Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Cost of Cutting Carbon: Pennies a Day

A recent report by the Environmental Defense Fund details the cost of cutting Carbon for the average American.

Study: Costs of cutting greenhouse gases are actually small

EPA begins $4 million ChemServe cleanup in Detroit

From an EPA press release:

CONTACT: (EPA) Mick Hans, 312-353-5050,
(EPA) Dave Novak, 312-886-7478
(MDEQ) Robert McCann, 517-241-7397

No. 07-OPA072

EPA begins $4 million ChemServe cleanup in Detroit

CHICAGO (April 23, 2008) - U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Region 5 this week begins a projected $4 million cleanup of ChemServe Corp., which manufactured dyes and soaps at 9505 Copland St., in Detroit's Delray neighborhood.

EPA and partner agencies will host two open house sessions to discuss the project with residents on May 1, from 1 to 3 p.m. and 6 to 8 p.m., at the Delray Neighborhood House, 420 Leigh St.

On March 25, Michigan Department of Environmental Quality, with assistance from the Michigan Attorney General's office, issued an imminent hazard order requiring ChemServe owner Aram Moloian to shut down operations and clean up open and leaking drums, and other mismanaged hazardous materials on the property. EPA issued a comparable order on March 27 under the federal Superfund statute.

The cleanup is expected to continue through August or September. The project involves characterization, containment and proper disposal of about 2,000 drums and 3,000 smaller containers of potentially flammable or corrosive liquid waste and process chemicals. The work will be funded and managed by EPA's Grosse Ile-based Superfund emergency response team. Cost recovery efforts will follow on a separate track from the cleanup activity.

ChemServe has been the subject of numerous local, state and federal efforts to address hazardous site conditions. EPA is also conducting a cleanup at Dearborn Refining in Dearborn, Mich., another facility formerly
owned by Moloian. Utilizing funds via the Oil Pollution Act, Superfund has spent more than $2.6 million at Dearborn Refining since 2006.

In addition to the MDEQ and EPA orders, Michigan Department of Labor and Economic Growth issued a notice to ChemServe on March 31 citing the company for occupational safety and health violations. On April 1, Detroit revoked ChemServe's operations permit.

Residents with questions about the cleanup may contact EPA Community Involvement Coordinator Dave Novak, 800-621-8431, Ext. 67478, or An information repository with site documents has been established at the Campbell Branch Library, 8733 W. Vernor.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Wayne County is Fifth in the Nation for CO2 Emissions

Purdue recently released the most accurate model for Carbon Dioxide emissions to date. The project is called project Vulcan and the data is available for anyone to download.

Today the Purdue research team led by Kevin Gurney assistant of earth and Atmospheric Science announced the twenty top U.S. Counties for Carbon Dioxide emmissions. The list had Michigan's Wayne county coming in a solid 5th place in the nation for Carbon Dioxide emissions.

Wayne county had 8.270 million tons of Carbon released for the year 2002 (Project Vulcan will be bringing data for more recent years soon). Wayne County is still well out of range of the top two counties of Harris, Texas (Houston) and Los Angeles that had over 18 million tons of Carbon Dioxide released for the year.

Worst Offenders For Carbon Dioxide Emissions: Top 20 US Counties Identified

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Wisconsin Expected to Pass the Compact, Ohio is still negotiating

It appears as if the Great Lakes compact is still alive as Wisconsin Governor Jim Doyle called for a special legislative session on April 17 where it is supposed to be ratified.

Wisconsin Rep. Scott Gunderson helped negotiate a compromise for the stalled legislation. Initially Wisconsin Republicans allowed the legislative session to end without passing the compact. They thought that too much power was given to Great Lakes Governors, since just one veto from one governor would not allow a diversion, the votes have to be unanimous.

This is an issue for thirsty communities on the border of the Great Lakes watershed. In theory any rain or water used within the watershed goes back to the Great Lakes. In recent years communities such as Lowell, Indiana have applied for Great Lakes without success. Even though they are physically very close to Lake Michigan, they are technically outside of the watershed and were denied water due to Michigan's John Engler voting no.

Under the recent Wisconsin compromise a legislature committee will have oversight of the Wisconsin Governor's vote.

Also key in the negotiations is that the state will not gain any new authority over groundwater and Wisconsin will not have to implement a statewide conservation program.

What is important here is that no wording of the original compact has been changed. That is part of the controversy in Ohio with Senator Tim Grendell who has similar fears for property rights and the one governor veto power.

As of now the biggest obstacle that faces the Ohio compact is Tim Grendell and the 16other Ohio Senators who oppose the current compact.

If any part of the compact is changed then every state that has passed the compact would have to pass it again, it would in effect kill the bill.

Yesterday Grendell told the Ohio public radio show Sounds of Ideas “I don’t think to prevent water from going to Nevada or some foreign country we have to overly regulate Ohio’s ability to use water for future economic development in its northern counties or convert private water rights to public property.”

Grendell's solution is to try and amend the Ohio Constitution before the end of the year. Grendell's main opponent Ohio state senator Matt Dolan was asked about the prospect of changing the constitution and said there is a time issue with that but that time permitting he would go along with it.

Peter Annin the author of Great Lakes Water Wars, which is a recent book about the compact and the regions water troubles was also on the Ohio public radio show Sounds of Ideas. Annin said: "If Senator Grendell can come up with a way of appeasing his concerns through some other method than changing the compact that completely changes the scenario in Ohio and throughout the Great Lakes Basin."

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

New Interactive Carbon Map

A new interactive carbon map has been developed by Purdue researchers. They say that the new map has 100 times more detail then previous maps in detecting where Carbon emissions are coming from.

The project is referred to as project Vulcan and examines CO2 emissions on an hour by hour basis. Researchers say that unlike past models that were based on population these maps are based on actual greenhouse gas emissions.

On the website there are also excel spreadsheets of every state's county by county CO2 emissions.

Project Vulcan Website

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

2008 National Brownfields Conference to be held at Cobo

From EPA press Release:
"The 2008 National Brownfields Conference will be held at Detroit's Cobo Center, May 5 to 7. The event is expected to draw more than 6,000 environmental and economic development officials, finance and insurance providers, risk managers, planners, attorneys, engineers and students. The conference is managed by the International City/County Management Association, in partnership with EPA."

EPA Awards $7.8 Million in Brownfield Grants to Michigan

The EPA has just awarded $7.8 million in Brownfield grants to Michigan. Overall the government awarded $18.6 million to 56 different communities within the Great Lakes region.

Brownfield areas are places where redevelopment is difficult due to the presence of hazardous materials.

According to the EPA's press release the following Michigan communities recieved the Brownfield grants:

Allegan $200,000
Bay City $200,000
Calhoun County $200,000
Delta County $400,000
Detroit Wayne County Port Authority $400,000
Downriver Community Conference $2 million
Genesee County Land Bank Authority $400,000
Grand Rapids $400,000
Hamtramck $400,000
City of Jackson Brownfield Redevelopment Authority $1 million
Jackson County Brownfield Redevelopment Authority$400,000
Kentwood $200,000
Keweenaw County $200,000
Leelanau County $200,000
Macomb County $400,000
Otsego County Brownfield Redevelopment Authority $200,000
Southfield Brownfield Redevelopment Authority $200,000
Three Rivers $200,000
Wyoming $200,000

Dioxin Damage Assessment Plan Released by the Fish and Wildlife Service

The Damage assessment plan has been released for the Tittabawassee River. The report can be accessed here.

Fish and Wildlife Service Tittabawassee River site

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

CDC Great Lakes Report

The Great Lakes CDC report that I reported on, has finally been released. A copy in its entirety can be viewed here .

There are really good maps that accompany the report, though I have had trouble getting them to load up. It may take forever.

EPA, MDEQ to sample Saginaw residential area for dioxin contamination

This is from a press release from the EPA that came out today.

(Chicago- Apr. 2, 2008) U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Region 5 and Michigan Department of Environmental Quality have begun screening a residential neighborhood in Saginaw Mich., for dioxin-contaminated soil.

An estimated 10 residential properties in an area along the Tittabawassee River will be sampled. Small plugs from up to 36 inches below surface level will be sent for laboratory analysis.

Analysis may take two to three weeks. Once the data is returned, EPA and MDEQ, along with Michigan Department of Community Health, will consider a range of options, including more comprehensive sampling in the area and possible cleanup actions.

"Residential soil contamination is a serious matter," said Associate Superfund Director Ralph Dollhopf. "At this time of year, children are playing outside again and families are planning gardens. If action is needed, this project will ramp up very quickly."

The investigation aims to determine the extent of dioxin contamination present in the neighborhood. The project was prompted by Dow Chemical Co.'s February 2008 disclosure to the agencies of an elevated dioxin level found in a residential soil sample collected by Dow in November 2007. Under the company's Michigan operating license, MDEQ required Dow to conduct certain soil and embankment sampling along the Middle Branch of the Tittabawassee River.

Dow's Midland facility is a 1,900-acre chemical manufacturing plant. Dioxins and furans are byproducts from the manufacture of chlorine-based products. Past waste disposal practices, emissions and incineration at Dow have resulted in on and off-site dioxin and furan contamination.

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

The Price of Corn May Double

The prices for corn are expected to rise for corn, which will in turn raise prices for other food products like poultry, beef, and pork since corn is a vital to their needs.

A U.S. Department of Agriculture planting report released yesterday has corn production down 8 percent with soybean production up 18 percent from 2007.

Many farmers are switching to soybean production as a result of rising prices from Asian demand.

Last year was a record for corn production. Farmers planted 13.1 million bushels of corn, this year will still see historic corn production but prices are expected to more double for corn due to ethanol production. In early 2007 the price was $3 per bushel, according to the Financial Times some traders are speculating that prices will reach as high as $6.50.