Michigan environment roundup: Fertilizer could fuel $65B economic boon

Potash is a natural fertilizer, and there is a huge reserve under Michigan that could fuel a massive economic boon. (Photo courtesy of U.S. Geological Survey)

Bridge Magazine is committed to sharing the best environmental journalism in Michigan, an effort known as #EnviroReads.

Every two weeks, in Bridge’s Michigan Environment Watch, we’ll share a roundup of stories on the Great Lakes or other 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.

Gold mine of potash sits beneath Michigan, could be worth $65 billion

Detroit Free Press, March 16

“About a mile-and-a-half underground in north-central Michigan, an almost-forgotten reserve of the potassium-rich mineral salt potash could be worth $65 billion to the Michigan economy,” Keith Matheny reports. “A widely used agricultural fertilizer, Michigan's potash may be some of the purest found anywhere in the world. It's spurring a Colorado engineer and geologist's plan for a more than $700-million mining and processing facility in Osceola County.”

Michigan is cracking down on PFAS in wastewater plants

MLive.com, March 21

“Michigan regulators are cracking down on municipal sewage plants in a bid to curb the amount of per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances called PFAS or PFCs passing through wastewater facilities into landfills and waterways that feed the Great Lakes,” Garret Ellison reports. “The Michigan Department of Environmental Quality wants sewage plants that treat industrial wastewater to find out which customers are using the robust class of toxic fluorochemicals that are polluting drinking water supplies around the state.”

At Detroit River site, DEQ continues to dig up old Chrysler plant's buried, polluted past

Detroit Free Press, March 22

“Crumbling barrels of paint waste and solvents containing potentially toxic chemicals have been uncovered in the dirt and mud along the Detroit River during excavation for the new Detroit River International Wildlife Refuge visitor center in Trenton,” Keith Matheny reports. “The pollution is a vestige of Chrysler Corp.'s Trenton Chemical plant that operated at the site on West Jefferson Avenue from 1946 to 1990 — and the barrels were found in areas Chrysler agreed to clean up before the property was sold to Wayne County for a park and nature preserve in 2002, Michigan Department of Environmental Quality officials said. Because of the property sale, and Chrysler's bankruptcy reorganization in 2009, the cost of the cleanup now under way will be borne by taxpayers.”

Battle to protect fly fishing 'Holy Waters' drags on in Michigan

Toledo Blade, March 15

“A group of fly fishermen is continuing their lengthy fight to try and prevent a fish hatchery along the Au Sable River from dramatically expanding its operation, which the anglers consider a serious threat to the health of this historic trout stream,” Matt Markey reports. “The battle had its start almost five years ago, when Dan Vogler received a permit to expand the more than 100-year-old state fish hatchery here, and send significantly more pollutants into the waterway, which is an officially designated Blue Ribbon Trout Stream.”

Spending Bill Rejects Trump Effort to Gut Water Cleanups

Associated Press, March 22

“President Donald Trump has gotten nowhere in his push to kill federal support for cleaning up some of the nation's most prized waterways, as the U.S. House decided Thursday to keep funding at current levels — and in some cases, boost it,” John Flesher reports. “A $1.3 trillion spending package for 2019 making its way through Congress includes nearly $448 million for Environmental Protection Agency programs benefiting regional waters degraded by pollution, overdevelopment and exotic species invasions. That's an increase from $436 million in this year's budget.”

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Wed, 03/28/2018 - 8:53am

Bankruptcy laws must be changed. When a firm like Chrysler pollutes a site, then agrees to clean it up, then declares bankruptcy to avoid the clean up costs, it is wrong to pass those costs on to the taxpayers. Bankruptcy should allow a distressed firm to catch its breath, restructure, become solvent, and when it is again profitable, past debts such as these clean up costs should be first in line to be repaid. I’m sure the foreign owners of Chrysler are laughing their heads off at the stupid Americans.

Wed, 03/28/2018 - 3:25pm

Wow never heard about Potash deposits. What is the chance that this MINE will ever get off the ground? When has the Nimby/Enviro/luddite communities ever let any mine in the US go through without a major battle? We'll have a million scare mongers line up to stop it. Mining is something that is only allowed in some far off, poor, third world county.