Category Archives: Federal Government

Supreme Court decision means 230,000 Michiganders keep insurance subsidies

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About 230,000 Michiganders receive the federal healthcare subsidies upheld by the U.S. Supreme Court on Thursday.

A number of state officials cheered the ruling. They say losing the subsidies would likely have meant higher premiums for everyone shopping on the health exchange in Michigan. Continue reading

U.S. House urges Iran to free imprisoned Americans

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThe U.S. House of Representatives has unanimously approved a resolution calling for the release of three Americans who are imprisoned in Iran.

Among the Americans being held in Iran is Flint-native Amir Hekmati, who was arrested there nearly four years ago on charges of spying. He says he was in the country visiting family. Continue reading

Ferris recognized by NSA for Information Security and Intelligence Program

ferrisstateFerris State University is receiving a national recognition for their efforts to train a new generation of cyber-security professionals.

The recognition comes from the National Security Agency and the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. Continue reading

Michigan breaks top 10 list nationally for Medicare overpayments

moneyMore than 50 million Americans count on Medicare for health coverage, but there is growing concern Medicare is not doing enough to root out waste within the program.

According to data from the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services, in 2013, Michigan had $108 million in Medicare overpayments — a dramatic increase over previous years. Continue reading

Resolution calling on Iran to free Amir Hekmati moves forward in U.S. House

Rep. Dan Kildee (D-Flint)

Rep. Dan Kildee (D-Flint)

The U.S. House could soon consider a resolution calling for the release of a Flint-native who has been imprisoned in Iran since 2011.

Amir Hekmati was detained in Iran during a trip to visit his grandmother. He was accused and convicted of being an American spy — charges his family flatly denies. Continue reading

Michigan’s thumb gets rural energy funding boost

An 80 year old program that’s dedicated to funding rural energy cooperatives is sending 25 million dollars to Michigan’s Thumb.

Every year the USDA parcels out loans to energy cooperatives in order to strengthen rural infrastructure.

This year the USDA is giving out roughly $100 million. A quarter of that money is going to the Thumb Electric Cooperative of Michigan.

The Coop’s General Manager Dallas Braun says the money will help them implement a new monitoring system.

“Currently our members read their own meters every month, submit a reading to us and then we bill them based on the reading. So the AMI system or the Smart Grid system will allow us to become more efficient and save a lot of money.”

Braun says one of the big advantages of a coop is that the money they save goes back to their members.

Curbing CAFO antibiotic use

This is where Carey sends his cows that are either sick or injured.

This is where Carey sends his cows that are either sick or injured.

Confined Animal Feeding Operations, or CAFO, create countless pounds of manure daily.

This refuse, or rather what’s in it, is becoming a hotly contested issue between scientists and CAFO supporters. Continue reading

Can CAFO’s keep up with regulations?

Matt Carey standing next to his MAEPE Certification

Matt Carey standing next to his MAEPE Certification


Michigan’s lower peninsula is home to more than two-hundred CAFO’s – or Confined Animal Feeding Operations. Opponents call them factory farms. They keep food prices down, but at what cost.

Matt Carey is the owner of Carey’s Pioneer Farms, the farmstead has been in Matt’s family for three generations and he said passing it on isn’t necessarily going to be easy.

“Like I said, it’s real important for us that we grow an operation that our kids might want to take over. It’s something you have to have a passion for though. You don’t just do it because your Dad wants you to or whatever. You have to have a passion to do it, ‘cus it’s a lot of work and sweat, and a lot of hours you don’t plan on workin’.”

Carey also said it’s a lot of money you don’t plan on spending. His farm is subject to regulations from the state and federal level. Many of the regulations are meant to keep byproducts of the farm away from clean water.

The byproducts could be anything from excess nutrient runoff, to antibiotic resistant bacteria.

Carey's $200,000 manure storage facility

Carey’s $200,000 manure storage facility

Carey said the renovations to keep his farm up to regulation are costly, and they take a long time to yield positive results. Carey tried to justify a long time manure storage facility he said they needed just to stay open.

“That’s one of the most expensive projects I’ve ever spent in my life for somethin’ like that. There’s over 200-thousand in engineering costs and cement, just to store manure in. When you take that much money and put it into a manure storage what is the payback for that? There is a payback for that, but it’s not that much. Not compared to what was just thrown into it.”

Although costly for farmers, some believe the regulations in place are not enough to protect Michigan’s environment, or it’s residents.

Dr. Murray Borello is a scientist at Alma College, he said CAFO’s are not a sustainable future for Michigan agriculture.

“We’re not doing anything cutting edge. In fact, the scientific community is like ‘Yea okay we know this, it’s just one more piece of data, one more study that shows what hundreds of studies are already showing.’ The environment is impaired as a result of inadequacy of these regulations to protect the environment.”

In a study conducted by Borello in 2008, he found CAFO’s that operated within regulations still violated Michigan water quality laws. Therefore, he said, even if the farms were up to snuff, they were still a detriment to the environment.

Not everyone is convinced by Borello’s work however. Laura Campbell is the manager of the Agricultural Ecology Department at the Michigan Farm Bureau. She said more rigorous testing needs to be done before she buys into what Borello believes.

“I, yes, I have read his work. And have actually had several conversations with Mr. Borello. Uhm, having read his research I don’t think that his answers are definitive. Uhm, thats not to say that, ya know, I’m trying, that I would absolutely deny his findings. But I think that his findings are inconclusive from what he claims the result from them is.”

Borello said getting farms to take part in studies is extremely difficult. That makes the science behind the issue slow-going.

A group of cattle on Carey's  farm

A group of cattle on Carey’s farm

“I have tried to work with CAFO’s. I think we could get a great study on how to make these things more sustainable, I would love to work towards that. I’m not here to bash anybody, I wanna make the situation better. And you can’t do that when you’re fighting, you can only do it when you collaborate.”

As Borello says, the problem lies in the disconnect between farmer, and scientist.

Matt Carey attempted to get to the heart of the problem when he said,

“My whole problem is, I just wanna farm. Ya know, I don’t wanna have to do all this extra, we were doing all this extra stuff. We just weren’t documenting it before we were forced to document it. Ya know, we were doing, we’ve been doing soil testing since 1990, so it’s been a crucial part of our operation and the cash crop to be soil tested. Now they just say it’s gotta be done every three years which we already always done.”

Farmers like Carey want to create CAFO’s that are sustainable, and can be passed on to the next generation. In order to do that they have to comply with a litany of regulations.

Scientists like Borello want to ensure the regulations are stringent enough to protect Michigan’s waterways.

These goals are not mutually exclusive, and working together could shorten the journey to their solution.

Nuclear dump assessment results made public

Ontario Power Generation’s, or OPG’s, proposed nuclear dump has been declared safe enough to construct by a Canadian Joint Review Panel of scientists.

The panel submitted over 400 pages of analysis to the Minister. She now has 4 months to decide whether or not to grant OPG a permit to construct.

The panel recommended numerous plans of action that OPG will need to account for if they want to retain their accepted status.

It’s important to remember OPG is only requesting a permit to build the facility.

They will need to go through another assessment to earn a permit to use it.

Getting to the bottom of rising national student loan debt

College Students
The school year winding down means graduation ceremonies are around the corner.

Whether graduating students are leaving college, or getting ready to attend, one thing on many students’ minds is student loans. Continue reading

Canadian joint review panel releases recomendations

After two years of hearings and arguments, a recommendation was released Wednesday, May 6th, on building a nuclear waste dump near Lake Huron.

A Canadian Panel was tasked with assessing the proposal for a nuclear dump which would be run by Ontario Power Generation – or OPG.

The Canadian Minister of the Environment will review the panel’s recommendations and issue a decision on whether or not to allow a nuclear dump within the Lake Huron watershed.

We’ll have a more detailed description of the panel’s recommendations once the documents are made public.

The balancing act: College and politics

Central-Michigan-University-seal.svgAs potential presidential candidates start to gear up for the 2016 election, both parties have made it clear they want to target young voters.

A population that can be challenging to reach. Continue reading

MI’s defense of same-sex marriage ban delivered to Supreme Court

Supreme court

Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette’s office has delivered the state’s defense of its same-sex marriage ban to the US Supreme Court.

The state’s 59-page brief focuses largely on states’ rights. The attorney general argues the case is not specifically about marriage, but who gets to decide the question.

From the brief’s summation:

“This case is not about the best definition of marriage or any stereotypes about families. Families
come in all types, and parents of all types—married or single, gay or straight—love their children. This case is about whether the Fourteenth Amendment imposes a single marriage view on all states such that the people have no right to decide. It does not.”

The brief says the US Constitution is silent on the issue, so the decision on defining who can get married is left to states or their voters. The brief says Michigan voters made a reasonable choice when they approved the ban in 2004, and only they should be allowed to reverse it.

April DeBoer and Jayne Rowse are the lesbian couple challenging the ban. They say it violates their equal protection rights and the equal protections rights of the children they are raising together, but cannot jointly adopt.

Ohio, Kentucky, and Tennessee will also defend marriage bans when the Supreme Court hears arguments in the case next month.

Tittabawassee river cleanup update

Tuesday night the EPA will give an update on cleanup work along the Tittabawassee River. It’s part of the at the bi-monthly Community Advisory Group meeting’s.

The current portion of the cleanup is focused on the floodplain of the river. It requires certain areas of soil to be removed and replaced.

The public is invited to the meeting and the local community group is looking to recruit new members.

The meeting is scheduled for the Tittabawassee Township Memorial Park Building in Freeland and begins at 6 PM.

Earlier this year the EPA estimated the entire cleanup would be completed in 2018.

Revived senate bill would help protect the Great Lakes from invasives

In Washington DC, a bill that would help protect the Great Lakes from invasive species has been revived by the Senate, and sent to the House for a vote.

The Vessel Incidental Discharge Act, or VIDA, would set a national precedent for controlling boat ballast water that enters the U.S.

The bill was revived when Senator Gary Peters of Michigan added an amendment that would require all ships that enter the Great Lakes through the St. Lawrence Seaway to dump their ballast water prior to entry.
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Ballast water is considered to be one of the biggest doorways for aquatic invasive species to enter our waterways.

Debate and controversy surround proposed nuclear waste dump near Lake Huron shore in Ontario

Kincardine

Controversy surrounding a proposed nuclear waste dump that would be built near the Lake Huron Shoreline in Ontario is heating up.

The main issue surrounding Ontario Power Generation’s, or OPG’s, proposed nuclear dump can be boiled down to three things.
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Debate and controversy surround proposed nuclear waste dump near Lake Huron shore in Ontario

Kincardine
Ontario Power Generation, or OPG, has talked themselves hoarse defending their proposal for a nuclear waste storage facility near Lake Huron.
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Federal funding boost for Great Lakes basin

great_lakesThe USDA is set to provide 1.2 billion dollars over five years to the Regional Conservation Partnership Program in order to improve water quality and wildlife habitats in the Great Lakes basin.
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