Biodiversity bills, white nose syndrome, and a heat record: this week in environmental news

Each week MNA gathers news from around Michigan and the country related to conservation and the environment. Here is a bit of what happened this week in environmental news:

Little brown bat (Myotis lucifugus) with white fungus on muzzle, New York 2008

Gov. Rick Snyder vetoes bill critics said would have jeopardized state’s biodiversity (MLive): Last week, Gov. Rick Snyder vetoed Senate Bill 78, which would have prevented the Michigan DNR from making land use decisions based on biodiversity considerations. In his veto letter, Snyder expressed concerns that the bill could create inconsistencies and confusion and possibly harm Michigan’s forests.

First bats to die from white-nose syndrome this winter reported in Keweenaw County (Michigan DNR): This week the Michigan Department of Natural Resources received the first reports of bats dying from white-nose syndrome. The bats were found outside the opening of an abandoned copper mine near Mohawk in Keweenaw County. Citizens can report bat die-offs on the DNR website but they are asked to stay out of mines and caves where bats hibernate.

New study details costs, environmental impact of raising Michigan’s Renewable Portfolio Standard (University of Michigan): The University of Michigan released a study analyzing the impact of raising Michigan’s Renewable Portfolio Standard in several different scenarios. The study found the most cost-effective renewable resource in Michigan is onshore wind and that changing the standard would raise a typical household’s utility bill by only $2.60 per month.

2014 Breaks Heat Record, Challenging Global Warming Skeptics (The New York Times): Scientists report that 2014 was the hottest year on earth since record-keeping began in 1880. Extreme heat was reported in Alaska and the western United States. Heat records were set in each continent and the ocean’s surface was unusually warm everywhere except around Antarctica. With this, 2014 passed 2010 as the warmest year on record.

Sources: NASA; National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration By The New York Times

Sources: NASA; National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration
By The New York Times

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Biodiversity bill, fracking and algae blooms: this week in environmental news

Each week, MNA gathers news stories from around the state and country related to conservation and the environment. Here is some of what happened this week in environmental news:

This NOAA simulation shows high water levels at the Harbor Bay Power Plant in Michigan’s thumb region. Source: http://coast.noaa.gov/llv/

Is Michigan’s biodiversity in jeopardy? Environmental group critical of bill soon to be on Gov. Rick Snyder’s desk (MLive): A bill that aims to prevent the Department of Natural Resources from making land use decisions based on biodiversity has passed both chambers of the Michigan Legislature. The Michigan Environmental Council is critical of the bill’s broad language, while Sponsor Sen. Tom Casperson says the program could have restricted private land use. The bill will likely go to Gov. Rick Snyder for consideration.

New York bans fracking after health report (Reuters): New York Environmental Commissioner Joseph Maretens says he will issue an order early next year to ban fracking. This decision comes after the release of a report which concluded that the oil and gas extraction method poses health risks. Once the ban is in place, New York and Vermont will be the only two states to completely prohibit fracking.

New tool simulates climate change impact on Great Lakes shores (Great Lakes Echo): A new computer application developed for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) will help planners see the impact varying water levels have on Great Lakes shoreline.

Obama indefinitely bans drilling in Alaskan Bay (The New York Times): On Tuesday, President Obama indefinitely barred oil and gas exploration of Alaska’s Bristol Bay, which is home to a variety of marine life that includes the endangered North Pacific right whale. The bay also supports a $2 billion fishing industry that supplies 40% of the wild-caught seafood in the United States. The ban is permanent unless a future president acts to reverse it.

U.S. gives $3.1 million for Lake Erie algae projects (Detroit Free Press): The Environmental Protection Agency is allocating $3.1 million from a Great Lakes cleanup fund for efforts to reduce algae blooms in Lake Erie. Projects will improve water quality testing and algae bloom forecasting, as well as expand assistance for agricultural conservation practices.

Invasive species, Great Lakes, and biodiversity: this week in environmental news

Each week, MNA gathers news stories from around the state and country related to nature and the environment. Here is some of what happened this week in environmental news:

Water levels in Lakes Superior, Michigan and Huron continue to be above their monthly averages for the first time in 16 years. Photo: NOAA

Upper Great Lakes water levels are up. Here’s why. (Michigan Radio): Water levels in Lakes Superior, Michigan and Huron are above their monthly averages for the first time in 16 years. According to the Great Lakes Environmental Research Laboratory, water levels dropped in the late 1990s and remained low. Since 2013, water levels have surged, mainly due to increased precipitation. A seasonal forecast predicts a typical seasonal cycle with no extreme changes in water level.

Invasive species can dramatically alter landscapes, study shows (Science Daily): A study from Purdue University and the University of Kentucky reviewed research on how life forms interact with and influence their surroundings. The review concluded that invasive species can cause serious problems that may have an impact for decades, or longer. The review showed that areas where land and water systems overlap are particularly vulnerable to invasives.

Rufa Red Knot Gets Listed (Audubon Magazine): The US Fish and Wildlife Service announced this week that the Rufa Red Knot will be listed as threatened under the Endangered Species Act. This coastal shorebird has experienced a population drop of more than 75 percent since the 1980s. The Rufa Red breeds in the Arctic tundra in the summer and then migrates more than 9,000 miles to the tip of South America – passing through parts of Michigan on its journey. The bird’s primary threat is climate change – rising water levels and storms are harming the coastal habitat used by the bird for migration.

Scientists oppose bill to keep DNR from considering biodiversity (Michigan Radio): The state legislature is considering a bill that would forbid the Michigan Department of Natural Resources from considering biodiversity along with other uses of state lands. Introduced by State Sen. Tom Casperson , the bill would prohibit the DNR from enforcing the rule that designates an area of land specifically for maintaining biological diversity, limiting the ability to fight invasive species

Study shows that 270,000 tons of plastic float in the ocean (AP): A new study estimates that 270,000 tons of plastic, enough to fill 38,500 garbage trucks, is floating in the world’s oceans. The study, led by the 5 Gyres Institute, aims to understand how synthetic materials are entering the oceans and how they affect fish, seabirds, and the ecosystem. The study only measured plastic floating on the ocean’s surface – plastic on the ocean floor was not included.