agency’s new rule requires states to reduce carbon emissions from power plants.

The coal industry and some states, including Michigan (Attorney General Bill Schuette joined the lawsuit), are fighting the rule. But, hundreds of businesses have stepped forward to support it.

Today Volkswagen’s top U.S. executive is facing the wrath of Congress.

The hearing before a congressional oversight panel is in response to VW’s admission that is has been cheating on U.S. diesel emissions tests for the past seven years.

Last year General Motors CEO Mary Barra was lambasted by a congressional panel over GM's ignition recall scandal, and the Detroit News’ Daniel Howes expects today will be no easier for VW U.S. chief Michael Horn.

Flint hasn’t been using any corrosion-control method since it switched from Detroit’s water system in April 2014. Corrosion-control treatment helps keep lead out of drinking water. Since the switch, more kids are showing up with elevated levels of lead in their blood.

There are more than 180 species in the Great Lakes that are not supposed to be here.

Euan Reavie is a researcher with the University of Minnesota-Duluth.

“Duluth-Superior harbor is the most invaded freshwater port in the world,” Reavie says. “This is kind of the end of the water road for a lot of ships that come in here.”

The state of Michigan has joined with 14 other states in launching a legal challenge to the EPA's Clean Power Plan. That's President Barack Obama's plan to reduce carbon dioxide emissions by 30% by the year 2030.

Attorney Roger Kershner with the Howard and Howard law firm says opponents of the plan seem to be looking to delay the implementation of the rules until they can be reviewed on their merits.

The plan calls for states to implement their own system to meet the requirements, but Kershner says, "We don't know exactly what the rules are yet," only the ultimate goal.

The Environmental Protection Agency estimates that between 25,000-30,000 new oil and gas wells were drilled and hydraulically fractured annually in the U.S. between 2011 and 2014.

A feature article in the journal Health Affairs says the body of research on the potential health effects of all this fracking is "slim and inconclusive."

Aaron Selbig

The Grand Traverse Butterfly House opened last weekend – a couple of weeks later than planned. When the first group of butterflies was introduced to the garden, they were killed by plants that contained a deadly chemical.

Now the owner of the butterfly house is concerned that local home gardeners may be unknowingly killing butterflies with the same chemical.

Cyndie Bobier says it was a chemical in the flowers she had planted that caused the first group of butterflies to die.

    

If there's one pesticide most everyone can name, it's DDT.

When the U.S. government banned DDT in 1972, it was seen as a great victory for the environment.

But you might be surprised to learn that tiny Bellow Island (colloquially known as Gull Island, off the shore of Northport in Leelanau County) played a huge role in convincing the government to ban DDT.

The landmark 2012 Clean Air Act was the nation's first action focusing on greenhouse gases, with the goal of cutting greenhouse gas emissions in half by 2025.

Margo Oge was the Environmental Protection Agency's director of the Office of Transportation Air Quality and she helped to shape the Clean Air Act.

A battle over wetlands and small streams

Nov 19, 2014

Wetlands have all kinds of benefits for people and wildlife. But wetlands have also gotten in the way of farming and building. So, we’ve drained them over the years. 

The federal government has been trying to clarify what kinds of wetlands and small streams fall under the Clean Water Act.

Earlier this year, the Environmental Protection Agency and the Army Corps of Engineers proposed a new rule that they say would clear up confusion. 

Annie Snider is a reporter who covers water issues for Greenwire in Washington, D.C. The Clean Water Act was passed in 1972 and Snider says the EPA and Army Corps of Engineers took a broad approach to what fell under it.

"But in 2001, and then again in 2006, there were [Supreme] Court challenges that threw that into question. And after those, the questions of which waters, which streams, which creeks, which wetlands fall under federal power under the Clean Water Act was thrown into question," says Snider.

The 2006 ruling involved two cases out of Michigan. While one contested the rejection of a permit, in the other, the U.S. sued a Midland real estate developer for filling in a wetland property. The developer said the wetland was not a "navigable waterway" and therefore not covered by the CWA. However, until that point, the EPA interpreted "navigable waters" as being "waters of the U.S." and any waters or wetlands connected to one of these waterways. In its ruling, the Supreme Court rejected the Army Corps of Engineers and EPA's limitless authority over water.

After that decision, Snider says that regulators had to make case-by-case decisions about which streams and creeks are important to the downstream waters — the big rivers and lakes that do fall under the Clean Water Act.

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