Crazy cold in Michigan, pollution levels, and nuclear energy: 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 what you may have missed this week in environmental news:

 

This graphic shows the temperature departure from normal for March 2014. (National Climatic Data Center)

Crazy cold in Michigan: See how we beat the rest of the world (MLive): A new report from NOAA’s National Climatic Data Center shows that Michigan’s March temperatures were farthest from normal of any region in the world. Michigan reached near-record cold temperatures in March, while much of the rest of the world experienced warmer temperatures than normal.

It’s time to stop ignoring the bad air we breathe (TIME.com): Since 1980, levels of ozone pollution have fallen by 25% in the U.S., leaving far cleaner air than in decades past. However, new data from the American Lung Association shows that almost half of Americans are living in areas where smog and soot particles have led to unhealthy levels of pollution. The report also shows that some aspects of air quality have been deteriorating over the past few years in 22 of the 25 biggest metropolitan areas.

No applause for new fracking rules (Interlochen Public Radio): New rules proposed for fracking have watchdog groups worried. Critics say the proposed changes favor the oil and gas industry over neighbors and the public. A coalition of environmental and conservation groups will give a formal review of the proposed rules next week.

BP CEO: Lake Michigan spill ‘has been set aside’ (NWI Times): BP has been ramping up production at its Whiting, Indiana refinery, which spilled up to 1,638 gallons of crude oil into Lake Michigan in March. Chief Executive Bob Dudley says the oil spill is not expected to result in significant fallout for the company, and that no further cleanup work is needed. Dudley says there are no known impacts to wildlife or human health, and there has been no impact on refinery production.

Nuclear industry gains carbon-focused allies in push to save reactors (The New York Times): Environmentalists and the nuclear industry are pushing to preserve old nuclear reactors, which are threatened by cheap natural gas and wind energy. The groups argue that the loss of nuclear plants from the electricity grid would lead to millions of tons of additional carbon dioxide in the atmosphere each year because the substitute would be fossil fuels.

 

Wolf hunt, lionfish and protecting butterflies: this week in environmental news

By Sally Zimmerman, MNA Intern

Every Friday, MNA shares recent environmental news stories from around the state and country. Here’s some of what happened this week in environmental and nature news:

A gray wolf. Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

A gray wolf. Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

With Michigan wolf hunt less than a month away, debate rages onward (Great Lakes Echo): Wolf hunting in Michigan will be legal for the first time on November 15. The hunt will end on December 31, or once 43 wolves have been killed. Supporters argue the hunt will curb the threat wolves pose to livestock and pets. The conservation group Keep Michigan Wolves Protected is collecting signatures to put the Natural Resources Commission’s authority to put the hunt to a vote. If the group collects enough signatures, there will be a statewide vote in November 2014 regarding the hunt.

Lionfish wreaking havoc on Atlantic Ocean (Yahoo): The population of lionfish along the U.S. east coast is growing out of control. The lionfish is a venomous predator that has no natural predators of its own in the Atlantic Ocean. The Christian Science Monitor estimates that at least 40 native species have suffered because of the invasive lionfish. Scientists believe that introducing only six lionfish into the area caused the boom. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association suggests the only way to control the population is to capture and eat the lionfish.

Wildlife officials seek protection for Dakota, Poweshiek butterflies (Holland Sentinel): Federal wildlife officials believe two types of butterflies should be classified as threatened or endangered. The proposal to protect the Dakota skipper and the Poweshiek skipperling will be published in the Federal Register. The Fish and Wildlife service wants to designate different sized tracts in South Dakota, North Dakota and Minnesota to protect the Dakota skipper, while designating tracts in Iowa, Michigan, Minnesota, Wisconsin, North Dakota and South Dakota to protect the Poweshiek skipperling.

U.S. carbon dioxide emissions drop 3.8 percent (Mother Nature Network): The U.S. Energy Information Administration announced on Monday, October 21 that there was a 3.8 percent drop in U.S. carbon dioxide emissions from 2011 to 2012. Although the population increased in 2012, the country released 208 million metric tons less than it did the year before. A milder winter, new car efficiency standards and a continuing switch from power plants run by coal to power plants run by natural gas contributed to the decrease.

Up or down? Which way are Great Lakes water levels headed? (MLive): Officials have considered closing Leland Harbor in Lake Michigan because of record-low water levels that could damage boats and freighters. Although significant rainfall from April to August caused a rise in water levels in the Great Lakes, climate change and manmade alterations have greatly affected the makeup of the lakes. Most studies conclude lake levels will go down in the future, due to climate change. Scientists also predict climate change will cause a continued increase in water temperatures, less ice cover and more evaporation from the lakes.