From the Headlines- August 22 – 26

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Punishing water debt: Highland Park will have to pay a disputed $21 million debt to the Great Lakes Water Authority (GLWA) following a Michigan Court of Appeals ruling. Highland Park Mayor Hubert Yopp says the city was overcharged after being compelled by the state to enter the GLWA system. However, two suburban sewage districts representing Macomb County residents joined the suit last year, alleging they were forced to cover the cost of Highland Park’s unpaid debts. And yet, more could be at stake with this decision than just the sizable debt payments that Highland Park will now have to cover. “This will cripple the city, if not eradicate it altogether,” said Highland Park City Council President Pro Tem Rodney Patrick. “And maybe that’s what they want. I’m not quite sure. If you’re going to have a $21 million levy on the taxpayers of the City of Highland Park, business and residential, that will almost come to where the city will have to be dissolved – it can’t handle that kind of tax burden.” Highland Park is one of Michigan’s poorest cities, with around 46% of its residents living in poverty. (Detroit News, Bridge Detroit, MLive)

Spill contained: Diesel from an underground storage tank in Trenton that spilled into the Detroit River is now contained, according to officials. The tank is on the property of the now-shuttered Riverside Chiropractic Hospital. Officials say only five gallons spilled into the river of an estimated 20,000 gallons left abandoned in the ground 20 years ago. (Fox 2 Detroit) 

Polluter pay: State Rep. Rachel Hood says lawmakers should prioritize a bill to compel companies to clean up environmental damages after accidents following the spill of hexavalent chromium in the Huron River. HB 4314 would force companies to clean up pollution “to the extent technically feasible” and meet the “most stringent cleanup criteria,” but the legislation has been stalled by Republican lawmakers. Meanwhile, protesters have targeted the CEO of Tribar Technologies, the company responsible for the hexavalent chromium spill and previous PFAS contamination in the Huron River. Police say they detained six people outside of Kevin Cramton’s home in Northville and that several vehicles were damaged. However, law enforcement didn’t share details on the extent of the alleged damage. “Despite their repeated negligence, Tribar has faced no consequences for their actions, not even a fine,” the protestors said in a statement. In its violation notice to the company, Michigan’s Department of Environment, Great Lakes and Energy, (EGLE), said a Tribar employee overrode the company’s water treatment alarms 460 times over three hours when the incident occurred. (MLive)

The future of summer: Grand Rapids could be as hot as Memphis, Tennessee by the end of the century, and Flint could feel Columbia, South Carolina. The “Shifting U.S. Cities” study from the research group Climate Central shows what 247 cities could feel like in 2100 under a scenario where climate-warming emissions from fossil fuel use aren’t significantly reduced. “We wanted to bring something literally home to people – to places that they know,” said Kaitlyn Trudeau, a data analyst with Climate Central. However, the research only looked at daytime temperatures, not humidity. Experts have cautioned that the combination of heat and humidity is especially dangerous and contributes to the likelihood of an “extreme heat belt” in the middle of the country. Sixteen cities in the study would have no climatic analog in the U.S. by the end of the century. Houston would have summers similar to Pakistan’s and Phoenix would feel like Saudi Arabia. (MLive, Climate Central, WaPo)

Fine print: Following the passage of the Inflation Reduction Act, attention has been drawn to the inclusion of language that amends the Clean Air Act to define carbon dioxide as an “air pollutant.” This follows a consequential Supreme Court ruling that blocked the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) ability to regulate CO2 from power plants. Legal experts say the new law gives the EPA the authority that the Supreme Court said it had previously lacked. “One threshold assumption in the ruling was that Congress had not made it abundantly clear that E.P.A. had a responsibility to address climate pollution from the power sector,” said Vickie Patton, general counsel for the Environmental Defense Fund. “Well, it is now abundantly clear.” (NY Times)

Like jumpin’ off a roof: Rapper Gmac Cash made a late entry for jam of the summer with his rap about the recently opened/closed Giant Slide on Belle Isle. “It’s like jumpin’ off a roof, man you could lose a tooth,” he raps. The Michigan Department of Natural Resources (DNR) had reopened the large slide for several hours, but users were getting tossed in the air and videos of the chaos flooded social media. No serious injuries were reported. The DNR says a fresh coat of wax may have been responsible for the mayhem and the agency has scrubbed down the surface of the slide and will be spraying water between rides to control speed. The slide will reopen on Friday, August 26 for riders 48 inches or taller. And, despite his prior warnings, Gmac plans to go on the slide this weekend. “You got to stay focused and leaning forward,” he advises. (Freep, Channel 4, WaPo)


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