Pop Sci Picks a Michigan Invention, EPA Reports on Enforcement, & a 2012 Lightbulb Guide

The Environment Report. As heard Fridays @ 9 a.m. Eastern on Q-90.1 FM, Delta College

photo lighting facts consumers union guide
Courtesy Consumers Union

Dec. 30, 2011:

1 – A Michigan invention has been named one of the “Best of” 2011 by Popular Science magazine.

The product, called Forage Boost, was developed by researchers at Michigan State University.

It’s a microbial fertilizer that uses an ingredient called SumaGrow. The fertilizer was chosen as a “Best of What’s New” product by Pop Sci for its positive environmental impact.

SumaGrow is different from common fertilizers because it harnesses the power of non-genetically modified living microorganisms to improve the productivity of forages, hay crops, and grain and vegetable crops, according to MSU researchers.

SumaGrow is said to reduce the need for chemical fertilizers and improve disease resistance.

Popular Science magazine wrote that Forage Boost “could eliminate all other fertilizer use on the planet’s eight billion acres of pasture grass.”

2 –

Enforcement by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has cut more than 300 million pounds of pollution in the Great Lakes region, according to a year-end report.

The information comes from the EPA’s Region 5 office in Chicago, which oversees enforcement efforts in Michigan, Illinois, Indiana, Minnesota, Ohio and Wisconsin.

Major cases highlighted by EPA for fiscal year 2011 include a settlement with the Northeast Ohio Regional Sewer District, which will keep untreated sewage out of Cleveland-area waterways and Lake Erie.

Closer to home, EPA records show enforcement actions in 2011 involving the Saginaw Wastewater Treatment Plant, which discharges to the Saginaw River.

In total, the region’s office estimates that 311 million pounds of pollution was reduced, treated or eliminated as a result of EPA enforcement actions.

An additional 25 million pounds of hazardous waste was cut, and 72 million cubic yards of contaminated soil or water were cleaned up, the EPA says.

3 –

New federal lightbulb laws are taking effect Jan. 1.

Here’s what you need to know: Incandescent lights are not being banned. But the lights you can buy in stores will be more efficient come Jan. 1, and there will be expanded choices.

The Consumer Federation of America and Consumers Union have released a guide on the new lighting standards.

Light bulbs sold in 2012 will have to be 25-30 percent more energy efficient than traditional incandescent bulbs.

There will be three choices: Halogens, Compact Flourescents, and Light-emitting diodes. The last of those, LEDS, cost around $25 per bulb, but prices are expected to drop. Halogens and CFLs sell for about $2 each. All three last longer than traditional incandescents and can reduce emissions from power plants due to less energy consumption.

You’ll have to buy based on lumens, not watts. Lumens indicate brightness. 60 watts is 800 lumens, for instance, and 100 watts is 1,600 lumens.

You’ll also have to check for light color, measured on the Kelvin temperature scale. Lower K numbers indicate more yellow light. Higher K numbers mean whiter or bluer light.

Don’t worry if you can’t remember all of this, because the law also requires a “lighting facts” label on packages for most bulbs manufactured after Jan. 1, 2012.

Those facts will include estimated yearly energy costs.

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