Michigan Energy & Environment

IPR brings you the stories and sounds of nature Up North. Hear about our changing natural world, and the challenges northern Michigan faces with a growing economy and a fragile ecosystem.

From the top of a mountain, a snowy landscape with trees reveals a view of Lake Superior in the distance.
Kaye LaFond / Interlochen Public Radio

Most wind energy projects in Michigan are on farmland in the southern part of the state. They are often controversial even there, but one company wants to put a wind farm in an Upper Peninsula forest. Many community members don’t feel that’s the right place either.

Gregory Varnum

MDNR

A popular fishery in northern Michigan was charged with illegally buying and selling lake trout. John Cross of Cross Fisheries in Charlevoix was sentenced to a year in prison and will pay a fine of more than $1 million.

Lake trout is heavily protected by state, tribal and federal agencies. A press release says Cross bought almost 50,000 pounds of the fish that was harvested by a trap net, but he reported that he got it via gillnet.

Fisheries Biologist Mark Ebener says what Cross did is more common than you would think

Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel says a law passed last year to build an oil pipeline tunnel beneath the Mackinac Straits is unconstitutional.

One of the first things Gov. Gretchen Whitmer did when she took office in January was to ask for an attorney general’s opinion on the law, which former Gov. Rick Snyder pushed through in the waning days of the legislature.

Bacterial canker is a devastating tree disease that affects sweet cherry orchards around the country. There is currently no good way to treat it, but some Michigan scientists are trying to harness bacteria-killing viruses to control it.

George Sundin / Michigan State University

This week on Points North, a bacteria called cherry canker is attacking sweet cherry trees nationwide, but one Michigan scientist is developing a solution. Plus, how a new bill could help tart cherry farmers compete with cheap Turkish cherry imports.


The smooth, rosy trunk of a cherry tree is marked with big, oozing dead areas, called cankers.
George Sundin / Michigan State University

Bacterial canker is a devastating tree disease that affects sweet cherry orchards around the country. There is currently no good way to treat it, but some Michigan scientists are trying to harness bacteria-killing viruses to control it.

The Great Lakes Restoration Initiative

As part of his budget proposal announced Monday, President Trump wants to slash funding for the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative by 90 percent. 

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service will seek to end federal protections for the gray wolf throughout the lower 48 states, Acting Secretary of the Interior David Bernhardt announced Wednesday.

In a statement, the Fish and Wildlife Service said it will propose a rule to remove the gray wolf from the endangered species list and "return management of the species to the states and tribes." That means states would be able to make their own rules about hunting and culling of gray wolf populations.

Jacques LeBlanc, a commercial fisherman from the Bay Mills Indian Community, pulls a gill net out of the ice on eastern Lake Superior.
Kaye LaFond

This week on Points North, a decline in lake whitefish is pushing tribal commercial fishermen to the northern edge of their treaty waters. Plus, we look at test results for PFAS contamination in Michigan’s public water and meet a funk band from Boyne City.


A man in coveralls bends over a hole in ice and pulls out a net.
Kaye LaFond / Interlochen Public Radio


A decline in lake whitefish is pushing some tribal commercial fishermen out of Lakes Michigan and Huron. They’re spending more time in Lake Superior, the only place they say they can still make a living. This has fishermen and scientists worried about whether whitefish populations there can withstand the extra pressure.

A decline in lake whitefish is pushing some tribal commercial fishermen out of Lakes Michigan and Huron. They’re spending more time in Lake Superior, the only place they say they can still make a living. This has fishermen and scientists worried about whether whitefish populations there can withstand the extra pressure.

Upper Peninsula
Wikimedia Commons

 

The Michigan Attorney General’s Office says it will do whatever it can to block a proposed price increase on electricity in the Upper Peninsula.

The Upper Peninsula Power Company (UPPCO) hopes to raise their rates, which would bring in almost $10 million. If approved, it would mean customers' bills will increase by 10 percent.

Assistant Attorney General Michael Moody says the power company is asking for too much.

The state has finished testing all the public water systems in Michigan for PFAS chemicals. Of more than a thousand municipal systems, 119 are contaminated by PFAS. 

Wikimedia Commons

Amidst congressional negotiations on border security, lawmakers are trying to protect Great Lakes infrastructure projects that could be caught up in the debate.

Wikimedia Commons

Anglers across Michigan won’t be able to catch as many perch. Right now they can get 50 per day but this spring it will be 25.

Randy Claramunt with the Michigan Department of Natural Resources says perch populations have been declining for decades.

"There’s a lot of pressure on them in specific areas," Claramunt says. "So this … recognizes the value that yellow perch are to anglers in Michigan."

Claramunt says anglers pushed for the change because it may increase perch numbers. The new limit takes effect on April 1.

A lot of people assume a healthy diet is also good for the environment. A recently published study lends some credence to that conventional wisdom.

Governor Gretchen Whitmer wants to know if a law passed during last year’s lame duck session is constitutional, and she’s enlisted new Attorney General Dana Nessel to look into the matter.

Outgoing governor Rick Snyder signed a law before leaving office. It created the Mackinac Straits Corridor Authority. That authority will oversee a tunnel to house a new section of the Enbridge Line 5 pipeline. That pipeline carries oil and natural gas liquids under the Straits of Mackinac.

MARK BRUSH / MICHIGAN RADIO

Geno Allessandrini of the Michigan Laborers District Council was appointed to the Mackinac Straits Corridor Authority on Wednesday, but resigned a day later for personal reasons.

The authority will oversee the construction and operation of a tunnel for a new oil pipeline in the straits.

 

Ari Adler, a spokesman for Governor Snyder, says the governor didn’t ask for the resignation.

 

"He did resign of his own free will, and he said that he was stepping aside for personal reasons," says Adler.

 

CREDIT SKEEZE/PIXABAY

Michigan’s deer hunting season has been pretty successful so far.

"Our harvest appears certainly up in the Upper Peninsula, and there are parts in the northern Lower and certainly southwest that appear up as well," says Chad Stewart, deer management specialist for the Michigan Department of Natural Resources.

Soon, you’ll start seeing your energy bills start to rise each month because of the cold weather. That’s never fun. But, you might be paying a lot more than necessary to heat your home. We decided to look into whether a new efficient furnace adds up to much in the way of energy savings.

Morgan Springer

 

The percentage of Americans who fish is in decline and that decline has had an impact on conservation projects, because hunting and fishing licenses help fund everything from habitat restoration to clean water programs.

Michigan PFAS Action Response Team

A low level of pollutants has been detected in the City of Gaylord's municipal drinking water. State environmental officials tested the municipal water for PFAS at three sites in the city. A small amount of the chemicals was detected at one site, but nothing was found at the other two sites.

Several Flint commmunity leaders said Attorney General and Republican gubernatorial candidate Bill Schuette has a record of ignoring the people of Flint.

They spoke at a press conference Wednesday organized by the Michigan Democratic Party.

According to Chris Martin, pastor of the Cathedral of Faith Church in Flint, Schuette ignored 15 complaints in 2015 from residents reporting bad water quality in Flint.

Martin said complaints about bad water and health problems had fallen on deaf ears in Flint. 

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