Environment news

Lake Michigan Water At Highest Level In 16 Years

May 27, 2016
Ralf Huelsmann/WIki Commons

Lake Michigan’s water level is currently a foot higher than its long-term average of 578.8 feet. Lead forecaster at the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ Detroit District Lauren Fry points to higher than average rain and snow levels.

“The reason they’re so high really started during 2013 and 2014 when the lakes had above average water supplies,” she says.

With more water entering the lakes, and the same amount of water leaving the lakes, water levels have gone up.

David Cornwell / https://www.flickr.com/photos/dave_cornwell/14959884063

On Wednesday, the Environmental Protection Agency proposed to increase the amount of biofuel in gasoline, a metric known as the Renewable Fuel Standard. That means more ethanol produced in the state will find its way into people’s cars.

The increase is good news for Indiana’s farmers. Kyle Cline is the National Policy Advisor at the Indiana Farm Bureau.

“Indiana’s a leading state in ethanol production,” he says, “and [the RFS] has been very important for our farmers’ bottom line and business.”

Duke Energy / https://www.duke-energy.com/power-plants/coal-fired/edwardsport.asp

The Environmental Protection Agency has been tightening pollution standards for toxic emissions, and regulations are likely to increase in the future.

The new rules push utilities toward cleaner energy production, but they’re also costly.

Coal-fired power plants in Indiana are balancing federal demands with business pressures in a number of ways.

Some, like Indianapolis Power and Light’s plant in Indianapolis, are converting to run on natural gas.

Others are shutting down, like the plant owned by Duke Energy in Terre Haute.

Dave Emerson / https://www.flickr.com/photos/daveemerson/

Indiana saw the third-largest decrease in coal use, nationally since 2007, a change the federal Energy Information Administration credits the reduction in coal use to the affordability of cleaner alternatives.

Indiana used 37 percent less coal for electricity generation between 2007 and 2015. Only Ohio and Pennsylvania saw a larger decrease.

Beyond Coal campaign representative for the Sierra Club Jodi Perras says she interprets the Energy Information Agency, or EIA, report to mean Indiana’s coal industry is on its way out.

Indiana Bee Deaths Down Since 2015

May 13, 2016
Psycho Delia / https://www.flickr.com/photos/24557420@N05/

The U.S. Department of Agriculture reports Indiana lost fewer honey bee colonies in the first quarter of this year than the first quarter of 2015, when the state lost 22-percent of its 9,500 colonies.

The Honey Bee Colony Loss Survey reports this year’s first quarter loss is 12-percent.

Annie Ropeik/Indiana Public Broadcasting

White County is on its way to passing the state's first rule for protecting a waterway from big livestock farms. It's designed to shield the Tippecanoe River Basin and its residents from pollution and farm odors.

U.S. Environmental Protection Agency

White County officials are in the process of designating a mandatory distance between a confined animal feeding operation, or CAFO, and a body of water.

The White County Area Planning Commission wrote the ordinance back in April. The rule creates a mile and a half buffer zone between confined animal feeding operations, CAFOs, and the county’s major waterways.

Proposed Indiana Wind Farm Stirs Opposition

May 9, 2016

A Texas-based corporation wants to build a wind farm in northwestern Henry County, but the plan is drawing opposition from some local residents.

The Calpine Corporation intends to build 80 to 100 turbines for a 200 megawatt wind farm. The proposed Big Blue River Wind Farm would include the townships of Greensboro, Jefferson, Harrison, and Prairie.

Henry County resident Susie Eichhorn opposes the plan.  

Her family owns a farm in the area, and Calpine Corporation wants to lease part of their property.

U.S. Environmental Protection Agency

 Residents from about 10 central Indiana counties were in Columbus Monday to hear from experts on the impacts of large confined animal feeding operations known as CAFOs.

The talk brought out concerned residents in Bartholomew and surrounding counties.

It was organized by Indiana CAFO Watch and the Socially Responsible Agriculture Project.

Retired University of Missouri agricultural economist John Ikerd was one of the speakers.

Annie Ropeik/Indiana Public Broadcasting


A property rights battle over public access to Indiana's Lake Michigan shore is moving forward with a new issue in the mix -- erosion.

Patricia Sharkey's home in the LaPorte County town of Long Beach is about a block away from a stretch of huge lakefront summer houses. In 2013, homeowners there sued the state, contending their private property extends all the way to the water.