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.

Saginaw Bay Forum, Low Ice Cover, and More Toxics in the Great Lakes

great lakes saginaw bay ice cover 2013 google earth

NOAA Coastwatch ice cover map via Google Earth.

Mr. Great Lakes (Jeff Kart). As heard 9 a.m. Friday, Jan. 18, 2013, on Delta Q-90.1 FM, Michigan:

1 –

A community forum on the Saginaw Bay environment is planned for Feb. 22 in Bay City.

The forum is sponsored by the nonprofit Saginaw Bay Watershed Initiative Network and the state-created Saginaw Bay Coastal Initiative.

The meeting is from 1-4 p.m. at the Delta College Planetarium in downtown Bay City.

A preliminary agenda includes a talk on “Michigan’s Vision for the Great Lakes and Saginaw Bay” from Jon Allan, director of Michigan’s Office of the Great Lakes; and a status report on Beneficial Use Impairments in the federally designated Area of Concern for the Saginaw River and Bay.

The Friday meeting is part of a series of ongoing meetings that will be held to discuss issues related to Saginaw Bay and its tributary system.

The meeting is an opportunity for groups working on various projects to provide updates on their work, and hear from others.

2 –

Ice cover on the Great Lakes is at near-historic lows.

A composite map of satellite data from earlier this week shows thin ice on most of Saginaw Bay. The map is from CoastWatch, part of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

A CoastWatch manager tells Great Lakes Echo that conditions this year on the Great Lakes could break a record for low ice cover set in 2002.

Earlier this month, average water temperatures on each of the Great Lakes were running 2 to 3 degrees above normal.

A lack of ice cover means increased evaporation, which is bad news for water levels, which are already low in the Great Lakes.

More: Great Lakes Surface Environmental Analysis

3

Toxic pollution to the Great Lakes increased in 2011.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, in a report out this week, says toxic releases into surface waters in the Great Lakes Basin increased by 12 percent from 2010 to 2011.

That’s in contrast to a 3 percent decrease in discharges nationwide during the same period.

The numbers come from EPA’s annual Toxics Release Inventory report.

An EPA official calls the 12 percent increase in the Great Lakes Basin “signifiicant,” and notes that the Great Lakes region is lagging behind other parts of the country when it comes to improving water quality.

Most toxic surface water discharges to the Great Lakes Basin come from nitrates and pesticides from municipal wastewater treatment plants and agriculture, according to EPA.

Nitrates also are discharged by primary metals facilities, such as iron and steel mills and smelters, and food and beverage manufacturers.

The EPA says information from the latest report will be used to work with municipalities, agricultural producers and manufacturers to improve water quality in the basin.

-30-

%d bloggers like this: