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 ( 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.


Lake Michigan oil spill, Asian Carp, and the Washington landslide: this week in environmental news

By Alyssa Kobylarek, MNA intern

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

BP more than doubles estimate of Lake Michigan oil spill (Chicago Tribune): On Monday, oil leaked from BP Plc’s Whiting refinery in Indiana into Lake Michigan. The latest estimate says that 1,638 gallons of oil spilled into the lake, more than double the estimate given immediately following the spill. Officials from the EPA say the spill likely poses no long-term risks to the lake.

St. Louis River Estuary restoration: Cleaning up the past (Great Lakes Echo): Local, state, federal and non-governmental organizations are banding together to help restore the St. Louis River Estuary. It has suffered major environmental problems since the 1800s when people began destroying and shaping the landscape to make way for shipping traffic. Collaborative efforts are being made to clean up the mess.

Experts say that hydrological separation is the best way at keeping Asian carp out of the Great Lakes. Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

Experts say that hydrological separation is the best way at keeping Asian carp out of the Great Lakes. Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

Roger Germann: Working to keep the Asian carp out of our Great Lakes (mlive): most experts agree that hydrological separation is the best way to keep the Asian carp from getting into the Great Lakes. Roger Germann, executive vice president for Great Lakes and sustainability at the Shedd Aquarium, stated the long term key is prevention and that he thinks the invasive species issues should be looked at as a national issue.

Flood insurance rates rising: Database shows impact on Michigan communities (mlive):  At least 1.1 million policy holders nationwide and more than 14,000 in Michigan with government-subsidized insurance are expected to experience steadily rising rates in the coming years as the NFIP struggles with debt created by a series of storms. Exactly how high the rates will go is undetermined.

Elusive Whale Sets New Record for Depth and Length of Dives Among Mammals (National Geographic): A new study of Curvier’s beaked whales shows that they can dive to nearly 10,000 feet. Scientists are interested in these whales because sonar activity had stranded individuals on beaches. They studied them by attaching trackers to eight whales in southern California and followed them for several months.

Danger Lingers After Landslide Kills 8 in Washington State (New York Times): A landslide that slid down from a rain-saturated mountain slope left eight people dead and at least 18 missing in Washington State. The slide reduced homes to shattered fragments and buried a state highway. Many people spent Saturday night in an emergency shelter for those who had to evacuate their homes.