From the Headlines- May 30 – June 3

Tragedy on Belle Isle: On Memorial Day, a driver left the roadway on Belle Isle’s Riverbank Drive and hit two children on Belle Isle beach. Michigan State Police confirmed Tuesday that one of the two victims has died, while the other is stable. Police later caught the suspect on the west side of Detroit. Car congestion around the beach area has been a problem in the past, and state officials closed the park to vehicles for part of the holiday due to heavy traffic. Between 2015 and 2020, there were 105 car crashes on the island, involving 254 people. Nationally, 42,915 people died in motor vehicle crashes in 2021, a 10.5% increase from 2020 and the highest number since 2005. (Freep, Planet Detroit)

Too hot to learn: Detroit Public Schools ended classes three hours early on Tuesday as temps climbed into the 90s, highlighting the lack of air conditioning in the majority of the district’s buildings. Detroit Public Schools Community District Superintendent Nikolai Vitti says the district will invest $125 million over the next five years to increase the percentage of schools with air conditioning from 35% to 95%. According to the Union of Concerned Scientists, climate change will more than quadruple the number of 90-degree days in the state over the next two decades. A study from the Harvard Kennedy School found that students in hotter classrooms scored lower on standardized tests, and air conditioning reduced the impact by roughly 78%. (Chalkbeat Detroit, BridgeDetroit)

Brand loyalty: Stellantis said Indiana’s “regulatory climate” played a role in choosing Kokomo as the site of its new electric vehicle battery plant. The automaker is perhaps throwing some shade at Michigan’s Department of Environment Great Lakes and Energy (EGLE), which cited the company for stinking up Detroit’s east side and not hooking up the exhaust system at its plant correctly. All this occurred after Stellantis received hundreds of millions of dollars in tax incentives to expand its facilities on Jefferson Ave., along with permission to emit more pollution in an area already in nonattainment for ozone. Tax incentives and energy pricing likely also played a role in the Kokomo decision. The company could receive as much as $186.5 million from the Indiana Economic Development Corp, other tax write-offs and financial support from the utility Duke Energy Corp. Ford previously decided to locate two of its energy-hungry battery plants in Tennessee and Kentucky, where publicly owned utilities provide cheaper electricity than in Michigan. (Crain’s, MI Radio, Detroit News, Freep, MLive, Outlier) 

Democracy under attack: In their legislative scorecard for the 101st Michigan Legislature, Clean Water Action and the Sierra Club Michigan Chapter didn’t just score environmental bills as they have in the past, but also those that would harm democracy.  “We have to be honest in our assessment of the current legislature, and right now, our democracy itself is under attack,” said Mary Brady-Enerson, Clean Water Action Michigan Director. “We can’t begin to address the climate crisis and create the kinds of reforms necessary to protect our water without a strong and healthy democracy.” The rankings come as the Michigan GOP plans to use poll workers, lawyers and “friendly district attorneys” to potentially challenge votes or disrupt voting this year. Last year, Sierra Club named Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson its “environmentalist of the year” for her work safeguarding the 2020 election. (Politico, Planet Detroit)

Car talk: General Motors is lowering the price for the Chevrolet Bolt electric vehicle and Bolt EUV (electric utility vehicle), making the Bolt the cheapest EV on the road, with the most basic model priced at $26,595. “It’s unlikely that the Bolt will be generating a net profit for the automaker at this price point, but it will make it the cheapest EV available today, therefore potentially bringing in a new cluster of customers who are just looking for the most economical vehicle to purchase and own,” said Jesse Toprak, chief analyst at Autonomy, a subscription company that allows consumers to lease electric vehicles via an online platform. (Freep)

Kind of important: The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers projects the $1.3 billion project to build a new lock at the Soo Locks could cost three times as much. The Corps hasn’t released a firm estimate but says the increase is due to the rising cost of materials, labor and equipment. The new lock would provide redundancy for the existing Poe Lock, which allows 1,000-foot ships to move between Lake Superior and the other Great Lakes. The Poe Lock has been described as the linchpin of the nation’s economy, moving iron ore mined around Lake Superior to manufacturing facilities nationwide. A 2015 report from the Department of Homeland Security predicted an economic slowdown worse than the Great Recession if the lock shut down for half a year. (MI Radio, MLive)

Could get worse: Researchers predict harmful algal blooms in Lake Erie could get worse if action focuses solely on reducing phosphorus and not nitrogen. Scientists from the University of Michigan and Technische Universität Berlin used computer modeling to show cyanobacteria will turn to nitrogen for food and produce more toxins on a nitrogen-heavy diet. Toledo residents were told not to drink or touch their water. (MI Radio)Wildlife watch: Wildlife experts are telling Michiganders to take down their bird feeders or clean them frequently because of the avian influenza outbreak affecting commercial and backyard poultry flocks and wild birds. “It is a pretty significant outbreak we’re experiencing right now,” said Megan Moriarty, a wildlife veterinary specialist for the Michigan Department of Natural Resources. “It’s lasting a pretty long time with no current signs of slowing down.” The disease can spread through indirect transmission, meaning shared feeding or watering spots could be a significant source of contagion. (Bridge)


Our reporting 

runs deep.

Get the latest local enviro news in your inbox with Planet Detroit.

Scroll to Top