State Energy Laws, Park Improvements, Water Infrastructure

For Friday, Dec. 23, 2016

1 – Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder has signed a rewrite of state energy laws.

The changes are intended to boost the use of renewable power sources and continue competition in the electricity market.

energy

Credit: GollyGforce

The governor says the policy reforms will help residents save on electric bills, ensure reliability and advance clean energy.

The Michigan Environmental Council says the legislation is an important victory.

Highlights include increasing the state’s 10 percent renewable energy standard.

Utilities will be required to ramp up their use of renewable energy to 12.5 percent by 2019, and 15 percent by 2021.

2 – Park improvements are coming to Bay and other counties.

The state Department of Natural Resources has awarded $2.2 million in Land and Water Conservation Fund grants.

Seventeen community and state parks, trails and sports facilities across the state have been recommend for funding.

Those include the village of Farwell in Clare County, Monitor Township in Bay County, and Midland Township in Midland County.

The upgrades include grills and picnic tables, safety lighting, signs, new playground equipment, electrical updates, tree replacement, and parking improvements.

The project recommendations will be sent to the National Park Service for federal approval.

3 – A Water Infrastructure Improvements Act will fund Great Lakes restoration projects for the next five years.

The funding totals $1.5 billion, and was signed into law last week by President Obama.

The measure authorizes the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative for five years at $300 million a year.

The Initiative funds projects to clean up fish and wildlife habitat, reduce farm and city runoff, fight invasive species and clean up toxic pollution.

About 3,000 projects have been completed across the Great Lakes basin since the inception of the Initiative in 2010.

– Mr. Great Lakes is heard at 9:30 a.m. Fridays in Bay City, Michigan, on Delta College Q-90.1 FM NPR. Follow @jeffkarton Twitter #MrGreatLakes

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Septic Tanks Don’t Work, Restoration Does

For Friday, Aug, 7, 2015

[audio https://dl.dropbox.com/s/ng90urix4mxpayo/8-7-15-environment-report-mrgreatlakes.mp3]

1 – Great Lakes restoration projects are coming to Northeast Michigan.

Sustain Our Great Lakes, a public-private partnership, is funding 20 projects at a total cost of more than $5.7 million.

That money includes $350,000 to Huron Pines, a nonprofit in Gaylord.

Huron Pines will use $115,000 to restore more than 350 acres of wetland and shoreline habitat by controlling invasive species, planting native buffers, and reconnecting upland and wetland habitat.

Another $235,000 will be used in the Au Gres River Watershed, to replace five road–stream crossings, install in-stream habitat structures, and implement agricultural conservation practices.

Other grants went to conservation organizations and public agencies in Indiana, Minnesota, New York, Ohio, Ontario, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin.

2 – Researchers at Michigan State University say, bluntly, that “septic tanks aren’t keeping poo out of rivers and lakes.”

poo sign michigan msu septic tanks

Credit: Börkur Sigurbjörnsson

The researchers sampled 64 river systems in Michigan for E. coli and human fecal bacteria as part of largest watershed study of its kind to date.

Sample after sample, bacterial concentrations were highest where there were higher numbers of septic systems in the watershed area.

It has been assumed that soil can filter human sewage, working as a natural treatment system. Unfortunately, such systems do not keep E. coli and other pathogens from water supplies, the researchers say.

The MSU study was published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Researchers say information from the study is vital for improving management decisions for locating, constructing, and maintaining on-site wastewater treatment systems.

3 – Old habitat is being reopened to Saginaw Bay fish.

A Frankenmuth fish passage project began last week. The work will reconnect fish of the Saginaw Bay to more than 70 miles of historically significant spawning areas.

Construction crews are assembling a “rock rapids” system along the Cass River, which will allow passage of walleye, sturgeon and other fish beyond the a dam to areas that have not been accessible for more than 150 years.

Early work on the project was supported by the Saginaw Bay Watershed Initiative Network, headquartered in Bay City.

The project should be mostly complete by mid-September.

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– 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

Saginaw Bay in Report to Congress, Waterfowl Festival

For Friday, July 31, 2015

1 – The Great Lakes Restoration Initiative is making lakes healthier and local economies stronger.

epa great lakes initiative report to congress saginaw bay map

– a map from the EPA report

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency says that, since 2010, the federally funded Initiative has implemented more than 2,500 projects to improve water quality, clean up contaminated shoreline, protect and restore native habitat and species, and prevent and control invasive species.

The work is summarized in a new Report to Congress and the President.

From Fiscal Year 2010 to Fiscal Year 2014, the EPA received about $1.6 billion in Great Lakes Restoration Initiative funds.

The funding has been a catalyst for unprecedented federal agency coordination, EPA officials say. This has produced “unparalleled results.”

That includes work with the agricultural community to reduce phosphorus runoff, which contributes to algal blooms in areas including Lake Huron’s Saginaw Bay.

Federal agencies also used funding to increase the number of acres of farmland enrolled in agricultural conservation programs in Saginaw Bay and other priority watersheds by more than 70 percent.

More information about the Initiative, including an interactive project map, is available at glri.us.

2 – The Saginaw Bay Waterfowl Festival is this weekend at the Bay City State Recreation Area.

ducks on the go michigan saginaw bay waterfowl festival 2015

Credit: Ducks Unlimited

The state park in Bangor Township will host the festival on Saturday and Sunday, Aug. 1 and 2.

This is said to be the park’s most popular special event weekend. This is the 20th anniversary.

Features this year include a State Championship Duck & Goose Calling Tournament, Waterfowl Stamp Competition, Wildlife Arts & Craft Show, Waterfowl Calling Clinic and Waterfowl Carving Contest. New this year is a chainsaw carving contest and live auction.

The festival is from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday and 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sunday, and headquartered at the park’s Saginaw Bay Visitor Center.

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– 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

Free Fishing, Great Lakes Protection, and No More Renewable Energy Surcharges

For Friday, June 12, 2015

1 – This weekend is Free Fishing Weekend in Michigan.

That’s Saturday and Sunday, June 13 and 14.

All fishing license fees will be waived for the two days. Residents and out-of-state visitors may enjoy fishing for all species on inland and Great Lakes’ waters.

Research shows that young people today do not have access to fishing opportunities that were enjoyed by previous generations. Reasons include living in urban or suburban areas, competition for time by an ever-increasing schedule of special activities, and too little time for unstructured leisure.

Events are being held around the state. In Bay County, there’s a Free Fishing Festival at the Bay City State Recreation Area in Bangor Township. That includes a Family Fishing Derby, with rods and bait provided and trophies for the largest of each species of fish caught. There also will be a “Fishing Fairway,” where booths will be set up to teach and demonstrate skills, safety and knowledge which can be helpful while fishing Michigan’s waters.

Michigan offers some of the finest freshwater fishing in the world, according to the Department of Natural Resources, with more than 3,000 miles of Great Lakes shoreline, more than 11,000 inland lakes and tens of thousands of miles of rivers and streams.

2 – The Great Lakes Protection Fund is looking for projects.

The aim is for projects that create ecological improvements on a regional scale.

The cutoff date for preproposals is Aug. 3, and decisions are expected in December.

Themes being explored include

  • Prototypes of Insurance, Assurance and Financial Products for the Ecosystem
  • Performance-Based Green Infrastructure Competition
  • Smarter Water – Healthier Lakes

The Great Lakes Protection Fund is a private, nonprofit corporation formed in 1989 by the governors of the Great Lakes states. To date, the Fund has awarded more than $72 million to support 259 projects.

To find out more, visit glpf.org.

3 – Renewable energy is paying off.

DTE Electric, Michigan’s largest electric utility, recently filed a rate change request to eliminate renewable energy surcharges from customer bills.

The surcharge will be removed beginning in January 2016, reducing electric rates by $15 million a year.

Consumer’s Energy, the second-largest investor-owned utility in Michigan, has already eliminated renewable surcharges on consumer bills.

The Michigan Energy Innovation Business Council, a trade association, says the elimination of the surcharges is additional proof of the rapid decline in costs associated with renewable energy in the state.

It also demonstrates the success of a 2008 renewable energy law that has spurred more than $3 billion in economic activity tied to renewable energy projects in Michigan.

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

Mich Enviro Report: Great Lakes Restoration & Asian Carp Control Comments

As heard Friday, Dec. 23, 2011, on Delta College Q-90.1 FM …
photo christmas berries
Merry Christmas
1.

Michigan and other Great Lakes states are receiving a total of $300 million for environmental restoration projects under a 2012 federal budget bill passed recently by Congress.

The Healing Our Waters – Great Lakes Coalition is praising the bill, which is waiting to be signed into law by President Obama.

The bill would provide $300 million for the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative to clean up toxic pollution, restore wildlife habitat, stop invasive species and reduce polluted run-off from farms and cities, according to the coalition.

Also included in the budget is almost $1.5 billion to help communities across the U.S. address sewage overflows with low- and no-interest loans.

Of that, Michigan is to receive about $63 million.

The money for the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative in 2012 is virtually the same as in 2011.

2.

What are the best ways to keep Asian carp and other invasives out of the Great Lakes?

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is taking public comments.

The Corps has released a paper that identifies various options for keeping aquatic invasives like the carp from entering the lakes via pathways like the Chicago Area Waterway System.

The Corps is examining controls for Asian carp and other invasives as part of the Great Lakes and Mississippi River Interbasin Study.

The identified controls range from those currently in use, such as aquatic herbicides and introduced predatory fish species,  to controls that are in research and development.

The paper says possible controls include modifying flow conditions, including plugging the man-made Chicago shipping canal that connects to Lake Michigan.

Interested members of the public are being asked to review the list contained in the paper and provide comments or further information.

To comment, see glmris.anl.gov. The deadline is Feb. 17.

— Photo by Alex Hern
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Mich Enviro Report: BaySail Scholarships, Used Car Mileage & Great Lakes Benefits

As heard on Friday Edition, Q-90.1 FM, Delta College …

1.

The BaySail program is gearing up for the spring 2011 season, and offering nine fully funded scholarships.

photo appledore schooners baysail bay city

The Appledore schooners. Via BaySailBayCity.org

The scholarships will go to fund environmental education programs for seventh grade classrooms in Bay, Saginaw and Midland counties.

The program is called Science Under Sail. It features hands-on science lessons aboard two Appledore schooners operated by BaySail, a nonprofit located in Bay City.

Scholarship applications are being taken through March 25th.

The trips will be paid for by the Dow Corning Donor Advised Fund.

Interested teachers need to submit a short scholarship application and a letter of support from a school administrator.

The Science Under Sail program focuses on water quality and ecosystem health. Students aboard the schooners analyze water, sediment and plankton samples that they collect while the ships are underway.

You can find out more information on the program online at baysailbaycity.org.

2.

Car shoppers and car dealers, take note.

If you’re shopping for, or selling a used car, you need to know about an EPA program for window stickers.

Usually, fuel economy stickers only appear on new cars or trucks.

But the EPA is now offering fuel information for used vehicles, in a window sticker format.

The fuel economy ratings for older cars go back to 1984.

The EPA is encouraging car dealers to use the new labels.

The fuel economy numbers are for older model vehicles, but the EPA has applied updates to the numbers based on a new estimating method from 2008.

You find the used car fuel economy labels online at fueleconomy. gov.

3.

There’s a new study out on the economic benefits of restoring the Great Lakes in Michigan.

The bottom line: The benefits far exceed the costs.

The study, done by economists at Grand Valley State University, looked at a $10 million federal project to restore the shoreline of Muskegon Lake.

They concluded that $10 million spent to restore fish and wildlife habitat along several miles of the lake increased the collective value of nearby homes by $12 million.

That same $10 million investment also upped the lake’s recreational value by $2.5 million.

Added together, that’s $15 million of value for $10 million. Not a bad investment, the economists say.

The cost-benefit analysis also doesn’t include other positives, like jobs created by restoration projects.

Funding for Great Lakes restoration is due to drop this year. A total of $475 million was provided last year, under the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative. This year’s funding could drop to $225 million. The measure is still being debated in Congress.

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