Michigan Environment Watch

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


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.

Low milk prices are a big headache for Michigan’s family dairy farms

May 15, 2018 | Tim Jagielo

A milk surplus is shrinking margins and making life even harder for Michigan’s 1,600 dairy farms.

Michigan environment roundup: Flint water crisis legal tab tops $23M

May 15, 2018 | Jim Malewitz

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

Enbridge fined $1.9 million for inspection woes on Line 5, other pipelines

May 4, 2018 | Jim Malewitz

Enbridge Energy will pay up to settle the federal government’s claims it violated a $177 million settlement for the Kalamazoo River oil spill. The company allegedly failed to properly inspect certain sections of its pipelines — including parts of Line 5.

For small town battling Nestlé, Michigan’s permit doesn’t end water saga

May 2, 2018 | Jim Malewitz

Water lawyers are eying several avenues to challenge DEQ’s decision to allow a Nestlé water bottling facility to pump up to 400 gallons per minute from a well outside of Evart. It wouldn’t be the company’s first legal showdown in Michigan.

Michigan isn’t alone. Most states charge little for water bottlers like Nestlé

May 2, 2018 | Jim Malewitz

Long-held laws allowing for ‘reasonable use’ to water under land have kept withdrawal fees cheap. But Ontario charges big bucks to bottlers.

Michigan environment roundup: Despite billions, toxic algae chokes Lake Erie

May 2, 2018 | Jim Malewitz

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

Michigan approves $1B DTE natural gas plant in blow to environmentalists

April 27, 2018 | Jim Malewitz

The approval of DTE natural gas plant in St. Clair comes as energy giants are moving away from coal and debate is intensifying about what comes next.

Michigan was once a leader at recycling. Today, it’s the pits.

April 18, 2018 | Jim Malewitz

Nearly 40 years after Michigan implemented its landmark 10-cent deposit law, the state’s recycling rate is among the nation’s worst. What happened? And what is Lansing doing about it?

In northern Michigan, Emmet County seen as model for rural recycling

April 18, 2018 | Jim Malewitz

At the tip of Michigan's Mitten, the rural county has become a model for keeping trash out of landfills.

Timing could be everything in Michigan fight over DTE natural gas plant

April 18, 2018 | Jim Malewitz

The outcome of a contentious dispute over a $1 billion natural gas plant planned for St. Clair County could hinge on whether DTE Energy must comply with new state guidelines for power plant proposals.

Michigan environment roundup: Foxconn, Flint and Enbridge

April 18, 2018 | Jim Malewitz

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

Greetings from Mackinaw City, where Line 5 fears threaten a way of life

April 12, 2018 | Jim Malewitz

Bridge Magazine embarks on a year-long tour of Michigan at the tip of the Mitten, and finds that jobs, tourism and schools aren’t the biggest worry. It’s fear of an Enbridge Line 5 leak in the Straits of Mackinac.

Flint’s recovery begins with a carrot: How a unique program is healing the city.

March 28, 2018 | Jim Malewitz

A Michigan-grown food incentives program has steered veggies to the water-poisoned city. It’s spread nationwide to thousands of families on public assistance.

Why aren’t Michiganders eating their fruits and vegetables?

March 28, 2018 | Jim Malewitz

A small fraction of Michigan adults are consuming recommended amounts of fruits and vegetables, increasing dietary disease risks.

Trump would ax funding for Michigan-grown healthy eating incentives

March 28, 2018 | Jim Malewitz

A $100 million grant program – championed by U.S. Sen. Debbie Stabenow, D-Michigan —that funds programs like Michigan-created Double Up Food Bucks could soon end.