Pages tagged "water"
It’s June 10, early morning. William Wright and Chris Yahanda wake up on a beach somewhere at Wilderness State Park. A few miles away, Lakes Huron and Michigan meet. They eat breakfast with the gulls and lapping waves.
Then, as the sunrise breaks, Wright and Yahanda break out their paddleboards. They wade into the water’s shallows, kneeling on their vessels as if in prayer. Then, once the sandbar drops, they stand and use long paddles to travel south, their feet a minnow’s height from the surface. Their friend, Davis Huber, films them from a boat.
It was the second day of these three friends' 425-mile journey from the Mackinac Bridge above Lake Michigan to, eventually, the Lansing shorelines of the Grand River.Read more
As utility companies work to make their plans for carbon neutrality reality, they’ll need to clean up their acts on coal ash to truly protect Michiganders from fossil fuels’ threats to public health and the environment.
A new report by the Michigan Environmental Council reveals that, despite what some utility companies say, the 1.45 million tons of coal ash – the toxic byproduct of coal – produced each year in the Great Lake state is not always safely stored.
The report’s co-writers – MEC energy program director Charlotte Jameson and MEC energy policy specialist Abby Wallace – found that 12 the 15 coal ash sites with publicly available monitoring data had contaminated groundwater with toxic chemicals far above state and federal standards.
That puts the Great Lakes, rivers, groundwater and people living near coal plants at risk from toxic chemicals in coal ash, like lead, arsenic and mercury.
The report also found that the majority of the acres-long and meters-deep coal ash storage “ponds” are unlined, and one in Grand Haven flooded recently due to high water levels.
“MEC’s research shows the trend in groundwater contamination from coal ash has not substantially improved and that unlined coal ash ponds, even where a substantial clay underlayer exists, have been leaching toxic chemicals into our water for decades,” said Jameson. “We cannot fully protect our water and our health in Michigan if we remain dependent on coal-powered energy. We must swiftly close their plants; properly remediate their pollution; and transition to clean, renewable energy sources.”
“Holland. Marquette. River Rouge. Essexville. These are cities where utilities’ coal ash sites have contaminated groundwater with arsenic and lead significantly above health and environmental protection standards,” Wallace said. “Utilities must close coal ash ponds and remediate nearby groundwater to protect and give justice to the vulnerable communities around them.”
A 2021 Harvard University study noted one in five people worldwide may die from fossil fuel pollution, said Casey Patnode, a doctoral and public health student at the University of Michigan and founding member of Medical Students for a Sustainable Future.
“I’ve seen many patients come into the ER in respiratory arrest,” Patnode said. “I wonder how many of them would not have had to experience these situations if it wasn’t for the pollutants in their environment. Coal and coal ash must go completely for people to be truly safe from fossil fuels' debilitating effects, from developmental delays to cancer. We, at a population level, are on the precipice of being in this type of arrest and we need urgent action to prevent this."
MEC’s 2021 coal ash report was peer-reviewed by Earthjustice. It is an extension of a 2018 coal ash report.
In April, Michigan House Republicans set forth budgets that, if approved, would send our state into a tailspin of instability, threatening the lives and livelihoods of Michiganders in every political district.
House Bills 4395 and 4397 passed out of the Michigan Legislature with only Republican approval, and not all Republicans at that. If made law, the Departments of Natural Resources (MDNR) and Environment, Great Lakes and Energy (EGLE) would only be able to function about 12 weeks at a time on budgets 25% of what they are now.Read more
Neither Michigan Senate or House FY22 school budgets included a $55 million appropriation in grants for schools to install and maintain filtered water fountains with bottle fillers and, in some cases, on-tap filters.
Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s FY21 supplemental appropriation recommended funding this critical program, which would protect nearly 1.5 million children and tens of thousands of adults from lead exposure from their school’s drinking water.Read more
The Michigan Senate Environmental Quality Committee passed a bipartisan bill package in 6-0-1 vote today that would make Michigan’s water cleaner and create thousands of jobs, all without taxpayer dollars.
Over $293 million in water infrastructure grants for local governments and residents would be available through a budget appropriation recommendation by Gov. Gretchen Whitmer through her MI Clean Water Plan and bolstered by Sens. Rick Outman’s (R-Six Lakes) and Paul Wojno’s (D-Warren) Senate Bills 319 and 320.Read more
Whether it be the “green ooze” that trickled onto a highway from a shuttered Madison Heights business in 2020 or PFAS currently seeping into west Michigan wells, a new bill ensures those causing pollution catastrophes pay for the health threats they create.
On Tuesday, Feb. 23, Michigan House Democratic House Floor Leader Yousef Rabhi introduced House Bill 4314, which requires private companies to pay to clean up pollution they create. Current law only requires companies to contain and limit exposure of these pollutants. The financial burden of cleanup falls on residents, who pay through taxes.Read more
Michigan Environmental Council and its fellow Line 5 legal intervenors plan to appeal the decision of a Michigan Public Service Commission Administrative Law Judge regarding the Commission’s review of Enbridge’s Line 5 tunnel proposal.
Judge Dennis Mack ruled Tuesday that the Commission must consider environmental impacts when deciding to permit a tunnel that could surround the Line 5 oil pipeline through the Great Lakes for as long as a century. But Mack also ruled that the Commission cannot consider impacts in the context of climate change or the need for the fossil fuels Line 5 transports.
The intervenors' appeal will go before the Commission.Read more
Lana Pollack did not know Joan Wolfe too personally. They would occasionally cross paths when Pollack was a three-term Michigan Senator and Wolfe, as ever, was working to make Michigan’s environment better.
The last time they met was 2012 at a service honoring the late Helen Milliken, environmentalist, women’s rights activist, former First Lady of Michigan.
Wolfe carried layers of loss that day, said Pollack, former president and CEO of Michigan Environmental Council. She had just lost her friend, recently lost her husband and was losing her eyesight. Yet, the 83-year-old still carried a force and spirit with her that Pollack felt during all her meetings over the decades.
It was emblematic of Wolfe’s personal and professional life, one that forever changed state and national environmental law and shaped and invigorated Michigan’s environmental movement.Read more
On Thursday, Feb. 12, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer announced recommendations for a $67 billion budget for Michigan. If passed, hundreds of millions of dollars will go toward initiatives at the intersection of the environment, health and justice and strengthen the health of people, their communities and the environment.
Many of Gov. Whitmer’s appropriation recommendations mirror those sent to her administration by Michigan Environmental Council and the Michigan League of Conservation Voters.Read more
Gov. Gretchen Whitmer on Thursday recommended a $55 million appropriation in grants for schools to install and maintain filtered water fountains with bottle fillers and, in some cases, on-tap filters. With this proposed funding, nearly 1.5 million children and tens of thousands of adults are one step closer being better protected against lead from their school’s drinking water.
This “Filter First” approach, which is based on the Natural Resources Defense Council’s model legislation, is the most health-protective, cost-effective and immediate way to remove lead from school drinking water. The approach is advocated for by a coalition of environmental, health and education organizations and leaders.Read more