From the Headlines- May 23 – 27

What comes next? This week, Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan announced plans to tear down the Detroit incinerator, which has been closed since 2019. The facility burned 5,000 tons of trash a day for years, much of it coming from outside of Detroit, and received 750 citations for air pollution between 2013 and 2018. KT Andresky, a resident living near the incinerator, says she’s happy to see the incinerator come down and no longer be dealing with pollution and bad odors. “At the same time, we do want to make sure that there’s a large community voice in deciding what the space is going to be used for,” she said. “For the 33 years of harm that this facility has put onto this community we should be at the table deciding what would be best there for us and for our future because so far, we’ve really only gotten a new jail and a meatpacking facility.” (Bridge Detroit)

Help where it’s needed: A settlement between DTE Energy and the Sierra Club will send money to environmental projects in several downriver communities, creating a park in Detroit, installing an air filtration system at a school in River Rouge and refurbishing parks and playgrounds in Ecorse, among other projects. In 2010, after DTE modified coal-fired power plants without updating pollution controls, the Department of Justice issued a Clean Air Act enforcement action against the utility. This led to two settlements, one between DTE and the government and one with the Sierra Club. Shannon Fisk, an attorney for the environmental nonprofit Earthjustice, says the agreement with the Sierra Club was a departure from settlements that have often focused on protecting land or building renewable energy but haven’t provided direct benefits to communities that have dealt with pollution. (Detroit News)

Green jobs: A Detroit nonprofit was one of the beneficiaries of the U.S. Department of Energy’s “Inclusive Energy Innovation Prize”  intended to help organizations in underserved communities that foster entrepreneurship and the transition to renewable energy. The Green Door Initiative will be using the funds to support its job training and placement program that assists returning citizens and others. The group is also working on a “model sustainable neighborhood block” to show how energy insecurity can be reduced with solar power and energy efficiency upgrades. (Press Release)

War games: A proposal from the Michigan National Guard could more than double the size of Camp Grayling. The Guard is looking to utilize land managed by the Department of Natural Resources, some of it along the Manistee and Au Sable Rivers, increasing the footprint of the complex from 148,000 acres to 320,000. Camp Grayling Commander Col. Scott Meyers said much of the land would be used for electronic and cyber warfare training, which would have a minimal impact on the environment. However, in the past, extensive PFAS contamination has been found around the Camp Grayling airfield.  “If this is anything like last time, it doesn’t sound good, and it doesn’t bode well for the river,” said Joe Hemming, president of the conservation group Anglers of the Au Sable. Camp Grayling is already the nation’s second-largest National Guard facility. (Bridge, MLive)

Who gets the bill? Toledo residents and others living along Lake Erie are paying the cost of toxic algae blooms. Data from the Environmental Protection Agency shows that the average person getting water from western Lake Erie pays an additional $10.48 each year because of algal blooms, while Toledo residents are billed an extra $18.76. The charges stem from the need to increase water monitoring, testing and treatment. In 2014, cyanobacterial blooms caused Toledo to warn residents not to drink or touch the water. Yet, much of the pollution that is causing these blooms is generated upstream by farms in Ohio, some in Michigan. “And so those polluters in the current system are not having to pay to address water issues in places like Toledo. That falls almost entirely on ratepayers to deal with,” said Tom Zimnicki, Agriculture and Restoration Director for the Alliance for the Great Lakes. (MI Radio)

High voltage: Consumers will spend $100 million to upgrade high voltage lines that form the “backbone” of its transmission system. “As we are facing more severe weather in the years to come, we’re going to need to make sure our grid is more resilient in the face of higher wind gusts and more frequent storms,” said Consumers spokesperson Josh Paciorek. “In those areas that we rebuilt HVD (high voltage distribution system) lines, we virtually eliminated power outages along those lines,” he said. DTE Energy is also planning to survey its high voltage lines, looking for broken equipment or trees that could compromise transmission. Last August, storms and high winds knocked out power to around one million Michiganders in the Lower Peninsula, leaving some without electricity for more than a week. (MI Radio)


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