michigan department of environment great lakes and energy

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.  


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.

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."


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."


Jim Frey
Resource Recycling Systems / recycle.com

Several bills are pending in the Michigan Legislature, regarding the future of recycling.  The overall goal is to increase recycling fromt he current 18% up to 45%.  The Michigan initiative "NextCycle" is working to make sure the goal is achieved.  WEMU's David Fair discussed the work being done with Jim Frey, the  CEO of Recycling Resources Systems (RRS).  RRS is managing and facilitating the "NextCycle" initaitive. 


Liesl Clark
State of Michigan / michigan.gov

Governor Gretchen Whitmer has set a goal of making Michigan a carbon-neutral economy by the year 2050.  She has also announced a $500 million water infrastructure plan.  Liesl Clark is director of the Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy and this month's guest on "1st Friday Focus on the Environment."  She discussed the initiatives with WEMU's David Fair and Michigan League of Conservation Voters executive director Lisa Wozniak.  


Evan Pratt
Washtenaw County / washtenaw.org

Maintaining dams became part of the national conversation again when two collapsed in mid-Michigan this year and caused severe flooding.  The state of Michigan has now established a new commission on dam safety, and Washtenaw County's water resources commissioner has been appointed as an inaugural member.  Evan Pratt discussed his new role and the local and statewide implications with WEMU's David Fair on this week's "Issues of the Environment."


Brian Steglitz
City of Ann Arbor / a2gov.org

For decades, a 1,4 dioxane plume has contaminated groundwater in Scio Township and Ann Arbor.  Legal battles have been ongoing with the original polluter, Gelman Sciences, and its subsequent owners.  Now, a new consent judgement has been reached and it is expected to improve the situation.  In this week's "Issues of the Environment," WEMU's David Fair talks with the City of Ann Arbor's water treatment services manager, Brian Steglitz, about the agreement and what needs to happen next to get the settlement approved and implemented. 


Yousef Rabhi
Wikipedia Media Commons / wikipedia.org

In 2019, a pair of state lawmakers introduced companion bills that would create environmental accountability by making polluters responsible for paying for the hazards they create.  State Senator Jeff Irwin and State Representative Yousef Rabhi are both Ann Arbor Democrats and have yet to see those measures get consideration in the Republican-led legislature.  Now, as we address systemic racism, environmental justice has to be a part of the conversation.  Representative Rabhi joined WEMU’s David Fair to discuss environmental accountability at the intersection of race and socioeconomics. 


Air Pollution
PxFuel / pxfuel.com

The COVID-19 shutdown took most people off the road for a couple of months.  That did allow for some air quality improvement in Southeast Michigan.  However, it wasn't enough to offset the generations of pollution that have resulted in terrible health conditions and outcomes.  For this week's "Issues of the Environment," WEMU's David Fair has a conversation about this situation with Mary Ann Dolehanty, the director of Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes and Energy's Air Quality Division.


Jeff Irwin
Michigan Senate Democrats / senatedems.com

Governor Gretchen Whitmer recently released the latest Michigan state budget, and it includes funding for a number of environmental programs.  And, it builds on the initiatives launched in her first budget cycle as governor.  In this week's "Issues of the Environment," WEMU's David Fair talks over environmental priorities, progress, and challenges with State Senator Jeff Irwin. 


Huron River Watershed Council
D. Brown / Huron River Watershed Council

PFAS contamination continues to threaten Michigan's environment, as well as the health of its citizens.  Over the past month, action at the state level has been taken to fight this problem.  In this week's "Issues of the Environment," Rebecca Esselman, executive director of the Huron River Watershed Council, discusses progress and challenges with WEMU's David Fair.


1,4 Dioxane Meeting Held In Ann Arbor

Feb 4, 2020
Jorge Avellan / WEMU

The Coalition for Action on Remediation of Dioxane, also known as CARD, held its quarterly meeting with the State of Michigan Tuesday to discuss the 1,4 Dioxane plume in our area.  89.1 WEMU's Jorge Avellan attended the meeting that was held at the Washtenaw County Western Service Center in Ann Arbor.


Barbara Lucas / 89.1 WEMU

PFAS chemicals are being linked to more and more serious health problems.  But still, it’s legal to use them in the U.S., with minor exceptions.  And they can be imported from other countries.  Manufacturers are not required to make the public aware of PFAS content in their products.  Consequently, consumers are pretty much in the dark.  In the fifth of our 5-part series on PFAS, we look at policies and perspectives on where we are, and we can go from here.


Ric Lawson
Huron River Watershed Council / hrwc.org

Phosphorus runoff and stormwater overflow have been creating problematic issues in waterways in the Huron River Watershed.  While progress has been made, a Washtenaw County Circuit Court ruling will require further regulation to hasten future improvements.  In this week's "Issues of the Environment," WEMU's David Fair gets the details from Ric Lawson, watershed planner for the Huron River Watershed Council.