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New Governor: New Priorities; New Organization

4 Feb 2019

Soon to be a relic of the past?

Governor Whitmer is moving quickly to put her stamp on an agency that is important to her goals. Given her campaign slogan of “fix the damn roads” it is somewhat of a surprise that her second and third Executive Orders relate to the MDEQ – or as it will be known going forward, the Department of Environment, Great Lakes and Energy (DEGLE or EGLE?).

It is not uncommon for new governors to try to recreate the MDEQ in their own images. In 2009, Governor Granholm merged the DNR and DEQ into one agency  and, in 2011, Governor Snyder split them up again.

In addition to the name change, Executive Order 2019-2 also creates new offices within the Department including the offices of: (i) Climate and Energy; (ii) the Clean Water Public Advocate and (iii) the Environmental Justice Public Advocate, as well as the Interagency Environmental Justice Response Team. There is a focus on “assuring that all Michigan residents benefit from the same protections from environmental hazards” and integrating environmental justice concepts into agency decision making. The Clean Water Advocate appears to be both an ombudsman and a change agent relating to drinking water concerns. The Office of Climate and Energy is to focus on both improving governmental mitigation of climate impact and climate change adaptation and to provide guidance and assistance for greenhouse gas reduction. The old Office of the Great Lakes housed in the DNR and the Agency for Energy are now housed in the DEGLE. Also, the Permit Review Commission created last summer is abolished.

Executive Order 2019-3 attempts to strengthen the Michigan PFAS Action Response Team (MPART) created by Governor Snyder to help inform the public about perfluoroalkyl and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS), locate contamination, and take action to protect sources of drinking water from these chemicals.

Executive Directive 2019-12 enters Michigan into the U.S. Climate Alliance, a bipartisan coalition of governors from 19 other states that are committed to reducing greenhouse gas emissions consistent with the goals of the Paris Agreement.

These actions are consistent with Governor Whitmer’s focus on Flint during the campaign, her campaign promises and Director Clark’s past experience and expertise in alternative energy. At this point, with no new resources, how the reconstituted agency will take on these new roles or what functions will receive less priority will be questions that Governor Whitmer and Director Clark will have to answer.

Four Years of Michigan Green Law

17 Mar 2014

NewPicture1Well, today marks four years of blogging on environmental issues of interest in Michigan. After about 1,400 days, over 370 posts and 24,000 people checking us out, it’s been a fun interesting run thus far.

The best present you can give us is to keep reading, subscribe, keep commenting and, if you’re so inclined, please pass the blog onto your friends and colleagues! If you have a question or a topic for a blog post, please let us know!

Happy Birthday To Us!

22 Mar 2013

Heather pointed out to me that we had just celebrated our third year blogging on environmental issues of interest to Michigan. I guess I was so busy with my NCAA bracket that I missed it.  After about 1,100 days, over 300 posts and 11,000 people checking us out, it’s been a pretty good and certainly interesting run.

The best present you can give us is to keep reading, subscribe, keep commenting and, if you’re so inclined, pass the blog onto your friends and colleagues!

Ice that burns? And a lot of it?

13 Nov 2012

The US Department of Energy and a number of energy companies are currently studying the extraction of so called methane hydrates which are basically a kind of methane trapped in a sort-of “ice “(discussed in this video).  Some scientists have estimated that there may be as much as 607 trillion cubic meters of this methane trapped in Alaskan permafrost and below cold deepwaters off the US coasts (pacific, atlantic and gulf of mexico). If accurate, this projection may mean that the United States has 6 times the natural gas previously thought available.

At present, there are two ways to extract the methane: (1) drilling to release the pressure, allowing the methane to rise up a well;  or (2)  warm the hydrate by pumping in steam or hot water.  The costs of heating these frozen structures are too high and they risk serious changes to the ecosystems.  The concept of drilling to relieve pressure is less expensive but also poses risks – particularly of destabilizing the seabed, causing huge underwater landslides with massive and potentially devastating tsunamis.  If methane hydrate is part of the supporting structure for the sea floor, removing it could cause a sort of “sink hole” of massive proportions.  Another concern is whether methane hydrate mining would affect global warming. Once methane is in the atmosphere, it becomes a greenhouse gas even more efficient than CO2 at trapping solar radiation.

As governments in Europe and here in the US focus on building a low-carbon economy, should we be developing a new type of fossil fuel?  Methane is cleaner than coal, but at present, there isn’t enough demand for methane which is why natural gas prices have stayed so low.  Also, methane isn’t as clean as solar or wind power – which have their own challenges.

The video above is interesting because it is premised on the idea of swapping one greenhouse gas, CO2, for the methane in the subsurface structures – in theory, the balance and stability would be as strong as before.  If this will work, the future might be a very interesting place.

 

Do you like us? Really really like us?

15 Aug 2012

If so, you can nominate our blog for the ABA Blawg 100 by going to this website and nominating us!  Of course, we’d appreciate it.  Thanks!

Happy Birthday to us!

16 Mar 2012

Tomorrow is Michigan Green Law’s second anniversary!  After over 240 posts, we’ve learned a lot and have had fun bringing you news and our views on the environmental topics of the day.  We hope you’ve enjoyed following us.

As we start year three, we thank you for your support and ask that you please let us know what you think of the blog in general or of specific posts and that you pass along our blog to your friends and colleagues.  That’s the best compliment you can pay us!

Thanks again, Kevin and Arthur

Happy Birthday to us!

18 Mar 2011

With NCAA  and St. Patrick’s Day festivities, it almost slipped by us that yesterday was Michigan Green Law’s first anniversary!  After over 130 posts we’ve learned a lot and have had a lot of fun bringing you news and our views on the environmental topics of the day. We hope you’ve enjoyed following us on this site.

As we start year two, we thank you for your support and ask that you let us know what you think in general or of specific posts and that you pass along our site to your friends and colleagues.  That’s the best compliment you can pay us!

Thanks again, Kevin and Arthur