Michigan environment roundup: Monsanto research eased EPA regulations

The Midwest Center for Investigative Reporting reported that federal regulators eased protections on crop habitats after Monsanto presented the agency with research about weed killers.

Bridge Magazine is committed to sharing the best environmental journalism in Michigan, a feature 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.

EPA Eased Herbicide Regulations Following Monsanto Research, Records Show

Midwest Center for Investigative Reporting, March 4

“The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency lessened protections for crops and wildlife habitats after Monsanto supplied research that presented lower estimates of how far the weed killer dicamba can drift, according to a review of federal documents,” Johnathan Hettinger reports. “However, drift from dicamba damaged more than 3.6 million acres of soybeans in 2017, according to data from Kevin Bradley, a professor at the University of Missouri. The drift also allegedly damaged oak trees, wildlife habitats and other crops, such as vineyards, across the Midwest and South, according to news reports, environmental groups and complaints filed with state agencies.

Great Lakes still impacted by Ice Age phenomenon

Detroit Free Press, March 2

“The surface of the Great Lakes region is still recovering from the aftereffects of the last Ice Age, when woolly mammoths and mastodons grazed on grasslands here along with white-tailed deer,” Keith Matheny reports. “The ground is bouncing back from the lifting of the staggering weight of the glaciers, miles-thick ice that covered the region from about 85,000 to 11,000 years ago, that helped carve the Great Lakes through their scouring of rock and dirt as they moved.”

Is Michigan making it too expensive for companies to go green?

Michigan Radio, March 1

Tracy Samilton examines a wonky policy question with major implications for Michiganders who generate their own energy. Are standby rates — how much big utilities charge to act as backup in case self-generation — too darn high? “There are cases pending before the Michigan Public Service Commission that could lower standby rates for customers of DTE Energy and Consumers Energy,” she reports.

Amid transition to clean energy, utilities tackle water conservation

MiBiz.com, March 4

“While closing coal-fired power plants is often lauded for improving air quality, it’s also saving billions of gallons of water a year from being withdrawn from the Great Lakes and local resources,” Andy Balaskovitz reports. “Last month, Jackson-based Consumers Energy pledged to save another billion gallons of water over the next five years beyond the savings seen by closing seven coal plants in 2016.”

Solar farmhouse near Ann Arbor one of world's greenest homes

MLive.com, Feb. 28

"Nestled on 15 acres of sprawling farmland outside Ann Arbor is one of the most eco-friendly homes in the world,” Ryan Stanton reports. “It uses no fossil fuels for heat or power, instead harnessing the sun's energy with a 60-panel solar array and tapping into geothermal heat below the earth's surface, existing in harmony with the natural environment about as best as a modern home can.”

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Wed, 03/14/2018 - 9:01am

Ann Arbor - more money than sense. Bowhunters are a better answer.