FCA air quality plan fails, LSC Sludge Report, and a Very Large EV -- PLUS a funding announcement!

January 31, 2020 | CO2 2020/2019 414.15 / 411.24 ppm <<--www.co2.earth/daily-co2

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Planet Detroit receives funding to report on environmental justice, citizen science

Planet Detroit is pleased to announce it is the recipient of a $25,000 grant from the Facebook Journalism Project Community Network Program. This funding will allow us to engage with communities in environmental injustice hotspots across the city and region. We are also thrilled to be listed as a partner, along with Keep Growing Detroit, on a second Facebook Journalism Project Community Network Program grant project led by Graham Media Group/WDIV focused on Citizen Science. LEARN MORE>>>

Are you a local EJ expert or community leader? Planet Detroit is looking to assemble a project advisory to help guide our environmental justice reporting work.    
If you are interested in participating, please let us know here>>>

Fiat Chrysler’s air quality plan falls short

State regulators have notified Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (FCA) that their air quality plan for the expansion of the Mack Avenue and Jefferson North assembly plants on Detroit’s East Side “falls short of expectations, and additional clarification and information is needed.” Among other things, the plan’s air monitoring program was deemed “not acceptable”. Michigan’s Department of Environment Great Lakes and Energy (EGLE) also wants to see the automaker incorporate feedback from residents and community groups in their proposal.

In the past, environmental groups have called out the FCA deal for its potential to make an already polluted area of the city worse. In particular, they objected to plans to decrease emissions at a Warren plant and increase them in Detroit, which has asthma rates that are 29% higher than the state at large. An estimated 650 Detroiters die from air pollution a year or more than twice the number of those killed by gun violence.

Fiat Chrysler has until November 30th to present a new plan to EGLE. The failure of the previous plan is not expected to delay the expansion, which is scheduled to finish by the end of 2020. In September, community groups released a petition asking FCA for money for a public health fund, air filtration for schools and other facilities, and a buffer of vegetation around the entire plant.

Hazardous waste facility in Detroit to expand dramatically

US Ecology obtained permission this week to increase its footprint on Detroit’s Eastside nearly ninefold. The facility at 6520 Georgia St.—near the Hamtramck border—will be able to increase its storage of toxic chemicals from 76,118 gallons to almost 677,000 gallons. The site processes fracking waste and PFAS, among other materials. US Ecology is currently allowed to treat up to 144,000 gallons of toxic material a day and may discharge 300,000 gallons of treated waste into the Great Lakes Water Authority sewer system daily.

"They are declaring Detroit and Wayne County the toxic waste dumping ground for the nation, including radioactive fracking waste," Rep. Isaac Robinson, D-Detroit told the Detroit Free Press. Representatives from Michigan’s Department of Environment Great Lakes and Energy (EGLE) said the expansion proposal has been under review since 2012 and that they took into account public demands for things like a dedicated truck route for the facility.

The Lake St. Clair Sludge Report

Property owners moved closer this week to solve the mystery of the sludge that washed up on the shoreline of Lake St. Clair. Test results say that it’s likely decaying algae and not raw sewage. It also doesn’t appear to contain hazardous levels of E. coli bacteria. Nevertheless, cleaning this stuff up could cost a whole lot of money.

Estimates published by the Detroit Free Press clock the bill at $10,000 a home. Wind, weather and high lake levels are believed to have pushed it onto the shore. However, combined sewer overflows into Lake St. Clair remains a concern, with massive sewage discharges into the lake already in January—totaling more than 800 million gallons.

Detroit Bulk Storage presents new Detroit River cleanup plan

Detroit Bulk Storage has presented a new “Interim Response Plan” to Michigan’s Department of Environment Great Lakes and Energy (EGLE). The plan looks to slow the deterioration of the former Manhattan Project site, which has been collapsing into the Detroit River over the past two months, calling for a second silk curtain 20 feet deep and 400 feet long to control erosion and contain contaminated soil. Despite having previously submitted an inadequate plan, failing to notify EGLE of the initial spill for over a week and operating without a permit, Detroit Bulk Storage is still in charge of rehabilitating the property.


Michigan gets an Environmental Justice Advisory Council

Many Detroiters are among those who have been chosen for an Environmental Justice Advisory Council that will “provide public and impacted community input” to the Interagency Environmental Justice Response Team led by Regina Strong, the state’s Environmental Justice Public Advocate. Fourteen members of the 21-person panel are from the Detroit area.

"To address ongoing environmental justice issues, it was absolutely critical that those impacted daily have a seat at the table,” Governor Gretchen Whitmer said in a press release.

Old coal plants cost Michigan ratepayers millions

With a practice known as “self-scheduling”, coal plants in Michigan have continued to run despite being more expensive than renewables or natural gas for significant periods of time. Midwest Energy News reports that this practice cost DTE Energy $74 million in 2017.

Menominee Tribe loses appeal over Back Forty Mine

A lawsuit by the Menominee Tribe over the Back Forty Mine near Stephenson, Michigan—on the Wisconsin/Michigan border—was tossed out by a federal appeals court this week.

The Canadian company Aquila Resources wants to mine for gold, zinc, and other metals on the site. The suit against the Environmental Protection Agency and Army Corps of Engineers would have required the agencies to consult with the tribe on the project. However, federal authorities had delegated control of this mine to the state of Michigan in 1984. and these matters will likely rest with Michigan’s courts. However, U.S. Circuit Judge Michael Scudder questioned the way federal authorities handled the matter, saying the tribe "ran into a legal labyrinth and regulatory misdirection" while it sought to protect its water and cultural sites. The tribe is also challenging Michigan’s decision to grant a wetland permit to the mine.  

1,000-horsepower of environmental sustainability?

Following General Motor’s announcement that they’re converting the Detroit-Hamtramck Assembly plant into their first fully dedicated electric vehicle facility, the company wants to show the world that it really “gets” this eco-stuff.

Ladies and Gentlemen, we give you the Hummer EV, a fully-electric version of the discontinued line of vehicles—which were never practical—but were a direct product of the military-industrial complex.

The Hummer EV can deliver an impressive 11,500 pound-feet of torque from its electric battery—which sounds like a great deal of torque indeed. And since it’s electric, you can have a clear conscience as you absent-mindedly crush your neighbor’s Ford Fiesta while backing out of your driveway, knowing this was done without any fossil fuels! (Unless of course, one factors in the energy embodied in the vehicle’s very-large carapace, or the fuels powering its gigantic batteries, not to mention the extractive processes used to construct all of the above.)

LeBron James will introduce the vehicle in a Super Bowl commercial this week, guaranteeing that sales will be a slam dunk or a touchdown or whatever.


Climate Change Attitudes in 2020 | Only 6 in 10 Americans think global warming is “mostly caused by humans” + more fun and scary stats  Harvard Business Review

Opinion: On the morality of procreation in the era of climate change | Is parent-shaming just another way of letting the fossil fuel industry off the hook? Undark

Vegan > Local? | Beef is still way worse than lentils, no matter where they were produced. University of Oxford

WANTED: DPSCD students to learn about stretching their food dollars. Make Food Not Waste and Soil2Service will be hosting a Zero Waste Cooking Class for Teens 16+ in February. INFO>>> 
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