Environment roundup: Michigan punts on PFAS testing at dairy farm

Environment reads

Michigan chose not to test for PFAS on an Allegan County dairy farm because regulators worried about harming the farmer’s business, according to a report from MLive. (Photo courtesy of U.S. Department of Agriculture)

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In Bridge’s Michigan Environment Watch, we share a roundup of recent stories on the Great Lakes or other environmental issues. If you see a story we should include next time, use the hashtag #EnviroReads on Twitter or email environmental reporter Jim Malewitz at jmalewitz@bridgemi.com.

Regulators Concerned Bottled Water, Not Just Tap, May Contain PFAS Contaminants
Consumer Reports

“Tap water contaminated with chemicals known as PFAS has become a major concern for some communities across the U.S. in recent years, with many turning to bottled water as an alternative source. But after tests last month showed that bottled spring water sold in several New England states had also been tainted by PFAS, questions are being raised about the safety of bottled water for those dealing with problems at their tap,” Ryan Felton reports. “The lack of required testing for PFAS in bottled water has been a particular concern for at least one state, Michigan, grappling with tap water contaminated by PFAS, according to documents recently obtained by Consumer Reports through a Freedom of Information Act request.”

Floods are changing in Michigan. We're building infrastructure like they're not.
Michigan Radio
“Climate change is likely to bring more extreme rainfall and flooding to Michigan. So, flood risk in the next 100 years will probably look very different than in the last. But, much of our infrastructure, like culverts, bridges, and storm drains, is still being designed and built based on the floods of the past,” Kaye LaFond reports. 

Michigan is tiptoeing around PFAS in dairy agriculture
“Kay Fritz let the cattle out of the bag in Boston. Fritz, a toxicologist with the Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development (MDARD), told the National PFAS Conference audience that Michigan punted on testing an Allegan County dairy farm because it worried about killing the farmer’s business. Testing found PFAS in the farm’s hay and pond water,” Garret Ellison reports. “Instead of testing milk from those cows, Fritz said that regulators, leery of repercussions seen in other states, decided the exposure wasn’t serious enough and ‘we weren’t going to go there’…The disclosure — ironically spoken June 12, which Gov. Gretchen Whitmer declared Michigan Dairy Foods Awareness Day this year — struck a discordant note and prompted a rebuke from an audience member, who noted that regulators were depriving consumers of the opportunity to avoid potentially contaminated products by not testing.”

DTE Energy rate hikes among biggest in country — as reliability still lags
Detroit Free Press
“In May, the Michigan Public Service Commission approved more than $273 million in rate hikes for DTE Energy, representing an 8.69% increase for average residential customers. Within two months, DTE had filed another request with the commission to raise rates even higher for 2020,” Keith Matheny reports. “If you feel like you've been here before, you have. From 2015 to this year, DTE Electric Co. has received $775 million in four rate increases — the second-biggest total rate hikes in the country. It's happening as the utility has come under fire for the frequency, and duration, of blackouts on its system.” 

Scientists want to use the Samurai Wasp to fight Michigan's invasive stink bug problem
Fox 2 
“After years of waging a losing war against an invasive stink bug, scientists believe they may have found a solution. It’s hairy, has two zany antennas, eyes half the size of its head and legs colored iridescent orange - it also flies,” Jack Nisson reports. “A natural predator of the invasive brown marmorated stink bug, its introduction represents a new stage in the fight against invasive species.” 

Upper Peninsula mine approved despite major concerns from DEQ and EPA staff, records show
Detroit Free Press
“Over and over, Michigan environmental regulators sounded alarms as they reviewed a proposed large, open-pit ore mine in the Upper Peninsula near the Menominee River, prized for walleye fishing and a major tributary to Lake Michigan. The mine would send acidic mining wastes into the river and surrounding waterways, which would then spill into the Great Lake, staff said. More acres of wetlands would be harmed than the mining company was projecting, evaluators found,” Keith Matheny reports. “Then the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and then-Michigan Department of Environmental Quality approved the mine anyway.”

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Business over health
Thu, 08/22/2019 - 12:04pm

This is awful, news. Boycott, stop drinking milk, until they test the milk for PFAS!

Thu, 08/22/2019 - 2:35pm

Where is the article for this?????

Meanwhile, read/watch this shocking article with video about PFAS in the water and in milk/cattle:
Rather than ignore the problem to protect the dairy/cattle industry, let's empower the EPA and Agricultural Dept to do something. Let's pass laws to list PFAS as a known toxin, ban it, and take the chemical manufacturers to task with civil and criminal sanctions. We spend so much money on military defense only protect industries that are killing us from within.

So Angry
Fri, 08/23/2019 - 12:32pm

This has been my fear for a while that bottled water, not just tap, may contain PFAS contaminants. Michigan and the federal government have to do a better job protecting us.

PFAS is not listed as a toxin by the EPA.

Urge your representatives to address the PFAS crisis with legislation that has both civil and criminal penalties. We need to test and label all products that contain PFAS. We need to ban the manufacture and widespread use of PFAS. We need to make chemical manufacturers contribute funds for toxic supersite cleanups. CEO should face criminal charges so they can't escape culpability by filing bankruptcy and starting over with a newly named company.

Look at what PFAS is doing to our food supply! Why are these stories presented as a group and not individually? The issue is not getting enough attention. Most people in Michigan still don't even know what PFAS is.

DTE Rules
Fri, 08/23/2019 - 12:47pm

When the power is out, which is very often, they give a few customers (not many) a $25 credit if the customers can prove the ever-changing criteria. Then the for-profit monopoly, DTE, hikes its rates to the biggest in the country! That's genius! I'll have to get my lobbyists to pay our corrupt government to get the same great deal. By the way, how many people in Michigan get income raises that match the rates of DTE, insurance, and tax increases? I sure as hell don't.