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.

Energy Forum at Delta, Dragons in Saginaw, and a Project on the Kawkawlin

Mr. Great Lakes (Jeff Kart). As heard at 9 a.m. Eastern, Fridays on Delta Q-90.1 FM. The Feb. 15, 2013, broadcast:

1 – A public forum on Michigan’s energy future is planned for March 4 at Delta College.

coal chunk

Credit: Jeffrey Beall

 

The forum is one of seven planned for locations throughout the state, and will be held from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. on Monday, March 4 in the Delta College Lecture Theater.

The public forums are hosted in part by the Michigan Public Service Commission, which regulates major electric utilities in the state.

Gov. Rick Snyder has charged the chairs of the Commission and Michigan Energy Office with overseeing a public input process. The process is meant to assist policymakers as they take a look at future energy needs in the state.

Snyder says he’ll rely on the results of the process when making comprehensive recommendations in December regarding Michigan’s energy future.

The forums come after voters in November 2012 rejected a proposal to increase the amount of wind, solar and other renewable energy generation in the state from 10 percent by 2015 to 25 percent by 2025.

The Snyder administration is spending this year collecting comments and considering proposals for future state energy policy after the 2015 deadline passes.

Comments also are being taken online until April 25. There are specific questions on  renewables, efficiency, and the regulatory structure for electricity.

Bay County is home to the Karn-Weadock complex, which creates electricity by burning coal and is the largest power plant in the Consumers Energy fleet.

– – –  See Appendix A: Governor’s Energy Message (pdf)

2 – A dragon hunter has identified six new species in Saginaw County.

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We’re talking about dragonflies, at the Shiawassee National Wildlife Refuge.

Refuge Manage Steven Kahl reports that volunteer Jeff Sommer conducted a dragonfly count last summer.

He found six new species at the refuge, including

  • the Racket-tailed Emerald
  • the Cobra Clubtail
  • the Skillet Clubtail
  • the Dragonhunter
  • the Spot-winged Glider, and
  • the Spatterdock Darner.

These six new species raise the number of dragonfly and similar insects found
on the refuge to 54 species.

The diversity is due in a large part to a variety of wetlands on the refuge.

For those counting, the first day of spring is March 20.

. . .

3 – Bay County Executive Tom Hickner is now a member of the Environmental and Regulatory Affairs Committee of the Michigan Association of Counties (MAC).

Hickner was recently appointed to a two-year term as a voting member of the Committee.

The Environmental and Regulatory Affairs Committee provides recommendations to the board of the Michigan Association of Counties on current issues, legislative activity, and statutes affecting Michigan counties.

In other Bay County news, Drain Commissioner Joseph Rivet has accepted a nearly $1 million grant for water quality improvements on the Kawkawlin River.

The project will focus on best-management practices for agriculture, including erosion control projects. Also, direct livestock access to river will be managed and barriers constructed.

The project also aims to acquire 100 acres of permanent conservation easements, and identify and eliminate failed septic systems along the river. The goal is to reduce phosphorus and sediment inputs to the river.

The Kawkawlin River was flagged for high bacteria levels twice in 2012, and under a contamination advisory or closure for a total of 79 days.

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