Friday Edition: Offshore Wind, PB&J and Smog

photo goober grape

Flickr via RVWithTito

From Nov. 19 Environment Report on Q-90.1 FM, Delta College.


Michigan legislators including Jeff Mayes of Bay City have unveiled a plan to guide wind energy development in the Great Lakes.

The bipartisan legislation, introduced in the House and Senate, would offer greater community control in the development of offshore wind energy projects.

According to Dan Scripps of Leland, the plan would put a framework in place to attract beneficial wind projects to MIchigan.

Under the legislation, at least four public hearings would be required before an offshore wind project is approved.

The law also would prohibit wind projects from being built within six miles of the Michigan shoreline, unless communities agree to an exemption.

Lawmakers say time is of the essence. They say Michigan needs to pass the guidelines before the end of the year, or risk losing out on development opportunities for offshore wind, and associated jobs.

The legislation is based on recommendations from the Michigan Great Lakes Wind Council, or GLOW.

The council includes Bay County Executive Thomas L. Hickner, and held a public input meeting earlier this year at Saginaw Valley State University.

Are you concerned about climate change?

Try eating a peanut butter and jelly sandwich.


According to the PB&J campaign, an online nonprofit, a plant-based lunch like peanut butter and jelly will reduced your carbon footprint by 2.5 pounds of emissions compared to an animal-based lunch like a hamburger or chicken nuggets.

Those 2.5 pounds of emissions at lunch are about 40 percent of the greenhouse gas emissions you’d save driving around for the day in a hybrid instead of a standard sedan.

The PB&J campaign is supported by a registered charity called Social and Environmental Entrepreneurs and can be found at

Sure, it’s a goofy way of discussing climate change. But the Great Lakes could benefit from more PB&Js, based on predictions from government scientists.

The potential effects of climate change on human health in the Great Lakes region are of concern, according to the Environmental Protection Agency.

Weather disturbances, drought, and changes in temperature and growing season brought on by climate change could affect crops and food production in the basin. Changes in air pollution patterns as a result of climate change also could affect respiratory health, causing asthma, and new disease vectors and agents could migrate into the region.

— Photo Credit: RVWithTito


The American Lung Association of Michigan is one of a handful of groups in the state to endorse pending EPA pollution limits for smog.

A national coalition of more than 200 public health, advocacy and faith-based groups is endorsing the limits, which they say would save 12,000 lives and prevent tens of thousands of asthma and heart attacks each year.

The groups cite research that shows stronger limits on ozone would do more to protect public health.

Smog, also called ground-level ozone, is connected to emissions from factories, power plants and motor vehicle exhaust, when chemicals react in the presence of sunlight.

Ozone burns lungs and airways, and cause everything from chest pain and coughing to premature death. Children and seniors are particularly vulnerable.

The EPA plans to release a new smog standard by the end of the year. Stricter standards would require businesses to spend billions of dollars on new pollution controls.


Friday Edition: Great Lakes Report, Lasers & Poisoned Perch

Thanks to all who listen to the Environment Report, on Friday mornings on Delta College’s Q-90.1 FM.

I’m going to start posting the text from my radio spots, in case listeners are looking for more info. Without further delay, here’s what aired on Nov. 12:

What’s the state of the Great Lakes?  

Getting better, but still in need of help.

Outgoing Michigan Gov. Jennifer Granholm says the state is working to protect and restore the lakes. She released an annual State of the Great Lakes Report this week that focuses on efforts in the four lakes that border Michigan — Lakes Erie, Huron, Michigan and Superior.

So far, more than 80 million dollars has been awarded to more than 140 projects in Michigan under the federal Great Lakes Restoration Initiative, the report says.

Projects in the Lake Huron basin include improvements to the Frankenmuth dam to open up more areas for fish spawning, an international study of Great Lakes water levels, and efforts to detect and treat nonnative plants called phragmites along the shoreline.

Find the State of the Great Lakes report at

It’s too cold to go swimming at the beach. But better beach monitoring, with lasers, could be coming to Michigan.

A low-powered laser testing method has been developed by Purdue University.

The laser shines through samples of E. coli bacteria to determine the origin of the bacteria, which comes from human and animal waste.

In Saginaw Bay, there has been finger pointing about E. coli found in dead algae, or beach muck, along the shoreline. Some people believe the source is human sewage. Others believe large farms deserve more of the blame.

The laser method can allow for faster and less expensive E. coli testing results, to warn beach-goers about contaminated water, according to state officials.

It also can help county health departments determine the source of bacteria linked to ongoing beach closures.

The technology is still in the testing stages.

But the federal government is releasing tougher standards for beach bacteria in 2012, and the laser could help counties meet the new requirements, state officials say.

How do toxic substances affect yellow perch in the Great Lakes?

Scientists plan to poison a number of perch to find out.

The study, by Michigan State and University of Michigan researchers, is on the causes and effects of toxic substances on perch. It will focus on exposure to mercury, which is released to the environment by sources like coal-fired power plants in the Lake Huron basin.

Fish in the study will be given low doses of mercury and other pollutants. As the levels of poison are increased, scientists will examine the effects on fish hormone levels.

The testing results will help assess potential threats to perch and other aquatic life from pollution in the Great Lakes, MSU researchers say.

— Photo via


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