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Build back better? President Joe Biden made a pit stop in Michigan on Tuesday, witnessing some unwelcoming signs and protesters along the way to his destination in Howell. The president hoped to rally support for his $1 trillion infrastructure bill, which includes measures for climate resiliency but does little to address clean energy goals outlined in his climate plan. One of the bill’s biggest hurdles? House Democrats. "This is a blue-collar blueprint for how we restore America's pride," Biden told a crowd at the International Union of Operating Engineers Local 324. Clean energy measures are included in the president’s $3.5 trillion budget bill. Oil and gas interests are lobbying hard against that bill, which would get rid of tax breaks for fossil fuel producers. (MLive, Associated Press, Time Magazine, New York Times, Washington Post)

Climate Midwest: A new Midwest Climate Adaptation Center designed to help fish and wildlife managers to conduct research to better inform management decisions in the climate change era will be housed at the University of Minnesota. The center is one of nine in a national network of National Climate Adaptation Centers established by Congress in 2008. Michigan State University will participate in the eight-member collaborative, which also includes the University of Wisconsin, the College of the Menominee Nation, the Great Lakes Indian Fish and Wildlife Commission, Indiana University, the University of Illinois, and the Nature Conservancy. (Press releases)

Housing as EJ issue: The idea that it's not only where a house is located, but its condition, that makes to people vulnerable to environmental impacts in Detroit is gaining traction. “In city after city, including Detroit, we lowered the bar on housing code enforcement, and allowed our housing to deteriorate and become toxic,” said Ruth Ann Norton, executive director of the Green and Healthy Homes Initiative. “Detroit has housing conditions with mold, mildew, poor indoor air quality, poorly weatherized housing, extreme heat and cold and moisture that causes lead-based paint to chip. We basically have an effective car wreck—a critical mass of unhealthy housing.” (Outlier Media's The Dig, Planet Detroit)

EV Collab: Five Great Lakes States announced a Regional Electric Vehicle Midwest Coalition last week with the aim of positioning the region for federal funding opportunities. "Today's REV Midwest partnership is a bipartisan effort to build the future of mobility and electrification and connect our communities," said Whitmer in a statement. The announcement comes in the wake of a recent decision by Ford to invest $11.4 billion in two new battery manufacturing and assembly plants that the company says will create 11,000 jobs in Tennessee and Kentucky. High Michigan energy costs and its colder climate were cited as reasons for the move, but conservative commentators blame the state’s regulatory environment and lack of a coordinated effort to woo the plants as factors. (The Hill, Bridge Michigan, Detroit News)

Water risk: Michigan’s ample supply of freshwater is emerging as a selling point as the western U.S. endures a megadrought made worse by climate change. But even in Michigan, ten counties have aquifers so depleted that the state is denying permits for high-volume wells. Farmers increasingly rely on such wells, which have helped deliver $9 billion to 46,500 farms across the state.“Our biggest risk up here is the lack of water. With our sandy soils, we can’t sustain a long drought,” Ron Gillison, a farmer in Manistee and Wexford counties, said. A state-created online screening tool allows farmers looking to register new wells to assess the potential for environmental harm. Registration is essentially automatic for wells without projected damage, according to the tool. While the tool is supported by farming organizations, some conservationists say it needs to be strengthened with more real-world data. (Circle of Blue, NY Times)

O, Canada! And that ample supply of freshwater hangs in the balance as Michigan and Enbridge battle it out in court over the company’s defiance of Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s November 2020 order to halt Line 5 , the oil and gas pipeline that runs through the Straits of Mackinac. Mediation in the case broke down last week. As parties await a decision on a court venue, Canada invoked a 1977 treaty which states that “no public authority” in either Canada or the U.S. can “institute any measures…which would have the effect of, impeding, diverting, redirecting or interfering with in any way the transmission of hydrocarbon in transit.”. In a statement, Whitmer said she's "profoundly disappointed" in the Canadian government. By invoking the treaty, Canada hopes to trigger the treaty’s settlement provision which provides for a three-party arbitration process. Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel said in a statement that the treaty has “no legal basis for delaying consideration” of the state’s lawsuit against Enbridge. (Bridge Michigan)

Climate longread: Writer Natalie Tomlin muses about Great Lakes water levels, beach erosion, and the potential re-emergence of a nineteenth-century logging town on lake Michigan’s shores. (Belt Magazine)

What questions do you have about the environment and climate change in Michigan? Please let us know by reaching out to me at nina@planetdetroit.org. NOTE: Please don't reply to this email, it will go into a digital netherworld, never to be seen again. We hope that changes soon!


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