Michigan environment roundup: Foxconn, Flint and Enbridge
Bridge Magazine is committed to sharing the best environmental journalism in and around Michigan, an effort called #EnviroReads.
Every two weeks, in Bridge’s Michigan Environment Watch, we 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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
“Federal pipeline regulators touted a ‘record’ penalty — $3.7 million — when they fined Enbridge Energy Partners in 2012 for spilling hundreds of thousands of gallons of crude oil into Michigan's Kalamazoo River. But U.S. EPA's top enforcer, blindsided by their announcement, complained privately to them that the amount was ‘very small,’” Mike Soraghan reports. “The clash, laid out in terse emails obtained by E&E News under the Freedom of Information Act, highlights the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration's reputation for leniency, which existed even before President Trump's era of regulatory rollbacks.”
“The approval of a new factory just outside the Great Lakes Basin could mark the beginning of a manufacturing revitalization that relies on draining millions of gallons of water from the lakes,” reports Rebecca Beitsch. “It’s what Wisconsin’s government hopes for — and environmentalists fear…. Other Great Lakes states are questioning the legality of the deal, and some environmentalists say it could create a slippery slope that will allow other outside interests to tap into lakes.” (Note: Michigan competed to bring the plant here, offering $3.8 billion in incentives.)
“Brighton resident Donna Szpond is concerned her family is among several in her neighborhood that have been exposed to a deadly toxin. She's hoping to know by next week if the cancer-causing chemical trichloroethylene seeped into her home,” Jennifer Eberbach Timar reports. “The toxic chemical compound used in manufacturing has made its way into the air inside at least five Brighton homes, state and county officials say. And more homes could be affected.”
In Beverly Hills, a small village where few homes have been tested for lead in drinking water, skyhigh results from just one test pushed the entire community above state lead limits — triggering state requirements that the village warn the public, Lindsey Smith reports. Beverly Hills is now suing the state, arguing the test should be invalidated.
New York Times
Gov. Rick Snyder announced Friday that tests show Flint water has not exceeded federal limits in about two years, so the state will stop providing free bottled water. That led to a rash of criticism in the city, Jacey Fortin reported.
“Joyce Wilson, 62, who lives in Flint, said she did not trust the water that flows to her taps — not for drinking, bathing or even watering her garden, where she grows food.” Fortin wrote. “She has been visiting the free water distribution centers for two years and bringing cases to her older or ailing relatives, friends and neighbors. ‘This weekend the lines are so long, it’s unreal,’ she said. ‘It’s like all of a sudden, panic has set in.’”
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