The once pristine waters of Michigan’s Saginaw Bay now look like Lake Erie in the 1960’s. This observation was made by oceanographers with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, NOAA, after reviewing images made by the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) on the Aqua satellite on October 9, 2011.
Researchers were comparing algae blooms in Lake Erie and Saginaw Bay. “This is considered the worst bloom in decades,” says Richard Stumpf of NOAA. The green in Saginaw Bay is probably an algal bloom as well.” According to NASA, over the past decade Microcystis, a type of blue-green algae known to produce the toxin microcystin, has returned to the Great Lakes. No single cause has been pinpointed, but runoff from cities, fertilizers, septic tank overflow, zebra mussels, and livestock near water supplies are likely culprits.
Saginaw River a Significant Source
Despite $45 million in improvements, Bay City and Saginaw wastewater treatment overflow millions of gallons with partially treated waste water into Saginaw River which flows into the Bay. Laura Ogar, the Bay County Director of Environmental Affairs and Community Development notes that reports are made averaging six overflows a year. Published reports estimated that 90 million gallons of overflow occurred in 2011. Bacteria still present in the water without full treatment.
Bruce Goodman from Varnum Law reports that a petition is being circulated to place an alternative energy question before Michigan voters this November. The coalition, the Michigan League of Conservation Voters seeks to add a constitutional ammendment to ensure that 25% of the state’s energy is generated by renewable sources.
On January 20th, the Michigan Board of Canvassers gave approval to circulate petitions to put the question of Michigan generating 25% of energy from renewable sources by 2025 and place it on the November ballot.
The petition drive must collect more than 300,000 valid signatures to get the question on the ballot.
Bad Axe, Michigan – Local State Rep. Kurt E. Damrow, from Port Austin Michigan introduced proposed legislation creating a unique tax for commercial wind, biomass and solar systems. This proposal is being reviewed by the Michigan House Committee on Tax Policy. House Bills 5278 and 5279 to create an Alternative Commercial Energy Systems (ACES).
The new tax introduced by Damrow would be the greater of; a yearly flat tax based on capacity, or $4 per megawatt hour generated for sale that year. The minimum tax for any commerical system would be $15,400 a year for one megawatt systems. If passed this would affect small commercial operations occuring on several farms in Michigan.
The bills are viewed as a response to replacement for the personal property on tax wind developments which reduced local tax revenue. ACES would effectively replace a portion of those lost revenues.
While lagging behind the rest of the country, Michigan is showing strong growth in commercial wind farm projects. A survey of Michigan wind energy projects showed that in 2011 there are 205 turbines producing 340 Megawatts. Estimates of additional wind projects underway look to add another 205 turbines producing 340 Megawatts over the next two years.
ThumbWind.com is finalizing a survey on this growth and will publish its findings in the next few days.