From the Headlines- Sept 19 – 23

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Robin v. warbler: Not for the first time, Michigan is trying to give its state bird  – the stalwart robin – a sendoff. Rep. Greg Markkanen, R-Hancock (yep, that’s in the U.P.) introduced a bill that would replace the robin with the Kirtland’s warbler, a denizen of sandy jack-pine barrens in just three northern Michigan counties. It’s a truly Michigan-specific bird (with a vibrant yellow color on the males). As Freep’s Neal Rubin points out, “the robin is a perfectly acceptable bird, but it’s the most common thrush in the United States and is also the state bird of Connecticut and Wisconsin.” Detroit News editor Amy Elliott Bragg points out that this is not the first time an effort has been launched to unseat the robin, a bird that, she tweeted “.. is an everyman and I love that for us.“ (Freep, AEB)

Planting some trees: Stellantis would plant 80 trees in a park and make improvements at a local high school if a proposed consent order is approved for the odor and pollution violations that occurred at the Mack plant on the east side of Detroit. The automaker would also pay $62,683 to the state and be required to install an additional pollution control device. Michigan’s Department of Environment, Great Lakes and Energy (EGLE) previously found that the company had failed to treat the emissions coming out of its paint shop properly. “You’re looking at putting some trees in a park five blocks away from the people most affected by this,” said Robert Shobe, a Beniteau Street resident who lives next to the Mack plant. This (consent order) does nothing for the community being impacted by the smells.” He added that the odor issues have continued for those living near the plan. (Freep)

Planning for change: The city is conducting a two-year planning study for the 27.5-mile Joe Louis Greenway which will connect Detroit, Hamtramck, Highland Park and Dearborn. The city has already received input through a neighborhood planning process, but the current effort will look at economic opportunities created by the project and policies that may be needed to coincide with the greenway’s development. The city is also developing signs that will inform greenway users about the neighborhoods they’re moving through and murals celebrating these areas. (Bridge Detroit)

EV roundup: Electric vehicle production in Michigan is accelerating as several groups look to get more EVs on the road. Here is the latest:

  • Rental cars:Hertz will order as many as 175,000 EVs from General Motors over the next five years, including compact and midsize SUVs, pickup trucks and luxury cars. Deliveries will begin next year, and the company plans to have a quarter of its fleet be electric by 2024. (Freep)
  • Battery plant: The Chinese battery company Gotion Inc. is looking to build a multi-billion dollar plant in West Michigan near Big Rapids. The company supplies batteries for VW and is the fourth-largest battery maker in China. (Crain’s)
  • Turbocharging things: GM and the Environmental Defense Fund are teaming up to push the Environmental Protection Agency to set a standard requiring at least half of all vehicles sold to be zero-emission by 2030. “That will mean healthier communities, a safer climate for all, and turbocharging U.S. manufacturing and jobs,” Fred Krupp, president of the Environmental Defense Fund, said in a press release. (Freep)

Volunteers needed: A multi-million dollar study to look at the health outcomes of Michiganders exposed to multiple contaminants including cancer. The University of Michigan School of Public Health will enroll 100,000 people in the study from various racial and ethnic backgrounds, especially from places disproportionately impacted by environmental threats like Flint, Detroit and Grand Rapids. Researchers say the study could also be groundbreaking for its examination of the environmental threats affecting the state’s large Arab American population, which has not been extensively studied in the past. (Freep)

‘A sign of great change’: A trail camera in the Upper Peninsula caught sight of a small white bear, sometimes referred to as a “spirit bear,” the first time such an animal has been seen in Michigan. These black bears with white fur, but reddish coloring on the head and necks, are the product of a double-recessive gene that rarely occurs outside of parts of British Columbia.  “It is a sign of great change,” said Austin Ayres, a wildlife technician with the Keweenaw Bay Indian Community Natural Resources Department. “Some stories say the bear only comes when it is time for Anishinaabe to embrace their role and step away from their distractions. It is a reminder that within nature, anything and everything is possible, and people should not go seeking anything outside of nature but understand all we need is within.” (MLive)

After the storm: As of Tuesday, 760,000 water customers were without service in Puerto Rico after Hurricane Fiona hit the island. Widespread power failures affected water treatment facilities and pumps leaving residents to depend on stockpiled bottled water or rainwater. In some areas, communities set up water tanks and aqueducts to supply water, with a few of them using solar power to drive pumps.  (Guardian)


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