OCTOBER 14, 2011

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.
`