From the Headlines – May 31-June 4, 2021

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On the waterfront: Detroit City Council’s Public Health and Safety Committee has so far refused to advance the proposed Detroit Riverfront Protection Ordinance for consideration by the full council. The ordinance was introduced by councilwoman Raquel Castaneda Lopez in response to the shoreline collapse at Detroit Bulk Storage in 2019 that sparked concerns over contaminated soil moving into the Detroit River and possibly water intakes. Commercial interests have expressed opposition to the proposal, including a representative for the River Towers Senior Apartments on Jefferson Avenue, who called it an “unnecessary financial burden.” Jessica Parker, chief enforcement officer of the city’s Buildings, Safety Engineering and Environmental Department, says she worked with residents and advocates to draft the proposal and that the department is “excited” about the ordinance as a way to build trust between Detroiters and the city government without placing an undue burden on commercial interests. (Bridge Detroit)

Party crashed: Stellantis — formerly known as Fiat Chrysler Automobiles — hosted an event on Thursday for its “Detroit’s Greenest Initiative”, which will invest an additional $1 million in projects like stormwater mitigation around its expanded facilities on the east side of Detroit. However, the event was disrupted by Beniteau Street residents and activists from the Detroit People’s Platform, saying that the project amounted to environmental racism and calling for the company to do more to reduce pollution and help homeowners. “They put a Band-Aid on it,” said Beniteau Street resident Robert Shobe. “This wouldn’t happen in a non-Black community.” (Detroit News)

Help wanted: Detroit is looking for people to serve on its new Climate Advisory Council, which will inform the Detroit Climate Strategy. Detroit Sustainability Director Joel Howrani Heeres says the strategy will be the city’s roadmap for reducing emissions and protecting residents from climate-related threats like heat and flooding. Council members could help to decide where the city directs funds for tree planting or home retrofitting to improve energy efficiency. Applications are due by the end of the day on Sunday. More info here. (WDET)

Cicada tracker: Ann Arbor may be the spot if you’re looking to catch a glimpse of one of the bug world’s most extreme happenings. 2021 Brood X cicadas are mostly popping up to the south of Michigan, but Michigan State University entomologist Gary Parsons said he also expects the insects to appear in “the area in and north of Ann Arbor.” Parsons says Brood X cicadas used to emerge in most of the forested areas of the Lower Peninsula, but the population has been cut down by urbanization. The Matthaei Botanical Gardens and Nichols Arboretum are two locations where they have been sighted. “They aren’t out in large numbers yet, cold weather has slowed down the emerging process,” said Tom Odell, a specialist at the arboretum. “I would say within the next week the numbers will get pretty high and they’ll be more vocal and we’ll be hearing them more readily in the next week.” (Bridge)

Avoid the foam: Michigan’s Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) is urging people to stay away from foam on lakes and rivers this summer. They caution that foam found on beaches or places where water is disturbed by dams or other obstructions can contain toxic PFAS chemicals. “Although current science shows that the risk of PFAS getting into your system from contact with skin is low, you can minimize exposure to PFAS by rinsing or showering after you are done with your recreational activities,” said Dr. Joneigh Khaldun, chief medical executive for MDHHS. Foam advisories have been issued for several rivers and lakes in the state, including the Huron River between Oakland County and Lake Erie. (MLive)

Wolf hunt?: Michigan’s Upper Peninsula is home to 3% of the state’s population, but 100% of its wolves. Now, state Sen. Ed McBroom from Vulcan (that’s a town in the U.P., not the homeworld of Mr. Spock) wants only UP residents to serve on the state’s wolf management advisory council that helps determine if Michiganders can kill wolves for sport. Although this council doesn’t have direct decision-making power, it influences how members of the state-appointed Natural Resources Commission set wolf management policy. McBroom says that since Yoopers live alongside wolves, they should have more say over these decisions. However, the wildlife advocacy group 06 Legacy has sued the Department of Natural Resources, arguing that the agency packed the wolf council with hunting advocates. (Bridge)

High-tech fish tube: The company Whoosh Innovations – makers of the “salmon cannon” who say they are “disrupting the world of fish passage” — is trialing a fish recognition scanner for invasive carp. The scanner uses six cameras inside of a 30-foot chute placed in the water to identify fish, which can be moving at around 25 feet per second. Whoosh CEO Vince Bryan says the scanner could be attached to a sorting system to pull invasive carp species out of Illinois waterways before they reach the Great Lakes, where they could threaten a $7 billion fishing industry.  “The concept is really, let’s clean up the river, not just try to manage it,” Bryan said. “Let’s try to reverse what’s been happening and thereby also decrease the spread of the fish into areas where nobody wants them.” (Detroit News)

Hidden cost: According to a new report, heatwaves are driving higher rates of suicide, while floods and wildfires are causing people to lose homes and jobs, resulting in depression and anxiety. “Mental health is the unseen impact of climate change at the moment,” said Emma Lawrance from Imperial College London and lead author on the report. “It is a big problem that is going to affect more and more people into the future, and in particular exacerbate inequality. It is very likely to be a really big unaccounted cost.” (Guardian)


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