Issues of the Environment

Wednesdays during Morning Edition
Brian Steglitz
City of Ann Arbor / a2gov.org

There a number of threats to the health and safety of drinking water in Ann Arbor, and there are some major decisions to be made in the near future. The discussions center on whether to keep the city’s water autonomous and invest in local facilities or create the infrastructure needed to get water from the Detroit system. Either way, there will be a hefty price tag. WEMU’s David Fair looked at where it is stands and where it’s headed with Brian Steglitz, the manager of Water Treatment Services in Ann Arbor.  


Tajalli Hodge
Tajalli Hodge

Nestled on the eastern side of Ypsilanti Township is a neighborhood park that is largely grass-covered and is an underutilized resource. That is changing. Tajalli Hodge is an elected member of the Ypsilanti Township Parks Commission and has taken initial steps to make the park a community gathering place that also enhances the area’s environmental health. WEMU’s David Fair spoke with Hodge about the present and future of Sugarbrook Park. 


Erin Zylstra
Erin Zylstra / Twitter

For many, Monarch butterflies symbolize some of nature's beauty. Yet, you may have noticed fewer of them around in recent years. Erin Zylstra is a postdoctoral researcher in Michigan State University's department of integrative biology. She joined WEMU's David Fair to discuss the human impact that has put the monarch on a path toward extinction. 


Larry Deck
Larry Deck

Many Washtenaw County residents prefer their bicycles instead of cars as a means for transportation. In fact, the popularity of non-motorized transportation continues to grow. Larry Deck is on the board of the Washtenaw Bicycling and Walking Coalition. He joined WEMU's David Fair to discuss  work being done on the Border-to-Border Trail and the Campus-to-Campus path. 


Sue Shink
Sue Shink

Washtenaw County had already declared an official climate emergency, and it has set a goal of getting the entire county carbon neutral by the year 2035. The "Climate Action Planning Team" has been formed, and the next steps are being taken. Washtenaw County Board of Commissioners chair Sue Shink joined WEMU's David Fair to discuss the work ahead.  


Dan Ezekiel
Ann Arbor Wiki / localwiki.org

When it comes to environmental protection and sustainability, getting a better handle on America’s “throw away culture" is important. That's the motivation behind the upcoming "Trash Talk" tour in Ann Arbor. WEMU’s David Fair checked in with Dan Ezekiel from the Washtenaw Zero Waste Coalition to learn more about the tour, what it offers those who participate, and why this is expected to become an annual event.


John Meeker
University of Michigan School of Public Health / sph.umich.edu

Glyphosate, which is usually found in stores as the product Roundup, is the most frequently used herbicide in the world. While it is effective in killing weeds, it is also harmful to health. A recent study out of the University of Michigan links exposure to pre-term births. WEMU's David Fair spoke with the study's senior author, Dr. John Meeker, about the findings and where the research goes from here. 


Yousef Rabhi
Michigan House Democrats / housedems.com

Whether you frequent fast food restaurants or only stop by occasionally, the wrappers your food comes in may be doing harm to your health. Recent studies have found PFAs and other harmful chemicals in food packaging. State Representative Yousef Rabhi of Ann Arbor has introduced legislation to ban the use of such chemicals in food packaging. He joined WEMU's David Fair to further discuss the legislation on "Issues of the Environment."


Christopher Taylor
City of Ann Arbor / a2gov.org

The City of Ann Arbor has set an ambitious goal of achieving communtiy-wide carbon neutrality by 2030. The steps are set forth in the city's A2Zero plan. It is likely, however, that, to meet the target, taxpayers will have to help. Mayor Christopher Taylor recently presented a one-mill, 20-year, property tax plan to make it possible. He joined WEMU's David Fair to discuss the proposal and more. 


Justin Hodge
Washtenaw County / washtenaw.org

For many in Washtenaw County, environmental justice is lacking. Low income residents and people of color often find themselves subjected to environmental hazards, while the more affluent do not. Washtenaw County Commissioner Justin Hodge has made environmental justice a priority and discusses the successes and challenges that remain with WEMU's David Fair. 


Kristen Schweighoefer
Washtenaw County / washtenaw.org

Flooding, pollution, and overall water quality have dominated the news lately. While municipal water systems cover the majority of state residents, 35% operate on a septic system. Regulations and code varies from place to place, and many of the systems are aging and in deteriorating shape. WEMU's David Fair checked in with Washtenaw County environmental health director Kristen Schweighoefer to discuss whether more uniform codes and standards are needed.  


Charles Griffith
The Ecology Center / ecocenter.org

The buses and heavy trucks that travel our towns and highway system contribute a significant part of the emissions causing climate change. We are in the midst of transition, as manufacturers are moving more toward electric vehicle production. WEMU's David Fair and Charles Griffith, the director of the Ann Arbor-based Ecology Center's climate and energy program, discussed the push for Michigan to join others in a commitment to zero out emissions from heavy vehicles by 2050.  


Brian Calka
DTE Energy / dteenergy.com

Washtenaw Community College has announced it plans to run 100% on renewable energies by the year 2029. In part, it plans to get there by signing on to  DTE Energy's MIGreenPower program. The utility's renewable solutions director, Brian Calka, joined  WEMU's David Fair to discuss the agreement with WCC, the program itself, and DTE's plans for a more sustainable, renewable energy future. 


Tony Reames
University of Michigan School for Environment and Sustainability / seas.umich.edu

Energy poverty is a problem all too many low-income households have to contend with. While more affluent households leave a bigger carbon footprint, it is usually people of color that suffer the most economic and health consequences. University of Michigan assistant professor and Urban Energy Justice Lab director Dr. Tony Reames explores the issues and needed solutions in this conversation with WEMU's David Fair.

Della DiPietro
Ann Arbor Township / aatwp.org

Curbside recycling is common practice, yet many residents are still placing unrecyclable materials in their bins. That's why the Washtenaw Regional Resource Management Authority (WRRMA) has started an audit and educational program to help property owners make better recycling decisions. Della DiPietro, who serves as both Ann Arbor Township treasurer and WRRMA representative, discusses the program in detail with WEMU's David Fair.

Washtenaw County Conservation District / washtenawcd.org

When it comes to our environment and natural resources, it's important to know how your tax dollars are being spent. Every five years, the Washtenaw County Conservation District (WCCD) gets the public's opinion through an online survey, and the latest is underway. The WCCD's executive director, Megan DeLeeuw, joined WEMU's David Fair to discuss the survey and the impact it can have over the next five years. 


Howard Russell
Michigan State University College of Agriculture & Natural Resources / canr.msu.edu

It's a great time of year to get outdoors! But, there are some potentially harmful critters waiting for you. Ticks have expanded their habitat in Michigan, and there is a major increase in the populations in Washtenaw County and Southeast Michigan. WEMU's David Fair checked in with Michigan State University entomologist Howard Russell to find out why that is and what we can do to keep ourselves and our pets safe. 


Gordon Fitch

Over many years, there has been a precipitous decline in our bee populations and that has a significant and negative impact on agriculture and the health of our ecosystem. Bees are one of our great pollinators, and human habitat is a major problem. University of Michigan doctoral candidate Gordon Fitch shares with WEMU's David Fair a novel approach he co-designed to monitor bees within the urban landscape.

Jeff Gearhart
The Ecology Center / ecocenter.org

Gardening season is in full swing, and folks are ready to buy the essentials, such as natural fertilizers. Yet, buyers should beware. A national study conducted by the Ann Arbor-based Ecology Center and the Sierra Club found a number of top-selling fertilizers contain the "forever chemicals" known as PFAS. Jeff Gearhart is research director for HealthyStuff.org at the Ecology Center. He joined WEMU's David Fair to discuss the findings and the measures needed to protect us from these harmful chemicals.  


John Ames Jr.

The apparel industry is always changing but rarely with sustainability in mind. You might be surprised at how damaging the industry is to the environment. WEMU's David Fair spoke with someone who is not and who is doing something about it. John Ames Jr. is co-founder and CEO of JOOB Activewear, and sustainability is at the center of his personal and professional mission.


Mike Schade
Safer Chemicals, Healthy Families / saferchemicals.org

A new report released today by the Mind the Store campaign (a partner organization of the Ecology Center in Ann Arbor) finds significant chemical policy improvement. Nearly 70% of companies surveyed have better chemical safety programs now compared to their first evaluation dating as far back as 2016. Mike Schade is director of the campaign and joined by WEMU's David Fair to discuss the ongoing efforts to remove chemical hazards from consumer products. 

  


Watkins
Michigan Department of Natural Resources / dnr.state.mi.us

The natural parks found all over Washtenaw County are like a time capsule. They tell tales of local and state history, which is why their preservation is such a high priority. In this week's "Issues of the Environment," WEMU's David Fair talks about the work being done to protect and preserve these areas with Kira Macyda, a park planner and preservationist for Washtenaw County Parks and Recreation.


Summer Roberts
Washtenaw County / washtenaw.org

After a 17-year, underground incubation period, the Cicadas are coming.  The somewhat large, noisy insects will return this summer and swarm in huge numbers in portions of Washtenaw County.  WEMU's David Fair checked in with Washtenaw County Conservation District community forester Summer Roberts about the 2021 irruption.  There is some good they do for the environment, and there are ways to help mitigate the potential harm they bring to small trees and shrubs. 


Glen Daigger
University of Michigan / umich.edu

Thursday, April 22nd is Earth Day, and, due to the pandemic, most celebrations will be virtual this year.  Still, the idea of Earth Day has endured since it all started with a series of teach-ins at the University of Michigan in 1970.  U-M Civil and Enviromental Engineering Professor Glen Daigger was there and joined WEMU's David Fair to discuss those heady days and what the future may bring. 


Lisa Denys

Spring is in the air, and it's tempting to clean up the yard.  Yet, starting too early, or cleaning too thoroughly, can be devastating to our pollinators, including bees, birds and butterfiles.  On this week's "Issues of the Environment," WEMU's David Fair spoke with Lisa Denys, a seasonal environmental program assistant for Washtenaw County, about some tips for maintaining a clean and environmentally friendly yard. 


Lisa Del Buono
Michigan Clinicians for Climate Action / states.ms2ch.org/mi/micca

We know, with certainty, the climate crisis is negatively impacting our environment.  It is also having adverse affects on pubic health, particularly in communities of color and among low-income familes.  Dr. Lisa Del Buono is the founder of Michigan Clinicians for Climate Action.  She joined WEMU's David Fair to discuss her organization's advocacy of a carbon-fee plan to comprehensively address the issues. 


Janis Bobrin
Michigan League of Conservation Voters / michiganlcv.org

For 24 years, Janis Bobrin served Washtenaw County as Water Resources Commissioner.  Some of the programs she devised and implemented are now industry standard and the positive environmental impacts she's had in our community are quite tangible.  For the final Women's History Month edition of "Issues of the Environment," WEMU's David Fair speaks with Bobrin about her remarkable career and the lasting impacts she has had on the health of our environment and quality of life. 


Donna Lasinski
Michigan House Democrats / housedems.com

Michigan State Representative Donna Lasinski has, among other things, stood up for numerous environmental causes.  That includes fighting the Gelman 1-4 dioxane plume to trying to prevent Enbridge Line 5 from causing catastrophic damage to the Great Lakes.  Now, as the top Democrat in the Michigan House of Representatives, Lasinski seeks to help rewrite Michigan's environmental history.  She joined WEMU's David Fair to discuss the present and future she is working to create on this Women's History Month Edition of "Issues of the Environment."


Mary Beth Doyle
The Ecology Center / ecocenter.org

Mary Beth Doyle Park is a beautiful and serene area in which to spend time and enjoy the outdoors.  It is appropriately named after environmental advocate and activist Mary Beth Doyle.  She helped bring the Ecology Center to international prominence and improved the health of environment and inspired others to do the same.  WEMU's David Fair checked in with Doyle's mentee, colleague, and friend Rebecca Mueninck from the Ecology Center in Ann Arbor for a Women's History Month rememberance. 


Michelle Deatrick
Wikipedia Media Commons / wikipedia.org

Throughout Women's History Month, WEMU is talking with women who are dedicated to creating new history when it comes to environmental protections.  In this week's "Issues of the Environment," WEMU's David Fair recognizes Michelle Deatrick.  The former Washtenaw County Commissioner was instrumental in forming the Washtenaw County Climate Council and has now founded and leads the Democratic National Committee Council on Environment and Climate. 


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