Category Archives: Environment

Environmental groups place more pressure on Governor to monitor Straits pipeline

Environmental groups are increasing their pressure on Governor Snyder to keep the pipelines under the Straits of Mackinac safe.

This increase in concern follows the recent proclamation by the Coast Guard saying it is not prepared to handle a “heavy” oil spill in the Great Lakes.

David Holtz is the Executive Committee Chair of the Sierra Club’s Michigan Chapter. He says Michigan would be in serious trouble if the pipelines were to rupture.

“Problem is that we know the effects that tar sands has had when there’s been a spill because thats what happened along the Kalamazoo River in Marshall. What we don’t know is whether other crude oil that is currently going through the pipe what the effects of that would be, but we certainly dont want to find out.”

As of now, Enbridge says they are not pumping “heavy” oil, or tar sands, through the pipeline that runs under the Straits. But, they are not specifically barred from doing so.

Environmental groups worry this may change in the future because Enbridge has decided to expand their Alberta-Clipper pipeline. This line does export tar sands and runs from Alberta, Canada to Superior, Wisconsin where the Straits pipeline begins.

Time is running short for Consumers Energy to meet an April deadline

The clock is ticking down for Consumers Energy’s Karn-Weadock plant in Bay County as an April 16th deadline to meet federal air quality standards approaches.

Consumers Energy is in the midst of an upgrade to two of its coal plants in a move that could reduce sulfur dioxide emissions by 95%. This would place Consumers within the federal air quality limits.

Dan Bishop, Director of Media Relations at Consumers Energy, said the reduction in sulfur emissions aren’t the only benefit Michigan residents will receive from the upgrades.

“There are other acid gases that are impacted. So customers are getting their moneys worth when it comes to this kind of investment. A side note, this means that about two hundred building trade jobs [created] out at the plant, and theres been an emphasis on hiring from Michigan based companies”, he said.

Bishop said the new filtration system will reduce toxicity by essentially working as a vacuum, pulling harmful compounds out of the air.

The compounds will be either recycled back into the filtration system or brought to a landfill.

Bishop said the project is about half way done, as upgrades have already been applied to one plant. He said work on the second will begin in the first quarter of next year.

The 10th Anniversary of the Annual Great Lakes Restoration Conference Has Begun

The annual Great Lakes Restoration Conference began in Grand Rapids on September 9th and will continue through the 11th. The DeVos Place Convention Center is abuzz with environmentalists from across the state to participate in panels, workshops, and presentations that will be hosted by over 300 Great Lakes advocates.

Todd Ambs is the director of Healing Our Waters, one of the Great Lakes advocacy groups in attendance. He says that the event is important to show what the government is capable of.

“What I like to say about this Great Lakes Restoration Initiative, is in an age where we justifiably are often concerned about what the government will do to us, the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative is really a shining example of what the government can do with, and for us.”

Ambs went on to say that the problems the conference is currently facing, are ones everyone can agree on.

“There’s a federal program called the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative, which we did a lot to get in place, which has broad bipartisan support in Congress. One of the few things left in Congress that has broad bipartisan support. And thats brought 1.6 billion dollars back to the Great Lakes and its already producing tremendous results for us. But again, because of those successes we know we have the wherewithal to move forward and work on those remaining challenges.”

This year marks the tenth anniversary of the conference.

Flint Watershed Coalition receives grant for Hamilton Dam Project

Contributions are coming in to remove a “high hazard” dam from the Flint River.

The Hamilton Dam project recently picked up a $50,000 grant from the Saginaw Bay Watershed Initiative Network.

The Flint Watershed Coalition will use the grant to help demolish the dam, and construct a series of rock rapids that will take its place.
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