The Environment Report

The Environment Report

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No lethal control for cormorants in the Great Lakes this spring

For more than a decade, double crested cormorants could be killed in 24 states in the eastern U.S. In the Great Lakes, it was mainly done to protect sport fish like perch and bass. But last spring a federal judge stopped the program, saying the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service wasn't doing the research on cormorants necessary to justify killing them. Sport fishing groups hoped that research would have been done by now and the program could resume.

Highland Park residents lighting up their streets with solar power

Energy costs can be a huge burden on low-income communities. That's especially true in Highland Park. The tiny enclave within Detroit was literally left in the dark after it ran up a big street lighting bill. But there are some small bright spots popping up—thanks to solar power, and the efforts of one community group.

IJC urges U.S. and Canada to keep microplastics out of the Great Lakes

The International Joint Commission, a treaty organization that advises the United States and Canada, says the two countries should do more to keep microplastics out of the lakes. Microplastics are tiny pieces of plastic that are five millimeters or smaller. Microbeads are used in things like soap and toothpaste. Microfibers are tiny fibers that wash off our synthetic clothing, like fleece. Those tiny plastics can end up in the Great Lakes and can get into fish.

IJC urges U.S. and Canada to keep microplastics out of the Great Lakes

Is Line 5 needed to heat the Upper Peninsula?

An environmental group in Traverse City is challenging the claim that Enbridge's Line 5 is necessary to keep residents of the U.P. warm. The twin pipelines that run under the Straits of Mackinac deliver natural gas liquids that can be turned into propane. About 50,000 homes in the U.P. are heated with propane. So any serious debate about removing Line 5 will likely invoke threats of people freezing to death in northern Michigan.

Some EPA, State Dept climate pages changing under Trump administration

Shortly after the election, researchers from the U.S. and Canada got together to start backing up scientific data from federal agencies in the U.S. They're also keeping a close eye on how the Trump Administration is changing federal websites, and they're already finding some changes. One of the groups heading up this effort is called the Environmental Data and Governance Initiative. (You can see EDGI's report on changes to some EPA websites here , and its report on the State Department and Department of Energy here .)

Some EPA, State Dept climate pages changing under Trump administration

Judge sides with controversial trout farm along Au Sable River

An administrative law judge has sided with a company called Harrietta Hills Trout Farm that's operating in Grayling. It produced nearly 69,000 pounds of rainbow trout last year. The state granted a permit to the company in 2014. But some groups challenged that permit, and it ended up in court. Last week, the judge issued a proposal for decision that the business should keep the permit that's allowing it to expand. Opponents of the fish farm are vowing to keep fighting the permit.

Study finds fluorinated chemicals in fast food packaging

A new study found fluorinated chemicals in one third of the fast food packages researchers tested. The chemicals keep oil and grease from leaking through. The researchers found that out of 407 food packages tested, 46% of food contact papers and 20% of paperboard contained fluorinated chemicals. Scientists have found this class of chemicals doesn't break down in the environment, and some kinds of fluorinated chemicals are linked to health problems.

Will grass carp spread in the Great Lakes?

There are grass carp in three of the Great Lakes, but it's not too late to do something about it. That's one of the conclusions of a new risk assessment on this type of Asian carp by the United States and Canada .

What's the fate of one of the largest pollution cleanup projects in Michigan?

There are a lot of former industrial sites in Michigan that need to be cleaned up. The pollution left behind in one town in the middle of Michigan is particularly bad. The Velsicol Chemical Company (known as Michigan Chemical up until 1976) produced a lot of toxic chemicals in St. Louis, Michigan. It operated from the 1930s up until the late 1970s, and it was responsible for the notorious PBB incident that contaminated people throughout the state. The amount of pollution left behind in this town is pretty staggering. The old Velsicol chemical plant was simply knocked over and buried in 1982 with a concrete cap. So all those chemicals are still left in the ground. (To see a timeline of how the company left behind its toxic footprint, go here .) The town had to shut off their wells and switch to a new water supply. And just a couple years ago birds were dropping dead in people's yards. So they had dig up the soil to try to get rid of the DDT and other chemicals that were left behind.

What's the fate of one of the largest pollution cleanup projects in Michigan?

"Goldilocks days" and a warming climate

2016 was the hottest year on record . When we talk about climate change, we usually talk about extreme weather events: extreme heat, drought, flooding. But scientists have also studied what's likely to happen with the best weather days. Days that are not too hot, not too cold, or humid or rainy. Just right.

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