Judge says landowner filed drilling suit too late

Capital News Service
LANSING – An Alcona County man waited too long to sue an energy company that may have drilled a natural gas well too close to his property line, a federal judge has ruled. Much too long. U.S. District Judge Thomas Ludington said Richard Brilinski missed the deadline by waiting about 15 years to start the litigation. “Brilinski’s delay in bringing his claim is inexcusable,” Ludington said in his ruling. Brilinski’s lawyer, Corey Wiggins of Cadillac, said he doesn’t know yet whether there will be an appeal.

Results mixed in new air quality study

Capital News Service
LANSING – Michigan has reduced overall air pollution since 2012, but its most populous counties still don’t earn a passing grade, according to a new report from the American Lung Association. Its State of the Air report provides grades of A to F in two areas: particle pollution and ozone action days. The Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) declares ozone days when smog and weather conditions create the risk of health problems.
Wayne and Macomb counties received failing grades in the ozone day category. Other counties that failed include Allegan and Muskegon, while Oakland, Ottawa and St. Clair received Ds.

Dispute resolution program for water depletion pushed

Capital News Service
LANSING — Agricultural industries and well owners throughout Michigan both rely on the groundwater flowing deep beneath the earth. In some cases, reservoir depletion can render smaller wells useless — unsurprisingly, disputes result.
The problem is not new, legislators and representatives of rural industries say, but as agriculture expands, conflicts are expected to become more prevalent. Both sides say solutions can come from some kind of state-sponsored mediation program, but time is running out to reinstate such a program in place this year. Budget constraints and a belief that existing legal solutions to the disputes are sufficient nixed an aquifer protection program that was in place from 2003 to 2009, said Maggie Datema, director of the office of legislative affairs at the Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ). The program, put in place to assist property owners who believed their wells and groundwater levels were harmed by neighboring water use, ran through DEQ and resolved most cases brought before a civil suit was deemed necessary, Datema said.

Pull down lake breakwalls to stop erosion, DEQ says

Capital News Service
LANSING – Environmental experts are urging property owners to get rid of lakefront lawns and stone breakwalls in favor of a new approach to landscaping. Lakescaping is a way to control shoreline erosion by moving inland lakes to a more natural state. According to the Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ), replacing traditional sod lakefronts with native plants can also combat invasive species, improve wildlife habitats and save property owners money on upkeep. “When dealing with lakes, it’s important to have as minimal an impact as possible,” said John Skubinna of the DEQ’s water resources division. While property owners may be reluctant to obstruct lake views with tall vegetation, protecting lakes should trump aesthetic concerns, said Skubinna.