Author Archives: CMU Public Radio News

Michigan National Guard works to make bases resilient to climate change

610temp.newThe Michigan National Guard and the Air National Guard will work to make its bases – and the communities near them – resilient to climate change. This comes three years after President Obama signed an Executive Order that instructs federal agencies to help state and local leaders prepare for extreme weather caused by climate change.
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EPA decides to cap Kalamazoo landfill

LANDFILL 1After years of debate, the EPA has decided to cap and consolidate hazardous waste at Kalamazoo’s Allied Paper Landfill. Several residents wanted all of the waste removed from the Superfund site.

Others suggested hiring the bioremediation company BioPath Solutions – which uses microbes to neutralize toxic chemicals. Michael Berkhoff is the EPA’s remedial project manager for Allied. He says BioPath Solutions could not prove to the EPA that their product works on PCBs.

The EPA’s record of decision released Friday calls for consolidating about half the contaminated soil into a capped mound in the middle of the site. This would allow room for industrial or commercial business – which the City of Kalamazoo advocated for last year.

Once the work starts, the agency expects the 63 million dollar project will take three years to complete.

Dragon Boats strike a chord with breast cancer survivors.

dragonflys_lifejacket_mediumWith thousands of teams all around the world, dragon boat racing has become a fast-growing sport. It’s also popular in the US and Canada, with festivals and races in places like Cleveland, Vancouver, and Buffalo. There’s a surprising bond with one group in particular – cancer survivors.
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Artisan of Michigan: Piccolo

file4161237376360We’ve been thinking about the kind of people you might like to meet – we have a lot of authors, musicians, lawmakers, academics – all people you want to hear. But, what about those people who make things? Artisans.

This week, we’re bringing you a series of reports where we talk to people who make things, repair things, and build things that we use. We’re calling the series “Artisans of Michigan.” Our first stop on the trip is in downtown Northville at the Cobbler’s Corner.

Push for wind farms along Great Lakes sparks controversy

wind_farm_story_pic_mediumOn the Atwater Farm, a commercial dairy farm near Lake Ontario, the sound of diesel trucks thunders through the air as they bring in loads of harvested corn for cow feed.

Susan Atwater and her husband Ben are the sixth generation to run this farm. It’s been around since the mid-1800s and is one of the oldest in New York State.

It hasn’t been easy making it in the dairy business. With the summer drought, this year been has been a particular challenge. Now, the Atwaters are turning to the wind for financial help.

“I have all these tractors and tractor trailers to harvest the corn, our monthly cost of diesel is well into the six digits on a harvest season,”Susan Atwater said. “If I can help that with a supplement from a consistent energy producing wind turbine, it’s going to be huge for our business.”

They’re one of several local land owners who signed leases with Apex Clean Energy. The Virginia-based company plans to install 71 wind turbines, generating enough energy to power 53,000 homes.

Apex has nearly a dozen projects planned for communities in the Great Lakes region, including four in Ohio, one in Michigan and four in New York.

This particular project, which stretches 12 miles through the towns of Somerset and Yates, has been met with both fierce support and intense opposition.

“The shores of Lake Ontario is not the place for industrial wind energy period,” said Town Supervisor Dan Engert.

He’s frustrated, and says the town’s right to site the project has been stripped away by state law.

“How would you feel if you had no say? If the state came in and told you,” he said. “They’re not just going to put up a building. We’re not going to just have something that impacts one part of your town or your city we’re going to completely litter your entire town from one end to the other with these industrialized structures.

“How would you feel?”

Article 10 of the Power NY Act gives the task of siting the project to a board. It’s staffed with five state representatives and two community members.

The state says leaving siting decisions up to the board offers a streamlined process for permitting power plants greater than 25 megawatts. The state plans to expand its infrastructure — to generate 50 percent renewable energy by 2030.

The Great Lakes is a prime area for harvesting wind energy and developers are taking advantage of that. A U.S. Geological Survey map shows more than 500 wind turbines forming clusters along the Great Lakes Watershed.

Apex representative Dan Fitzgerald says the fresh water source is an open resource for energy.

“The lake area provides more open resource for us,” he said, adding that “there’s no back stop there’s no hills behind it.”

“There’s almost a drawing effect of the lake that actually accelerates the wind and gives us a better wind resource. So by locating a wind project near the better wind areas, which in this case are certain portions near Lake Ontario, we’ll have a more productive project.”

Apex has yet to submit an application for the Lake Ontario project. Fitzgerald says they hope to do so before the end of the year. The project’s expected completion date 2019.

Climate change threatens birds migrating along Great Lakes

IMG_0137_mediumSome of the migratory songbirds that pass through the Great Lakes region are already on the move, and volunteers at the Braddock Bay Bird Observatory are preparing for them. Hundreds of species – swallows, finches, warblers and more — visit the observatory on the shore of Lake Ontario, just west of Rochester.
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Michigan loosening up driverless cars rule

carMichigan is edging closer to clearing the roads for driverless cars.

A state senate committee OKed a package of bills that loosens existing rules for autonomous vehicles.

Pamela Fletcher is with General Motors. She testified in support of the changes at the committee hearing in Saginaw.

“We think it really is ground breaking in terms of modeling…and Michigan leading…and modeling what other states can do to bring this kind of development and this kind of deployment very quickly into the state.”

One state official says Michigan is in a “wrestling match” with other states … especially California … over which will be the future home of the “mobility Industry.”

The driverless car bills may be on the legislative fast track this fall.