From the Headlines

November 24th, 2020

Free water: Michigan’s Department of Environment, Great Lakes and Energy (EGLE) has upheld the permit that allows Nestle to pump up to 400 gallons of water per minute at its Osceola County water-bottling plant for the ultra-low price of $200 a year. Peggy Case from the group Michigan Citizens for Water Conservation said the group has filed a complaint, arguing that Nestle’s operation is affecting the local ecosystem. “There are places where feeder streams are all dried up or are an inch or two deep, which isn’t deep enough for trout,” she said. EGLE Director Liesl Clark expressed support for more state control of groundwater extraction or the collection of royalties to compensate residents but noted that these measures would need to be addressed by the Michigan Legislature. (MLive)

GM abandons Trump: In what probably does not count as a profile in courage, General Motors announced they were dropping their support from the Trump administration’s litigation that sought to deny California the right to adopt its own fuel efficiency standards that are stricter than federal requirements. “President-elect Biden recently said, ‘I believe that we can own the 21st-century car market again by moving to electric vehicles.’ We at General Motors couldn’t agree more,” GM chief executive Mary Barra wrote in a letter to environmental groups on Monday. Four years ago the company had pushed the Trump administration to roll back Obama-era fuel economy and emissions standards. “It’s always interesting to see the changing positions of U.S. corporations,” said a U.S. Environmental Protection Agency spokesman. (NY Times)

2% for rooftop solar: Consumers Energy says it has reached its cap on rooftop solar and will ask the Michigan Public Service Commission (MPSC) for permission to double the cap from 1 to 2 percent. This puts Consumers ahead of DTE Energy, which has not yet reached its 1 percent cap. The Michigan Environmental Council says that these caps are arbitrary barriers to clean energy that put workers who install solar panels out of a job. (Michigan Radio) 

And a new pipeline: Consumers Energy also secured approval from the MPSC for a new, $550 million natural-gas pipeline connecting areas near Lansing, Chelsea, and Ann Arbor. The project will bypass densely populated areas. The MPSC says it will address corrosion issues and other problems with an existing pipeline. (Crain’s Detroit Business)

Will Biden clean up PFAS? There’s hope among some lawmakers and environmental activists that the administration of president-elect Joe Biden will make good on Trump’s unfulfilled promise to classify some forms of PFAS as hazardous substancesMelanie Besh from the Environmental Working Group says this is “one of the most significant things that a new administration could do,” noting such a move would give the Environmental Protection Agency and communities more power to address PFAS pollution by prioritizing cleanups and making Superfund designations. (Michigan Radio)

#SoundsGood: Rather than going shopping for waffle irons and Furbies in the middle of a pandemic, the Michigan Department of Natural Resources (DNR) is encouraging people to spend some time in nature and “#OptOutside” on Black Friday. This campaign was launched by the outdoor retailer REI in 2015 and a number of states have since signed on, with the Michigan DNR waiving its normal Recreation Passport vehicle entry fee for more than 200 state parks, recreation areas, and state forest campgrounds. (State)

The ‘canopy gap’: As Planet Detroit has reported before, Detroit has some work to do if it’s going to plant trees fast enough to protect its citizens against the impacts of climate change. A new initiative by the tree-planting organization American Forests could help in this regard. The group is developing “tree equity scores” that use demographic data and information on current plantings to determine where new trees are most needed. It’s hoped that this could address some of the inequities around tree planting in U.S. cities–where whiter and wealthier areas often have better canopy coverage. So far, scores have been developed for Maricopa County, the San Francisco Bay Area, and the state of Rhode Island, but American Forests hopes to have the tool available for all the country’s urbanized areas by 2022. (Grist, New York Times)

Rethinking Thanksgiving: The New York Times examined the myth of Thanksgiving through an Indigenous lens, speaking with tribe members about the importance of food sovereignty and their feelings about the holiday. Linda Coombs of the Wompanoag Tribe of Gay Head challenges the story of the first Thanksgiving as a manufactured narrative, intended to make European settlers feel more comfortable about taking over Indigenous lands. And Dana Thompson–who helps run the Sioux Chef, an organization devoted to revitalizing Native American cuisine–encourages people to focus on “the true Indigenous wisdom that is behind the philosophy of Thanksgiving — it’s about not taking, but about giving back.” (NY Times)


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