OCTOBER 14, 2011 Vol. 33 No. 8 FROM THE CHAIR Hello All! Last month I noted that life is a battle and it appears that we are seeing a real popular uprising. Thousands are protesting banking greed, corporate malfeasance, and the failure of politicians to address real people problems. They continue to converge on Wall Street in New York and other locations. Is it possible that the left has spontaneously produced a counterpart to the right’s reactionary Tea Party? In a real effort to keep Michigan ‘pure’, the Natural Resources Defense Council and Sierra Club have filed an appeal of the state’s decision to extend Consumers Energy’s air permit for its proposed dirty coal project in Hampton Township. Big thanks to those folks. And speaking of energy, I’m sure you’ve heard of the failure of the solar company Solyndra. What you don’t hear about is the success of alternative energy. The Sun Day Campaign reports that at mid-year, 2011, renewable resources reached 12.25% of domestic energy production surpassing nuclear by almost 18%; renewable electricity expanded by 26% providing 14% of net U.S. electricity while nuclear dropped by 4% and coal by 5% (SEE: RENEWABLE RESOURCES MILESTONE). According to the latest Reuters/Ipsos poll, 83 percent of people now believe that climate change is happening. That's up from 75 percent last year. Ironically it may be due in part to the denials of Republican candidates on the stump. Jon Krosnick, a political science professor at Stanford University has said that raising the issue by the presidential candidates causes people to mull over their attitude towards global climate change and seek out information. And…drum roll please…a high-speed passenger train service between Chicago and Detroit took two big steps forward with a $196.5 million federal grant to Michigan and the state’s acquisition of a 135-mile stretch of track. Of course a little rain must fall. The U.S. House of Representatives and its 19th century majority continue to play puppets to its fossil fuel masters and try to gut regulations and the EPA (SEE: U.S. HOUSE CONTINUES ASSAULT ON CLEAN AIR). Even as Bay County explores getting its raw water from the northern reaches of Saginaw Bay, a disturbing report from the National Wildlife Federation identifies Saginaw Bay as one area that suffers from toxic algae blooms (SEE: EMERGING NUTRIENT CRISIS CAUSING MASSIVE NEW BREAKDOWNS IN THE GREAT LAKES). Speaking of Saginaw Bay, Michelle Hurd Riddick took three short videos of discharges at the Slurry Pit in Ziluwaukee Township posting them on YouTube and on our watchdog site: www.cleanwatershedcampaign.org. As Michelle notes, “The Saginaw River is a Superfund site and this pit is next to farmland, wetlands and the Crow Island Wildlife refuge. The standing water and sand bar attract dozens of bird species. Egrets stand near the pipe waiting for chunks of fish to appear. Cormorants have been seen, so it’s safe to assume there are fish in the small lake that the Corp was so sure would evaporate. This site has a long and sordid legal, political and regulatory history. Stupid, hasty and politically motivated decisions are the reason the Saginaw River and Bay will never be de-listed as an AOC.” We also continue to pursue with EPA the idea of sediment traps in the Tittabawassee and Saginaw rivers, covered repeatedly in the Leaf-let. What better way to intercept dioxins as they flow downstream during dredging, ship traffic, or flooding. On October 11th our own Michelle Hurd Riddick was celebrated as a Great Lakes Champion in an event sponsored by Michigan Clean Water Action in Lansing. She joined three other heroes of Michigan’s environmental movement including Dave Dempsey (SEE: 2011 GREAT LAKES AWARDS CELEBRATION). Congratulations to these hardworking, life-time advocates for a real ‘pure’ Michigan not simply a campaign slogan. The Keystone project remains a flashpoint and recently the State Department admitted that its ‘independent’ tar sands pipeline review was paid for by TransCanada – a clear conflict-of-interest violation. Martin Shackelford has taped an interview with Bill McKibben on Keystone for showing on Friday. Enjoy the changing colors and the autumn sports, but stay vigilant. Terry 2001 GREAT LAKES AWARDS CELEBRATION CLEAN WATER ACTION LANSING, MICHIGAN Great Lakes Hero: Mark Schauer: As a State Representative, Senator and a member of Congress Shauer maintained a 98 percent on Clean Water Action’s legislative scorecard. Mark continues you to be an environmental champion for Michigan even after he has left office. Earlier this year, Schauer was named by the BlueGreen Alliance as co-chair of Jobs 21! The BlueGreen Alliance unites the labor and environmental movements toward winning the global competition for clean energy jobs, protecting the environment, and preserving labor rights. Great Lakes Guardian: Dave Dempsey: Former Clean Water staffer, Dave Dempsey has helped shape conservation and Great Lakes policy for 28 years. He is an author and co-author of five conservation books and is currently a policy advisor for the International Joint Commission. Throughout his career, Dempsey has worked to protect the Great Lakes and Michigan's other natural resources. He served as an environmental advisor for former Governor James Blanchard and as policy director at the Michigan Environmental Council. Great Lakes Champion: Michelle Hurd Riddick: Michelle Hurd Riddick is a nurse at a local Veterans Administration hospital and is a leader of the Lone Tree Council, a 32 year old grassroots environmental organization in Bay City working to tackle head-on Dow Chemical's dioxin contamination of the Saginaw Bay Watershed. She has worked tirelessly to protect Michigan’s waters from harmful pollutants. Clean Water Innovator: Brian Cenci: Brian is a Senior Project Engineer at Fitzgerald Henne and Associates, Inc. in Lansing. He has worked on numerous water quality projects throughout Michigan. Most notably he was the project manager and lead designer on the Towar Rain Garden Drains project in Meridian Township, which is the largest low-impact design urban stormwater retrofit in Michigan and one of the largest in the nation. Brian has served on the Commission on the Environment for the City of East Lansing since 2004, the last four years as its Chair. RENEWABLE RESOURCES MILESTONE FROM: Sun Day Campaign, October 5, 2011 ____________________________________________ Washington DC – According to the most recent issue of the "Monthly Energy Review" by the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA), with data through June 30, 2011, renewable energy has passed another milestone as domestic production is now significantly greater than that of nuclear power and continues to close in on oil. During the first half of 2011, renewable energy sources (biomass & biofuels, geothermal, solar, water, wind) provided 4.687 quadrillion Btus of energy or 12.25% of U.S. energy production. By comparison, renewables accounted for 11.05% of domestic production during the first half of 2010 and 10.50% during the first half of 2009. (On the consumption side, which includes oil and other energy imports, renewable sources accounted for 9.45% of total U.S. energy use.) More significantly, energy production from renewable energy sources in 2011 was 17.91% more than that from nuclear power, which provided 3.975 quadrillion Btus and has been declining in recent years. Energy from renewable sources is now equal to 79.83% of that from domestic crude oil production, with the gap closing rapidly. Looking at all energy sectors (e.g., electricity, transportation, thermal), production of renewable energy, including hydropower, has increased by 15.02% compared to the first half of 2010, and by 22.79% when compared to the first half of 2009. Among the renewable energy sources, biomass and biofuels accounted for 46.04% in 2011 (54% from biomass and 46% from biofuels), followed by hydropower (37.00%), wind (13.40%), geothermal (2.33%), and solar (1.22%). Looking at just the electricity sector, according to the latest issue of EIA’s "Electric Power Monthly," with data through June 30, 2011, for the first half of 2011, renewable energy sources (biomass, geothermal, solar, water, wind) accounted for 13.97% of net U.S. electrical generation - up 26.14% from the same period in 2010. Hydropower accounted for 8.94% of U.S. electrical generation, followed by wind at 3.24%, biomass at 1.33%, geothermal at 0.41%, and solar at 0.04%. Thus, non-hydro renewables accounted for 5.02% of net U.S. electrical generation. Comparing the first six months of 2011 to the first six months of 2010, solar-generated electricity expanded by 43.6%, wind by 35.1%, hydropower by 30.3%, and geothermal by 4.9%; only biomass dropped - by 4.4%. By comparison, nuclear power's contribution to net U.S. electrical generation totaled 19.12% representing a decline of 3.8% compared to the first half of 2010 and a drop of over 5% compared to the first half of 2009. Similarly, coal-generated electricity also dipped by 4.8% from its mid-year 2010 level while natural gas increased by 2.4%. “Notwithstanding a few high-profile set-backs such as the recent collapse of the solar company Solyndra, U.S. governmental investments in renewable energy sources have proven to be highly profitable and are yielding stellar returns,” said Ken Bossong, Executive director of the SUN DAY Campaign. “Ongoing and expanded public support is certainly warranted, particularly in light of the risks posed by continued reliance on environmentally dangerous sources such as nuclear power and fossil fuels.” U.S. HOUSE CONTINUES ASSAULT ON CLEAN AIR Latest Vote Blocks Toxic Mercury Protections FROM: SIERRA CLUB, October 6, 2011 ___________________________________________ Washington, D.C. – The U.S. House of Representatives today passed legislation that would block critical protections against toxic mercury emitted by cement plants. The chamber is expected to vote on a similar bill to block toxic mercury protections for industrial boilers next week. Cement plants and industrial boilers are among the nation’s biggest and dirtiest sources of mercury pollution. In response, Sierra Club Executive Director Michael Brune issued the following statement: “Members of the U.S. House Leadership have outdone themselves again, with their continued, all-out assault on commonsense public health protections. “By passing H.R. 2681, the U.S. House has voted to allow cement plants, some of the nation’s biggest, dirtiest sources of mercury pollution, to continue spewing toxic mercury – a known brain poison that threatens the development of young children – into our air and water without limits. “These cement plants exist in communities across the country, exposing Americans to toxic mercury pollution and making commonsense pollution protections all the more important for the health and well-being of American families. “House Leadership claims that the costs of the basic pollution protections that have served Americans for four decades are too high, but their actions today will not create more jobs or economic growth. Instead, it will mean more children in the hospital, harder times for families trying to make ends meet and billions of dollars in health bills for American taxpayers. “Now more than ever, the American people need their members of Congress to stop the political gamesmanship and work together to solve the nation’s problems. “The Sierra Club applauds President Obama for his vow to veto these dangerous bills that undermine public health protections. We urge Congress to reject these polluter-led attacks on public health and focus on real solutions that grow the economy without costing lives.” EMERGING NUTRIENT CRISIS CAUSING MASSIVE NEW BREAKDOWNS IN THE GREAT LAKES FROM: Jordan Lubertkin, National Wildlife Federation, October 4, 2011 ____________________________________________ ANN ARBOR, MICH. The National Wildlife Federation released a report documenting new and massive ecosystem breakdowns in the Great Lakes caused by interactions between excessive fertilizer runoff from farms and invasive zebra and quagga mussels. The report came on the same day that NWF testified before the U.S. Senate Environment for Public Works Subcommittee on Water and Wildlife on the report findings. Read the report and Senate testimony of Andy Buchsbaum at: www.nwf.org/greatlakes The report, “Feast and Famine in the Great Lakes: How Nutrients and Invasive Species Interact to Overwhelm the Coasts and Starve Offshore Waters,” details the links between enormous algal blooms in Lake Erie that threaten the health of people and wildlife and a 95 percent decline in fish biomass in Lake Huron. “Too much food is causing massive algal blooms in Lake Erie and other coastal systems, while too little food is making fish starve in Lake Huron’s offshore waters,” said Andy Buchsbaum, regional executive director of the National Wildlife Federation’s Great Lakes Regional Center. “Nutrient-rich runoff from farms is growing a huge crop of algae along the lakes’ coasts, but those nutrients aren’t making it out to the water in the middle of the lakes. Quagga mussels are consuming almost all of it, leaving nothing left in the water for fish to eat.” The dual feast-and-famine crises plaguing the Lakes, according to the report, are leading to a collapse of the base of the food web, declines in desirable sport fish populations such as lake whitefish and salmon, and resurgence of toxic algae blooms and the Lake Erie “Dead Zone.” “This feast-and-famine dichotomy is unprecedented,” said report-co-author Julie Mida Hinderer. “Rapid and drastic ecosystem changes are altering the Great Lakes from top to bottom. The impacts we're witnessing are a sign that the Great Lakes need urgent help.” Among the report findings that illustrate how excessive nutrients are overwhelming coastal areas: • This summer Lake Erie experienced the worst toxic algal bloom in recorded history – worse than when the lake was declared dead in the 1960s. • The bloom, involving the toxic alga Microcystis, at one point extended across almost the entire western basin and into the central basin, and in some places was up to 2 feet thick. • The toxic algae can sicken or even kill people. A toxin from the algae was measured in this summer’s bloom at 1,000 times the World Health Organization guidelines for drinking water. • Algal blooms are significant, although so far less severe, in Saginaw Bay (Michigan), Green Bay (Wisconsin), and along the Lake Michigan coastline, among other areas, and federal agencies rate nearshore areas in all lakes but Lake Superior as “poor” for nutrient phosphorus concentrations. It will take a comprehensive response, according to the report, to solve the emerging nutrient crisis in the Great Lakes. Among the recommendations in “Feast and Famine” are: • Forging a stronger Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement to achieve nutrient-reduction goals; • Supporting federal Farm Bill programs to reduce polluted agricultural run-off; • Using the Clean Water Act to uphold water quality standards; • Focusing protection efforts in Lake Erie; and, • Targeting Great Lakes restoration programs to reduce nutrient pollution. For more National Wildlife Federation news visit www.nwf.org/greatlakes CRITICAL ISSUES WEBSITES Recent developments related to the EPA-directed Dow dioxin cleanup effort: www.cleanwatershedcampaign.org Comprehensive archives on Tittabawassee, Saginaw River and Bay dioxin contamination: www.trwnews.net Issues and concerns related to Zilwaukee/Frankenlust Slurry Pit or DMDF www.dredgeitright.org Last Word That sucking sound you hear is the disappearance of the base of the Great Lakes food web, which is impacting some of the most desirable sport fish in the region. Reversing this damage has got to be a top priority to protect our lakes, our fish and our economy. Frank Krist Chair of the Lake Huron Citizens Fishery Advisory Committee to the Michigan Department of Natural Resources.
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