Michigan Energy & Environment

IPR brings you the stories and sounds of nature Up North. Hear about our changing natural world, and the challenges northern Michigan faces with a growing economy and a fragile ecosystem.

How can cities reduce flooding caused by increasingly intense rain storms?

More often, it's flooding in areas not known for a lot of flooding in the past. That happened in Detroit in 2014. It caught everyone by surprise as interstates and neighborhoods were suddenly under water.

U.S. Coast Guard

Torch Lake in Antrim County is often the site of huge Fourth of July parties. But not this year.

In the past, the parties have attracted as many as 10,000 people who play loud music and tend to leave a pile of trash. But this year, the crowds were smaller and more law enforcement officers were on patrol.

“One thing that helped a lot this year is Fourth of July was on a Wednesday,” said Joe Clark, marine deputy for the Antrim County Sheriff’s office. “So there wasn’t as many people on the sandbar as there’s been in the past.”

Beaches along Lake Michigan are closed when E. coli bacteria gets too high. But a nasty critter found on the bottom of the lake might help keep the beaches open.

New laws signed by Governor Rick Snyder last Friday set up commissions to oversee the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality. Environmentalists say those commissions will be stacked with business and industry people and give them more influence in the environmental rulemaking process.

NASA

Thirty years ago, global warming became front page news in the United States. That was when a NASA scientist first told the U.S. Senate that carbon pollution was warming the earth. In this call-in hour, we discuss how we’re doing communicating on the issue in northern Michigan today, and how we can do better at this divisive time.

Plus we talk about how people in northern Michigan are taking action.


Endangered plovers face new threat: snowy owls

Jun 20, 2018
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

A new predator has emerged for piping plovers in the Great Lakes.

Snowy owls were recently seen eating plovers in several locations along the Great Lakes, including Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore in lower Michigan and Vermilion Point in the Upper Peninsula.

Warm temperatures help cherry crop

Jun 19, 2018
Peter Payette

After a slow start to the growing season, cherry farmers are gearing up for the National Cherry Festival in Traverse City starting June 30.  Cherries are some of the first crops to bloom in Michigan, and officials say early spring weather can significantly impact their growth.

Until recently, if a home solar array produced more electricity than the house used, it would go through the meter onto the grid. Residents with solar power arrays got paid for that power at the same rate as the power company charged other residents.  Power that comes in/power that goes out: same price. This even exchange is called net metering.

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

Some members of the U.S. House of Representatives are meeting in northern Michigan on Monday to discuss lethal control of a fish-eating bird. 

University of Wisconsin

A large number of dead fish have been washing up on the shores of a lake near Gaylord. The Michigan Department of Natural Resources says the dead fish along Otsego Lake are adult white suckers that have died after spawning.

DNR biologist Dave Borgeson says fish die-offs happen in Michigan’s inland lakes every year, but this one is unusually large.

“There’s a lot more suckers this year,” says Borgeson. “I think it had to do with a late spring and then that really rapid warm up, which caused it to be a little more dramatic this year.”

Eleven years ago on a cold January day, volunteers for the Huron River Watershed Council, Rochelle Breitenbach and Mary Bajcz trudged through the snow and thicket to get to a pristine little stream that flows into the Huron River.

Dan Kennedy / Michigan Department of Natural Resources

Environmentalists will celebrate the return of the Kirtland’s warbler this weekend.

The small songbird has been on the brink of extinction since 1973. It was put on the endangered species list that same year.

David Cassleman

Thousands of households in Michigan generate their own electricity with solar panels. They’re reimbursed by utility companies for any extra power they put into the grid under a program called net metering. 

But under new rules, those customers are going to get less in return. 

 


Peter Payette

Plans for a mixed-use development next to the Meijer store in Acme Township may finally be moving forward. The 157-acre “Village at Grand Traverse” has been beset with problems since it was built by Acme Township.

Michigan’s economy would take a big hit from an oil spill in the Mackinac Straits, according to a new study.

A study by Michigan State University ecological economist Robert Richardson estimates Michigan’s economy would lose $6.3 billion if there’s a significant oil pipeline break in the Straits of Mackinac.

The study is based on a scenario where more than 2 million gallons of crude oil leaks from the Enbridge Energy Line 5 pipeline.  

Traverse City is seeing the beginnings of a technology business ecosystem, including venture capital funding and eager talent looking to launch startups. This has the business community excited, but Traverse City is still not up to speed as a tech region. It’s missing one key component: ultrafast internet service.

Aaron Selbig

A state board recommends the State of Michigan buy 300 acres of Lake Michigan shoreline that’s currently owned by a sand mining company. The Michigan Natural Resources Trust Fund board of directors has voted to spend $7.5 million toward a new deal with Sargent Sand Company.

Sargent Sand has been mining sand on its property inside the borders of Ludington State Park since the 1930s. The Michigan Department of Natural Resources has tried several times to buy the land back from the company but the deals have always fallen through.

Piping plovers are little shorebirds, and they're an endangered species in the Great Lakes region. But they’re making a comeback thanks to conservation efforts and even some heroics.

Aaron Selbig

CORRECTION 4/13: A previous version of this story incorrectly stated that the U.S. Coast Guard said damage to an electric transmission line under the Straits of Mackinac may have been caused by an "anchor strike." The Coast Guard says the leak may have been caused by "damage from vessel activity."

Governor Rick Snyder is asking Enbridge Energy to accelerate it’s decommissioning of the Line 5 pipeline under the Straits of Mackinac.

Jack Boyd

State biologists are asking the public for help combating a fatal disease that threatens deer. The Michigan Department of Natural Resources is holding public hearings about chronic wasting disease (CWD) in April and May.

“CWD is one of the biggest threats – that we have long-term – to the sustainability of our deer herd,” says Chad Stewart, deer management specialist at the DNR.

Aaron Selbig

The U.S. Coast Guard has organized a command post in Mackinaw City to respond to a mineral oil spill in the Straits of Mackinac. Around 600 gallons of fluid leaked from underwater electrical lines west of the Mackinac Bridge earlier this week. 

 


At least 400 gallons of mineral oil have leaked into the Straits of Mackinac.

American Transmission Company operates power lines that deliver electricity between the Upper and Lower Peninsulas. The company called the U.S. Coast Guard on Monday night to inform them of a leak of dielectric fluid, which is used to insulate the electrical lines under the Straits.  

Michigan Sea Grant

A Great Lakes group wants paddlers to help in the fight against invasive species. 

Michigan Sea Grant – a group run by the University of Michigan and Michigan State University – is starting a program to teach kayakers and canoers to report aquatic invasive species found along waterways.   

NASA

As Great Lakes advocates lobby Congress this week, a new report details how the federal government and states plan to fight algae blooms in Lake Erie.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s plan targets phosphorus, the main cause of the blooms.  It summarizes agendas from Michigan, Indiana, Ohio and Pennsylvania.

People who live in Oscoda are concerned about foam containing toxic chemicals known as per-and-polyfluoroalkyl substances – or PFAS – that keeps appearing on Van Etten Lake.

The serene lake in Northeast Michigan is surrounded by trees and houses. But it also has foamy stuff that looks like soap scum floating along its shores.

Residents are wondering why the state isn’t doing more about it.

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