Michigan's monarchs are hard to find

CO2 2022/2021 : 418.43 ppm / 416.08 ppm

Dear Michigan Climate News readers,

In this week's news, transmission lines in the midwest will get a new investment to enable more renewable energy connections and increase reliability. The news is not good for Monarch butterflies. And hot weather = a fire alert in the Thumb.

Read on for our climate solutions feature — this month, we report on the latest at Veridian County Farm, a net-zero sustainable housing development in Ann Arbor.

Finally, join us Friday for a live conversation as we delve into the implications for climate action in Michigan of the West Virginia vs. EPA SCOTUS decision. REGISTER HERE.

— Nina Ignaczak, Editor of Michigan Climate News + Planet Detroit

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Transmission tales: The Midcontinent Independent System Operator (MISO), which operates the electrical grid for most of 15 Midwest states, including Michigan, approved a set of 18 new high-voltage transmission lines at an investment of $10.3 billion. Costs for the new lines will be borne by the region’s electricity customers. Those costs, however, are outweighed by the benefits, according to MISO’s projections; within Michigan, the projected benefit-to-cost ratio will run between $2.10 to $3.30 for every dollar spent. The lines will also enable 53 gigawatts of renewable energy to connect to the grid. It will also increase grid resiliency, according to Citizens Utility Board (CUB) of Michigan Executive Director Amy Bandyk. “It is good news that MISO is overcoming barriers that have blocked new transmission lines for years,” she said in a statement. “A more connected grid benefits ratepayers by enabling lower-cost renewable energy to flow to where it is needed, improving the reliability of electric service.” (E&E News, Press release)

Continuing decline: Monarch butterflies are now being classified as endangered by the International Union for Conservation of Nature, a global authority on species conservation. Scientists say the decline in monarch numbers is caused by habitat destruction, climate change, and the widespread use of glyphosate, a herbicide used in the weed killer Roundup, which has eliminated much of the milkweed monarch caterpillars depend on. Mark Hunter, a professor of ecology and evolutionary biology at the University of Michigan, says he also observes these declines in Michigan. “I work up in northern Michigan, and up here, I had a few years where we didn’t count any at all,” he said. “When I first started, we would count dozens and dozens of them very easily. And, it got harder and harder and recently, it’s been really quite difficult to find monarchs.” Hunter says residents should plant milkweed native to Michigan in their yards and encourages local park systems to plant butterfly habitats. (NY Times, Fox 17)

Make way for renewables: The resolution of a tax dispute between DTE Energy and several townships could lead to more renewable energy, according to Carl Osentosky, Executive Director of the Huron County Economic Development Corporation. As part of the deal, DTE agreed to drop its appeals over the depreciation formula for wind turbines, which could have required townships to pay back millions of dollars in taxes to the utility. "We've heard from local communities–several of them–that they were not interested in any discussions with solar installations until the wind taxation issue was settled," Ostenosky said. According to one tracker, the Upper Thumb, where Ostenosky is based, is home to most of the state’s wind farms. (MI Radio)

Powered up: Consumer Energy added 2,000 customer incentives for electric vehicle chargers at homes, businesses, and other public locations. According to Cox Automotive, EV sales hit a record of 196,788 in the second quarter of 2022. This was a 66.4% increase from the previous year despite a significant reduction in total vehicle sales. Consumers said the number of EVs in their service area has increased to 18,000 and the utility has set a goal of powering 1 million electric vehicles by 2030. (MLive)

Hot and dry: Hopefully, weekend rains brought some relief to the parts of Michigan’s northern Lower Peninsula and Thumb regions where a moderate drought had set in. The Department of Natural Resources (DNR) said last week that the dry spell makes fire safety a high priority, and the agency has already fought 170 fires this year, covering over 3,200 acres. The DNR said nine out of ten wildfires are caused by people and offered the following tips for preventing wildfires:

  • Keep fires within a fire ring or pit.
  • Have a water source on hand when burning things.
  • Keep hot equipment off dry grass and prevent trailer chains from dragging and creating sparks.
  • Avoid shooting fireworks into dry grass or vegetation. (MLive)

Brutal weekend: Boston, Providence and Newark saw record high temperatures over the weekend as a heat wave baked the East Coast and dangerously high temperatures continued in the South and Midwest. Climate scientists say human-induced warming is heating regions across the globe and amplifying natural anomalies like shifts in the jet stream or changes in ocean temperature that can cause heat waves. "Heat waves are probably the most underestimated type of potential disaster because they routinely kill a lot of people,” said Daniel Swain, a climate scientist at UCLA. “And we just don't hear about it because it doesn't kill them in, to put it bluntly, sufficiently dramatic ways. There aren't bodies on the street." High temperatures are expected to continue in much of the country this week, with parts of the Northwest likely to see temperatures above 100 degrees. (NY Times, Reuters, WaPo)

SOLUTIONS: Ann Arbor's net-zero neighborhood breaks ground

Construction recently began in Ann Arbor on a new solar-powered, all-electric, sustainable housing development. The ecovillage, planned to open in 2023, will host a local food grocery store, a farm, electric-powered bikes and cars, and possibly even its own microgrid. READ THE FULL STORY HERE>>>


Lowering carbon emissions in Michigan post – WV v. EPA Supreme Court Decision

Fri, July 29, 2022, 12:00 PM – 12:30 PM EDT

Join Planet Detroit as we talk with experts on the implications of the West Virginia v. EPA Supreme Court decision on Michigan’s path to mitigating climate change and lowering carbon emissions. We’ll delve into the major state-level political opportunities and obstacles for making progress in the wake of this SCOTUS decision.


Margarethe Kearney, Senior Attorney, Environmental Law and Policy Center

Mike Berkowitz, Michigan Senior Campaign Representative, Sierra Club Beyond Coal Campaign

Moderated by Nina Ignaczak, Editor, 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 nina@planetdetroit.org or hit reply!

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