Environment in the news

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$1M grant to fight Great Lakes growing microplastic problem

Could the solution to microplastic pollution come from Wayne State University? Principal researcher Yongli Zhang, an assistant professor of civil and environmental engineering, certainly hopes so. With the help of a recently awarded grant totaling $929,000 from the Great Lakes Protection Fund, Zhang will lead a team of engineers and biologists in mitigating the micro-contaminants from entering the water. "The issue of plastic pollution, and more specifically microplastic pollution, is beginning to get more attention," said Zhang in a press release. "However, this is still a relatively new issue for more people, and a great deal of research and outreach is still needed to make positive changes to public awareness and engagement.”
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Rolling the dice with Enbridge, Line 5 and the Great Lakes

It's hard to look at a deal announced this week between the State of Michigan and Canadian oil giant Enbridge and not feel like Gov. Rick Snyder is really rolling the dice: Gambling that aging, damaged Line 5, an oil pipeline running through the Straits of Mackinac, won't have a significant breach or rupture in the 7 to 10 years. "This is a state and a department of environmental quality that have an absolutely horrendous record of everything from technical judgement to oversight, to, frankly, fundamentally protecting people’s water and people themselves. It’s like a bad deal between the two worst actors," says Noah Hall, a professor at Wayne State University Law School and founder of the Great Lakes Environmental Law Center.
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How long can Great Lakes fend off thirsty world from water diversions?

Noah Hall, an environmental lawyer from Wayne State University, said the changes wrought by climate alterations could require amendments to water compacts. “The Great Lakes Compact states made a rare move to address a problem before it became a problem," Hall said. "While some of these reforms can happen at the state level," Hall wrote, "or through operational changes in compact administration, more fundamental changes will require revision of existing compacts." Such changes will not come easy, he added, and “will require leadership and political will." 
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Cape Town water crisis and what shortages could mean for the Great Lakes

What is going to happen when people all over the world start running out of fresh water? How are we going to deal with that kind of global crisis? And what would it mean for us here in the Great Lakes region, where we have 20 percent of the world’s available surface supply right outside our door? Noah Hall, Wayne State University professor of law, specializing in environmental and water law, and founder of the Great Lakes Environmental Law Center, talked about what these global water shortages could mean for the Great Lakes.
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Opinion: Three 2018 resolutions for a more prosperous metro Detroit

Last year brought news of upheavals in the world, around the country and in our backyard. News of hurricanes and the California fires made me more grateful than ever to claim southeastern Michigan as home. It also makes me concerned that not everyone in southeast Michigan benefits from our region's riches. Worse, I fear that we are being reckless with our treasures. Thus, I offer this resolution for southeastern Michigan: Let's think like a region in 2018.    
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House panel funds Great Lakes cleanup, Asian carp

Washington — House appropriators late Tuesday approved a bill that rejects a Trump administration proposal to eliminate the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative and gives the Fish and Wildlife Service an extra $10.4 million to fight invasive Asian carp. Administrators at the University of Michigan, Michigan State University and Wayne State University had opposed cutting reimbursements for facilities and administrative costs as part of the grants they receive from the National Institutes of Health. The universities said the proposed cap would force them to reduce or eliminate the NIH research they conduct.
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Lead not likely the cause of increased cases of legionnaires’ disease in Flint but…

Researchers from Wayne State University are working to identify why the number of people with Legionnaires’ Disease spiked during the Flint water crisis. The study, in its second year, is expanding to include an examination of the disease in Wayne County. Legionnaires Disease is a form of pneumonia that often hits people over the age of 50 and those with underlying immune system problems. Associate Professor in the Department of Pharmacy Practice and Director of Research at Wayne State University, Paul Kilgore, and Associate Professor of Environmental Engineering at Wayne State,  Shawn McElmurry, spoke with WDET’s Amy Miller. McElmurry says Legionella bacteria is readily found in the environment.
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Eco-friendly ‘green’ district launched in Detroit

Wednesday marked the official launch of a “green” building district in Detroit that aims to significantly curb energy use, water consumption and transportation greenhouse gas emissions.  Another member is Wayne State University, which has been exploring a greenhouse gas inventory as well as other efforts aimed at assessing the campus’ impact, said Daryl Pierson, its sustainability coordinator. “It’s important for us to be a good neighbor and have a good presence — to be a good environmental steward of the area we’re in,” Pierson said.
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Michigan’s new water battle: How much of it should Nestle bottle?

Like many well-watered states, Michigan allows a reasonable use of water by landowners and imposes no royalties for its resale. The Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) must sign off on large withdrawals to make sure stream flows and fish populations aren’t adversely affected. The cost to Nestle? A $5,000 application fee, plus an annual $200 water-use reporting fee. “That’s the real head-scratcher for folks,” says Nick Schroeck, who directs the Great Lakes Environmental Law Center at Wayne State University in Detroit. He points to the Flint crisis and tensions over municipal fees in Detroit – nearly 18,000 customers faced shutoffs last month for years of nonpayment – as the backdrop to the outcry over Nestle’s right to pump more at minimal cost. “In a region where we are water rich and you have incredible water resources, it seems that the law protects certain users and not other users,” he says.
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Great Lakes conference expected to draw 1,000 to Detroit

About 1,000 researchers and others plan to gather in Detroit this week for an international conference focused on the Great Lakes. The 60th annual International Association for Great Lakes Research conference convenes Monday for five days at downtown's Cobo Center. More than 800 oral and poster presentations are expected to highlight scientific findings in freshwater health and management. Michigan State University researcher Joan Rose is scheduled to discuss study areas and investment necessary to protect or restore water quality. Former U.S. Environmental Protection Agency adviser Cameron Davis will talk about political, economic and social effects on the Great Lakes system. The conference is hosted by Wayne State University and the Michigan Sea Grant — a federally funded collaboration between Michigan State and University of Michigan.
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Most in Michigan favor protecting environment even at economic expense

EAST LANSING, MI -- In a post-election poll, Michiganders were asked a tough question about how much they really value environmental protections. The question, posed to 1,000 residents over 18 by researchers with Michigan State University and the online market research firm YouGov, was this: Which of these statements comes closer to your view, even if neither is exactly right? "Economic growth should be given priority, even if the environment suffers to some extent." Or: "Protection of the environment should be given priority, even at the risk of curbing economic growth."