Issues of the Environment

Wednesdays during Morning Edition
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. 


Rebecca Esselman
Doug Coombe / Concentrate Media

The Huron River is a life force for the communities in its watershed.  Throughout the years, it is women who have been a driving force in improving its quality.  In this Women's History Month edition of "Issues of the Environment," WEMU's David Fair talks with the current executive director of the Huron River Watershed Council about some of the women who preceded her and how that serves as foundation for the work she is doing today and for tomorrow. 


Justin Onwenu
LinkedIn / linkedin.com

The movement towards racial equity is an ongoing fight.  Environmental racism has been an issue in our area since the industrial revolution, and it persists today, inflicting the most harm on communities of color.  In another Black History Month edition of "Issues of the Environment," WEMU's David Fair and the Sierra Club's Justin Onwenu explore problems and solutions in the effort to bring environmental injustice to an end. 


Paul Mohai
University of Michigan / umich.edu

The concept of environmental justice can traced back to the 1970's.  But, it wasn't until the 1990's when the movement really began to take shape, thanks to the works of such scholars as Dr. Bunyan Bryant and Dr. Paul Mohai.  Dr. Mohai looks back at the work he and his colleagues have done over the last three decades in a conversation with WEMU's David Fair.


Donele Wilkins
Greendoor Initative / greendoorinitiative.org

The COVID-19 pandemic has impacted the the African-American community more in a variety of negative ways.  Among other things, it has highlighted the systemic issues that continue to support environmental racism.  Detroit-based "Green Door Initiative" was created specifically to fight such inequities.  Organization founder and CEO Donele Wilkins discusses progress and present and future challenges with WEMU's David Fair.  


Laura Sherman
Michigan Energy Innovation Business Council / mieibc.org

The cost of producing and distributing renewable energy continues to decline.  That is changing the energy marketplace.  Still, there are a lot of hurdles to overcome in both legislative policy and in the behaviors of individuals and communities.  In this week's "Issues of the Environment," WEMU's David Fair discusses the near and longer-term energy future with Laura Sherman, president of the Michigan Energy Innovation Business Council.


Bryan Ukena
Recycle Ann Arbor / recycleannarbor.org

Ann Arbor's Materials Recovery Facility has been closed for nearly five years due to safety concerns.  In 2020, the city hired Recycle Ann Arbor to handle recycling and charged it with reopening the facility.  Renovation and innovation measures are getting underway, and "The MuRF," as it's called, should open this fall.  Recycle Ann Arbor CEO Bryan Ukena joined WEMU's David Fair to update you on this week's "Issues of the Environment."


Richard Rood
University of Michigan / umich.edu

Joe Biden will be sworn in today as the 46th President of the United States.  University of Michigan professor Richard Rood is one of many experts expecting the new administration will undo the damaging environmental policies of the Trump administration and advance the effort to combat the climate crisis.  Dr. Rood discussed his predictions with WEMU's David Fair in this week's "Issues of the Environment."


Ashley Payne
University of Michigan College of Climate and Space Sciences and Engineering / clasp.engin.umich.edu

One of the few certainties about weather is its uncertainty.  So far, the winter of 2021 is off to a rather mild start.  But, the weather phenomenon known as "La Nina" and other factors could bring  serious snowfall to the region.  In this week's "Issues of the Environment," WEMU's David Fair explored the possibilities with Dr. Ashley Payne, assistant professor in climate and space sciences and engineering at the University of Michigan. 


Donna Murray-Brown
Michigan Nonprofit Association / mnaonline.org

Nonprofit organizations have been among those forced to adapt change and overcome survival challenges in 2020.  In this week's "Issues of the Environment," WEMU's David Fair called Donna Murray-Brown, president/CEO of the Michigan Nonprofit Association. to discuss what was learned in 2020 and how that will carry forward in 2021.  

  

Erin Rowan
Audubon Great Lakes / gl.audubon.org

With so many people staying home during the pandemic, levels of outdoor activity have been on the increase.  That includes bird watching.  In this week's "Issues of the Environment,"  WEMU's David Fair speaks to Erin Rowan, conservation associate for Audubon Great Lakes, about the growing popularity of bird watching and its impacts on Michigan's bird conservation and environmental protection efforts.  

  

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