Citizens for Oil-Free Backyards

Citizens for Oil-Free Backyards has filed suit in Washtenaw County Circuit Court, seeking to derail plans for an exploratory oil well in Scio Township.

The suit alleges the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality doesn't abide by its own permitting rules, and that the public was only involved in the process in a superficial manner. 

The MDEQ says its permitting process has a great record of prevailing in such cases. 

West Bay Exploration Company wants to drill the well.  It says the suit will delay the process, but looks forward to moving ahead with drilling.


The Michigan League of Conservation Voters says now is the time for those concerned about how the state regulates hydraulic fracturing to speak up.

The Michigan Department of Environmental Quality is holding public hearings to get input on proposed rules regarding "fracking". 

Jack Schmitt is deputy director of the Michigan League of Conservation Voters.  He says the rules as proposed fall far short.

Group Suing Over Scio Township Oil Drilling

Jul 16, 2014

The group Citizens for Oil-Free Backyards is taking the effort to prevent an exploratory well from being drilled in Scio Township to court.

The group would not say who it's targeting with the suit, but president Laura Robinson says the state Department of Environmental Quality failed when it issued a permit to West Bay Exploration Company. 

Citizens for Oil-Free Backyards holds an informational meeting at 7 tonight at the Scio Township hall.


Washtenaw County's legislative representatives continue to score highly in the Michigan League of Conservation Voters annual Environmental Scorecard.

State Senator Rebekah Warren and Representatives David Rutledge, Jeff Irwin and Adam Zemke all scored 100 percent, while Representative Gretchen Driskell received an 85 percent rating. 

Senator Warren was singled out for her support of legislation to update and increase fees for hunting and fishing licenses.

Find the complete scorecard online:

A Detroit organization that helps people in need has found a positive way to make use of illegally dumped tires in the city. Cass Community Social Services (CCSS) is the manufacturer of Detroit Treads, sandals selling for $25 a pair that are made out of tire treads.


Boaters Can Take Responsibility for Mitigation of Environmental Harm

Ann Arbor
Andrew Cluley / 89.1 WEMU

A group opposed to Ann Arbor using parkland for a new train station has developed a concept to keep the Amtrak facility on Depot Street.  

  A House Bill was recently passed that reclassifies coal ash and a handful of other petroleum byproducts from hazardous waste to low-hazard materials that are suitable for “beneficial uses”.

The coal ash and byproducts will be repurposed to pave roadways and enrich farmland, but environmental watchdog organizations warn that the mercury that is trapped in the ash could eventually leach into groundwater and soil.


Just because a plant is labeled as "bee friendly" doesn't mean it is.

That's according to a new report from The Ecology Center, which partnered with the group "Friends of the Earth" to test plants sold as "bee friendly". 

About half contained neonicotinoid pesticides that can kill bees.  Ecology Center environmental health educator Melissa Sargent encourages people to talk to plant sellers "and find out do they know about the neonicotinoid pesticides? And let them know that you would prefer to buy plants that didn't have those pesticides on them."

Washtenaw Citizens for Ecological Balance

Deer overpopulation in Ann Arbor and Washtenaw County is responsible for increasing home and vehicle property damage and is threatening the area's ecological balance.

This week, David Fair talks with Maurita Holland about the issues creating the problem and the potential solutions.


1st Friday Focus on the Environment is a monthly feature on 89.1 WEMU. Michigan League of Conservation Voters Executive Director Lisa Wozniak this month looks at newly proposed state regulations for the natural gas extraction process known as hydraulic fracturing, or fracking. The guest this month is fracking expert Jaque Rose. Rose is co-founder of the activist group Friends of the AuGres Watershed.



Thousands have taken to the City of Ann Arbor's expanded composting program. It now allows residents to add all food scraps to their composting carts, and keeps the material out of landfills, benefiting the environment and, ultimately, the budget. WEMU's David Fair discusses the early successes of the program with Ann Arbor Solid Waste Coordinator, Tom McMurtrie 

New federal regulations announced Monday aim to reduce carbon dioxide emissions from power plants by 30 percent by 2030.

The draft proposal from the Environmental Protection Agency has sparked opposition from industry groups who say the changes would be prohibitively expensive. But the proposal's backers say the rules are needed to cut carbon pollution that scientists say contributes to climate change.

Update at 10:45 a.m. ET: Proposed Rule Published

Barbara Lucas / 89.1 WEMU

Water is life-giving, but too much, too fast is destructive. Climate change is causing more severe rainstorms, creating challenges for both homeowners and municipal governments.

Creekshead Preserve
Legacy Land Conservancy

  Legacy Land Conservancy is ensuring parts of York Township remain green for future generations.

The non-profit organization has signed an agreement with Kendall Rogers Farm that will preserve 159 acres of historic farm and forest land and prevent it from being sub-divided or developed for non-farming uses.

Legacy Land Conservancy's Executive Director Susan Lackey says conservation agreements like this one help ensure the community has enough farmland to remain sustainable for generations to come.


A Michigan man is making it his business to recycle graduation gowns.  The Grand Rapids Press reports  that Seth Yon's Greener Grads is on a mission to recycle 1 million gowns.


Ann Arbor's expanded compost program is proving popular with the community.

Since April, city residents have been allowed to add all plate scrapings to residential composting bins for pick-up.

TexasRaiser/Wikimedia Commons

WEMU explores what can be done to protect private property from gas and oil exploration here in Washtenaw County. The discussion has been spurred by recent actions of a Traverse City oil company attempting to lease area properties, an effort to further explore gas and oil mining operations in Washtenaw County.

Frozen Lake Michigan In March
Andrew Cluley / 89.1 WEMU

Ice still covers over 20 percent of the Great Lakes surface, following a winter that nearly saw records set for the total amount of ice coverage.  As one would expect Lake Superior leads the way with about 41 percent ice coverage, but even Lake Huron was still one-quarter ice covered this week.  


On May 6th, voters will decide a millage to fund expanded bus services in Ann Arbor, Ypsilanti, and Ypsilanti Township.  While disagreeing on the question of a tax increase, both supporters and opponents support expanded services.  Environmentalists say buses help communities achieve their climate action goals, and so increasing ridership is crucial.  This month’s “Green Room” hears from a variety of local residents about what improvements they would like to see in our local bus system.


In this week's installment of "Issues of the Environment,"  WEMU's David Fair talks with Drew Lathin about the environmental benefits of sustainable landscaping. Lathin is Principal Owner of Creating Sustainable Landscapes.  



It's Earth Day, and there's a Climate Action Rally happening this afternoon on the University of Michigan campus.

Michigan Clean Water Action, Ann Arbor 350 and organizing for Action-Michigan are hosting the rally. 

Clean Water Action Campaigns Director Eric Keller says it's one of many events taking place across the state today.

"People are coming together as individuals and communities to act on climate," Keller says, "and to protect everything that the earth has to offer, and to protect the Great Lakes today."

Corey Seeman/flickr.com

EVART, Mich. (AP) - Floodwaters are receding along rivers in Michigan's central and western Lower Peninsula, a trend that should continue with mostly dry weather in the forecast for the next several days.


Michigan ranks dead last among Great Lakes states when it comes to the rate of recycling. Governor Snyder Snyder is taking the first step forward to try and change Michigan's standing. 

In this week's installment of  Issues of  the Environment, WEMU's David Fair talks with Michigan Recycling Coalition Executive Director Kerrin O'Brian about where that first step may lead. 

A Ready-Mix concrete company, McCoig Materials, is looking to open up a mine on a site north of Chelsea, between the Waterloo and Pinckney Recreation areas. The area has numerous bodies of water and natural areas that could be impacted by the move. McCoig wants to operate the mine for 22 to 30 years and remove 11 million tons of sand and gravel. 

This week on 89.1 WEMU's Issues of the Environment, Dr. Lynn Walter, Professor Emerita of Geology at the University of Michigan, will discuss the environmental impacts of sand mining and the controversial operation proposed for Lyndon and Scio Townships.