Michigan Environment Watch

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

As the earth warms, Midwest searches to cut greenhouse gas

May 20, 2019 | Jack Cushman

From farmers cutting manure to changes in the transportation industry, folks are looking for changes large and small as the climate changes.

Michigan environment roundup: Great Lakes water levels could break records

May 20, 2019 | Jim Malewitz

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

Watch a video of anchor damage to Line 5 in Straits of Mackinac

May 15, 2019 | Jim Malewitz

As Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer nears decision on a tunnel to protect the pipeline, a video is released of mishap that environmentalists claim shows “Great Lakes dodged a bullet.”  

Nestlé to allow feds to monitor water withdrawals in central Michigan

May 8, 2019 | Jim Malewitz

Nestlé said the U.S. Geological Survey will independently monitor conditions near an Osceola County well where Michigan regulators allow pumping of up to 400 gallons a minute for an Ice Mountain bottling plant.

Electric car fees in Michigan would soar under Whitmer’s roads plan

April 23, 2019 | Jim Malewitz

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s proposal to boost gas taxes by 45 cents would also make Michigan’s electric vehicle fees the highest in the nation. Critics say that comes atop other state policies that have discouraged sales of cleaner cars.

DTE chief: We’re cutting carbon because it’s ‘defining issue of our era’

April 23, 2019 | Jim Malewitz

The energy company is accelerating its goal of cutting emissions by 80 percent. CEO Gerry Anderson says the company is ramping up solar and wind energy.

Cutting energy costs can be expensive. Michigan’s green bank can help.

April 23, 2019 | Jim Malewitz

A nonprofit known as Michigan Saves helps with financing and other efforts to cut sometimes exorbitant costs of becoming energy efficient.