Michigan Environmental Report

News from Michigan Environmental Council on public policies affecting the health of Michigan's people and environment

Access to residential solar stymied by continued legislative inaction

During its Tuesday session, the Michigan Senate Energy Committee continued to delay urgently needed action that ensures small-scale solar has a future in Michigan.

The Committee unanimously approved two resolutions encouraging the Michigan Public Service Commission to undertake studies on integrating resident-owned generation options - such as rooftop solar - into the electric grid. 

The resolutions, however, do nothing to lift the cap Michigan currently has on small-scale solar, said Charlotte Jameson, program director at Michigan Environmental Council

MEC’s annual event speaker: Angelou Ezeilo, guide for underrepresented youth

By 2050, the plans of many politicians, cities, states and nations to overcome the worst of climate change will conclude.

By then, the Earth will likely be more than 1.5 degrees Celsius warmer than pre-industry times, the mark at which many nations sought to cap global warming during the Paris Accord. 

Meanwhile, the communities that have for so long borne the brunt of environmental injustice — our Asian, Black, Brown, Indigenous and Latinx communities — will make up the majority of America’s population.

Coalition files motion in support of livestock pollution protections

On Thursday, a coalition of eight Great Lakes region organizations filed a motion in support of the area’s people, water and wildlife. 

Michigan Environmental Council, Environmental Law & Policy Center and other partners seek to legally intervene in the 2020 Concentrated Animal Feeding Operation general permit contested by Michigan Farm Bureau and livestock commodity groups.

Organization forms to improve economic, environmental conditions for farms

Tuesday marked the launch of an organization aimed at improving the economic and environmental conditions hindering Michigan farms.

Michigan Agriculture Advancement, or MiAA, will advocate for statewide policies and programs that promote farm prosperity, weather resiliency, water quality and rural economies. Michigan Environmental Council will be a strong supporter of its efforts.

MEC’s 2020 Petoskey Prize Winner: Gary Rayburn, Pine River protector

Don a coat and walk to the Pine River’s edge in Gratiot County during Michigan’s winter months and you’d think the Pine River “was the most wonderful river in the world,” said Gary Rayburn.

Gary Rayburn is not fooled, though. The high E. coli levels are always there. And when the weather warms, the algae rise from the depths, a thick, neon green sign of nutrient overload from manure runoff. 

MEC’s 2020 Milliken Award winner: Bill Rustem, conservation champion

When Bill Rustem stepped away from his countryside home in Frankenmuth and into Lansing, he never stopped birding among the pine trees and fishing from trout streams. In the 50 years since, he has never stopped shaping landmark policies and laws that protect the nature he has deeply cared for.

Rustem’s passion for the public good is decades deep, and his work’s legacy will extend for decades more. He led a ballot campaign to create the state’s revolutionary bottle deposit system. He helped create a public land and recreation trust fund powered by energy industry revenue. He shaped policy on water and wildlife protections. And he continues to strengthen the protections he helped create through partnership, patience and persistence.

Historical markers reveal Michigan’s long legacy of environmental activists

In 1959, E. Genevieve Gillette gathered conservation organizations and citizen activists like herself together. She was tired of the neglect faced by Michigan’s new state park system, which she had helped create.

The Michigan Parks Association was born from that meeting, and Gillette, its president, fought to improve the funding and direction the state gave to Michigan’s parks.

Soon after, she successfully lobbied the Michigan Legislature to pass a massive park bond. The following year, at 62 years old, she lobbied the U.S. Congress to pass a conservation fund and create Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore. Eventually, the two governments heeded all her demands.

More than 60 years later, civil servants gathered around a remembrance for Gillette: a newly erected historical marker at P.J. Hoffmaster State Park near Muskegon. Now, residents and tourists can read how one Michigan citizen led the charge in creating, expanding and funding Michigan’s state park system.

A school’s location can harm students’ health, education

Many Michigan families once had a set routine on school day mornings. Now, they are hazy due to COVID-19. The pandemic not only threatens public health and school openings, it could impact how well children concentrate and succeed academically.

Some families, however, have struggled to get children to school and to learn effectively at no fault of their own long before the pandemic began.