Trump and Climate Research, Zero Emission Vehicles

For Friday, Nov. 11, 2016

 

1- Climate experts are weighing in on the election of Donald Trump as president.

The nonprofit news organization Climate Central reached out to climate, energy and policy researchers to see how they think a Trump presidency will impact climate research and efforts to limit future global warming.

Those quoted include Andrew Hoffman, a sustainable development expert at the University of Michigan.

Hoffman says Trump’s election throws the future of environmental policy, both in the U.S. and globally, into confusion.  

He says Trump’s stated and tweeted positions on climate change, the Environmental Protection Agency, Paris climate accord, Clean Power Plan and other related issues suggest that the future of programs and policies going back to President Nixon’s formation of the EPA are in question.

Hoffman noted that Trump has endorsed programs by the National Wildlife Federation to protect the Great Lakes. Hoffman says we’ll have to wait to see how the president-elect’s positions solidify in the coming days of his administration.

2 – Michigan is seeking a share of $1.2 billion for zero emission vehicle projects.

A state-issued Request-for-Information is the result of a Volkswagen settlement approved by a U.S. District Court in California. The settlement set aside $1.2 billion for zero emission vehicle projects over a 10-year period, distributed in $300 million allotments every 30 months.

Volkswagen was found to have falsified diesel emissions test results for 475,000 vehicles.

Michigan is seeking information on projects to offset the negative effects of Volkswagen’s actions in Michigan. The request allows interested individuals and organizations to recommend eligible projects and programs by public and private entities.

The deadline for submissions is Dec. 21.

The VW settlement also established a Trust Fund for projects that reduce nitrogen oxide emissions in areas of Michigan significantly affected by diesel emissions. Michigan is due to receive about $60 million for potential projects to address diesel emission reductions.

– Mr. Great Lakes is heard at 9 a.m. Fridays in Bay City, Michigan, on Delta College Q-90.1 FM NPR.

Follow @jeffkart on Twitter #MrGreatLakes

 

Great Lakes Bay Trail, Duck Stamp Contest, Phragmites Workshops

For Friday, March 4, 2016

[audio https://dl.dropbox.com/s/u90px1kbuvtarqo/3-4-2016-mrgreatlakes-environment-report.mp3]

1 – A Great Lakes Bay Regional Trail project is moving right along.

The Herbert H. and Grace A. Dow Foundation has awarded $200,000 toward building the Great Lakes Bay Regional Trail.

The Rollin M. Gerstacker Foundation also has contributed $100,000 and the Charles J. Strosacker Foundation has kicked in $50,000.

The region-wide, non-motorized trail system would link existing trails in Bay, Saginaw and Midland counties.

great-lakes-bay-regional-trail.jpg

Screenshot of promotional video. Via YouTube

Once completed, it would be a 100-mile system, giving walkers, runners, bike riders and skaters access to destinations throughout the region, including natural areas, parks, and recreational facilities.

The first 6.2-mile section, connecting Bay to Saginaw, is on schedule to be completed this year, organizers say.

More than $3.8 million has been raised to date from state and regional sources to support the connection of the trails.

More information on the project is online at greatlakesbaytrails.com.

 

2 – Students can enter a contest to have their artwork appear on a stamp.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is accepting entries for the 2016 Michigan Junior Duck Stamp Contest, administered by the Shiawassee National Wildlife Refuge.

Entries must be postmarked by March 15.

The contest is part of an educational program that teaches wetland habitat and waterfowl biology to students in kindergarten through high school.

Students may submit artwork featuring species including ducks, swans, and geese.

duck-stamp-michigan

2015 Michigan Best of Show Winner. Via USFWS

Judging will be open to the general public at the Green Point Environmental Learning Center in Saginaw.

During the contest, students will be judged in four groups according to grade level.

Contest judges will select a “Best of Show” from 12 first place winners, which will be entered into the National Junior Duck Stamp Contest held in April in Florida.

The winner of the National Junior Duck Stamp Contest, along with his or her parent or guardian and teacher, will receive a free trip to a First Day of Sale ceremony in late June or early July.

The first place art from the national contest is used to create a National Junior Duck Stamp each year.

3 – A new series of public workshops will provide information on current efforts to control phragmites across Saginaw Bay.

The workshops also will provide information for landowners on how to treat the invasive plant on their property, and how to enroll in larger group treatment programs.

Phragmites is a tall grass that grows in wetlands, ditches, shorelines, and roadsides. The plant can grow up to 15 feet tall, forming dense stands, and spreads rapidly through airborne seed dispersal and underground stems.

phragmites-michigan-sea-grant

Phragmites. Via Michigan Sea Grant

Once it moves into an area, phragmites outcompetes native species for resources, displacing native plants and animals.

In Saginaw Bay, this has negative impacts on fisheries, waterfowl, and wetlands. Phragmites also can limit water access for hikers, boaters, and beachgoers and reduce waterfront property values by blocking views.

Over the past few years, several treatment projects have helped reclaim Saginaw Bay shoreline and wetland habitat from the invasive plant.

The workshops are planned for March 10 in Tuscola County, March 16 in Midland County and April 7 in Bay County.  

For questions on the workshops or more information, call 989-891-7198.

– Mr. Great Lakes is heard at 9 a.m. Fridays in Bay City, Michigan, on Delta College Q-90.1 FM NPR.

Follow @jeffkart on Twitter #MrGreatLakes

 

 

Meanest and Greenest Cars, and Solarizing the Saginaw Bay Region

For Friday, Jan. 29, 2016

1- The greenest and the meanest cars have been named for 2016.

A nonprofit called the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy released the list of environmental ratings for vehicles. For the first time, all of the vehicles on the greenest list are plug-in and hybrid vehicles.

At the top is the Mercedes-Benz Smart for Two Electric Drive.

The Chevrolet Spark came in at No. 2.

The Ford Focus Electric came in at No. 10, with the Chevrolet Volt at No. 11.

The meanest list of popular vehicles least-friendly to the environment includes … the Mercedes-Benz G65 AMG in the top spot, the Chevrolet/GMC G2500 Express/Savana at No. 2 and the Ford Transit at No. 7.

chevy-spark-ev-mho

The Chevy Spark EV. Credit: Melissa Hincha-Ownby

 

2 – The first Solarize campaign in Michigan is targeting the Saginaw Bay region.

The Institute for Energy Innovation is launching the Solarize Michigan initiative with a goal of significantly increasing small solar energy deployment in Saginaw, Bay City, Midland, and surrounding communities.

Those involved include local economic development organizations – Saginaw Future, Bay Future and Midland Tomorrow. The initiative is based on a Solarize model first developed in Portland, Oregon.

solarize-michigan-sun

Credit: Wayne Silver

The initiative aims to increase interest in residential and commercial solar energy systems and reduce the cost to homeowners and businesses.

The program is intended to reduce the average cost of residential and small commercial solar installations through bulk purchasing.

As part of a campaign, a request has been issued for proposals from solar installation companies.

Selected installers will be named on Feb. 18.

– Mr. Great Lakes is heard at 9 a.m. Fridays in Bay City, Michigan, on Delta College Q-90.1 FM NPR.

Follow @jeffkart on Twitter #MrGreatLakes

 

Support for Proposal 1, Grant Money for Saginaw Bay, Resources for Solar

For Friday, March 6, 2015

1 – There’s a proposal for a sales tax and roading funding measure on the May 5 ballot.

Credit: Ben W

Credit: Ben W

The Michigan Environmental Council, a nonprofit coalition of more than 70 environmental and other groups, is supporting the plan.

The Council says Proposal 1 is the state’s best chance to build a safe, reliable and modern transportation system.

If approved, the proposal will increase annual support for transit and bring in new revenue for roads and bridges, public schools and local government services, the Council says.

Proposal 1 also would provide more funding for a Recreation Improvement Fund, which supports work by the Department of Natural Resources on trails and helps maintain and improve harbors, marinas and public boat launches.

The measure would increase the state sales tax from 6 percent to 7 percent, but exempt motor fuel.

 

2 – There’s grant money available for everything from physical improvements to outreach in the Saginaw Bay Area.

The Saginaw Bay Watershed Initiative Network, funded by area foundations, has announced its 2015 Community Action Mini Grant Program.

The key word for these grants is sustainability – or projects that have economic, environmental and community impacts. Some ideas include projects that involve recreation, community gardens, farmers markets, energy efficiency and recycling.

Funding of up to $1,000 per project is available. The deadline to apply is March 20, and eligible organizations including nonprofits, local governments and schools.

See SaginawBayWIN.org for more information.

 

3 – If you want to go solar, you might want to go to SolarPermit.org.

The website is a national solar permitting database that provides information on permitting for solar power in jurisdictions across the country.

That includes average permit turnaround times and contact information for individual jurisdictions.

The site’s creation was supported by a U.S. Department of Energy grant.

It’s still being developed and there aren’t any local Michigan cities listed just yet.

SolarPermit.org is an interactive, crowd-sourced website. The database is populated primarily by solar installers.

 

— Mr. Great Lakes is heard at 9 a.m. Fridays in Bay City, Michigan, on Delta College Q-90.1 FM NPR.

Saginaw Part of Nationwide ‘Livability’ Project, Invasives Sold at Bait Shops

For Sept. 5, 2014

1 – The Shiawassee National Wildlife Refuge in Saginaw County has been picked for a national Livability Initiative.

shiawassee refuge livability map

The four communities selected for the initiative. Via The Conservation Fund.

It’s an effort to help Gateway Communities assess and improve natural assets that make them appealing places in which to live, work and play.

Gateway Communities are those adjacent to wildlife refuges and other public lands. In this case, the initiative will look at the cities of Saginaw, Frankenmuth and Birch Run, along with Spaulding, James and Bridgeport townships.

The Livability Initiative is a two-year project by the Federal Highway Administration, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and other organizations.

From Sept. 9-11, the refuge and its Gateway Communities will take part in an assessment to evaluate key livability factors, including transportation options, affordable housing, employment and business opportunities, and community character.

Another partner, The Conservation Fund, will develop a livability report that outlines key recommendations. A local workshop will follow on ways to advance the proposals.

The Saginaw County refuge and its Gateway Communities are one of only four in the nation chosen for the project.

The others are in Oregon, South Carolina, and Colorado.

2A scientific paper says the bait fish trade represents a serious threat for spreading invasive species in the Great Lakes.

Researchers from Central Michigan University and the University of Notre Dame tested water samples from tanks containing small fish for sale as bait at more than 500 shops around the eight-state region.

Twenty-seven of the samples tested positive for DNA of invasive fish, such as Asian carp.

Andrew Mahon of CMU says the findings suggest that at least some invaders are being spread by anglers who dump unused bait into the water.

A Notre Dame scientist says more consistent bait fish regulation among Michigan and other Great Lakes states is needed.

The scientists say the study is the first systematic effort to document the presence of invasive species in bait supplies using a tool known as “environmental DNA,” in which water samples are examined in a lab for signs of genetic fingerprints from particular fish.

The paper was published in a journal called Conservation Genetics Resources.

Via AP

— Mr. Great Lakes is heard at 9 a.m. Fridays in Bay City, Michigan, on Delta College Q-90.1 FM NPR.

 

Relaxing Michigan Air Quality Rules, and Breathing in Saginaw Bay

The Environment Report, with Mr. Great Lakes (Jeff Kart). As heard in Bay City, Michigan, at 9 a.m. Fridays on Delta College Q-90.1 FM. The report for Oct. 11, 2013 —

1 – Michigan regulates more chemicals in its air than most other states.

snyder chamber mackinac

Gov. Snyder speaks at the 2012 Mackinac Policy Conference. Via Detroit Regional Chamber.

But that may change, under recommendations from an air quality committee. The proposal is being considered by Gov. Rick Snyder’s administration.

The move could save money, lure businesses, and has the support of industry groups. But some environmental groups are concerned about potential health impacts, according to The Detroit News.

The Final Report of the Michigan Air Toxics Workgroup recommends cutting the number of toxic air contaminants covered by emission rules by 37 percent, from more than 1,200 to 756.

Right now, Michigan air quality standards are stricter than federal standards, and those of nearby states.

The nine-person Workgroup included people from the Michigan Environmental Council, along with the Midland-based Dow Chemical Co. and DTE Energy.

Some members of the Workgroup say they don’t agree with all the recommendations.

The proposal wouldn’t remove any cancer-causing chemicals from the state regulatory list. But chemicals considered to be in the bottom quarter of toxicity levels would no longer be regulated.

— Read more at the DEQ website.

2 – What’s the quality of air in the Saginaw Bay region?

On Thursday morning, it was Moderate, or 74 on an Air Quality Index scale of 50-100.

A Moderate condition means that the air quality is “acceptable.”

But, “for some pollutants there may be a moderate health concern for a very small number of people who are unusually sensitive to air pollution.”

Air quality in the Saginaw Bay region is negatively affected by fine particulates in the air, which can be inhaled deeply into people’s lungs and cause a variety of serious health problems.

These particles are produced when fuels such as coal, oil, diesel or wood are burned, in power plants, wood stoves and motor vehicles.

You can find air quality readings from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency at AirNow.gov.

Via AirNow, for Saginaw, Michigan.

Midland man to document Greenland warming, updates on energy forums and Bay City transport projects

Mr. Great Lakes (Jeff Kart). As heard in Bay City, Michigan, on Friday Edition – 9 a.m., May 17, 2013, on Delta College Q-90.1 FM

1 – Midland resident Peter Sinclair will join a scientific team on the Greenland ice sheet this summer.

greenland frozen meltpond

Via NASA

Along for the ride will be well-known climate activist and writer Bill McKibben, who will cover the journey for Rolling Stone magazine.

The effort is called the DarkSnowProject, and it’s being led by Jason Box, formerly of the Byrd Polar Center at Ohio State, now with the Denmark Geological Survey.

Box and the team will be sampling snow at key points on the ice sheet, to determine the causes of a decreased whiteness that has been observed in the past decade. A darkening of the ice causes more solar energy to be absorbed, and more melting.

Box recruited Sinclair to document the expedition in video and photos.

Sinclair produces a popular YouTube series called “Climate Denial Crock of the Week,” which pokes fun at those who doubt the science of global warming and climate change.

The expedition has been funded through private donations and via an Internet campaign.

The researchers will be on the Greenland ice during late June and early July.

2 – Earlier this year, state-sponsored forums on Michigan’s energy future were held throughout the state, including on March 4 at Delta College.

A recent analysis by the Michigan Land Use Institute says the seven forums drew big crowds and strong support for clean energy development.

All but two of the forums attracted full houses, and a total of almost 250 people spoke during the sessions.

A coalition that’s pushing for higher renewable and energy efficiency requirements in the state said a majority of commenters at each forum endorsed one or both of the goals.

State officials are now mulling more than 1,000 comments submitted as part of the sessions. They are to be presented to Gov. Rick Snyder this fall, and he plans to offer recommendations in December.

Michigan’s current standard requires utilities to generate 10 percent of their power from renewable sources like wind and solar by 2015.

3 – The Bay City Area Transportation Study is hosting an open house on May 30 in Bay City.

The Study helps channel federal money to road and transportation projects in the area. Bay County planners are seeking public comment on a proposed Transportation Improvement Program for 2014 through 2017.

The public open house will be held on Thursday, May 30, from 4-7 p.m. at the Wirt Library in Bay City.

All users of the transportation system in the Bay City Area, from pedestrians and bicyclists to bus riders, commuters, truckers and shippers are invited to attend.

There also are opportunities to review the plan and comment by phone, fax, mail and email until June 4.

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