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Wednesday, September 20, 2017

How advocates helped lead Michigan’s capital city to a future without coal

The impending closure of the Otto E. Eckert coal plant is one factor guiding Lansing, Michigan's utility planning process.

Nearly 10 years ago, the municipally owned Lansing Board of Water & Light floated plans for a new $1 billion coal-fired power plant to replace an aging coal plant just south of the capital city’s downtown.
While utility planning for the future looked quite different then, the proposal was met with swift backlash from many in the greater Lansing community who saw coal as a step backward. The BWL also wasn’t alone among Michigan utilities at the time planning a future with more coal.
Based on public pressure and years-long community engagement, the BWL ended up building a 100 megawatt (MW) gas-powered cogeneration plant to effectively replace the 375 MW Eckert Plant.
But less than 10 miles west of Eckert, the BWL owns another coal plant, the 160 MW Erickson Plant. Over the years, Erickson — completed in 1973 — had a less defined future with vague, moving targets of when it might be closed down.
By early 2014, though, the Michigan chapter of the Sierra Club had been looking into the two plants, finding a long history of self-reported air pollution violations. This provided an in-road for action, according to the group, which issued a notice of intent to sue the BWL in March 2015 over more than 3,500 self-reported violations at the two plants between 2009 and 2013.

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

The Great Nutrient Collapse

The atmosphere is literally changing the food we eat, for the worse. And almost nobody is paying attention.

Irakli Loladze is a mathematician by training, but he was in a biology lab when he encountered the puzzle that would change his life. It was in 1998, and Loladze was studying for his Ph.D. at Arizona State University. Against a backdrop of glass containers glowing with bright green algae, a biologist told Loladze and a half-dozen other graduate students that scientists had discovered something mysterious about zooplankton.

Read more ...

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Monday, September 11, 2017

Talk is getting us nowhere on Line 5

The issue: Line 5 concerns continue to stack up
Our view: Inability to set a deadline is as bad as inaction
Deadlines make the world work.
Clear and rigid expectations set for entire teams of employees or businesses put newspapers on doorsteps by sunrise, ensure parts are manufactured when needed and force governments into action. Deadlines are a function of modern society we begin encountering moments after birth.
That's why state officials' inability to set deadlines when it comes to the elderly twin oil pipelines that run beneath the Mackinac Straits is so frustrating. It takes courage to set deadlines, because deadlines require action.
Enbridge's 64-year-old Line 5 flows up to 23 million gallons of crude oil and natural gas liquids under the Great Lakes each day, a route that, if proposed today, would be hands-down unacceptable because of the grave risk it poses to our state's namesake natural resources. Yet, those pipes remain in use today simply because they're there, not because they are the best technology, or safest option available to move oil.