Archive for December, 2009

The Great Lakes: Water Levels on the Rise

December 28th, 2009 No comments

via [ AP ]

DETROIT — Water levels in the Great Lakes are continuing a two-year rebound.

The Detroit News reports today that the latest estimates from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers show levels in the Lake Michigan-Huron system and Lake Superior are between five inches and nine inches above levels from one year ago.

Statistics also show Lake St. Clair is one inch lower than last year, and Ontario is three inches lower.

Army Corps data indicates Lakes Ontario, Michigan, Huron, Erie and Superior ended November within inches of historical levels for this time of year. Lake St. Clair is slightly above its historical level.

The lakes had been declining for most of the past decade

Categories: View of Lake Michigan

View of Lake Michigan: States sue to prevent spread of Asian carp

December 28th, 2009 No comments

via [ Journal Sentinel ]

Michigan asked the U.S. Supreme Court on Monday to close shipping locks near Chicago to prevent Asian carp from invading the Great Lakes and endangering their $7 billion fishery.

State Attorney General Mike Cox filed a lawsuit Monday with the nation’s highest court against Illinois, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District of Greater Chicago. They operate canals and other waterways that open into Lake Michigan.

Bighead and silver carp from Asia have been detected in those waterways after migrating north in the Mississippi and Illinois rivers for decades

via [ Chicago Public Radio ]

Ohio Endorses Lawsuit Against Illinois in Battle over Carp.

Categories: View of Lake Michigan

The Water I Drink: Trading on The Great Lakes Water Resources

December 28th, 2009 No comments

Quarterly average water bills for high-volume industrial customers:

  • Sheboygan: $37,119
  • Milwaukee: $41,151
  • St. Louis: $53,497
  • Green Bay: $64,086
  • Chicago: $65,800
  • Dallas: $79,512
  • Louisville: $80,087
  • Kansas City: $90,544
  • Philadelphia: $105,717
  • Denver: $110,717
  • New York: $115,528
  • Cleveland: $121,430
  • San Diego: $157,557
  • Pittsburgh: $172,367
  • Phoenix: $176,405
  • Seattle: $209,482
  • Atlanta: $251,984
  • Los Angeles: $274,000

Source: Public Service Commission of Wisconsin

via [ Journal Sentinel ]

Milwaukee, which has a lackluster record in luring new industry with tax breaks or subsidies, has a new plan up its sleeve: giving deeply discounted water to new companies that create jobs.

At a time when regions such as metro Atlanta and the Southwest face acute water shortages, the Milwaukee Water Works operates at only a third of its capacity. And it draws off the Great Lakes, which hold a fifth of the world’s surface supply of freshwater.

That means the city, which operates the utility, can add new water customers at marginal cost – even if they guzzle prodigious volumes of water.

“This is our comparative advantage,” Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett said Monday at a conference on the economics of water at Marquette University. “We have to sell on our comparative advantage. We cannot sell our winter weather.”

“We would be the first city to offer water for jobs,” said Richard Meeusen, the chief executive of Badger Meter Inc., a Brown Deer-based maker of water meters.

Meeusen said Milwaukee should begin by poaching industries from metro Atlanta, which was regarded as an economic boomtown for the past two decades. Atlanta, which already faces water shortages, will confront even tougher challenges after a federal judge ruled in July that Atlanta must stop drawing water from its Lake Lanier reservoir within three years.

“Their taps are going to run dry in three years,” Meeusen told the conference. “We should be running full-page ads in the Atlanta papers, ‘Worried about Water?’

John Laumer of Treehugger offers a response Milwaukee’s plan for economic development.
via [ Treehugger ]

Although superficially, this may seem quite sensible, there is a high risk of unintended and unwanted consequences if a cheap water incentive were offered to all comers. The choice is one of seeking sustainable industry or returning to the Iron Age trade offs of environmental degradation and hidden impacts on taxpayers.

Strategic context.
Duluth, Green Bay, Escanaba, Marquette, Munising, Green Bay, Racine, Kenosha, Chicago, Toledo, Erie, Buffalo, Toronto and other Great Lakes cities all are capable of making a similar offer of cheap water for jobs. In that context, any well-led business would step back into due dillegence, looking for possible unintended consequence down the road.

High industrial water consumption brings other intensities.
Water-intensive industries very often also are energy intensive, and also tend to have high air and water pollution burdens. The much diminished paper and steel industries, once common in the Midwest, exemplify the pairing of water and energy intensities with water and air pollution.

For every gallon of water taken in by industry, there will be some fraction of a gallon discharged into public sewers: typically flowing into a publicly owned treatment works (POTW), constructed and operated at public expense.

Water supplies from Lake Michigan are, for local purposes, near infinite. On the other hand, both sewerage treatment capacity and ability of Lake Michigan to assimilate pollution are limited. Overuse can have hidden direct and indirect costs. Logical questions to precede any water sale to industry, then are:

is there excess treatment capacity at the sewerage treatment plant which matches the discharge potential of water intensive industries?

could waste water discharges from a single, new polluting industry potentially “limit out’ waste water treatment capacity, excluding other job opportunities?

is it possible to compare jobs creation potential per million gallons per day of wastewater discharged by industry sector?

Noam Chomsky: “Gaza: One Year Later”

December 27th, 2009 No comments

via [ Democracy Now ]

Categories: International

To The Holiday Potluck:

December 11th, 2009 No comments

A Cold View Of Lake Michigan:

December 11th, 2009 No comments

Categories: View of Lake Michigan

The Air I Breath {Regional Rats}: 2008 TRI Data (9th of 3140 counties)

December 9th, 2009 No comments

The economic downturn has some benefits for fence-line industrial communities.

View Outside My Window

It is becoming clear that Gitte Laasby is one of the most important journalist in Northwest Indiana. Here again she writes on a subject I am acutely sensitive towards.

via [ Post-Tribune ] “Lake County pollution bad despite reduction” By Gitte Laasby

New toxic release data from EPA shows Lake County industries released the ninth-most pollution in the nation in 2008 — more than 31.5 million pounds.

The high ranking, released Monday, comes despite a 31.1 percent reduction in releases from Lake County industrial plants compared to 2007.

The data, self-reported by the industries to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Toxics Release Inventory, also shows that two Lake County steel mills are among the nation’s 50 biggest polluters.

U.S. Steel Gary Works is No. 37 with about 12.6 million pounds. ArcelorMittal in East Chicago is No. 46 despite cutting its releases by more than half, from about 25.8 million pounds in 2007 to 11 million pounds in 2008.

By comparison, BP Whiting increased its releases 33.8 percent from nearly 529,000 pounds in 2007 to nearly 708,000 pounds in 2008.

Among the 650 chemicals included in the data are carcinogens and other toxic material that cause adverse health effects and potential environmental harm.

Not all toxic releases are harmful or bad. The numbers include toxic material emitted into the air, discharged into water and disposed of in underground injection wells, but also materials that are landfilled or recycled.

A Post-Tribune analysis of preliminary TRI data published in September concluded that Northwest Indiana industries had reduced their overall pollution by about 30 percent. The most significant reductions were at area steel mills.

At the time, Branch Chief of the Indiana Department of Environmental Management’s Office of Pollution Prevention Jennifer Schick said the reductions were likely a result of production cuts rather than regulatory requirements or voluntary reductions.

On Tuesday, IDEM spokeswoman Amy Hartsock stopped short of drawing such a conclusion.

“Because an analysis has not been done for the 2008 data for Northwest Indiana, in particular, it would be speculation on our part to attribute reductions to the economic downturn,” Hartsock said. “What we do know based on information available to us for the state is that industry is doing a better job reducing pollutants than what the decrease in economic activity would account for.”

Lake County polluters reduced their releases by 31.1 percent compared to 2007, Porter County polluters by 5.8 percent. Lake and Porter counties released 36.9 million pounds of toxics — 17.6 percent of the total 209.3 million pounds released by Indiana facilities.

Four of the 20 counties in the nation that released the most toxic material were in Indiana, according to EPA.

The Land I Use {Regional Rats}: Lead Contamination in My Community

December 8th, 2009 5 comments

~17% of my neighbors live on contaminated land. ~17 East Chicago’s residential properties are part of a Superfund Site. After more than 20-years of knowledge of the real potential for contamination, and clearing the legal slate of PRPs (prior responsible parties) the site was placed on the National Priority List (NPL) in March 2009.

via [ Post-Tribune ] “EPA Testing Soil for Lead Contamination” By Gitte Laasby

EAST CHICAGO — The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is collecting soil samples in East Chicago to find out whether residential yards are contaminated with lead.

The residences are located between East Chicago Avenue and 151st Street and between Aster and Parrish avenues near one of the most contaminated sites in the nation, the former U.S. Smelter and Lead Refinery Inc. site at 5300 Kennedy Ave.

The EPA began collecting samples from front and back yards Monday and will continue for about two weeks. The soil samples are free to residents and all work is done outside the homes.

The EPA held an informational session to explain the testing process and answer questions about the site Monday and will hold another one today.

EPA will also hold a meeting on Dec. 17, to update the community about sampling and clean-up plans. Representatives from EPA and the Indiana Department of Environmental Management will be available to answer questions.

The U.S. Smelter site was added to the EPA’s Superfund list in early September. The list contains the most toxic sites in the nation that pose a risk to health and the environment.

The site and residential properties north of it are contaminated with lead. The lead was most likely dispersed from long-removed smokestacks while the business operated between 1920 and 1985. The company recovered lead from car batteries.

In July 2008, EPA removed lead-contaminated soil from 15 homes near the site. Exposure to high levels of lead can cause developmental problems and lower intelligence in young children. Lead exposure can also increase blood pressure in middle-aged men, according to IDEM.

Immanuel Kant’s Critique of Aesthetic Judgment

December 2nd, 2009 3 comments

via [ neatorama ]

In this video, Douglas Wolk explains the ideas expressed in 18th Century German philosopher Immanuel Kant’s Critique of Aesthetic Judgment using superhero comics. Wolk, a comic critic, is the author of the book Reading Comics: How Graphic Novels Work and What They Mean. Run time: 5 minutes.

Categories: Misc