Michigan may authorize new uses for toxic coal ash by Great Lakes Echo
One of the bills that cleared the Michigan legislature this session was a provision that allows certain bio-waste materials to be re-used for beneficial purposes. These substances include things like cement kiln dust, wood pulp and coal ash. Coal ash is the leftover residue from coal burned by electric power plants. The bill permits coal ash to be used in road construction, but it may also be used in agriculture as a fertilizer supplement, causing some environmental advocates to become concerned. Current State’s Kevin Lavery speaks with Republican State Representative Wayne Schmidt, the bill’s main sponsor, who strongly states that coal ash is completely safe and does not pose any environmental threats.
The Michigan Recycling Coalition, has launched a state-wide recycling campaign, Recycle, MI, to increase recycling awareness and practices. The campaign is to help residents and businesses reduce waste, according to a press release. It encourages people to start recycling at their homes and work places, volunteer at recycling events or facilities and distribute information about recycling in their town, the campaign’s website explains. Recycle, MI has been promoted on radio stations that began this spring mostly in southeast Michigan and will continue in different regions throughout the summer, said Kerrin O’Brien, executive director of the group. “We really saw a need to promote recycling across the state – to unite Michiganders under this logo and message,” she said.
For at least the past decade, the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality has sought comprehensive regulations on reusing industrial byproducts like coal ash, the material generated from burning coal for electricity, as an alternative to sending it to landfills.
The “beneficial use” bills, which recently passed the state House, would formally regulate the use of over a dozen forms of industrial byproducts across a variety of sectors, including construction fill and on agricultural land.
Coal ash could be used in concrete, lime ash could be used for farming and copper sand could be made into shingles under legislation that would allow certain industries to sell byproducts that they now throw away.
A recent study by the Natural Resources Defense Council reports that 1.86 million mercury thermostats are still being used in the state of Illinois. The state continues to set collection goals to help reduce this number.
A football stadium may have green grass but does it have green habits? Each week, Great Lakes Echo highlights a Big Ten football stadium’s attempts to do the most to impact the environment the least. All schools have information on the stadium’s diversion rate – the amount of waste recycled instead of put in a landfill. Stadium: Spartan Stadium
School: Michigan State University
2012 diversion rate: 56.3 percent
Scouting report: Michigan State University has 80 recycling containers inside Spartan Stadium during games. Staff handpicks recyclables from the grounds outside stadium gates and on Sunday mornings from tailgating lots.
Michigan’s recycling rate is lowest in Great Lakes region by Great Lakes Echo
At 20 percent, Michigan’s recycling rate is 10 percent lower than the regional average. Many people around the state are hoping to change that. In 2012, Governor Rick Snyder identified increasing Michigan’s recycling rates as a priority for his administration. Michigan Recycling Coalition executive director Kerrin O’Brien discusses what a comprehensive recycling plan might include. Also this past March, the Keep Michigan Wolves Protected coalition submitted some 255,000 signatures in a bid to overturn the law passed by the Michigan legislature that put wolves on the list of game species. The Senate
soon passed another law that essentially circumvented the petition. Now, the group is trying again with a second referendum drive. This time, the president of the Human Society of the United States was in Michigan earlier this week to lend his support. We spoke with HSUS president Wayne Pacelle about the issue. This environmental segment of Current State is supported by Michigan State University’s Knight Center for Environmental Journalism. For more news of the Great Lakes environment, you can check out GreatLakesEcho.org