Your Hub for Environmental News from Southwest Michigan and around the State

Stay up to date on environmental issues.

environmental news from SW Michigan and around the State

Here’s an idea!

You could bookmark this page and make it your information center, the place you visit regularly to stay caught up on environmental issues.

In the column on the right you’ll find links to lots of sources for information on environmental matters. These sites offer reporting and opinions about victories and setbacks in the battle to move Beyond Coal, Beyond Oil, and Beyond Natural Gas.

News on Enbridge Line 5 and other Michigan pipeline issues, and our news about the Palisades nuclear plant have their own pages:

To stay up to date on the water crisis in Flint, follow Sierra Club Michigan Chapter’s reporting and news feed on their Flint Water Debacle page.

At the bottom of this page are news feeds from Sierra Club Michigan Chapter and the national Sierra Club.

Environmental news we’ve come across lately

Michigan Environmental Watch examines how public policy, industry, and other factors interact with the state’s trove of natural resources. (January 19)

Bridge Magazine has a full time environmental reporter these days. Find recent articles here.

Michigan Office of the Great Lakes Releases 2017 State of the Great Lakes Report (January 10)

The Great Lakes play an essential role in the Michigan way of life. The annual State of the Great Lakes Report produced by the Michigan Office of the Great Lakes reflects on the past year, recognizes accomplishments in protecting and restoring water resources, and identifies obstacles to tackle to ensure healthy natural resources and communities. The 2017 State of the Great Lakes Report is available at this link.

Climate change risk for 327 toxic Superfund sites (December 22)

Screen shot from interactive map on the AP superfund report. Click to enlarge

AP News reports 327 toxic site in the U.S.

See where flood-prone superfund sites are located in Grand Rapids and Kalamazoo according to AP News

Nearly 2 million people in the U.S. live within a mile of 327 toxic sites located in flood-prone areas, according to an Associated Press analysis. Low-income, heavily minority neighborhoods are most at risk.

Judge rules for Nestle over controversial boost station to hike groundwater pumping. (December 22)

Grand Rapids News reports a judge has ruled in favor of Nestle Waters North America about a controversial booster pump station needed to draw more groundwater.

New preserve coming to Portage named after Betty Lee Ongley. (December 20)

MLive reports the 11.1-acre property at 5233 Woodmont Drive donated by Claudette Reid and Richard Kraas was accepted and approved by the Portage City Council Tuesday. It will be named after and dedicated to Betty Lee Ongley, the city’s first female mayor and its most well-known community activist and volunteer.

Will Michigan fall to third place in EV production? (December 15)

This month, Green Car Reports reported Ford CEO, Jim Hackett said the company’s upcoming battery-electric crossover utility vehicle will not be built in Michigan, as previously announced, but in Mexico instead. Now, a new contender for electric-car production could boost Tennessee’s prominence in the world of plug-in cars. That would be Volkswagen, which plans to build battery-electric cars for the region somewhere in North America.

Study in Michigan shows utility energy savings mostly benefit wealthier customers. (December 13)

Midwest Energy News reports Michigan utilities spend tens of millions of dollars each year on rebates, energy audits and other programs to help customers cut their energy bills. Most of that spending isn’t helping the customers who could use the savings the most, according to a new study by researchers at the University of Michigan.

GM to test a driverless version of its all-electric Bolt (December 1)

Green Car Reports: General Motors officials made a bold announcement on a Thursday conference call with investors: The automaker plans to launch commercial autonomous fleet operations beginning in 2019.

Tesla semi

Photo from

Meijer will test four Tesla electric semi-trucks. (November 17, 2017)

The Detroit News reports Meijer to be one of Tesla Inc.’s newest clients. “Meijer has always prided itself on being innovative, especially in our fleet and supply chain,” said Guglielmi. “We have made a small financial commitment to ensure we are at the front of the line to test this new Tesla truck technology.”

Republican-controlled legislature voted to weaken a law that keeps oceangoing cargo ships from releasing untreated ballast water in Michigan waters. (November 9)

According Crain’s Detroit Business, House Bill 5095 would weaken a 2005 law requiring saltwater vessels to use cleansing technology before discharging ballast water in the Great Lakes. A Detroit Free Press article, along with a video by Dan Egan, reports dozens of environmental groups, as well as various federal, state and local officials across the country have voiced reservations. They say the change increases the risk posed by invasive species that can harm habitat. See how our legislators voted on House Bill 5095.

SW Michigan projects honored with 2017 Energy Excellence Awards (November 3)

Southwest Michigan projects had six finalists and winners among the Governor’s Energy Excellence awards:

  • WINNER – Tom Tishler, Kalamazoo. Tom constructed a high-performance Habitat for Humanity home in Kalamazoo with expected yearly savings of $20,000 over the lifetime of the mortgage.
  • Kalamazoo Institute of Arts recently decided to make energy-efficiency improvements. These modifications are expected to reduce energy costs by 25 percent annually.
  • WINNER – Gateway Village, Sturgis. When Hollander Development Corporation acquired Gateway Village, they decided it was time for an overhaul with a goal of reducing energy expenses by 13 percent annually. Upgrades should save about 10,900 therms of natural gas and 90,000 kilowatt hours of electricity per year. Even better, they will greatly improve comfort and safety for residents.
  • WINNER – Better World Builders, Kalamazoo. In 2016, Better World Builders submitted 50 projects to the Consumers Energy Home Performance Program, which will save their customers more than 13,000 therms of natural gas and 27,000 kilowatt hours of electricity annually.
  • WINNER – Holland Energy Fund. Using dollars from the fund, as well as rebates from the Holland Board of Public Works and SEMCO Energy, homeowners can make a wide range of deep energy-saving upgrades.
  • GreenHome Institute, Grand Rapids. The GreenHome Institute champions a successful program called the Biggest Loser: Home Energy Reduction Challenge. In 2016, the program helped save about 14,000 therms of natural gas.
Redistricting Petition Group Reports They’ve Collected 300,000 Signatures (November 2)

According to MLive, Katie Fahey, president of the group Voters Not Politicians, told reporters Thursday the group’s more than 3,500 trained volunteer petitioners have hit the 300,000 signature mark. Their goal is to collect 400,000 to provide a cushion for the 315,654 valid signatures required to reach the ballot and turn those signatures in before the end of the year.

Dam Breach Sends Contaminated Sediment Downstream in Paw Paw

A 113-year-old dam ruptures October 15 from recent storms. DEQ plans weekly testing for arsenic. (November 1)

Youth Advisory Committee Recognized for Green-A-Thon (October 31)

The City of Portage Youth Advisory Committee received the “Michigan Plaque” from Keep Michigan Beautiful, Inc., at the organization’s annual awards ceremony in Lansing. For more details about the YAC see Portager.

Michigan Bill Looks to Clarify Tax Exemptions for Distributed Generation Projects (October 26)

Midwest Energy News reports a bipartisan group of Michigan lawmakers introduced a bill last week that aims to clear up confusion over tax collections for small-scale renewable energy systems. See HB5143 for details.

Judge says fish farm on Au Sable River’s East Branch is illegal. (October 16)

In a case brought by Anglers of the Au Sable River against Harrietta Hills Fish Farm alleging downstream pollution, MLive quotes Crawford County Circuit Judge George Mertz: “There is no question of fact that the operation of a private commercial fish farm clearly violates the statute and the deed restrictions.” Harrietta Hills has asked Michigan DEQ for a permit to greatly expand its hatchery.

KVCC’s eight-year-old wind turbine program remains a national leader. (September 22)

The wind turbine technician training program at Kalamazoo Valley Community College was the first in the U.S. to offer international certification in turbine technology. An MLive report says, “A total of 190 students have graduated from the program, getting jobs in locations throughout the United States.” KVCC’s program boasts a 96% job placement rate for its graduates, with an average salary between $55,000 and $65,000.

Osceola Township nixes Nestlé plan to increase its pumping capacity. (April 18, updates May 4, June 20, July 28, August 17, September 21)

The Osceola Township Planning Commission has denied Nestlé a permit to build a pipeline booster station that would increase its pumping capacity from 250 gallons per minute to 450 at its Ice Mountain bottled water plant. Nestlé can appeal, says WOOD-TV 8, “so it’s possible the project may still move forward. However, the plan would still need approval by the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality.”

Update May 4: Detroit Free Press says Nestlé has appealed to the Osceola Township Zoning Board of Appeals, asking the board to reverse the Planning Commission’s denial.

Update June 20: Osceola Township Zoning Board of Appeals upheld the Township Planning Commission’s permit denial. MLive says Nestle can appeal the decision to Osceola County Circuit Court, but MDEQ still hasn’t decided whether it would be okay for Nestlé to pump that much water.

Update July 28: MLive reports say that Nestlé has appealed to the 49th Circuit Court. Meanwhile, DEQ still hasn’t ruled on Nestlé’s permit request. It wants Nestlé to re-do it’s study, which experts disputed last April. DEQ also “has sought input from the state Department of Natural Resources, the Attorney General’s office and Michigan Native American tribes.”

Update August 17: After two judges in Mecosta County and two in Osceola County recused themselves from Nestlé’s appeal, the case has been assigned to 51st Circuit Court Judge Susan Sniegowski in Luddington.

Update September 21: Bloomberg Business Week published a comprehensive investigative report that looks at Nestlé’s history of cheap water extraction and local bullying tactics, focusing on Mecosta County: “Nestlé Makes Billions Bottling Water It Pays Nearly Nothing For.”

Update October 19: Bottled water production may not be free much longer for Nestlé or any other bottlers, according to MLive. Rep. Peter Lucido, R-Shelby Township, introduced House Bill 5133, which would impose a 5-cent per gallon fee on “each bottled water operator engaged in the business of producing bottled drinking water in this state,” regardless of the water source in Michigan.

News from Sierra Club Michigan Chapter

Sierra Club - Michigan Chapter News Releases

CONTACT: Sean McBrearty, Oil & Water Don’t Mix, (616)516-7758

Citizens Groups React to Line 5 Shut Down

LANSING- Yesterday, the portion of Enbridge Energy’s controversial Line 5 pipeline that operates through the Straits of Mackinac was temporarily shu...
Author: Mike Berkowitz
Posted: 12-06-2017

Sierra Club West Michigan Clean Energy Associate Organizer

This is a two-year, full-time organizing position based in Grand Rapids. The West Michigan Clean Energy Associate Organizer will build grassroots power and move West Michigan away from fossil fuels towards a clean energy...
Author: Gail Philbin
Posted: 12-06-2017
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Author: Gail Philbin
Posted: 11-27-2017
The Sierra Club will expand its capacity to tackle environmental threats in Michigan by adding two new positions to its staff in 2018. If you like a challenge, want to work for positive change, and build a better world for future generations, then you could be a good fit for Sier...
Author: Gail Philbin
Posted: 11-06-2017

Sierra ClubNews from National Sierra Club

Press Releases

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