Environment Picture

Research Reports

The Emerging Science of Coastal Sand Dune Age and Dynamics: Implications for Regulation and Risk Management in Michigan

Coastal sand dunes are found in many places along the shores of the Great Lakes. They are particularly common along the western coast of Lower Michigan and the northern shore of Upper Michigan due to three reasons, including 1) the very high supply of fine sand (1-2mm in size) initially deposited during the ice age, 2) the orientation of the shore as it relates to prevailing westerly winds, and 3) the long fetch resulting in unencumbered air flow across Lake Michigan and Lake Superior. The interaction of these variables has resulted in spectacular dune fields that collectively embody the largest complex of freshwater dunes in the world. In fact, they rival any coastal dune systems in the world as far as their size and grandeur is concerned, including those in northern Europe, Australia, New Zealand, and South Africa, to name a few places where prominent coastal dunes occur.
Download ReportMay 22, 2015

Michigan Energy Policy - Path to a Cleaner, More Affordable Future

Download ReportMay 7, 2015

Proposal 1 and Transportation Funding

Michigan Environmental Council supports Proposal 1 and is a member of the Safe Roads Yes! Coalition. Download our fact sheet and FAQ to learn more about Proposal 1 and the related transportation funding bill package that will go into effect if Proposal 1 passes. Proposal 1 will be on the ballot during a special election on May 5, 2015.
Download ReportApr 9, 2015

Michigan Environmental Council Policy Priorities 2015-16

Michigan Environmental Council will focus its energy on the following priorities in the new legislative session. These and other goals emerged after five regional meetings with MEC member groups and partners statewide. At MEC’s annual meeting in October 2014, member groups identified this final priority list as the most important set of issues to address in the near term.
Download ReportDec 22, 2014

Will Deregulating Michigan's Toxic Air Emissions Put Residents at Risk?

Backgrounder on the Proposed Administrative Rule Change. The administration is currently assessing a proposal that would reduce the number of toxic chemicals regulated by more than 500. Changes proposed include 1) Eliminating regulation of toxic chemicals that have not been tested for their impact on public health, and 2) Eliminating regulation of the less toxic non-carcinogen chemicals (regardless of the quantity being emitted).
Download ReportOct 8, 2014

Getting There: Mason Public Transit Survey Analysis

Results of a survey of Lansing and Mason residents suggest that increased frequency on the Capital Area Transportation Authority’s (CATA) Mason Connector Service could enable those physically or legally unable to drive to contribute to our economy. The goals of this survey were to illuminate factors at play in this corridor’s transit service in order to find ways to reduce the environmental impact of on-road transportation, and to engage community members who are often under-represented in the public planning process. Due to the relatively small scale of the survey, the results cannot be generalized for representation of the populations of Lansing or Mason. What these results can do is inform future efforts to study mass transit growth in the Mason-Lansing corridor, as they identify potential barriers to and opportunities for public transit growth between these two cities.
Download ReportJul 15, 2014
RELATED TOPICS: transportation policy

SMART Options: Context and Considerations of a Mileage Fee for Michigan

This report explores the potential of a mileage fee as a funding mechanism for funding Michigan’s transportation system. A mileage fee is a charge that motorists pay based upon the distance driven on a defined road network.
A mileage fee, compared to the fuel excise tax, is a fairer way of assessing vehicle impact to roads. Road damage is a function of the amount of travel and the weight of the vehicle, and a mileage fee directly addresses the amount of miles traveled, an unconsidered factor in transportation finance.
Download ReportMay 14, 2014
RELATED TOPICS: transportation policy

Letter to Michigan DNR regarding oil and gas leases on the Au Sable River

A letter from MEC and coalition partners, led by the Anglers of the Au Sable, requesting that Department of Natural Resources Director Keith Creagh not authorize leases for oil and gas activity along the "Holy Waters" stretch of the Au Sable River.
Download ReportDec 6, 2013

MEC Comments regarding MDOT US-23 HSR

The Michigan Environmental Council has reviewed with interest the small amount of publicly available information regarding the Michigan Department of Transportation’s (MDOT) proposed project, Hard Shoulder Running US-23 (HSR US-23). In short, this project would widen the north-bound and south-bound shoulders north of Ann Arbor for 7.3 miles and create an additional, but intermittent, travel lane on those shoulders. This proposed project raises serious environmental questions which must be addressed in a comprehensive manner.
Download ReportNov 26, 2013

HSR US-23 letter template

Use this letter template to share your concerns with the Michigan Department of Transportation’s (MDOT) regarding the proposed project, Hard Shoulder Running US-23 (HSR US-23). This proposed project raises serious environmental questions which must be addressed in a comprehensive manner.
Download ReportNov 26, 2013

Built to Last: A blueprint for a more resilient Michigan

Michigan has a rare opportunity for thoughtful reinvention. Choices we make now will ripple through our environment and economy for decades to come.
Download ReportSep 23, 2013

Anti-biodiversity SB 78 is bad for Michigan, say 133 Michigan scientists

This is the letter that Michigan's leading academic scientists are poised to send to Gov. Rick Snyder should the anti-biodiversity SB 78 reach his desk. They agree that the legislation -- redefining conservation and prohibiting state from managing land for biodiversity -- would be a disaster for Michigan.
Download ReportJul 31, 2013

Managing Michigan's State-owned Forests: Harvest Levels, Market Trends and Revenue Realities

Our new findings indicate that harvests of timber on state-owned land have generally increased--even during the recent recession--and are at or near sustainable levels. Any push for higher harvest and looser state regulation must be evaluated in light of reliable information about timber harvest on state land and the factors driving those harvests. This includes recognition of the multiple and emerging demands being placed on state forestlands, including forest sustainability, emerging timber demand and market shifts, and important recreational demands.
Download ReportApr 23, 2013

Large-tract forestland ownership change: Land use, conservation, and prosperity in Michigan's Upper Peninsula

The Upper Peninsula’s unique identity could be changing as commercial forest ownership changes signal a break with the past, according to a report released today by university researchers and conservation groups in Michigan. The region’s constants – wide open spaces accessible to the public, sustainably managed forests and an economic foundation of forest industries and tourism – need better incentives to remain in place for future generations, the report concludes.
Download ReportApr 22, 2013
RELATED TOPICS: conservation, land use

Critical Dune permit application, White River Township

This application to the state seeks to build a road through a township dune sanctuary as part of a driveway project. The driveway is allowed "by right," even through a Critical Dunes area, under changes to a state law approved in 2012.
Download ReportApr 10, 2013
RELATED TOPICS: conservation, land use, legislation

25% by 2025: The Impact on Utility Rates of the Michigan Clean Renewable Electric Energy Standard

America’s fossil fuel–dominated energy infrastructure is moving toward a more balanced system incorporating renewable resources that are clean, inexhaustible, and declining in costs. Michigan is part of this transition, one of 30 states with a requirement that electricity suppliers provide customers with a growing proportion of renewable energy. But at 10 percent by 2015, Michigan’s Renewable Electricity Standard (RES) is among the nation’s lowest. When that limit is reached, no further development is required under current law.
An initiative on the November 2012 general election ballot, Proposal
3, is a Clean Renewable Electric Energy Standard that would build on Michigan’s current RES. It would require electricity providers to use renewable resources for 25% of their generation by 2025. To protect consumers, the RES includes a cost cap ensuring that compliance with Proposal 3 cannot cause electric rates to increase by more than 1% in any year. Using data from the companies’ federal and state regulatory filings, forecasts by the Energy Information Administration (EIA) and other available information, this analysis examines the likely effect of Proposal 3 on ratepayer electricity costs.
Download ReportOct 2, 2012

Projected Job and Investment Impacts of Policy Requiring 25% Renewable Energy by 2025 in Michigan

At least 74,495 Michigan jobs will be created if the Michigan Energy Michigan Jobs renewable energy ballot proposal passes in November, according to a new report from researchers at Michigan State University.

The study also found the higher renewable electricity standard would create more than $10 billion in new investments.

The ballot question will ask voters to require Michigan’s utilities to generate 25 percent of their electricity from renewable sources by 2025.

“Michigan is endowed with an abundance of wind, solar, hydro and biomass that not only could surpass our energy needs but can contribute more to economic development,” said the report. “Our study finds that Michigan stands to create tens of thousands of construction, operations and maintenance, and manufacturing jobs from passing a higher renewable energy standard.”

The authors determined the proposal would create 31,513 jobs from construction and 42,982 jobs from operations and maintenance. The authors concluded there could be a range of additional job impacts.
Download ReportAug 10, 2012
RELATED TOPICS: renewable energy

Michigan Road and Public Transportation Survey Results

Michigan voters believe transportation systems create jobs and boost the state’s economy, and are willing to pay more to invest in them according to a survey released today by the Michigan Environmental Council. The survey recorded widespread dissatisfaction with Michigan’s roads and public transportation. Respondents believe costs for those systems will spiral out of control if the shortcomings are not addressed quickly and aggressively.

More than 70 percent of voters said that they would not vote against elected officials who vote to raise taxes $20 per month for transportation infrastructure upgrades.

The statewide poll of 600 voters was conducted by Maryland-based Victoria Research & Consulting in February and March.
Download ReportApr 25, 2012
RELATED TOPICS: transportation policy

Public Health Impacts of Old Coal-Fired Power Plants in Michigan

This report quantifies the economic burden and health toll that the state’s oldest coal-fired power plants create. It examines pollution from small particulate matter – the main component in smog.

The report found that the state’s nine oldest coal plants cost a family of four an average of over $500 per year in expenses and damages associated with increased hospital admissions, premature deaths and treatments for asthma, respiratory ailments, and cardiovascular problems, among others.

The study also estimated national impacts of Michigan’s old coal power plants, finding that they are responsible for $5.4 billion in health care costs – mostly in the Great Lakes region where much of the pollution falls out.

Those plants began operation between 1949 and 1968 and are among the most polluting and least efficient in the state.
Download ReportJun 27, 2011

Clean Air Act and Regulating Greenhouse Gas Emissions

A letter to Michigan’s Congressional delegation from Michigan college, university, agency and NGO researchers regarding the
Clean Air Act and greenhouse gas emissions. ---

As scientists, researchers, and concerned citizens of the great state of Michigan, we are writing to urge all members of our delegation to stand up for clean air, clean water and the future of Michigan’s
economy. We strongly urge you to reject any measure that would block or delay the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency from protecting the people of Michigan from air pollution and human caused climate change, both of which put public health, agriculture, the environment and our economy at risk.
Download ReportMar 8, 2011
RELATED TOPICS: clean energy, climate change

Michigan 50 Year Vision

The Vision outlines goals – and intermediate steps – to get Michigan to a year 2060 where energy needs are met cleanly and affordably; thriving centers of commerce prosper in harmony with our Great Lakes and other natural assets; and people thrive in dynamic neighborhoods that have easy access to efficient transportation options, healthy local food and cultural amenities.
Download ReportDec 9, 2010

Healthy Beaches Action Guide

This action guide published by MEC member group Alliance for the Great Lakes explains how stormwater runoff, sewer overflows, and fertilizers contribute to beach closings and water quality problems, and shares how you can help your Great Lakes shoreline.
Download ReportDec 3, 2010

MEC Amicus Brief

Download ReportOct 6, 2010

Dangerous by Design -- Michigan

Walking on streets designed more for speeding cars than for people on foot can be deadly. More than 4,500 Americans died last year while crossing the street or walking to school, a bus stop, or the grocery store.
Download ReportNov 9, 2009

Michigan’s Water Withdrawal Assessment Process for Planning and Watershed Management

This print and audio webinar will help you learn about Michigan’s new water withdrawal laws and how those involved with stewardship of our water resources can play a part in the water withdrawal decision making process. The workshop is designed for three audiences: 1) local water-resource advocates (watershed groups, lake associations, environmental groups, etc.);

2) local governmental planning and zoning practitioners; and

3) community/economic development officers in local governments.
Download ReportSep 28, 2009
RELATED TOPICS: water protection

Stranded at the Station

Cuts to Detroit’s public transit system and those of other Michigan towns are part of a national epidemic making it harder for families and vulnerable citizens to get to jobs and essential services.
A report released today by the Michigan Environmental Council, MOSES (Metropolitan Organizing Strategy Enabling Strength), and Transportation Riders United shows that outdated federal regulations are putting strain on local transit agencies around the country. The results are layoffs, draconian service cuts and fare increases at a time when Americans desperately need jobs and affordable transportation. The report was sponsored by Transportation for America and the Transportation Equity Network and released by the trio of local groups. Those groups called on Gov. Jennifer Granholm to secure a public transportation funding source and support restoration of funding for train and bus services that the State House and Senate has cut; and on the state’s Congressional delegation to support H.R. 2746 which allows public transit agencies greater flexibility in using part of their federal funds for operating expenses.
Download ReportAug 18, 2009
RELATED TOPICS: transportation policy

Protecting your family from pesticides

Pesticides are chemicals used to kill plants, insects, rodents, and other pests. Pesticide exposure in children is linked to increases in cancer, hyperactivity, developmental delays, behavior problems including ADHD, and physical limitations. Learn simple steps to protect your family from exposure to pesticides.
Download ReportAug 17, 2009
RELATED TOPICS: environmental toxins, pesticides

Michigan Transit Vision 2008

Michigan can boost our economy, fulfill the transportation needs of all Michiganders, and start creating a successful, attractive state, if we make significant investments in transit throughout Michigan. This report details why these investments are critical, what a high quality Michigan transit system would entail, and key steps to achieving it.
Download ReportOct 1, 2008
RELATED TOPICS: transportation policy

Michigan's clean energy future: Policy solutions for the 21st Century

Michigan stands at a critical energy crossroads. Traditional sources of energy continue to become more risky and expensive. Inevitable restrictions on greenhouse gas emissions promise to escalate energy costs for years to come. However, there is reason for optimism in Michigan.
Download ReportOct 1, 2007
RELATED TOPICS: clean energy

Planning for economic development: Rising together or sinking separately?

The “Dollars and Sense of Smart Growth” is a series exploring some of the real-world consequences—and the financial impacts—of the commonplace land use decisions being made in communities across the state.
Download ReportJul 11, 2007
RELATED TOPICS: land use, Smart Growth

You can protect the Great Lakes and build a stronger coastal community with Smart Growth strategies

Stormwater runoff carries pollution straight into Michigan’s lakes, rivers, and streams. In Michigan’s coastal regions, development patterns impact the quality, quantity and velocity of stormwater runoff entering the Great Lakes. New federal requirements based on the Clean Water Act require communities to address this increasing problem. Many Michigan communities are establishing plans to address stormwater runoff, today and into the future.
Download ReportOct 30, 2006

Developing our coastlines: Four Michigan communities take stock of their Great Lakes assets

Michigan's Great Lakes coastline is a magnet for development, drawing people and businesses at a brisk pace that outstrips the growth of inland communities. But fragmented and disjointed planning on the coasts is overseen by more than 400 separate jurisdictions, a confusing checkerboard of often contradictory and counterproductive rules, zoning laws and long-range plans.
Download ReportAug 1, 2006

Something's Amuck: Algae blooms return to Michigan shores

Repulsive, potentially toxic clumps of algae are likely to reappear this summer to plague swimmers and beachcombers from the bays of Grand Traverse to the shores of Lake Erie. The troubling return of algae is a throwback to the days when rampant pollution of the Great Lakes led researchers to declare Lake Erie "dead" in the 1970s. And it is a warning that the state can not afford to ignore, concludes a report released by the Michigan Environmental Council. "Something's Amuck: Algae blooms return to Michigan shores" illustrates how invasive species, combined with legal loopholes that encourage phosphorus pollution, have opened the door for algae's comeback.
Download ReportJun 1, 2006
RELATED TOPICS: Great Lakes, water protection

Community, Character and Cash: How you can reform transportation with context sensitive solutions

Context sensitive solutions (CSS) is a new approach to transportation policy. CSS programs -- now underway in numerous states across the U.S. -- are meant to improve the way that transportation projects get envisioned, planned and built.
Michigan Environmental Council conducted research and produced this report to provide community leaders with case studies and recommendations to help them implement CSS in their planning processes. Based on our research, we outline ten critical points to follow for a successful CSS program in Michigan.
Download ReportDec 1, 2005

Ten state case studies of context sensitive solutions (CSS) implementation

Each of the ten states described in our research is implementing context sensitive solutions (CSS) through new policies on project development, staff training, conferences, research, and community outreach and involvement. Taken together, they provide a template for success and offer guidelines for building a program in Michigan.
Download ReportDec 1, 2005

Survey of existing programs within the Michigan Department of Transportation

MDOT currently has programs in place that can serve as starting points for developing a fully integrated context sensitive solutions (CSS) program. Among them are programs that focus on safety and balancing the flow of traffic (Access Management), historical features (Heritage Routes), and creative technological solutions for transportation problems (Intelligent Transportation Systems).
Download ReportDec 1, 2005

Smart Growth for Clean Water: Innovative strategies for NPDES Phase II Stormwater Management in Michigan

Polluted stormwater runoff is one of the nation's leading threats to clean water. Rain and snowmelt running over parking lots, roofs, over-fertilized lawns and open construction sites wash dirt, chemicals and bacteria into the water we drink. Communities across Michigan are developing plans to comply with federal stormwater reduction requirements. Smart Growth tools can help Michigan communities find their own, unique ways to address the water quality impacts of land use changes, development and stormwater runoff.
Download ReportJun 1, 2005

Job Opening - MEC Energy Program Director

The Michigan Environmental Council (MEC) seeks a full-time Energy Program Director to lead our organization’s efforts to promote widespread deployment of energy efficiency and renewable power through public policy reform. This position utilizes a range of skills and relationships to strengthen Michigan’s economic resilience in the face of climate change, fuel price uncertainty, pollution-related health impacts, and other challenges linked to our energy system. This position will be based in MEC’s Lansing, Michigan, headquarters.
Download ReportSep 9, 0013

Water Withdrawal Assessment Tool (part 2 of 8)

Brief review of Michigan water law -- slides
Download ReportNov 30, -0001

Water Withdrawal Assessment Tool (part 3 of 8)

Tutorial on some key hydrologic terms and concepts -- slide presentation -- slides
Download ReportNov 30, -0001

Water Withdrawal Assessment Tool (part 4 of 8)

Water withdrawal assessment science, using state-of-the-art online tools, including 1) stream-flow estimation; 2) impact assessment of flow reductions on fish habitat; and 3) modeling groundwater – surface water interactions -- slides
Download ReportNov 30, -0001

Water Withdrawal Assessment Tool (part 1 of 8)

The Great Lakes Compact: why Michigan is regulating large-quantity water withdrawals -- PDF with slides & audio
Download ReportNov 30, -0001

Water Withdrawal Assessment Tool (part 6a of 8)

Overview of regional groundwater and surface water resources: Upper Peninsula -- slides
Download ReportNov 30, -0001

Water Withdrawal Assesstment Tool (part 5 of 8)

Review of the environmental criteria now used to assess “adverse resource impacts” -- slides
Download ReportNov 30, -0001

Water Withdrawal Assessment Tool (part 6b of 8)

Overview of regional groundwater and surface water resources: Northern Lower Peninsula -- slides
Download ReportNov 30, -0001

Water Withdrawal Assessment Tool (part 6c of 8)

Overview of regional groundwater and surface water resources: West - Southwest Lower Peninsula -- slides
Download ReportNov 30, -0001

Water Withdrawal Assessment Tool (part 6d of 8)

Overview of regional groundwater and surface water resources: Southeast Lower Peninsula -- slides
Download ReportNov 30, -0001

Water Withdrawal Assessment Tool (part 7 of 8)

Overview of the Water Withdrawal Assessment Tool (WWAT)
Download ReportNov 30, -0001

Water Withdrawal Assessment Tool (part 8 of 8)

Example uses of the WWAT for sustainable community planning and development
Download ReportNov 30, -0001

Health Policy Director

Employment opportunity -- position description
Download ReportNov 30, -0001
RELATED TOPICS: employment, public health

Development Associate

Employment opportunity -- position description
Download ReportNov 30, -0001
RELATED TOPICS: charitable giving, employment

Faith-Based Energy Efficiency Workshops

Download ReportNov 30, -0001

Job Opening - MEC Land Programs and Sustainable Communities Director

The Michigan Environmental Council (MEC) seeks a full-time Land Programs and Sustainable Communities Director to lead our organization’s efforts to promote Sustainable Communities strategies through public policy reform. This position utilizes a range of skills and relationships to rebuild Michigan’s cities and small towns, protect forests and farmland, create more transportation choices and promote neighborhood revitalization. This position will be based in MEC’s Lansing, Michigan headquarters, and will regularly work with MEC’s Detroit office.

Applications are due by the close of business on February 25, 2011.
Download ReportNov 30, -0001
RELATED TOPICS: employment

Download ReportNov 30, -0001

Download ReportNov 30, -0001

Job Opening - MEC Deputy Policy Director

Michigan Environmental Council seeks a Deputy Policy Director to lead and support MEC efforts to defend Michigan’s environment by shaping policy decisions made in the State Capital.

Applications are due June 9, 2014. Please download the Position Announcement for the job description and how to apply.
Download ReportNov 30, -0001
RELATED TOPICS: employment
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