Michigan governor releases plan draft for carbon neutrality

By Anna Liz Nichols, Associated Press

LANSING, Mich. (AP) — Michigan will build clean energy infrastructure and invest in green programs over the next 30 years with the goal of becoming carbon neutral by 2050 to confront climate change, a draft of a state plan says.

Gov.

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Soo Locks to close to marine traffic for winter maintenance

SAULT STE. MARIE, Mich. (AP) — The Soo Locks in Sault Ste. Marie are shutting down to marine traffic to allow the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to perform critical maintenance.

The locks on the St. Marys River between Lake Superior and Lake Huron are expected to be closed from Saturday to March 25, according to the Army Corps of Engineers.

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Work continues on removing lead water lines in Benton Harbor

BENTON HARBOR, Mich. (AP) — More than 400 water service lines in Benton Harbor have been replaced or verified to be free of lead, according to state officials.

City officials also are reviewing bids from contractors for removal of an estimated 3,900 lead service lines, Michigan’s Department of Health and Human Services said this week in a release.

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EPA moves to crack down on dangerous coal ash storage ponds

By Matthew Daly, Associated Press

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Environmental Protection Agency is taking its first major action to address toxic wastewater from coal-burning power plants, ordering utilities to stop dumping waste into unlined storage ponds and speed up plans to close leaking or otherwise dangerous coal ash sites.

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Judge: Lawsuit can proceed against Flint water contractor

FLINT, Mich. (AP) — A judge on Monday refused to dismiss a lawsuit against an engineering company, which is accused of not doing enough to stop the flow of lead-contaminated water in Flint in 2015.

Four families are suing Veolia North America. The company did not participate in the recent $626 million settlement with Flint residents, mostly paid by the state.

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Environmental justice in spotlight as WH official departs

By Drew Costley, Associated Press

The White House’s top official on environmental justice is stepping down a year after President Joe Biden took office with an ambitious plan to help disadvantaged communities and overhaul policies that have historically hurt them.

The departure Friday of Cecilia Martinez, senior director for environmental justice at the Council for Environmental Quality, puts a spotlight on both the administration’s successes and promises yet to be fulfilled.

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Ohio company will pay nearly $250K for Michigan fish kill

ESCANABA, Mich. (AP) — A paper mill in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula has agreed to pay nearly $250,000 to settle an investigation of a fish kill in the Escanaba River, state regulators said.

A “catastrophic pipe failure” at the Verso Corp. site in Escanaba resulted in a discharge of partially treated wastewater in August 2020, regulators said.

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South Haven adds Lake Michigan restrictions in bad weather

SOUTH HAVEN, Mich. (AP) — A southwestern Michigan town that swells with summer visitors is taking steps to keep people out of Lake Michigan during hazardous conditions.

The city council in South Haven agreed to install gates to close popular piers at certain times. Swimmers also could be fined if they’re in the lake, though surfers or kite boarders who embrace big wind and waves would be exempt.

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Minnesota regulators reaffirm air permit for proposed mine

ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) — State regulators who three years ago issued an air quality permit for a proposed copper-nickel mine in northwestern Minnesota stood by their decision in a report released Monday that said the mine did not provide misleading information on its plans.

The Minnesota Pollution Control Agency report is a blow to several environmental groups and the Fond du Lac Band of Lake Superior Chippewa, although it does not clear the way for construction.

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Minnesota Supreme Court to review drainage projects ruling

ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) — The Minnesota Supreme Court announced Tuesday it will review a ruling by the Minnesota Court of Appeals that provided environmental protections for Renville County’s last free-flowing stream.

The October appeals court decision called for an environmental review to determine whether a proposed drainage ditch improvement could harm the stream in the heavily agricultural western county.

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EPA to test, measure longtime Buffalo River cleanup efforts

BUFFALO, N.Y. (AP) — The lengthy effort to clean up the Buffalo River could pay off in the next few years.

The Buffalo News reported Sunday that the federal Environmental Protection Agency has told a local U.S. representative that the winding waterway could lose its status as an environmental danger zone, or “area of concern,” by 2025.

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EPA releases $1B to clean up toxic waste sites in 24 states

By Michael Rubinkam, Associated Press

Nearly 50 toxic waste sites around the U.S. will be cleaned up, and ongoing work at dozens of others will get a funding boost, as federal environmental officials announced Friday a $1 billion infusion to the Superfund program.

The money comes from the $1 trillion infrastructure bill that President Joe Biden signed into law last month and will help officials tackle a backlog of highly polluted Superfund sites in 24 states that have languished for years because of a lack of funding, the Environmental Protection Agency said.

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Court rules against proposed frac sand plant in Wisconsin

By Scott Bauer, Associated Press

MADISON, Wis. (AP) — A state appeals court on Thursday refused to reinstate a permit for a proposed $75 million frac sand operation in western Wisconsin, a victory for environmentalists who have been fighting for years to protect the 16 acres (6.5 hectares) of pristine wetlands.

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US requires higher safety standards for more pipelines

By John Flesher, Associated Press

TRAVERSE CITY, Mich. (AP) — A new federal regulation requires higher safety standards for pipelines carrying oil and other hazardous liquids through the Great Lakes region, marine coastal waters and beaches, officials said Thursday.

The rule issued by the U.S. Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration designates those locations as “high consequence” zones where pipeline operators must step up inspections, repairs and other measures to avoid spills.

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Tests show lead in Benton Harbor tap water finally dropping

By Michael Phillis, Associated Press

ST. LOUIS (AP) — The amount of lead in Benton Harbor, Michigan’s drinking water has declined, new testing shows, after three straight years of elevated results compelled residents to consume bottled water and prompted a hurried effort to replace old pipes.

Lead levels in the majority Black city’s drinking water are now just within standards set by the state that if exceeded, force a utility to take corrective action and inform residents of a problem, according to state officials.

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Enbridge seeks federal jurisdiction in oil pipeline dispute

By John Flesher, Associated Press

TRAVERSE CITY, Mich. (AP) — Enbridge Energy moved Wednesday to shift to federal court a Michigan lawsuit seeking shutdown of an oil pipeline that runs beneath a channel linking two of the Great Lakes.

The Canadian company argued that a 2019 lawsuit filed in a state court by Attorney General Dana Nessel should be heard by U.S.

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Pictured Rocks to begin charging 1st entrance fee in March

MUNISING, Mich. (AP) — Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore will soon begin charging visitors entrance fees for the first time in the 55-year history of the tourist destination in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula.

Park officials announced Monday that the park along Lake Superior will start charging visitor fees starting March 1, 2022, and that camping fees and lighthouse tour fees will increase as of Jan.

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Banned decades ago, PCBs still posing threat to wildlife

By Michael Casey, Associated Press

HOLDERNESS, N.H. (AP) — Navigating her boat toward a wooden platform floating in an idyllic New Hampshire lake where “On Golden Pond” was filmed, biologist Tiffany Grade spotted what she had feared.

An olive brown loon’s egg with black speckles was sitting on an nest, abandoned by its parents and with no chance to hatch.

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Minnesota lake ice shrinking as climate change warms winters

By Mohamed Ibrahim, Associated Press

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — Minnesota lakes have lost nearly two weeks of lake ice over the past 50 years as climate change diminishes the state’s winters, officials from Minnesota’s natural resources and pollution control agencies said Friday.

According to newly released data from the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency and Department of Natural Resources, the state has lost an average of 10 to 14 days of lake ice over the past 50 years — a change officials say is hurting local economies, the environment and the Minnesota way of life.

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Water utilities urge regulators to scrap new PFAS limits

A group of Wisconsin water utilities are urging the state Department of Natural Resources to scrap plans to impose limits on PFAS chemicals in drinking water, saying the agency hasn’t thought through the costs.

The Wisconsin State Journal reported Thursday that the Municipal Environmental Group’s water division submitted comments to the DNR on Tuesday saying the state should wait for the U.S.

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BP agrees to $500K penalty, soot limits at Indiana refinery

By John Flesher, Associated Press

Oil giant BP agreed Thursday to pay a $512,450 penalty and reduce soot emissions from its Whiting refinery in Indiana under an agreement with regulators and activists who accused the company of violating an earlier deal.

The U.S. District Court settlement modifies a previous consent decree that required BP Products North America Inc.

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Science report: US should make less plastic to save oceans

By Seth Borenstein, Associated Press

America needs to rethink and reduce the way it generates plastics because so much of the material is littering the oceans and other waters, the National Academy of Sciences says in a new report.

The United States, the world’s top plastics waste producer, generates more than 46 million tons (42 million metric tons) a year, and about 2.2 billion pounds (1 million metric tons) ends up in the world’s oceans, according to the academy’s report.

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Michigan drops oil pipeline suit, refocuses on separate case

By John Flesher, Associated Press

Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer abandoned a lawsuit Tuesday aimed at shutting down an oil pipeline that runs through part of the Great Lakes but said the state would continue pursuing a separate case with the same goal.

Whitmer’s legal maneuver followed a federal judge’s decision earlier this month to retain jurisdiction over a suit brought by Enbridge Energy after the state revoked an easement allowing Line 5 to cross the Straits of Mackinac.

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New lead testing method could reveal higher levels in water

By Michael Phillis, Associated Press

ST. LOUIS (AP) — For years, testing of the tap water in an upscale Detroit suburb showed the city was in the clear. Then residents got a notice seemingly out of the blue: Their water could be contaminated with elevated levels of lead.

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Study: Warmer summers worsen tick infestations for US moose

By John Flesher, Associated Press

TRAVERSE CITY, Mich. (AP) — It’s a ghastly sight: ticks by tens of thousands burrowed into a moose’s broad body, sucking its lifeblood as the agonized host rubs against trees so vigorously that much of its fur wears away.

Winter tick infestation is common with moose across the northern U.S.

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Whitmer proposes $300M in water funding for communities

LANSING, Mich. (AP) — Gov. Gretchen Whitmer on Thursday proposed $300 million in water spending to help local utilities address elevated lead levels, plan for pipe replacement and connect users of contaminated wells to municipal supplies.

The governor said the funding would expand her $500 million MI Clean Water Plan, some of which has been authorized since it was unveiled more than a year ago.

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Tribes welcome infusion of money in infrastructure bill

By Felicia Fonseca, Associated Press

FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. (AP) — Tribes welcomed an infusion of money in the massive infrastructure bill to expand broadband coverage, fix roads and address water and sanitation needs, but they say real change will come only with sustained investment.

President Joe Biden signed the $1.2 trillion deal earlier this week that includes about $11 billion in benefits for Indian Country, according to the U.S.

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Regulators seek to suspend Trump rule on railway natural gas

By Josh Funk, Associated Press

OMAHA, Neb. (AP) — Federal regulators have proposed suspending a Trump administration rule that would have allowed railroads to haul liquefied natural gas while they take a closer look at the potential safety risks.

The rule, which was backed by both the natural gas and freight rail industries, had already been on hold because several environmental groups and 14 states filed lawsuits challenging it.

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Judge keeps Michigan oil pipeline case in federal court

By John Flesher, Associated Press

A federal judge retained jurisdiction Tuesday in a dispute over a Canadian oil pipeline that runs through a section of the Great Lakes, rejecting Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s contention that the case belongs in state court.

The clash over whether Enbridge Energy’s Line 5 should continue operating raises issues “under consideration at the highest levels of this country’s government” involving a U.S.-Canada treaty and federal pipeline safety regulation, U.S.

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Program to help Benton Harbor residents with water bills

BENTON HARBOR, Mich. (AP) — State officials announced a pilot program Wednesday aimed at helping eligible residents of a Michigan city where there’s been a lead crisis pay water and wastewater bills.

The federally-funded program is designed to help households that have had water disconnected or are facing disconnection pay to have it restored.

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Judge OKs $626 million settlement in Flint water litigation

By Ed White, Associated Press

DETROIT (AP) — A judge on Wednesday approved a $626 million deal to settle lawsuits filed by Flint residents who found their tap water contaminated by lead following disastrous decisions to switch the city’s water source and a failure to swiftly acknowledge the problem.

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MSU researchers collecting data on Great Lakes shoreline

EAST LANSING, Mich. (AP) — Researchers at Michigan State University are collecting data on how Great Lakes shoreline, including how residents view coastlines and the impact of high water levels.

Assistant professor Erin Bunting said the goal is to empower local communities, which is important to the future of the lakeshores and future research.

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17 Indiana state parks closing for 4 days of deer hunts

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — Seventeen Indiana state park sites will be closing their gates to visitors for a pair of two-day deer hunts later this month.

The hunts are scheduled for Nov. 15-16 and Nov. 29-30, with the parks closing the evening before and reopening the next day.

The annual deer hunts began in 1993, with the Indiana Department of Natural Resources saying wildlife biologists evaluate the parks to determine where the hunts are needed to ensure healthy habitats for native plants and animals.

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EPA to begin testing water at 300 Benton Harbor homes

BENTON HARBOR, Mich. (AP) — Officials with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency will soon start testing the water in 300 homes in a Michigan city where there’s been a lead crisis to check certified filters given area residents by the state to remove lead from the drinking water.

EPA officials will collect water samples in Benton Harbor, according to The Herald-Palladium. 

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Minnesota pollution officials update impaired waters list

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — Minnesota pollution officials on Monday released a proposed impaired waters list for 2022, an update that included the addition of 15 northeastern and central Minnesota water bodies where fish have been contaminated with long-lasting chemicals.

The 15 were added due to contamination with a family of widely used chemicals known as PFAS, sometimes called “forever chemicals “due to their inability to break down.

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White House: US will discuss Michigan pipeline with Canada

By John Flesher, Associated Press

TRAVERSE CITY, Mich. (AP) — The U.S. and Canada will discuss the future of an oil pipeline that crosses part of the Great Lakes and is the subject of rising tension over whether it should be shut down, the White House said Monday.

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Benton Harbor on edge as lead water crisis persists

BENTON HARBOR, Mich. (AP) — Shortly after sunrise on a recent Saturday in Benton Harbor, Michigan, residents began lining up for free bottled water so they could drink and cook without fear of the high levels of lead in the city’s tap water.

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Michigan to pay $300K to only staffer fired over Flint water

DETROIT (AP) — The state of Michigan said Friday it agreed pay $300,000 to settle wrongful discharge claims by the only employee who was fired as a result of lead-contaminated water in Flint.

The deal with Liane Shekter Smith, who was head of the state’s drinking water division, came weeks after an arbitrator said she was wrongly fired in 2016 by officials who were likely looking for a “public scapegoat” in one of the worst environmental disasters in U.S.

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NY says no to voting reforms, yes to environmental right

By Marina Villeneuve, Associated Press

ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) — New Yorkers approved a ballot measure adding the right to a clean environment to the state constitution but rejected other proposed amendments that could have made it easier to vote.

The environmental measure was one of five statewide ballot questions before New York voters Tuesday.

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Michigan city with lead in water ordered to fix water plant

BENTON HARBOR, Mich. (AP) — A Michigan city that is urging residents not to drink tap water failed to timely warn people about high levels of lead and must make improvements at the water plant, federal regulators said Tuesday after an inspection revealed a variety of problems.

The Environmental Protection Agency said the situation was dire enough to order Benton Harbor to consider turning the water system over to someone else.

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Senators urge emergency protections for wolves in US West

By Matthew Brown, Associated Press

BILLINGS, Mont. (AP) — A group of Democratic lawmakers on Thursday urged the Biden administration to enact emergency protections for gray wolves in the U.S. West in response to Republican-backed state laws that make it easier to kill the predators.

Twenty-one U.S.

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Software to help inventory lead water lines in Detroit

DETROIT (AP) — A high-tech strategy could help Detroit save $165 million while also pinpointing the number of lead water lines in the city.

Data crunched with software from technology startup BlueConduit will hopefully provide a report of the probable locations and number of lead lines, the water department said.

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US Democratic governors to participate in U.N. climate talks

By Kathleen Ronayne, Associated Press

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) — U.S. governors want a seat at the table as international leaders prepare to gather in Scotland at a critical moment for global efforts to reduce fossil fuel emissions and slow the planet’s temperature rise.

At least a half dozen state governors — all Democrats — plan to attend parts of the two-week United Nations’ climate change conference in Glasgow, known as COP26.

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Twin Metals to appeal federal decision on proposed mine

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — Twin Metals will appeal a federal decision that dealt a serious blow to its proposed copper-nickel mine in northeastern Minnesota, the company said Wednesday.

Last week, the Biden administration ordered a mineral withdrawal study on 225,000 acres of federal land that could lead to a 20-year ban on mining upstream from the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness, a popular recreational area in the Superior National Forest.

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Utility eyes earlier shutdown of Lake Michigan power plant

MERRILLVILLE, Ind. (AP) — A northern Indiana utility company is looking to shutter a coal-fired power plant along Lake Michigan two years earlier than planned.

Northern Indiana Public Service Co. said it now plans to retire its electricity generating plant in Michigan City between 2026 and 2028 rather than the previous shutdown target of 2028.

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Majority in US concerned about climate: AP-NORC/EPIC poll

By Ellen Knickmeyer, Emily Swanson and Nathan Ellgren, Associated Press

WASHINGTON (AP) — President Joe Biden heads to a vital U.N. climate summit at a time when a majority of Americans regard the deteriorating climate as a problem of high importance to them, an increase from just a few years ago.

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Pritzker to visit UK, tout climate-change efforts next week

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (AP) — Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker will travel to the United Kingdom next week to discuss the state’s efforts to neutralize climate change while bolstering economic development, his office said Wednesday.

The Democrat and top staff members will travel to Britain and Scotland from Nov. 2-9 and attend the 2021 United Nations Climate Change Conference of the Parties.

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Billions in environmental justice funds hang in the balance

By Drew Costley, AP Science Writer

Tens of billions of dollars for U.S. environmental justice initiatives originally proposed in a $3.5 trillion domestic spending package now hang in the balance as Democrats decide how to trim the bill down to $2 trillion.

Investments in a wide range of these projects were proposed in the Build Back Better plan, but Senators Joe Manchin of West Virginia and Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona demanded that the bill be reduced, with Manchin asking for it to be cut by as much as half.

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Center in UP to look at impact of oil spills in freshwater

SAULT STE. MARIE, Mich. (AP) — Lake Superior State University in Michigan’s eastern Upper Peninsula has been selected as a hub for a center that will look at the impacts of oil spills in freshwater environments.

The U.S. Coast Guard National Center of Expertise for the Great Lakes also will help develop effective responses to spills, according to the school.

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Michigan city declares emergency over lead; governor visits

BENTON HARBOR, Mich. (AP) — Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer said she visited Benton Harbor on Tuesday to listen to residents who have been urged to use bottled water because of elevated levels of lead in their tap water.

Whitmer’s stop, which wasn’t publicly disclosed until it was over, came hours after city commissioners unanimously declared an emergency and empowered Mayor Marcus Muhammad to lead Benton Harbor’s response.

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