Michigan Environment Watch

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


Michigan environment roundup: Endangered butterfly near extinct in Oakland County

July 24, 2018 | Jim Malewitz

This week’s can’t-miss journalism about Michigan’s natural resources.

Michigan to sue 3M as toxic PFAS chemicals taint waters

July 13, 2018 | Jim Malewitz

Gov. Rick Snyder has asked Attorney General Bill Schuette to sue 3M, accusing the chemical giant of continuing to sell toxic products despite knowing dangers.

Environmentalists outraged Michigan warning about PFAS went unheeded

July 13, 2018 | Jim Malewitz

A state bureaucrat first raised concerns about the toxic chemicals in 2012. They’re now a full-blown crisis. Did the state move too slow?

Michigan enlists ‘Shop-Vac on steroids’ to fight toxic PFAS foam

July 13, 2018 | Jim Malewitz

Michigan environmental regulators have hatched a novel plan to get vacuum of toxic foam bubbling up in Oscoda and other PFAS-tainted communities. Will it work? Nobody’s sure.

Map | Find PFAS threats to drinking water in Michigan

July 13, 2018 | Jim Malewitz

A chemical used in Air Force bases, clothing and household items is threatening waterways in Michigan. Use this map to find out where.

How the EPA and the Pentagon downplayed a growing toxic PFAS threat

July 13, 2018 | Abrahm Lustgarten

A family of chemicals — known as PFAS and responsible for marvels like Teflon and critical to the safety of American military bases — has now emerged as a far greater menace than previously disclosed.

Emails cast doubt about Michigan’s ties to Enbridge in Line 5 debate

July 11, 2018 | Craig Mauger, Jim Malewitz

As a deadline looms for Gov. Snyder to decide the future of a pipeline beneath the Straits of Mackinac, he has touted efforts to weigh the issue transparently and independently. But his administration has given Enbridge Energy plenty of avenues to influence the debate.

‘History of failure’ highlights Line 5 risks outside Straits of Mackinac

July 11, 2018 | Jim Malewitz, Craig Mauger

Last year, the controversial pipeline sprung two small leaks, illustrating lingering questions about a pipeline that crosses nearly 400 bodies of water in Michigan and the state’s power to oversee it. But Enbridge Energy says it’s significantly improved safety.

He told Flint to ‘relax.’ Now, Michigan is paying him to lead media training.

July 11, 2018 | Jim Malewitz, Craig Mauger

A former Michigan spokesman who resigned because of “callous” statements about Flint was paid by a state contract to train government employees on how to communicate with media, records show.

Michigan environment roundup: Climate change to blame for U.P. flooding?

July 11, 2018 | Jim Malewitz

This week’s can’t-miss journalism about Michigan’s natural resources.

Listen: Bridge discusses Great Lakes drowning ‘epidemic’

June 15, 2018 | Jim Malewitz

Dozens drown every year in the Great Lakes, and most Michigan beaches lack lifeguards. Hear an interview of Bridge Magazine discussing the problem.

Michigan environment roundup: Don’t feed the zombie deer

June 15, 2018 | Jim Malewitz

Michigan's 'zombie deer' disease, trapping bloodsucking Grand River lampreys with sex pheromones, and the expansion of a hazardous waste facility in Detroit. This week’s can’t-miss journalism about Michigan’s natural resources. 

Michigan lawmakers may require schools to test water for lead

June 6, 2018 | Jim Malewitz

House lawmakers voice bipartisan support for legislation to require schools, child care centers, colleges hospitals and veterans centers to test for lead and other contaminants.

New report says Line 5 is Michigan’s risk, but Canada’s benefit

May 30, 2018 | Jim Malewitz

The report from the Groundwork Center for Resilient Communities seeks to turn up the heat on state officials weighing Line 5’s future and rebut Enbridge Energy’s contention the pipeline delivers a crucial supply of energy to Michigan.

Great Lakes drownings an ‘epidemic.’ Meet a Michigan man obsessed with ending them.

May 30, 2018 | Jim Malewitz

At least 640 people have drowned on the Great Lakes since 2010. We know that because of Bob Pratt, a former East Lansing fire marshal who’s on a mission to make Great Lakes beaches safer.

Swim at your own risk. Most Michigan beaches lack lifeguards

May 30, 2018 | Jim Malewitz

Michigan towns along the Great Lakes have eliminated lifeguards at public beaches in recent years, increasing risks, safety advocates say. In New Buffalo, officials briefly considered the idea. Then came the backlash.

How to survive rip currents and other Great Lakes drowning dangers (video)

May 30, 2018 | Jim Malewitz

Dozens die each year in waters that can be fiercer than oceans. Most are men. Most aren’t wearing life jackets. Those aren’t the only surprises.

Michigan environment roundup: Lead paint enforcement spotty in Detroit

May 30, 2018 | Jim Malewitz

This week’s can’t-miss journalism about Michigan’s natural resources.

Michigan House approves bills letting industry vote on environmental rules

May 23, 2018 | Jim Malewitz

The Michigan House on Tuesday backed a plan to fashion private-sector panels — including one populated largely with industry representatives — that could override Department of Environmental Quality rules and permit decisions.

Rural Michigan helped elect Trump. Now, farmers are sweating a trade war.

May 15, 2018 | Jim Malewitz

Michigan farmers went whole-hog for Trump, but fear a Chinese tariffs could wallop bottom lines. Soybean growers have the most to lose.