From the Headlines- Sept 5- 9

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‘Like a Godzilla movie’: Residents of southwest Detroit have long dealt with truck traffic that brings noise, powerful vibrations, dust and asthma. But road work and the construction of the Gordie Howe Bridge may be making the problem worse by rerouting trucks onto more residential streets and increasing traffic. “It sounds like a Godzilla movie. It’s so big and loud, and it eventually normalizes,” said Raquel Garcia, director of the nonprofit Southwest Detroit Environmental Vision. “Every time there’s construction, these trucks get rerouted all over the neighborhood…they cut across many smaller streets. Some chemicals come out of the emissions, there’s noise, and they operate at extremely weird hours.” Residents and community leaders say the city needs to do more to control traffic, including enforcing existing rules about when trucks can operate. Another option could be expanding the city’s Bridging Neighborhoods program, which paid for residents living near the new bridge to relocate to other areas of the city or receive money for home repairs to mitigate impacts from the construction. (Freep)

Lead in Lapeer: Elevated lead levels were found in 76% of the water samples taken in Lapeer after the August 13 break in a Great Lakes Water Authority (GLWA) transmission line. The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services said 89 of 116 samples contained lead, and 38 exceeded the federal action level of 15 parts per million. Imlay City also discovered lead in 14 of 22 samples taken. Both cities used well water after the GLWA water main break to maintain service and counteract dropping water pressure. Officials in the two cities believe the switch was responsible for the spike in lead levels and say the problem will subside when regular water service is restored. Lapeer’s well water isn’t treated with corrosion control chemicals that keep lead from service lines and fixtures from sloughing off into the water. Test results are currently unavailable for the town of Almont, which has also used well water. Residents of Lapeer and Imlay City have been offered free faucet filters and bottled water. (MLive)

City power: Ann Arbor City Council voted 10 to 1 to approve a study on whether to create a municipal power utility, which could replace DTE Energy and accelerate the city’s move towards renewable power. The half-million dollar study will also consider creating a sustainable energy utility or SEU, an alternative to full municipalization that would supplement DTE service with renewable energy. Ann Arbor’s A2Zero carbon–neutrality plan intends to meet 100% of the community’s energy needs with renewables by 2030, a goal that some say the city can’t meet while relying on DTE for power. “The generation of electricity accounts for roughly 40 percent of Ann Arbor’s 1.8 million metric tons of annual greenhouse gas emissions,” the city council stated in a resolution. “The vast majority of this electricity is purchased from DTE Energy, which holds the franchise to serve Ann Arbor, and which powers its grid primarily through the burning of fossil fuels.” (MLive)

Same pollution, different place: State regulators have approved a change to Marathon Petroleum’s air permit, allowing the company to move some of its production to the newer North Plant Sulfur Recovery Unit from the East Plant Sulfur Recovery Unit. This won’t change the total pollution the company can release between the two facilities. Still, Michigan’s Department of Environment, Great Lakes and Energy officials said the shift in production to the more efficient North plant could reduce overall sulfur dioxide emissions. However, the area around the Marathon refinery remains in non-attainment for sulfur dioxide and ozone. Between 2017 and 2020, the company received 10 permit violations for exceeding limits for particulate matter, hydrogen sulfide and emission opacity. (Detroit News, MLive)

Box turtles in trouble: Michigan’s Department of Natural Resources (DNR) wants to make 141 changes to the state’s list of threatened and endangered species, raising the total number of listed species from 399 to 407. Jennifer Kleitch, a DNR endangered species specialist, says habitat loss is a significant factor driving declines. “Some species are only found in rare natural communities already. If those natural communities are degraded in any way, then that threatens the species that live there, too,” she said. These changes mirror global patterns. The Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services found in a 2019 assessment that an increasing percentage of land and ocean areas were seeing negative effects from human activity, and around a quarter of the planet’s species were threatened or endangered. Eastern box turtles are one once-common species being considered for Michigan’s list. Experts say habitat loss and roadway deaths have contributed to their decline. (Detroit News)

Wild kingdom: One species that appears to be doing alright in Michigan is black bears. DNR officials say bear numbers in the Lower Peninsula have grown to their desired population goal of more than 2,000 animals while the Upper Peninsula’s count increased slightly to 10,700. DNR officials say they try to balance the health of the bear population with negative impacts that humans might feel. Several bear complaints have occurred around Traverse City. One bear that frequented bird feeders, trash cans and fruit trees in the area was relocated and then ultimately euthanized when he began returning to populated areas. Wolves also appear to be thriving in a tiny part of Michigan. Officials say the gray wolf population in Isle Royale National Park has reached 28 after numbers dropped to just two a few years ago. The wolves help maintain the park’s ecosystem by preying on moose, which browse heavily on vegetation. Scientists will continue monitoring moose, wolves and island flora to maintain healthy populations. (MLive, Great Lakes Now)

Deer reporting: This year, the DNR will require hunters to report deer kills to the DNR within 72 hours. Previously, the agency had mailed surveys to hunters to get an idea of how many deer had been culled and in what locations, but officials say the number of surveys returned has declined over the last two decades. The agency says the reporting can be done quickly online and that the data is essential for estimating the size of the deer population and setting limits for the next hunting season. (MI Radio)


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