LANSING — When Scott Swinton, an agriculture, food and resource economics professor at Michigan State University, asked landowners if they’d be interested in renting their land for bioenergy crops, the initial response was unexpected.
“The first thing we found was that a number of people that we sent questionnaires to were hoping MSU was secretly trying to find people they could rent land from to grow bioenergy crops,” Swinton said.
“I got scores of phone calls from people telling me they would love to rent their land to MSU if we were interested.”
But that wasn’t what Swinton was looking for. Instead, he was trying to study the willingness of farmers to rent land that isn’t used for crops.Continue reading →
LANSING — Eliminating the $300 million Great Lakes Restoration Initiative could lead to devastating natural and economic effects on coastal Michigan communities, defenders of the program said.
President Donald Trump has proposed killing the initiative, along with the Michigan Sea Grant and nearly a third of the funding for the Environmental Protection Agency.
The possible elimination of the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative has compelled Michigan lawmakers, environmentalists, scientists and business owners to make a case for the program.
“It has benefited Muskegon greatly, hugely. We’ve received millions in dollars in federal funding to clean up White Lake and Muskegon Lake,” said Bob Lukens, Muskegon County community development director.Continue reading →
LANSING — Scientists and advocates across 10 Michigancities will step out of their labs and call attention to the value of science in the March for Science on April 22.
Launched by groups of scientists and researchers in Washington, D.C., earlier this year, the nonpartisanMarch for Science has expanded into 294 planned satellite marches across the nationand 394 worldwide.
The 10 Michigan cities scheduled to participate on Earth Day areLansing, Ann Arbor, Detroit, Kalamazoo, Grand Rapids, Midland, Houghton, Marquette, Sault Ste. Marie and Petoskey.
Michigan efforts and the Lansing marchwere started by science enthusiasts Sara Pack and Sierra Owen of Lansing. Continue reading →
LANSING — Northport, a village in Leelanau County, gets half the energy for its wastewater treatment plant from a community-owned wind turbine.
The village also claims the only 100 percent solar-powered golf course in the United States, according to Stanley “Skip” Pruss, former director of the Department of Energy, Labor and Economic Growth, who moved to Leelanau Township in 2008.
Solar energy is used to power the clubhouse and other operations.
“Our community members are feeling passionately that we are accelerating the transition to clean energy,” Pruss said. “Northport can be an example to other local communities in how to go about doing that. It’s a good way to go.”
Northport has been committed to a 100 percent Clean Energy plan since 2010, joining cities such as Grand Rapids and Traverse City as pioneers in Michigan’s transition from fossil fuels. Continue reading →
Researcher Steven Karlen studies plants in a greenhouse lab. Image：Great Lakes Bioenergy Research Center
Capital News Service
LANSING — Poplars and other trees can be bred to break down more easily to make biofuel and other products such as paper, according to scientists at the Great Lakes Bioenergy Research Center.
Their new study found that zip-lignin, an enzyme that indicates the high degradability of plants and that they injected into trees, is already in most plants. Plants that naturally have the highest amount can be selectively bred.
The center is a collaboration between the University of Wisconsin-Madison, Michigan State University and other partners. It was established by the U.S. Department of Energy. Continue reading →
LANSING — Environmental and renewable energy advocates are concerned that proposed legislation would discourage investment in clean energy.
Sen. Mike Nofs, R-Battle Creek, introduced bills in 2015 to meet the state’s energy requirements as coal plants continue to shut down as utilities use cleaner fuel sources over the next three years.
The bills have passed the Senate and await action by the House, where Nofs said he hopes to see them pass before the end of the year..
But some supporters of alternative energy say that new language added to the bill would create a utilities charge for state residents who use solar power to generate their electricity. The bill does not specify the amount, but gives the Public Service Commission the power to decide how much it would be. Continue reading →
LANSING — Some rural officials are concerned that a recent package of energy bills will encourage yet more wind turbines to be built in their communities, leaving residents to bear the physical burden they pose.
The main thrust of the two-bill package is to increase renewable energy to 15 percent by 2021, attempting to wean the state off harmful coal fire pollution. It is sponsored by Sen. Mike Nofs, R-Battle Creek.
The state successfully reached its previous goal of 10 percent last year.
“The 15 percent mandate would require double the wind turbines, but developers can’t get them built anywhere,” said Kevon Martis, director of the Interstate Informed Citizens Coalition, a Michigan-based group that raises awareness of the negative impacts of wind projects.
“The only people who aren’t being heard are the people living in the projects’ footprints,” he saidContinue reading →
Scientists [left to right] Drew Monks, Brendan Carson and Eric Dunston use a special harvester to collect cattails in the Shiawassee National Wildlife Refuge. Image: Sam Corden
LANSING — Researchers working in wetlands in Michigan have a new approach to invasive plants.
Instead of removing plants like phragmites and switchgrass, they harvest them. These plants are a threat to biodiversity, they say, but invasive plants can benefit farmers and even power homes.
Scientists are working in the middle of the Shiawassee National Wildlife Refuge which has 10,000 acres of marshes, bogs, forest and farmland. Everywhere you look, there’s a hawk or a herring. Bushes rustle with rodents, and the air is filled with mosquitoes and a thick humidity. To put the size in perspective, Manhattan is roughly 15,000 acres.Continue reading →