Michigan's new climate normal

Issue # 6 | PLUS DTE Energy to discuss future in public forum this week

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Detroit | DTE Energy’s future plans to be unveiled, starts and funding for parks & greenways, and a new Superfund site on the Detroit River

DTE ‘s plan up for discussion | DTE Energy will discuss its Integrated Resource Plan (IRP) this week at a public forum Thursday, July 20 in Detroit. The forum, hosted by the Michigan Public Service Commission, will give the public an opportunity to hear from DTE officials and to comment on the plan (Case U-20471).

The MPSC approved Consumers Energy’s IRP on June 7, marking the first approved long-term energy plan under Michigan’s 2016 legislation requiring utilities to submit plans every 5 years.

Environmentalists are less positive about DTE’s plan than they were about Consumers’, which aims to deliver a 92 percent reduction in carbon emissions by 2040. The Union of Concerned Scientists posted a blog criticizing DTE’s IRP for being too slow to retire old coal plants and to develop solar capacity. The Natural Resources Defense Council compares the two plans on its website, criticizing DTE Energy for continuing to plan and build new natural gas plants. And the Michigan Environmental Justice Coalition criticizes the plan for relying on its voluntary Green Current program for solar development which it says “makes renewable energy a luxury item that struggling families cannot afford.”

Meanwhile, the political balance of the Michigan Public Service Commission may change next month with the potential appointment of a democratic-leaning commissioner, as 22 environmentalists called for in a letter to Gov. Whitmer.

Sources: Michigan Public Service Commission, Grand Rapids Business Journal, Michigan Radio, Union of Concerned Scientists, Natural Resources Defense Council, Crain’s Detroit Business

Parks, greenways & habitat funding & development | Several new greenways funding rounds and groundbreakings in Detroit were announced last week.

  • The first round of funding under the Southeast Michigan Resilience Fund was announced last week, with $1.49 million going to seven projects that create green stormwater infrastructure and/or wildlife habitat across the region. More details on the projects here>>>.

  • Twenty-five projects also received funding to help develop the Iron Belle Trail connecting Detroit with Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. The funding includes money for the Detroit Greenways Coalition to print a map of the Iron Belle Trail route within the city. More details here >>>

  • The $4.9 million Joseph Campau Greenway broke ground last week. The 1.2-mile path will connect east side neighborhoods to Detroit’s riverfront.

  • Also breaking ground is a new 1.5-acre garden on Belle Isle designed by Dutch designer Piet Oudolf, for whom the garden is being named.

Superfund | Michigan got one more Superfund site last month on the Detroit River. The site, next to the Trenton channel, is contaminated with PCBs, dioxins, cyanides and metals caused by steelmaking.

Sources: Press release, Crain’s Detroit Business, WXYZ, Gordie Howe International Bridge, Curbed Detroit, Great Lakes Now

Michigan | Climate chaos, Line 5 goes to court, the citizens of PFAS, Flint charges dropped

Climate chaos | Expect more super-wet springs like the one we’re in, according to climate models, plus higher temperatures in Michigan’s summers. This is the wettest Michigan spring on record, and experts warn this may be the new normal.

The rains this spring have delayed crop-planting in Michigan and worsened forecasts for an algae bloom in Lake Erie. Meanwhile, high water levels across the Great Lakes are creating worries about shoreline structures, including the historic shanties in Leland’s Fishtown and the pier in South Haven, which was engulfed in water Thursday.

Sources: Detroit Free Press, Crain’s Detroit Business, WLNS, Circle of Blue, Michigan Radio, Bridge Magazine

Flint charges dropped, for now | All remaining charges in the Flint water crisis have been dropped, but maybe not for long. A new investigation is required, according to officials, because “all available evidence was not pursued” in the investigation under prior Attorney General Bill Schuette. A community event is scheduled in Flint on June 28 to further discuss the issue.

Attorney General Dana Nessler invited Wayne County prosecutor Kym Worthy to join the team investigating Flint in February. Nessler, who is handling the civil side of the case while Worthy pursues criminal charges, spoke Friday, saying that anyone criminally involved in the Flint crisis should be “pretty nervous right now.” An estimated $23 million in taxpayer funds have been spent on the 3-year investigation so far.

Sources: Bridge Magazine, Detroit Free Press, WWMT, Crain’s Detroit Business

Line 5 goes to court | Enbridge filed with the Michigan Court of Claims on Friday in an attempt to undergird the constitutionality and enforceability of the energy company’s October 2018 agreement with Gov. Snyder. The Whitmer administration’s Attorney General Dana Nessler said the agreement, which would give the company five years to build a new pipeline tunnel beneath the Straits of Mackinac, is unconstitutional, and is trying to get the line shut down if an agreement with a faster timeline cannot be reached. Nessler wants the line shut down within two years. The cost of an oil spill in Lake Michigan is estimated to cost $2 billion.

Source: Great Lakes Now, Detroit News, Associated Press

PFAS | Affected citizens have been key in west Michigan’s PFAS contamination case—both as investigators and as activists. They’ve been slow, however, to participate in research that could help understand how the chemicals affect human health.

Sources: MLive, Bridge Magazine,

See | Insta-photo pick

The #annarborpeonies are in full bloom this week.

Tag your photos of metro Detroit’s great outdoors on @planetdetroitnews on Instagram to be considered for this spot.

What to read this week

You may have seen the Vice News story suggesting that climate change will spell the end of human civilization starting in 2050. This Vox piece evaluates both sides of the argument, drawing on analysis from climate science fact-checking site climatefeedback,com, which essentially argues the Vice article is ‘speculative and not supported with evidence.” One scientist’s feedback:

While there is plenty of scientific evidence that climate change will pose increasingly existential threats to the most vulnerable individuals in society and to key global ecosystems, even these dire outcomes aren’t equivalent to the “annihilation of intelligent life,” as is claimed in the report.

Connect | Engage with Detroit’s environment

Have an opportunity you’d like to see featured here? Let us know.

June 20 | MPSC public forum on DTE Energy’s proposed integrated resource plan | Detroit >>>

June 21 | Elmwood Cemetery Bird Walk | Detroit >>>

June 22 | Macomb County Master Gardener Association Garden Tour | Clinton Township >>>

June 28 | Jobbie Nooner | Lake St. Clair >>>

July 6 | Tour native residential landscapes | Novi >>>

July 18 | Learn how to plant a butterfly garden | Mount Clemens >>>

June 19 | Detroit Board of Water commissioners Meeting | Detroit >>>

June 19 | Detroit Historical Canals Tours | Detroit >>>

June 20 | Thursday Night Market | Detroit’s Eastern Market >>>

June 20 | Shimmer on the River | Detroit >>>

July 13 | Lavender Harvest Festival | Milan >>>

July 14 | Detroit Kite Festival | Belle Isle >>>

July 20 | Native bee walk & talk | Detroit >>>

June 22 | Bee blitz | Detroit >>>

June 23 | Detroit Riverfront Past, Present & Future Walking Tour | Detroit Riverfront >>>

July 27 | Mushroom Walk | Royal Oak >>>

August 28 | Urban agriculture bike tour | Detroit >>>

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