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.

Peregrine Falcons, a resolution against drilling, and sustainable options: this week in environmental news

By Kary Askew Garcia, MNA Intern

Every Friday, MNA gathers news related to the environment from around the state and country. Here are a few highlights from what happened this week in environmental news:

The Peregrine Falcon huddles over its eggs outside the BWL Eckert electric generating plant. Photo courtesy of the Great Lakes Echo.

The Peregrine Falcon huddles over its eggs outside the BWL Eckert electric generating plant. Photo courtesy of the Great Lakes Echo.

Mid-Michigan Peregrine Falcons expecting (Great Lakes Echo): Peregrine Falcons are expecting this season in Michigan and although they have been taken off the federal endangered species list, are still considered an endangered species under Michigan law. The falcons have been spotted nesting at the Lansing Board of Water and Light’s Eckert electric generating plant.

Proposed drilling doesn’t sit well with Washtenaw County officials (MLive): Officials went on the record Wednesday night stating their opposition to any local oil drilling. In a 6-1 vote, the opposing vote from commissioner Dan Smith R-Northfield Township, they approved a resolution that would advocate against any future drilling in the area, similar to a resolution passed by Ann Arbor City Council. 

Walmart: the corporate empire’s big step for sustainability (The Guardian): Rob Walton, the chairman of Walmart and now chairman of Conservation International’s executive committee, has had his hand in trying new ways to get Walmart to be a more sustainable business. The journey toward sustainability started a decade ago, and Walmart looks for ways to reduce waste such as reducing water consumption and packaging. Walmart officials have been negotiating with their suppliers on new methods of sustainability

Rep. Don Young calls rules on oil drilling in wildlife refuges a ‘hare-brained idea’ (Huffington Post): The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Services opened the forum for comments earlier this year to learn how to update regulations on oil and gas development on areas which are protected under the National Wildlife Refuge System. Rep. Don Young (R-Alaska) has expressed his opposition to these new ideas for rules at a Natural Resources subcommittee hearing on Tuesday.

The big melt accelerates (The New York Times): As glaciers continue to melt, scientists have declared that some have shrunk to the point of no return — a risk that could set off a “chain reaction” bringing the remainder of the ice sheet to its demise. This research of the glaciers reaching the “point of no return” has signaled to many scientists that even if climate change came to an immediate halt, it may already be too late.

The difference between Muir Glacier at Glacier Bay National Park and Preserve in Alaska between 1941 (left) and 2004 (right). Photo courtesy of The New York Times.

The difference between Muir Glacier at Glacier Bay National Park and Preserve in Alaska between 1941 (left) and 2004 (right). Photo courtesy of The New York Times.