Fix little leaks, save big money

By KALEY FECH
Capital News Service

LANSING – Energy waste reduction programs in Michigan are expected to save customers nearly $1.1 billion in utility costs, according to a recent report. The Public Service Commission report found that waste reduction programs in 2017 saved nearly 1.6 million megawatt hours of electricity and more than 5.5 billion cubic feet of natural gas. The programs help customers identify ways to conserve energy, such as tips for more efficient lighting, free pickup for recycling old appliances and cash rebates for installing energy-efficient appliances.   

Electric companies and gas utilities spent more than $308 million on the programs, according to the report. “For every dollar spent on these programs, customers can expect $3.51 in savings,” said Nick Assendelft, the public information officer for the Public Service Commission.

Watch Focal Point: 2020 presidential candidates, potato shortage in Michigan, a preview of the Oscars, and more

On this edition of Focal Point, Interim President Satish Udpa apologizes to the survivors who were involved in the Larry Nassar case, MSU might gain a new spot on campus, and a student started her own business at the age of 21. In sports, we have an overview on men’s and women’s basketball, hockey, and wrestling. This week in entertainment, we have a preview of the nominations for the Oscars. These stories and more on this week’s edition of Focal Point.

Environmental agency reorganization sparks local concerns

By MAXWELL EVANS
Capital News Service

LANSING — While Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s attempt to reorganize state efforts to protect the environment faces legislative rejection, some local leaders fear the action could further polarize business and environmental groups. “It’s bothersome to me, because my members who are not happy with the executive order are still people who care about clean drinking water and they’re responsible people,” said Cathi Abbs, the executive director of the Sturgis Area Chamber of Commerce. Even environmental groups that welcome the changes caution that they not be viewed as an attack on business. “We do ourselves no favors if we alienate parts of our community — people that own businesses or fear that regulations will negatively affect business,” said Theresa Lark, the executive director of the MidMichigan Environmental Action Council covering Ingham, Eaton and Clinton counties.  “At the same time, if your business practice is negatively affecting someone else, you should listen to that person too.

The entrance to the Lansing Recycling Center on Cedar Street is pictured Dec. 12, 2018.

Local action taken to challenge global climate change

In November, the Fourth National Climate Assessment was published by the research program. The report interprets the findings of the research program, analyzes the effects of global change on the environment and analyzes current trends in global change, both human-induced and natural. Local governments and businesses already are dealing with the issues the report addresses.

Remove Line 5 or put it in a tunnel? Michiganders divided 46 to 35 percent

By KARA HEADLEY
Capital News Service

LANSING —  Michiganders said the health of the environment is more important than economic gain, a recent poll revealed

The Healthy People-Healthy Planet Poll surveyed 1,000 Michigan residents about issues Two-thirds — 67 percent — rated environmental protection as more important than economic gain. “There are a lot of environmental issues in the state,” said Daniel Bergan, the study’s lead author. “Michigan voters are in tune to environmental issues. They see the natural beauty of the state, which inclines people to protect the coastline and the Great Lakes.”

The poll was conducted by the Health and Risk Communication Center at Michigan State University. It sought to identify Michigan residents’ attitudes towards climate change to explore how the subject and its risks can be better communicated.

Gas prices may resist holiday bounce

By NICK KIPPER
Capital News Service

LANSING — Gas prices statewide have dropped an average of more than 30 cents in the past month, and experts expect them to hold steady or possibly drop even further leading up to Thanksgiving. “Usually during a traveling period there is a high demand, so it’s kind of unusual to see prices around Thanksgiving down,” said Nancy Cain, the public relations director for AAA Michigan. “We do anticipate at least short term that this trend will continue. Even on Thanksgiving Day you might see prices a bit less than what they are now.”

The average price of regular gas in Michigan was $2.482 per gallon on Monday, according to AAA’s website. On the same date last year it was $2.634, a nearly 6 percent drop.