environment

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Wildlife officials say Michigan's gray wolf population appears to have stabilized, three decades after beginning a remarkable comeback in the Upper Peninsula. The latest biennial survey conducted this winter estimates the predator species total at 695, divided among 143 packs. The Department of Natural Resources says the typical pack has around five wolves. Officials say the population has leveled off at between 600 and 700 after years of rapid growth.

Lake Michigan photo
3bylunch via Wikimedia | CC BY 2.0 / Wikimedia.org

Lake Michigan is having a warm summer.

The average surface water temperature was 75.3 degrees on July 9, setting a record for the month based on 26 years of record keeping, government scientists said.

The summer high is 75.6 degrees recorded in August 2016, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration or NOAA.

That mark likely will be broken this year, said scientist Andrea Vanderwoude of NOAA’s Great Lakes Environmental Research Lab.

The Morrow Dam drawdown is polluting the Kalamazoo River

Jun 30, 2020
SEHVILLA MANN

The company that operates Morrow Dam near Comstock faces a state investigation for letting large amounts of sediment wash into the Kalamazoo River, endangering fish habitats and possibly kicking up contaminants, according to the Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes and Energy.

Dana Nessel photo
Dana Nessel

Michigan's attorney general is asking a judge to shut down a pipeline in the Great Lakes after an energy company discovered that an anchor support had shifted deep below the surface. Enbridge insists the Line 5 pipeline itself was not damaged. The company resumed the flow of oil and natural gas liquids in the west leg of the system Saturday. Meanwhile, the east line in the Straits of Mackinac remains closed. That's where the anchor support assembly had moved. State attorneys say both east and west lines should be turned off until an independent review is conducted.

Project Clarity Holland Wetlands
MacatawaClarity.org

In April, after a public comment period, new rules were drafted and published impacting the Clean Water Protection Act. Today, those changes take effect.

“These new rules are the most extreme rollback of cleaning water protections that we've seen since the Clean Water Act was put into place in1972.”

Nathan Murphy is Environment Michigan's State Director.

Chemical barrels containing PFAS
GVSU

More than 30,000 gallons (113,562 liters) of liquids containing so-called “forever chemicals” have been collected under a Michigan disposal program, officials said.

The amount, which was collected in less than a year, contain perfluoroalkyl and polyfluoroalkyl substances, or PFAS, said Steve Sliver, executive director of the Michigan PFAS Action Response Team.

PFAS are known as “forever chemicals” because they persist indefinitely in the environment without breaking down.

Straits of Mackinac photo
Gregory Varnum via Wikimedia | CC BY 3.0 / wikimedia.org

Enbridge said Tuesday it had discovered four spots on an oil pipeline in Michigan’s Straits of Mackinac where protective coating has worn away, leaving bare metal exposed.

The Canadian company said crews noticed the spots this month while installing screw anchors to secure sections of its Line 5 in the channel linking Lakes Huron and Michigan.

“We immediately inspected the line with remotely operated vehicles and with divers and determined there are no integrity issues and Line 5 remains safe,” spokesman Ryan Duffy said.

Straits of Mackinac photo
Gregory Varnum via Wikimedia | CC BY 3.0 / wikimedia.org

Michigan regulators want more information from Enbridge about its plan to build an oil pipeline tunnel beneath the Straits of Mackinac. The Department of Environment, Great Lakes and Energy told the company this week its application is incomplete. The department wants an analysis of "feasible and prudent" alternatives to the tunnel plan. It also seeks plans for dealing with protected wetlands and plants. State officials describe the request as routine and Enbridge says it will provide the needed information.

Lake Michigan photo
3bylunch via Wikimedia | CC BY 2.0 / Wikimedia.org

Federal officials say additional funds provided by Congress will help clean up toxic sites and otherwise protect the Great Lakes. Lawmakers put $320 million into this year's budget for the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative, which deals with longstanding pollution issues. That's $20 million more than usual. Environmental Protection Agency chief Andrew Wheeler said Thursday that the extra money will help remove toxic sediments, prevent invasions by species such as Asian carp, and restore wildlife habitat.

Chemical barrels containing PFAS
GVSU

  

As environmental officials hope to soon set an enforceable limit on the level of PFAS allowed in drinking water, the state of Michigan is seeking the public’s input on the matter. According to a release, “The Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy, Drinking Water and Environmental Health Division will hold this week the first of three hearings to receive public comments on proposed rules to establish maximum contaminant levels for seven per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances, known as PFAS in drinking water.”

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