Michigan Environment Watch

Michigan Environment Watch examines how public policy, industry, and other factors interact with the state’s trove of natural resources.


Enbridge begins geological work for Line 5 tunnel, despite Nessel lawsuit

July 11, 2019 | Jim Malewitz

The energy giant will begin geological sampling this week in the Straits of Mackinac, two weeks after Attorney General Dana Nessel filed a lawsuit to shut down the dual Line 5 pipelines while separately blocking a $500 million tunnel plan to protect them.

Michigan AG Dana Nessel files lawsuit to shut down Line 5 in Mackinac Straits

June 27, 2019 | Jim Malewitz

Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel is seeking court order to decommission Enbridge Energy’s Line 5 pipelines in the Straits of Mackinac, citing a “continual threat of grave harm” to the Great Lakes. Separately, she’s seeking to dismiss an Enbridge lawsuit to uphold an agreement to bury the pipelines in a bedrock tunnel.

Michigan congresswoman pushes national plan to fix recycling woes

June 27, 2019 | Jim Malewitz

U.S. Rep. Haley Stevens, a Michigan Democrat, co-sponsored a budget amendment that would direct the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to draw up a plan to boost recycling nationwide. The legislation has cleared the House.

Commercial fishing is sinking fast in Michigan. Time for more regulations?

June 24, 2019 | Jim Malewitz

Sportfishing is booming in Michigan, while fewer than two dozen commercial businesses tie their livelihoods to the Great Lakes. The industry has a rich heritage, but some say it’s time to ‘pull the plug on the horse and carriage industry.’

Invasive mussels challenge commercial whitefish fishing in the Great Lakes

June 24, 2019 | Kurt Williams

The spread of invasive quagga and zebra mussels in the Great Lakes has wreaked havoc on Great Lakes food chains.  They may be behind a startling decline in whitefish, the most valuable stock for fishermen.

Surging Great Lakes threaten Michigan’s beloved Fishtown

June 11, 2019 | Jim Malewitz

Heavy rains are taking a toll on the collection of fishing shanties in the Leelanau Peninsula, eroding some buildings and flooding others. That’s accelerating a fundraising effort to preserve the buildings.

Michigan environment roundup: Asian carp move closer to the Great Lakes

June 11, 2019 | Jim Malewitz

The latest can’t-miss journalism about Michigan’s natural resources.

Report: Tug dragged 6-ton anchor for days after denting Line 5 pipeline

June 5, 2019 | Jim Malewitz

Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel says new federal report detailing anchor strike shows ‘all of the enforcement mechanisms in the world won’t prevent a tragedy.’

Surging Great Lakes water levels shrink beaches, flood docks in Michigan

June 5, 2019 | Jim Malewitz

A few years after record lows, Lakes Erie, St. Clair and Superior broke records for average water heights in May

Opinion | Climate change drives shifts between high, low Great Lakes water levels

June 5, 2019 | Drew Gronewold, Richard B. Rood

Great Lakes are in ‘uncharted territory,’ as climate change prompts sudden lurches in water levels, two University of Michigan professors write.

The debate is on: Will wolves move to Michigan’s Lower Peninsula?

June 5, 2019 | Eric Freedman

More than 500 wolves live in the Upper Peninsula, but some scientists are split about whether they will return to the Northern Lower Peninsula

Wolves face genetic challenge in Michigan’s Isle Royale, study says

June 5, 2019 | Kaley Fech

Scientists are scrambling to learn why the wolf population has plummeted on Isle Royale. Blame genes, one study suggests.

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer opens up more Michigan farmland to solar power

June 3, 2019 | Jim Malewitz

The Democratic governor reverses a rule by her Republican predecessor and allows solar energy development on as much as 3.4 million acres of farmland.

Michigan lobbyist for polluter wrote law easing toxic cleanups, emails show

May 29, 2019 | Jim Malewitz, Craig Mauger

Emails uncovered by FOIA show a Lansing lobbyist for Wolverine Worldwide wrote a law to weaken pollution cleanup standards, months after negotiating a lawsuit settlement with a company accused of contaminating West Michigan.

Michigan leads nation in PFAS. It will lead cleanups, too, U.S. reps say

May 29, 2019 | Joel Kurth

A bipartisan group from Michigan’s congressional delegation vows to protect waterways in Michigan, push for PFAS standards and explore ways to keep Asian carp out of Lake Michigan.

GOP donor’s plans to dredge Grand River meet rough waters in West Michigan

May 28, 2019 | Jim Malewitz

The husband of former Secretary of State Terri Lynn Land wants the state to dredge the river near Grand Rapids to allow power boats to reach Lake Michigan. Environmentalists are crying foul.

Booster downplays dredging conflicts: ‘People are allowed to make money’

May 28, 2019 | Jim Malewitz

A powerhouse Republican donor is championing a dredging project that could increase the value of his own land. A former Senate majority leader who steered grants for the project says that’s no big deal.

New Michigan Environmental Council chief has deep roots in civil rights

May 28, 2019 | Jim Malewitz

Conan Smith, whose grandfather authored the civil rights clause to the Michigan Constitution, wants to break down racial and cultural barriers within the environmental movement.

Michigan shrinks credits for rooftop solar, clouding industry’s future

May 20, 2019 | Jim Malewitz

In a battle over fairness and who controls Michigan’s renewable energy future, utilities successfully pushed state lawmakers and regulators to lower compensation for rooftop solar owners who add electricity grid.

Consumers Energy chief sees solar future in Michigan

May 20, 2019 | Jim Malewitz

Amid shifting economics and concerns about climate change, Michigan’s biggest energy utility vows to slash carbon dioxide emissions 90 percent by 2040 — without building any new natural gas plants.