Great Lakes cleanup, the Keystone pipeline, and forest health: this week in environmental news

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

This Oct. 5, 2011 satellite photo from a NASA website shows algae blooms swirling on Lake Erie. (MLive file | NASA)

$50 million cut for Great Lakes cleanup in Obama 2016 budget riles healthy waters group (MLive): President Obama’s 2016 fiscal budget was released this week and those behind an effort to clean up the Great Lakes oppose a $50 million funding cut. The new budget drops funding for the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative (GLRI) from $300 million to $250 million. This will impact the GLRI’s initiatives to tackle invasive species, pollution, habitat degradation, and algal bloom-causing runoff. Since the GLRI launched in 2010, about $1.9 billion has been spent on 2,000 projects in the Great Lakes states.

Keystone pipeline: Obama given boost from EPA report revisiting climate impact (The Guardian): The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) said this week that falling oil prices have changed the economic viability of the Keystone XL pipeline. In a letter to the State Department, the EPA said that the recent drop in oil prices meant that Keystone would promote further expansion of Alberta tar sands, which would increase greenhouse gas emissions by as much as 27.4 metric tons per year, nearly as much as building eight coal-fired power plants. President Obama has said he will take climate change into account when deciding on the project, and those opposed to the project say he now has enough information to reject it.

New website finds Great Lakes data in minutes (Great Lakes Echo): Environmental data on the Great Lakes region can now be easily accessed through the Great Lakes Monitoring website. The new site includes an interactive map with monitoring locations, and users can see trends in levels of things like phosphorous, chlorophyll a, nitrogen, and mercury.The website was created by the Illinois-Indiana Sea Grant and the National Center for Supercomputing Applications. The groups hope to expand the website to include a myriad of EPA data.

DNR releases forest health update (Upper Michigan Source): The Michigan Department of Natural Resources released the 2014 Forest Health Highlights Report this week. The report provides an overview of the condition of Michigan’s forest, breaking own health threats, forest decline, and invasive plant control. You can view the report in its entirety on the MDNR website.

One more thing: MNA is hiring! We are looking for a Land Protection Specialist. Visit the MNA website for a job description and application information.

Mock oil spill, heat records, and old-growth forest: this week in environmental news

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

Some of the 200 people taking part in Wednesday’s mock oil spill on the Indian River. Credit Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Mock oil spill tests response plan (Michigan Radio): On Wednesday, federal and state agencies joined with local groups to respond to a mock oil spill in the Indian River in northern Michigan. The groups involved in the drill are the same groups that respond to real oil spills in the Great Lakes. The drill provided an opportunity to practice with a full command center, as well as allow groups to familiarize with one another.

Global heat records set for month and season (The New York Times): This August went on record as the earth’s hottest August, and summer 2014 was the globe’s hottest summer. Meterologists at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration said the average world temperature in August was over 61 degrees Fahrenheit, breaking the record set in 1998. The earth is on pace to move toward breaking the hottest year record set in 2010.

The DNR says its reversal on possible oil drilling at Hartwick Pines State Park is in response to public outcry. Photo: The Center for Michigan/Bridge Magazine

DNR yields to public and will not allow drilling under prized land at Hartwick Pines (MLive): DNR Director Keith Creagh announced last week that the parcel of Hartwick Pines State Park that includes old growth white pines was being pulled from an auction that would have allowed drilling exploration underneath them. Hartwick Pines is the last remaining stand of old growth white pine forest in the Lower Peninsula. The DNR is still considering auctioning off oil and mineral rights under other parts of the park that do not include the old growth forest.

The cost of fixing climate change (Huffington Post): A new study finds that reducing greenhouse gas emissions could boost the economy rather than slow it. The study by the Global Commission on the Economy and Climate finds that adoping rules that redirect infrastructure investments toward low-emissions options (including a more efficient use of resources and the building of cities serviced by public transportation) could make economic sense.

Why we’re going on the biggest climate march in history (The Guardian): In this interactive slide show, personalities from across the world talk about why they’re planning to march to call for action on climate change during the UN climate summit in New York on Sunday.

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