From the Headlines – April 12 – 16, 2021

Food co-op has a home: The Detroit People’s Food Co-op is one step closer to becoming a reality in Detroit’s North End. The Black-led, community-owned grocery store signed a purchase agreement and made a down payment for the land at 8324 Woodward Avenue. So far, more than 1,100 people have purchased $200 memberships in the cooperative, which gives them a say in decision-making.  “It’s a very important model, particularly given the style of development that we see happening in Detroit now, which is typically owned and led by very wealthy white men who are developers who have either the capital themselves or access to the capital to spur the kind of development we see happening,” said Malik Yakini, the executive director of Detroit Black Community Food Security Network and a board member of the co-op. “We think it’s an important alternative, which is really based in community and allows community members to have ownership.” (WDET)

Don’t hold back: Democratic state Rep. Yousef Rabhi — who is backing a bill to lift the one percent cap on distributed power for investor-owned utilities in the state — sounds like a man who is running out of patience with DTE Energy and Consumers Energy’s staunch resistance to more rooftop solar. “I don’t want to hear a sob story from DTE about how putting solar panels on the house is going to hurt poor people,” Rahbi said. “That is entirely the definition of hypocrisy — that’s the utilities using poor people as a pawn and that’s why people are sick of these corporations.” He referred to an argument made by the utilities that lifting the cap would shift the cost of maintaining infrastructure to low-income customers who couldn’t afford to install solar panels, which at least partially compensate home solar users. Clean energy advocates dispute this point, and Rabhi said that DTE and Consumers could “dip into their massive corporate profits and make sure poor people don’t have to pay as much for electricity.” (Midwest Energy News)

Opinion: get out of the way? University of Michigan graduate students Matt Sehrsweeney and Ember McCoy argue that DTE Energy is a major obstacle to the transition to clean energy in the state, saying that the utility is one of the “dirtiest in the country.” They point out that DTE generates 58 percent of its energy from coal and that Michiganders still have to put up with unreliable service and steep rate hikes. “It is an enemy to a resilient energy future,” they write. “And such bad actors do not respond to negotiation; they respond to intense pressure.” McCoy and Sehrsweeney say this pressure should come from state and local governments as well as universities, but that ultimately, “public power utilities are providing their residents more reliable and affordable electricity, while also giving them a direct voice in utility decisions.” (Midwest Energy News)

Michigan’s newest Superfund site? Michigan’s Department of Environment, Great Lakes and Energy (EGLE) has requested that the Environmental Protection Agency assess the location of 1,4 dioxane plume in Washtenaw County for inclusion in the National Priorities List of Superfund Sites. The dioxane originated at the former Gelman Sciences manufacturing plant on Ann Arbor and Scio Township’s border and has seeped into the groundwater for the past 37 years. A Superfund designation would enable the state to receive federal money and resources for the cleanup and help secure funding from the polluter. “There’s a lot left to do, but by having the EPA and their resources, we’ll get the proper competence that’s needed, the same level of due diligence to match the scale of the problem,” said Roger Rayle, chair of Scio Residents for Safe Water. “There may be some of us that are not around to see the end of the cleanup because our lifespan limits us. At least we can get it started for our children and grandchildren and great-grandchildren.” (MLive, NatGeo)

Whose PFAS? Groundwater plumes of PFAS chemicals outside the former Wurtsmith Air Force Base near Oscoda, Michigan have caused Oscoda Public Schools to stop using groundwater wells. But the Air Force isn’t taking responsibility. They argue that the community should step up because the AIr Force used PFAS-laden firefighting foam several times in the area to put out fires at the community’s request. The Air Force has also received criticism for its refusal to clean up contamination of the so-called “forever chemicals” at the former base per state standards. Air Force officials said that federal law prohibits them from complying with state rules but that the cleanup they’ve initiated will meet those thresholds anyway. Michigan rules limit discharge to 16 parts per trillion (ppt) for PFOS and eight ppt for PFOA, while the federal health advisory level is 70 ppt for both. (Freep, MLive)

‘Peacemaking’: All five tribes with treaty rights in the surrounding area oppose Enbridge’s Line 5 pipeline in the Straits of Mackinac. But that didn’t stop the company from releasing a video invoking the Anishinaabek practice of peacemaking in what seems to be an effort to justify the pipeline’s ongoing presence in the straits. “Peacemaking is a bit of a fantasy when you’re also simultaneously engaged in taking anti-tribal, anti-environmental positions in numerous forums around the country,” said John Petoskey, a citizen of the Grand Traverse Band of Ottawa and Chippewa Indians and an attorney with the Environmental Law and Policy Center. Petoskey described the video as a “litigation tactic” that allows Enbridge to say they had engaged with tribes. He also noted that a precondition for peacemaking is that “the abuse must stop.. (Michigan Advance)

The costs of Line 5: Line 5 is a contentious issue for others living near the Straits of Mackinac as well. Some residents worry about a possible spill, while others support the plan to place the pipeline in a tunnel under straits and the jobs and tax dollars this would bring. The current pipeline–which was built in 1953–is well past its 50-year lifespan. In recent years, the channel was damaged by an anchor strike, and in 2014 a spill from another Enbridge pipeline released 843,000 gallons of oil into the Kalamazoo River, necessitating a cleanup that cost $1 billion. According to a state-ordered risk assessment, a spill from Line 5 would release 32,000 to 58,000 barrels of oil, impacting 400 miles of shoreline in Michigan, Wisconsin, and Canada and requiring $1.9 billion in cleanup, liability, and restoration costs. (Detroit News)

This week’s featured photo is from Brianne Turcszcynski. Send us your photos and we’ll feature them on our site! Email


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