CO2 2022/2021 420.42 ppm / 417.95 ppm
Dear Michigan Climate News readers,
In the news this week, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer works to re-open the Palisades nuclear plant as the GOP blames her for potential rolling blackouts this summer. Allergy season is getting longer, and the Great Lakes are evaporating (for now). It's a wild world out there!
Don't miss our next Facebook Live this Friday, May 27 on Resilient Agriculture and Climate Change in Michigan.
Have a great week!
— Nina Ignaczak, Editor of Michigan Climate News
p.s. Let us know what you want to see in this newsletter by taking our reader survey!
THIS WEEK'S NEWS
Resilience hub: Work has begun on a new solar-powered community center in Detroit’s Jefferson Chalmers neighborhood. Located in A.B. Ford Park on the Detroit riverfront, the 8,116 square foot center will have solar power as well as battery and generator capacity to help residents stay cool or warm, charge devices and access supplies during emergencies like the floods that have hit the neighborhood in recent years. (Detroit News)
Deadline extension: The Palisades nuclear power plant in west Michigan is officially offline, although Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer is still looking to find a buyer for the plant and keep it in operation. Katherine Peretick, a commissioner of the Michigan Public Service Commission that regulates utilities, said the state is in talks with a company that may want to buy the plant. The state may also get some help from the U.S. Department of Energy, which extended its deadline for nuclear plants looking for federal support to keep from closing. The governor previously reached out to the federal government for help with the plant, saying it was crucial for protecting jobs and meeting the state’s climate goals. In other atomic news, the Michigan House passed a bill to study the possibility of building additional nuclear power plants. Although nuclear plants don’t produce direct greenhouse gas emissions, uranium mining produces some emissions and the nation still lacks a permanent repository for nuclear waste. (Bridge, Reuters, MLive, CNBC)
Pointing fingers: The Michigan GOP has seized on a recent warning that the state could face rolling blackouts this summer to blame Gov. Gretchen Whitmer for focusing too much on renewable energy. The Midcontinent Independent System Operator (MISO) reported that the region’s energy needs – amid what it projects to be the 9th-hottest summer on record in the northern Midwest – could exceed its generating capacity and require planned outages. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration are predicting high temperatures across almost all of the country this summer. (MI Radio, Detroit News, KHQA, NY Times)
Allergy season: Climate change is making allergies worse, causing symptoms to start earlier in the year and last longer. "More people will begin to show allergy symptoms when they never had them in the past," said Kathleen Slonager, executive director of the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America’s Michigan chapter. "Anecdotally, more people are talking about how their allergies are worse." In addition to a longer allergy season, rising CO2 levels have also been shown to increase pollen production in ragweed, a common allergen. However, some people can develop a tolerance for seasonal allergies over time and experience fewer symptoms. (Freep)
Juiced: General Motors needs a lot of energy for its new electric vehicle battery plant in Lansing and expanded manufacturing facility in Lake Orion. The Lansing Board of Water and Light (BWL) set a special rate of 5.5 cents per kilowatt-hour for the Lansing plant. BWL may supply some of this with its new 250-megawatt natural gas power plant, somewhat undercutting the electric nature of the enterprise. In Lake Orion, DTE Energy will sell its power to GM for 4.3 cents per kilowatt-hour. Both prices are less than the standard industrial rate of 7.24 cents and well below the 17.8 cents per kilowatt-hour the average metro Detroit resident pays. Michiganders will also be subsidizing these projects with more than $824 million in tax incentives. (Crain’s)
Evaporating: Great Lakes water levels fell from record highs set a few years ago and it’s estimated that Lake Huron and Lake Michigan, technically a single lake, lost 20 trillion gallons of water since 2020. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers predicts the lakes will continue their seasonal rise over the next few months, although water levels should move closer to long-term averages. Experts believe that the climate crisis is producing periods of high evaporation as well as intense precipitation, leading to extreme variability in water levels. (MLive, Conversation)
DON'T MISS THIS WEEK'S CLIMATE FEATURE
How can agriculture be part of Michigan's climate solution?
The vast majority of carbon in the atmosphere that contributes to climate change originates in the energy sector in the form of carbon dioxide emissions that come from burning fossil fuels.
But a not-insignificant portion of the most potent greenhouse gases – methane and nitrous dioxide – come from agriculture, accounting for nearly 11 percent of total emissions nationwide. In Michigan, agriculture and waste account for nine percent of the state’s total GHG, according to the state's MI Healthy Climate Plan.
And join us Friday, May 27 at noon LIVE on Facebook for a conversation on Resilient Agriculture & Climate Change in Michigan.
This is a conversation between Susan Holcombe, Veterinarian and retired professor, Michigan State University, Nathan Lada of Green Things Farm Collective, Ann Arbor, Heidi Peterson of the Sand County Foundation, and moderated by Nina Ignaczak, Editor of Planet Detroit and Michigan Climate News
What questions do you have about the environment and climate change in Michigan? Please let us know by reaching out to me at firstname.lastname@example.org or hit reply!