CO2 2022/2021 : 416.35 ppm / 414.68 ppm
Dear Michigan Climate News readers,
We hope you're enjoying these last days of summer and looking forward to fall. In this week's issue, Ann Arbor bends on gas lines, southwest Michigan could be part of the new heat belt, and there's concerning news for Line 5.
Read on for that and our monthly policy tracker, plus join us Friday for a discussion about the Inflation Reduction Act and environmental justice.
Enjoy your week!
— Nina Ignaczak, Editor of Michigan Climate News + Planet Detroit
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THIS WEEK'S NEWS
‘Bit of an oxymoron’: Ann Arbor City Council voted unanimously to grant DTE Energy easements for gas pipelines in two parks on the city's west side. The move seems to contradict the city’s A2Zero climate plan that seeks to achieve carbon neutrality by 2030. DTE has been making major investments in home gas lines in the city, while the A2Zero plan calls for moving away from it and electrifying buildings. DTE says the plastic replacement gas lines they’re rolling out reduce greenhouse gas emissions and could allow for hydrogen. “Maybe it’s going to transport hydrogen, as they say, in the future, or some other fuel supply, but it seems a little bit of an oxymoron to approve this and still try to wean ourselves off of natural gas and fossil fuels,” said Council Member Ali Ramlawi, who nevertheless voted for the measure. (MLive)
Heat belt: A new study from the First Street Foundation shows the center of the country could become home to a band of extreme summer heat that by 2053 will extend roughly from the Gulf Coast to Chicago. The report predicts that this area as well parts of Florida, the East Coast and the Southwest will see heat index temperatures above 125 degrees Fahrenheit. Only the southwest corner of Michigan is included in the “extreme heat belt,” but Detroit is expected to see five more days with a heat index above 100 F by mid-century and Ann Arbor is forecast to see eight more days. Places in Texas and Florida could see 70 consecutive days where the heat index tops 100 F. (HuffPo, WaPO)
Bugs b gone: Because of a drier-than-average summer, Michigan is seeing fewer mosquitoes and mosquito-borne illnesses. Michigan State University microbiology and entomology professor Ned Walker says mosquitoes are at 10% of last summer’s levels, when heavy rains and flooding created a breeding ground for the insects. But climate change is creating a longer hatching season for mosquitoes and some species are expanding their range, according to Walker. However, Michigan isn’t in the clear yet. With the expanded mosquito season, the state could still see mosquitoes into October if things get wetter. (MI Radio)
Hydrogen cars: A New Mexico company is launching a hydrogen vehicle project at the American Center for Mobility in Ypsilanti Township. Bayo Tech Inc. plans to open a “hydrogen hub” by 2023, manufacturing enough of the gas to power 200 vehicles. The company manufactures hydrogen by tapping into natural gas pipelines, which it says allows for a more distributed production model, albeit one that is dependent on climate-warming methane gas. Although hydrogen has been eclipsed by battery technology as a power source for emissions-free transportation, some still hope it could power cars and planes and trains. But manufacturing hydrogen gas often involves using fossil fuels that emit appreciable amounts of carbon dioxide. (Crain’s, Vox, CNBC)
Line 5 lawsuit: Michigan’s efforts to shut down Enbridge's Line 5 oil pipeline in the Straits of Mackinac suffered a setback last week when U.S. District Court Judge Janet Neff ruled the case should remain in federal court. The lawsuit argues the company is violating the state’s public trust doctrine, and Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel had previously tried to return it to state court, where she felt it was more likely to win. Environmentalists expressed concern that this would delay any possible pipeline shutdown and allow the company to choose the most favorable venue for the case. (Bridge)
Electric buses: An editorial in the Traverse City Record-Eagle argues that electric school buses are increasingly appealing for school districts in rural Michigan. In the past, the expense of electric buses and the need to maintain a charge over long distances may have made them seem impractical in these areas. But federal grants are now available for school districts to invest in these vehicles, and the paper says that technology has increased the range of the vehicles. School districts in Gaylord and Three Rivers have found that their routes are short enough to accommodate the vehicles’ 70 to 200-mile range, which can recharge between their morning and afternoon runs. And schools could potentially save a significant amount of money on fuel that could be directed at other needs while also protecting children from pollution on the buses themselves. Studies have found that pollution from the buses’ diesel exhaust can concentrate inside the vehicles and be much higher than the surrounding air. (TC Record-Eagle, Bridge, E&E)
JOIN US FRIDAY, AUGUST 25 at NOON for LUNCH & LEARN
What is 'carbon fundamentalism' and why do justice advocates oppose it?
Join Planet Detroit’s managing editor as we talk with Michelle Martinez, inaugural director of the Tishman Center for Social and Environmental Justice at the University of Michigan’s School for Environment & Sustainability. Martinez has 15 years of experience of practicing environmental justice in her hometown Detroit. Most recently she served as Executive Director of the Michigan Environmental Justice Coalition; she is a founding member of the Coalition and continues to serve on the board. Michelle also serves on the Board of Directors of We the People Michigan, and is a contributing columnist to Planet Detroit, an online publication serving Detroit audiences with climate and environmental news.
We’ll talk about climate change, carbon justice, and why Martinez and other justice advocates believe a “carbon fundamentalist” approach will only get us so far in the fight against climate change.
Michelle Martinez, Director, Tishman Center for Social and Environmental Justice at the University of Michigan’s School for Environment & Sustainability
Moderated by Nina Ignaczak, Editor, Planet Detroit and Michigan Climate News
POLICY TRACKER: Railway merger could mean more pollution for Michigan
A railway expansion in Detroit could bring more air pollution to an area already dealing with several polluting industries and high asthma rates. The Michigan Environmental Council (MEC) has been calling attention to Canadian Pacific Railway’s $25 billion plan to purchase Kansas City Southern, which would mean more train and semi-truck traffic in southeast Michigan.
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