Tuesday, August 2, 2011

What Nolan Finley really means

No links in this post. Just some plain English translations of Nolan Finley's
recent column spreading unfounded terror among the citizenry.......

EPA raises risk of blackouts  As an opinion columnist, I do not need a source or any data or attribution for this statement, unlike the poor schlubs in the newsroom who are required to substantiate statements they make in their stories. Can you imagine?!

An especially stormy summer gives us a taste of what life would be like if the electric umbilical cord attached to the side of our homes were to run dry.
Prepare to panic

Silent air conditioners and refrigerators full of spoiling food is the shared experience in countless neighborhoods hit by weather related power outages.

Saved by the backup
A generous generating reserve in the state kept the power interruptions fewer than they might have been. Despite an unrelenting heat wave, no blackouts occurred because of shortages in electricity supplies, says Steve Kurmas, president and chief operating officer of Detroit Edison, a DTE Energy subsidiary. The utilities did their jobs. I’m about to use their talking points to string together this column.

DTE has a production capacity that exceeds normal demand by 26 percent, and is more than twice the standard 12 percent reserve, Kurmas says. That's largely because the recession wiped out so many customers in this region. So when demand peaks, DTE can ramp up production to cover the load, even on hottest days. Customers are paying to maintain capacity they don’t need, but on a handful of days a year, the utility is able to fire up the oldest, least efficient, most expensive and dirtiest coal plants to meet demand. It may well be less expensive to buy that  energy from the electric grid, but exploring that would collapse the premise of the column.

EPA energy killers You thought I was going to use "job killers" again, didn't you!
That's the situation today. Four years from now, who knows?
Between now and then, DTE will have to shutter 10 coal-burning units, reducing capacity by 20 percent to meet new Environmental Protection Agency regulations on coal plants. Updating the plants to comply with the new EPA standards in the three-year period allowed would be massively expensive. So DTE will take them off line. Anybody with brainwave activity would question my contention that the utility will shut down 10 coal plants in 36 months, but I'm counting on no one applying critical thinking here.

That will reduce reserves to 6 percent and leave the system vulnerable to blackouts on scorching hot days like the ones we've had this month. Now you may panic.  I remain calm because I know full well the huge lobbying power of the coal industry will easily tie the whole thing up in court for a decade.
Kurmas says DTE has no intention of allowing reserve capacity to drop so low. The utility also is not panicking because they know this too. The company is taking time to assess the regulations, and to get some clarifications from the EPA. Michiganders are going to be funding a new team of utility company lobbyists and lawyers to castrate this idea. If there's a change in the White House next year, it will likely mean a new regulatory ballgame. We all know a new administration will mean more delays, if not a complete about face. Utility lobbyists can outlast any president.

But the plan now is to replace the coal burners with plants that operate on natural gas. That's cleaner power, but costlier. I am pointedly ignoring mountains of credible evidence that energy efficiency programs have vast potential to meet energy needs at a fraction of the cost of gas, nuclear, coal, windmills, solar, etc. Instead, I will pretend natural gas plants are our only option. I'm also not going to mention the conclusions of our state's Public Service Commission, which foresees no need for a new coal plant for more than a decade.

Watch your wallets
Kurmas says to expect electricity bills to soar by 25 to 35 percent. Panic, I tell you! I need not provide any source for this claim, because you can trust the man from the utility company. For residential customers, that'll leave less money to spend on other goods and services, further closing the damper on the economy.
For power-intensive businesses, such as manufacturers, it will mean higher operating costs that will have to be offset either by raising prices or trimming workers. Manufacturers can lower their costs with energy efficiency upgrades, but you'll have to read that elsewhere. We're against that because dope-smoking hippie environmentalists are for it.
The consequences of the coal mandate will be huge. And yet such a momentous change was pushed through by regulatory fiat, without a vote by our elected representatives.
President Barack Obama has proven wholly inept at putting Americans back to work. But as an economy killer, he is without equal. I stray from the topic here to take a generalized, gratuitous shot at the President, who by most accounts is moderately liberal but by the Detroit News’s standards is a raving, communist devil.
The EPA's move to turn the occasional summertime power outage into a daily threat is just the latest example.
(313) 222-2064
Nolan Finley is editorial page editor of The News. Read more of his recent columns and read his blog at detnews.com/finley. Also watch him at 7:30 p.m. Fridays on “Am I Right?” on Detroit Public TV, Channel 56.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Catching up: Michigan River News; North America's awesome-ist marathon river race and some guy who treaded water 17 hours in Huron

Geez. Looks like we've got some catching up to do!

In June, the Michigan Environmental Council released a report showing that the state’s oldest coal-fired power plants cost $1.5 billion annually in health care costs and damages – the equivalent of $500 annually for a  family. We pay for that in our health care premiums and copays. It is not reflected in our electricity rates, nor is it ever cited by clean energy opponents when they compare the costs of various energy sources. But it should be. Dirty air costs us, new reports increasingly show.

The Mackinac Center is still clinging to the status quo though, prompting this response from some really smart and handsome dude.

If you’re a fan of Michigan’s rivers (and who’s not?) check out the news Michigan River News web site co-founded by my MEC colleague Andrew McGlashen. The coolest river news lately is a Circuit Court ruling that a dam must be fully removed from the Pigeon River, after numerous fish kills. Thanks to our friends at Trout Unlimited’s Michigan chapter for fighting for the ecosystem.

The RiverNews guys will be at the awesome AuSable River Canoe Marathon this weekend. It’s the longest nonstop canoe race in North America, and been part of our pure Michigan summers for 64 years.

Finally, this guy is my hero for the day, 17 hours without a life jacket in Lake Huron, “I have people that depend on me,” he said.


Tuesday, July 5, 2011

The Alamo? Not so much, but bike sharing service in San Antonio was the real thing (and maybe coming to a Michigan city near you?)

This woman does not come with the bike
Our trip to San Antonio would have been much, much different if not for their outstanding new Bcycle service, which allows people to check out bicycles and drop them off at numerous points throughout the city.

We rented cycles three days, pedaling ourselves to the point of heatstroke checking out places like the botanical gardens, the many tremendous Tex-Mex restaurants and the meandering Mission Bike Trail that follows the San Antonio River.

And of course we joined thousands of sweating, sloppy tourists ogling The Alamo, where an IMAX movie and lots of other "educational" materials explained the mission's historic and inspirational role in Americans stealing Texas from the Mexicans  standing up for freedom against the tyranny of Santa Anna.

But the cycles were the most pleasant surprise of the trip, allowing us to tour the city in a way we never otherwise would have been able to.

You just insert your credit card and select a bike from the rack. When you’re done, you find another rack (an easy Smart Phone app will locate them for you, but there were plenty of signs in the city too) and slide the bike in an empty slot, where it locks tight until the next user arrives

$10 per bike per day, plus fairly nominal charges for the time you use (the first half hour of every use is free).

My friend and colleague and Lansing City Council candidate  Rory Neuner is among a group trying to bring Bcycle to Lansing. I’ve heard several other Michigan cities are considering such programs, but I don’t know which for sure.

It’ll take some work in Michigan’s cities, which still are designed primarily for cars and NOT for pedestrians or cyclists. But that is changing and Bcycle might help that momentum. Bike lanes, curb cuts, great signage and the Riverwalk all helped make San Antonio’s work.

Honestly, I don’t know if we contributed any more cash to San Antonio’s economy than we would have if the Bcycle rentals weren’t available. But the whole Bcycle experience makes it far more likely that we will return one day. And we can recommend a trip to that town far more enthusiastically than we otherwise would have.

Linked to Michigan’s already outsanding trail networks, bicycle sharing programs in certain areas could be a great, low-impact way to market a region's best cultural, recreational and retail opportunities to visitors.


Thursday, June 23, 2011

I get a campsite, you get Pure Michigan NASCAR and everybody's happy

Seemed reasonable at the time!
There are eight rustic camp sites, first come, first served.

There were three left when we got there, and we got site #2. It wasn’t one of the lakefront spots, but it was nestled back in the woods far enough so that … at night with a fire crackling, unobstructed stars overhead and a couple of Bellaire Browns it seemed like we were the only ones in the county. 

Where? Oh hell no. I’m not about to tell you. But with a little detective work on the DNR’s web site you shouldn’t have a problem figuring it out.

Our campground was a couple hours from Lansing, and a couple hours from magnificent Torch Lake where we spent the day Saturday with family. That night, again, we were the only ones in the world. In the morning, we drank camp coffee and a breakfast of soy sausages and homemade pesto (it seemed sensible at the time).

After a three mile walk in the woods interspersed with magnificent meadows of sun-dappled chest high grasses, we were home in time to watch the Tigers and entertain more family. Maybe I took a nap too.

It was a little slice of Michigan living. But it may not so for long. Fifteen dollars a night, times eight campsites, generates $120 … not nearly enough to cover the expenses of trash removal, outhouse and fire pit maintenance, road grading, administrative matters, tree trimming and securing the picnic table to the ground with a braided metal cable the thickness of a child’s wrist.

That leaves taxpayers on the hook. Many never use a rustic state campground, and never intend to. Many of our friends and neighbors don’t believe their tax dollars should be used to supplement the campgrounds' user fees. In fact, many were on the verge of closing this year for lack of funding, until DNR Director Rodney Stokes found a way to limp along in 2011.

So why should taxpayers who never use the rustic campgrounds be willing to fund them?

Because it is that sort of opportunity -- and thousands like it and very much unlike it – that makes people want to live, work and play in this state. It’s not very quantifiable, like tax rates and safe streets and availability to public transportation are. But it’s real, and it shows up consistently on surveys nationwide about what attracts people to live where they do.

So as legislators – many of them indoctrinated in the drown government in a bathtub cult prepare to slash away at many of the opportunities that makes our state so unique, we need a robust discussion. Not just about closing a few dozen rustic campgrounds. But about what sort of opportunities we can capitalize on here to create the Michigan we all want.

In that mix, I vote for some tax money to maintain the rustic campgrounds. In fairness, I’ll agree to use state money on something I have no interest in, like NASCAR races.

Iit’ll cost a lot less than $972k to maintain a fire pit. And while you’re at the race, I’ll be putting another log on.

If you feel like contacting your legislator you might tell them you’re glad the state’s rustic state forest campgrounds remained open this year, and that you expect him/her to work to maintain adequate funding for the state’s DNR to operate them.

Friday, June 3, 2011

Environmental funders reassess climate change tactics: First base starting to look pretty good now

Oops, wrong first base photo!
Shortly after joining the Michigan Environmental Council in 2006, I became aware of an obscure public notice in the Federal Register soliciting comments on a plan for the U.S. Coast Guard to begin live ammunition training exercises with .50 caliber machine guns in 34 areas of the Great Lakes.

I tipped some journalists to the story, lighting the fuse for a maelstrom of protest that forced the Coast Guard to re-evaluate its plans. For a couple months, I invested a fair amount of time into helping spread public awareness of a plan that heretofore had been very, VERY quietly pursued.

At one point, a longtime veteran of the environmental movement asked, “so, who’s funding you for this?” When I replied no one was, she appeared befuddled, and perhaps a little put off.  It had not occurred to me that my work priorities should be dictated by funders. The most important work should get the most attention, right? Not necessarily.

As  this interesting article from Politico points out, the donors who fund environmental work call the shots … to a certain extent. And they are not happy about the results they’ve gotten from the money they’ve poured into addressing climate change during the past several years.

Federal Cap and Trade legislation that would have begun to address the issue crashed and burned. Amid the wreckage, environmental groups are regrouping to try and accomplish change on a piece by piece basis – fighting for better building efficiency standards, and stopping new coal plants, and investing in public transportation.

If this seems like a half-assed way to deal with the planet’s most important issue, it is. But it’s what we have. As the aforementioned Politico article notes, the environmental community has neither sufficent power to punish do-nothing politicians, nor the clout to reward the good ones.

Without that power – or a groundswell of public demand for action – there is little hope of the sweeping change that many of us would like to see.

Does that mean we don’t need visionaries laying out idealistic plans? No. But it means most of us need to hunker down and work for incremental change if we’re going to have something to show for it at the end of the day.

As President Obama’s Advisor Rahm Emanuel told an environmental funder, “Your DNA and my DNA are so different. I’m about trying to get to first base. You’re about trying to hit it over the fence.”

First base might sound like a crappy place to be when you’re so far behind.

But it beats striking out. And it might get funded.


Tuesday, May 17, 2011

An antidote to what ails you; a remedy for disillusionment: Michigan's Dark Sky Park

Unnecessary light pollution plagues our cities, suburbs and countrysides.

Gas stations are illuminated like white hot suns. Whole floors of office buildings stay lit for a solitary night owl worker. And blazing security lights click on constantly throughout my neighborhood (note to neighbors: walking my dog on the sidewalk is NOT A THREAT; recalibrate your lights, goats).

But in Michigan we are still blessed with dark places where the Milky Way and a million twinkling stars inspire awe and wonder. Places where science and religion combined seem pitiable tools of inquiry. Places where – necks craned and mouths agape – words are insignificant to define what we see.

One of those places has now been recognized internationally. Michigan has an International Dark Sky Park. It’s one of only six Dark Sky Parks in the nation – one of nine in the world. 

Located along the Straits of Mackinac on 550 acres of undeveloped Lake Michigan shoreline called The Headlands, the stargazers' paradise is the result of years of hard work by Emmet County citizens and officials. They were dedicated to preserving this little slice of Pure Michigan that speaks volumes about the quality of life Up North.

The designation required light meter readings from the International Dark Sky Association, the adoption of a special lighting ordinance and 75 pages of paperwork according to my friend Ron Dzwonkowski’s Detroit Free Press column.

In a great tidbit of storytelling, Ron says one “key to securing the designation was the endorsement of Patrick Stonehouse, a teacher and astronomer in neighboring Cheboygan County who from his rooftop observatory in Wolverine discovered a comet in 1998 that the International Astronomical Union has labeled 1998 H1, or Comet Stonehouse.”

Michigan’s International Dark Sky Park. What a great, great story!

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Michigan Senate cave dwellers vote to cripple Great Lakes protection, strip governor's powers

SB 272 sponsors
Back in the 1970s Lake Erie was dying and Michigan’s waterways were choked with weeks and algae. Phosphorus from laundry detergents was identified as a major culprit in the problems. But the state legislature and federal regulators – under intense industry pressure – were paralyzed with inaction.

Michigan Gov. William Milliken put on his big boy pants and took a stand in 1976, using his power to ban phosphorus. It was the beginning of a steep decline in Great Lakes phosphorus and the recovery of Lake Erie. Other states followed suit. It wasn’t until 2008 that Michigan’s legislature affirmed the Milliken-era ban.

Now Michigan Senate Republicans – under the treacherous guise of reducing regulatory burdens – want to strip Michigan’s governor of his power to protect the lakes and other natural resources. Senate Bill 272 was passed last week. It forbids the governor's environmental regulators to exceed any federal environmental standard. 

That means Republicans believe that water protection laws in places like Arizona and New Mexico are a good fit for Michigan, where we are stewards of the greatest freshwater resource on planet Earth. It means Republicans, erstwhile protectors of state’s rights, believe Washington bureaucrats know what’s best for Michigan. And it means they want to strip Michigan governors of a key power they’ve held for decades.

The bill is part of an onerous package of legislation that seeks to intimidate state regulators into tepid enforcement of environmental laws. 

Here’s hoping that – if these cavemen and women get their way in the State House of Representatives – Gov. Rick Snyder will veto the bills. If he cares about the lakes, he will. And if he’s offended that the legislature is seeking to strip him of the power to enforce the law, he will too.

You can help. Find your state representative and tell them a vote for SB 272 and the rest of this package ensures your vote will go to someone else in 2012.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Spring! The season of rebirth. And carcinogens, neurotoxins and endocrine disruptors wafting across our suburban lawns

I posted a version of this a year ago. And probably will each spring when the annual rain of poisons descends on my neighborhood:

The lawn care trucks are back at it, hosing down suburban lawns with toxic chemicals that they’ve convinced us are necessary for healthy grass.

It’s a dangerous and sophisticated marketing con job that we’ve all bought into. Wholesale application of lawn chemicals is not only unnecessary and a waste of money, it is dangerous for children and pets.

The group Beyond Pesticides says that of 30 commonly used lawn pesticides 19 have studies pointing toward carcinogens, 13 are linked with birth defects, 21 with reproductive effects, 15 with neurotoxicity, 26 with liver or kidney damage, 27 are sensitizers and/or irritants, and 11 have the potential to disrupt the endocrine (hormonal) system.

Children’s developing brains, nervous systems and reproductive organs are the most sensitive to long-term damage from environmental toxins. If you were intentionally applying the same chemicals to your child’s bedding, a call to the child welfare agency would be in order.

Lawn chemicals poison your pets, too. This study by Purdue University researchers showed herbicide-treated lawns increased the risk of bladder cancer in Scottish Terriers by four to seven times. That adds to other research showing the danger to dogs.

Pets and people aren’t all. Birds, frogs, insects and other critters are at significant risk from the overapplication of this crap.

But companies continue peddling their toxics to a largely indifferent public. And the industry’s clout in Michigan’s Capitol have ensured that meaningful reforms have been muzzled.

There are plenty of alternatives to artificially and chemically dependent turf grasses for your landscaping. And even if you insist on the turf grass, you can find companies who will keep it healthy without spraying dangerous chemicals on it.

You can establish a clover lawn, which creates its own fertilizer as a nitrogen fixer.

You could replace grass with hardier native plants. Such plants don’t need chemicals to thrive because nature has already designed them to thrive in Michigan’s climate and soil.

Or you could simply hire a lawn care company that will agree to manage your lawn with nontoxic products.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Consumers Energy asks to cut customers' renewable energy cost by 72 percent !

Mitten State reported weeks ago that Consumers Energy customers’ utility bills would be lowered because renewable electricity was turning out to be substantially less expensive than originally predicted.

Today we learn just how much. The utility is asking to reduce the renewable energy charge on residential bills from $2.50 to 70 cents per month – a 72 percent cost cut.

Whether the money goes back to ratepayers or is funneled into solar energy development is a discussion worth having. But the bottom line is that meeting Michigan’s target of generating 10 percent of its electricity from clean, renewable energy by 2015 will be neither as difficult nor expensive as  opponents  would have you believe.


Monday, April 25, 2011

If eggs and meat are made in the supermarket, where does your tap water come from?

My drinking water source. Eat your heart out.
We’ve probably all heard stories about city kids who think eggs are made in the supermarket, or can’t identify where their meat comes from.  Eventually they learn – at least in a book-learnin’ kind of way – that eggs come from chickens and meat from dead animals.

But apparently most don’t ever learn where their water comes from. A Nature Conservancy survey released last month shows 77 percent of Americans who use municipal water can not identify the source of their tap water.

By itself, that lack of knowledge  probably isn’t a big deal. We pay taxes and pass laws to have other people make sure that safe water comes out when we open the spigots. 

But in a more global sense, our lack of connection with the natural world is symptomatic of larger problems. As the Nature Conservancy asks: “If we are less aware of our dependence on nature for our most essential needs, are we less inclined to get personally involved in protecting it?”

For the record, my tap water comes from the Detroit River, a majestic natural wonder which carries most of  the greatest freshwater system on planet earth on its journey to the Atlantic Ocean. Your water should be half as awesome!

Friday, April 22, 2011

Detroit News duo vie to pen most outlandish, spiteful tirade against all things environmental

Editorial columnists gone wild!
Pointing out errors, inconsistencies and tortured logic in Detroit News editorial writers’ ugly screeds against environmentalists and all they stand for could be a full-time job. Since Mitten State is only part-time – and because the News tells us that environmentalists hate jobs – we valiantly resist the urge to spend too much time playing Whack-a-Mole with them. Alas, pair of jaw-droppingly stupid columns this week are too irresistible to let pass by.

First, News editorial board member and cartoonist Henry Payne invoked the visage of Nazis in his column titled Sieg Heil, warmingmongers!. He warns darkly of coming “civil unrest” and “grim war” in the United States because of President Obama’s “radical green vision.”

Yes. Civil unrest and grim war. From the radical green vision of a president who’s backing so-called ”clean” coal; expanding oil drilling in previously off-limits areas of the Gulf of Mexico and Alaska coastlines;  and authorizing massive taxpayer subsidies for new nuclear plants.

(Aside: The News’ editorialists rail constantly against taxpayer subsidies for clean energy like wind and solar. On the topic of taxpayer subsidies for coal, gas, oil and nuclear power they are as quiet as church mice.)

Feeling challenged to up the ante in their game of  batshit-crazy, Payne’s colleague Manny Lopez ginned up an incomprehensibly inane blog post incorporating climate change with lunatic murderer Charlie Manson, Koran-burning Pastor Terry Jones and Al Gore. 

On a junior high schooler’s Facebook page the post would be judged a failed attempt at clever. From the Opinion Page Editor of the state’s second-largest newspaper, it’s just embarrassing.

Friday, April 15, 2011

New study finds that....um...the uh....what was....oh yeah dude...so what were we talking about?

Sometimes you learn stuff that just makes you go:

“Dude…..I’m like, so….um…you know when the uh….oh, man, .I forgot what I was going to say…..hey, are those Cheetos all gone?”

So it is with the news that our nation’s stoners are responsible for massive amounts of climate-altering greenhouse gasses. Yes, a new study concludes that marijuana cultivation consumes 1 percent of our nation’s electricity. That’s enough to enough to power 2 million homes. Each joint smoked represents about two pounds of climate-trapping carbon dioxide emissions.

The study may have even underestimated stoners’ impact on the environment. It did not, for example, factor in late night pizza delivery, gasoline burned while idling at green lights, or the number of baked people still awake at 3 a.m. watching Fast Times at Ridgemont High.


Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Beekeeping's subversive secret: These little traitors are anti-free market Communist heathens

The hive. Karen did the artwork.
I’m in bee school. The wise old hands from the Southeastern Michigan Beekeepers Association are teaching me and several dozen other wannabes the ancient art and science of this fascinating trade/hobby. My bees arrive in 10 days. 

Bees are good for the environment. They pollinate lots of plants and flowers. Michigan’s cherry crop is 90 percent dependent on honey bees for pollination. California almonds growers – who produce 80 percent of the world’s almonds – are 100 percent dependent on honeybees.

Commercial beekeepers truck their hives around the country and get paid by farmers to let them pollinate their crops. No bees, no almonds, and not many cherries. Life without almonds or cherries would be unimaginably drab.

Honey also has antibacterial and other healing properties that may include protection against pollen allergies.

The health of the nation’s honey bees is not good, probably as a result of the stress we put on them using nasty pesticides and other chemicals. Trucking them cross country all year doesn’t help. So in a small way maybe my bees will be good for nature.

Here’s my worry though. In bee school I learned that bee colonies are, themselves, individual organisms. Individual bees are part of the collective, kind of like The Borg on Star Trek. They share all the work and all the rewards equally. Bigger, stronger and more industrious bees don’t get
Dead heroes with only their little bee butts showing
astronomical rewards. If they collect more pollen, they don’t eat more honey or get to take fancy vacations or  hire lesser bees to pick mites off their fur and polish their wings.

On Sunday I saw a colony that died over our cold winter from starvation. Many bees had burrowed deep into the honey comb to get the very last drops of stored honey. Instead of eating it they passed it back to those behind them. They died as unselfish heroes, with only their little bee buts showing from the comb cells.

Do you see where this is going? Yes, bees are at least Socialists. Probably Communists. And as soon as the Tea Partiers come down from the euphoria of the new Ayn Rand movie they’re bound to introduce legislation banning these buzzing threats to the American Way.

I’m really going to miss almonds.


Tuesday, April 5, 2011

D'OH!! Climate skeptic scientists' data inconvenient for billionaire oil magnates who helped fund it

So two oil magnate billionaire brothers walk into a bar scientific discussion. They spend a bunch of money to help fund a fresh analysis of climate change data conducted by a scientist who’s outspokenly critical of the consensus on global warming.

The brothers are enthused, since they have a lot to gain if the nation believes that burning up fossil fuel as quickly as we can pry it out of the earth is a good thing.

The skeptic community is enthused, since they believe this man is one of the only scientists not on the planet that is part of an evil conspiracy to perpetrate a massive hoax on the world’s people in order to, um .... get more grants or something.The scientist is the toast of anti-government hacks like Michigan's own Oakland University teacher who goes by the name The Blog Prof.

The ending of this story has not been written. But there was a pretty damn good foreshadowing of it the other day  when the scientist testified before Congress. The results so far, the scientist said to the chagrin of the billionaire brothers, are nearly identical to the results obtained by all the other leading scientific organizations on the planet and reported by the International Panel on Climate Change.

This has infuriated the skeptics who once vowed to accept the conclusions of this lone, honest scientist. Even if the conclusions challenged their theory. Now they say this man, clearly, is part of the evil conspiracy.

As Linda Ellerbee used to say, “…and so it goes.”

Thursday, March 31, 2011

Newspaper correction of the month!

The New York Times carried a story on President Obama’s speech this week in which he called for the nation to reduce its oil imports by one-third over the next decade.

As Jon Stewart has pointed out Obama is the eighth consecutive president to call for such action. The first seven crashed and burned.

The Times apparently realized this a bit too late. They added this wry, pointed and somewhat deflating addendum at the bottom of their story:

Correction: March 30, 2011
A previous version of this article misstated how many of the president's proposals  to reduce the country's reliance on imported oil were new in his speech on Wednesday. None of them were, not one of them.


Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Synder Administration inexplicably blocks outdoor burn barrel ban; and it is not an April Fools joke

April 1 was to have been the day Michigan’s ban on burning household garbage in backyard burn barrels took effect. It would have taken Michigan off the dubious list of a handful of states that still allow the practice.

Now Gov. Rick Snyder’s Department of Environmental Quality has halted the ban They say they want to review it and provide more public input.

It sounds like an April Fools Day joke. But it’s not.


It’s appropriate for Snyder, the new sheriff in town, to take a hard look at pending decisions made by his predecessor. New governor, new philosophy. But seriously, who in the administration looked at the medieval practice of outdoor trash burning and thought “hmmmm….maybe we should take a second look at whether it’s not a good idea to spew dioxins, particulate pollution, carbon monoxide, VOC’s, hexachlorobenzene, PAH’s, benzene, toluene, hydrogen cyanide and other dangerous stuff I can’t pronounce into the environment with no safeguards, filters, scrubbers or limits?”


The EPA is unequivocal about the dangers: Many dangerous health conditions can be caused by inhaling or ingesting even small amounts of these pollutants. Small children, the elderly, or people with preexisting respiratory conditions can be especially vulnerable....

It’s a troubling decision on what should be a no-brainer issue. And it reinforces the image that Michigan is an ass backwards Rust Belt state struggling to move into modernity.