One of the leading environmental groups is traveling the country criticizing the Bush Administration’s environmental policies. The Great Lakes Radio Consortium’s Lester Graham reports:
One of the leading environmental groups is traveling the country criticizing the Bush
Administration’s environmental policies. The Great Lakes Radio Consortium’s Lester Graham
The Sierra Club has been at odds with President Bush’s approach to the environment from the
start. Now, during this election year, the Sierra Club’s Executive Director is touring the country,
taking the concerns to anyone who’ll listen. Carl Pope recently visited the Great Lakes region.
There, he complained about the Bush administration’s loosening of mercury restrictions, its
exemption of factory feedlots from the Clean Water Act and a proposal to allow cities to blend
raw sewage with rainwater during big storms and release it into streams and lakes.
“It doesn’t make any sense to allow people to contaminate the waters and then spend a lot of
money a decade later, cleaning it up. It’s much cheaper to keep contamination out of the Great
The Bush administration says rather than cleaning pollution at any cost, its environmental policies
consider the financial cost versus the benefit to the environment.
For the Great Lakes Radio Consortium, this is Lester Graham.
The Army is burning down some old ammunition plants around the Midwest. More than 60 environmental groups in the region say what happens to a former plant in Wisconsin could set a national precedent for dealing with sites heavily contaminated with PCBs. The Great Lakes Radio Consortium’s Chuck Quirmbach reports:
The Army is burning down some old ammunition plants around the Midwest. More than 60
environmental groups in the region say what happens to a former plant in Wisconsin could set a
national precedent for dealing with sites heavily contaminated with PCBs. The Great Lakes
Radio Consortium’s Chuck Quirmbach reports:
The army wants to burn at least one of the abandoned buildings at the former Badger
Ammunition plant near Baraboo, Wisconsin. But paint on some pipes in the building is so
contaminated with PCB’s that the army needs special permission from the EPA to start the fire.
Many environmental groups and citizens are urging the EPA to reject the army’s plan.
Laura Olah is a local community activist. She says the case is important beyond Wisconsin.
“Because the military has a presence in almost every state in the country, this is a serious
Olah says officials at an ammunition plant in Ohio are particularly interested in what happens in
The Army says it’s safer for demolition workers to burn the old building from a distance, as
opposed to cutting apart pipes contaminated with explosive residue.
The EPA says it’s reviewing the case and will respond soon.
For the Great Lakes Radio Consortium, I’m Chuck Quirmbach.
A Canadian environmental group has released a list of the greenest and meanest vehicles on the road. The Great Lakes Radio Consortium’s Karen Kelly reports:
A Canadian environmental group has released a list of the greenest and meanest vehicles on the
road. The Great lakes Radio Consortium’s Karen Kelly reports:
It’s no surprise that hybrid vehicles such as the Toyota Prius, the Honda Insight and the Honda
Civic hybrid topped the list of environmentally-friendly cars.
As for gas guzzlers, Environmental Defence Canada rated the Volkswagen Touareg, the
LandRover Range Rover and the Lexus LX 470 as the worst.
Jennifer Foulds is with Environmental Defence Canada.
She says traditionally, the green list has been dominated by Japanese automakers.
“The big three hasn’t really cracked the green list yet. They tend to have vehicles that aren’t quite
as fuel efficient, don’t have the same level of tailpipe emissions as some of the foreign made
This year, the Ford Focus did qualify for the green list.
Foulds says it may soon be joined by other American cars as Ford, GM, and Daimler Chrysler
prepare to release their own hybrid vehicles.
For the Great Lakes Radio Consortium, I’m Karen Kelly.
An environmental group has designed a safer, more fuel-efficient Sport Utility Vehicle. Now, it’s trying to get you to write the government to get the big automakers to make SUVs a lot like the one it designed. The Great Lakes Radio Consortium’s Lester Graham reports:
An environmental group has designed a safer, more fuel efficient Sport Utility Vehicle. Now, it’s
trying to get you to write the government to get the big automakers to make SUVs a lot like the
one it designed. The Great Lakes Radio Consortium’s Lester Graham reports:
The environmental group, the Union of Concerned Scientists started with a Ford Explorer and
then looked at ways to improve the SUV to solve what the group saw as some design
“The Union of Concerned Scientists has developed a blueprint for a safer and more fuel efficient
On its website, the group lists about a dozen improvements to the SUV ranging from better,
stronger materials to keep passengers safer during a rollover to engine and transmission designs
that would mean much better gas mileage.
David Friedman is the Research Director for the Clean Vehicle Program at the Union of
Concerned Scientists. He says consumers should have those choices.
“When you step into a showroom, sure, you can choose the cup holders, you can choose the color
of your SUV. But, you can’t choose the fuel economy. You’re stuck between 16, 17, 18 miles
per gallon. What we’re talking about is taking technologies that the automakers already have to
save thousands of lives every year and to save on the order of $2,500 on fuel.”
Friedman says all the options the Union of Concerned Scientists have suggested are off-the-shelf
The auto industry says those options are available in SUVs. But nobody’s asking for them. Eron
Shosteck is a spokesperson for the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers, a trade association.
Shosteck says most people want more cargo space, more power, and more towing capacity from
their SUVs. They’re not clamoring for the added safety and efficiency features that the
environmentalists are pushing.
“For consumers who wish to have better fuel economy than other attributes, automakers offer
more than 30 different models of vehicles that get 30 miles per gallon or better. They are very
That statement sounds a lot like a video cartoon satire of the auto industry on the Union of
Concerned Scientists website, SUV-TV.org.
“Look, if you want fuel economy, go drive a compact.”
The auto industry is portrayed as a cigar puffing fat cat who offers lots of excuses for why SUVs
have to be made the way they’re made. The cartoon declares satirically it’s all because “Industry
The auto industry actually says the chief reason SUVs are made the way they’re made is: that’s
what consumers want.
The Union of Concerned Scientists’ David Friedman says he doesn’t see it that way.
“They’re saying they’re responding to the marketplace, but when consumers say they want an
SUV that gets higher fuel economy, they literally do tell them to go drive a compact.”
So, the Union of Concerned Scientists is launching a campaign called the SUV-TV Challenge.
It’s trying to get 50-thousand people to visit the website and then write to the government and
automakers, demanding better fuel efficiency standards for SUVs and other vehicles.
“Well, what we’re trying to do is show consumers they have a choice and have consumers contact
the U.S. government, who’s responsible for taking care of consumers, and let them know they
want better SUVs. They want a real choice when they step into the showroom.”
The auto industry says those choices are there if you order them. But most people buy vehicles
on the showroom floor. The Auto Alliance’s Eron Shosteck says the demand for the SUVs there
“We respond to consumer demand, not to publicity stunts by special interest groups.”
The environmentalists hope demands for safety and fuel efficiency are felt through the SUV-TV
challenge. But the real demand for fuel efficiency is more likely to come from rising prices at the
pump, which are expected to reach record highs this summer.
For the Great Lakes Radio Consortium, this is Lester Graham.
The Goshawk named Buffy is screeching in defense of her master. Goshawks are considered some of the most difficult birds to train for falconry. They're feisty and fast, but that also means they can hunt for more advanced game like duck and pheasant. (Photo by Corbin Sullivan)
Dave Hogan trains and breeds his two Goshawks. He can't let the Goshawks breed in captivity because the female would likely kill the male in the confined space. Instead he has to be mate to both, and artificially inseminate the female. (Photo by Corbin Sullivan)
This Red-tailed hawk paces in its cage behind Dave Hogan's home. It's recovering from a dislocated shoulder. Hogan has the Red-tail and a Merlin that he's rehabilitating right now. The Michigan DNR brings him a lot of hurt birds, but he has to refuse some for lack of space and time. (Photo by Corbin Sullivan)
Falconry was once called the “sport of kings.” Royals trained hawks and falcons to hunt for smaller birds and animals. Birds of prey were revered by the ruling class, and the birds were protected from hunters. Some say it was the beginning of wildlife conservation. The Great Lakes Radio Consortium’s Corbin Sullivan reports on some falconers who are keeping the sport and its conservation heritage alive:
Falconry was once called the “sport of kings.” Royals trained hawks and falcons to hunt for
smaller birds and animals. Birds of prey were revered by the ruling class, and the birds were
protected from hunters. Some say it was the beginning of wildlife conservation. The Great Lakes
Radio Consortium’s Corbin Sullivan reports on some falconers who are keeping the sport and its
conservation heritage alive:
That’s Buffy. She’s a full-grown Goshawk and she’s angry because I’m a little too close to her
Buffy’s named after a television character who slays vampires. She’s one of two Goshawks that
Dave Hogan uses for hunting near his Southeast Michigan home.
Buffy is tall — about 17 inches high — and thick, with feathers ruffled in the stiff winter wind.
The bells on her feet jingle when she stirs.
It’s too blustery for her to hunt today. But when she does hunt, she perches on Hogan’s fist,
waiting for a rabbit or pheasant to flush.
When game does appear, Buffy springs from Hogan’s leather glove. After she’s killed her prey,
she brings it back to him.
But Hogan’s quick to point out that he’s not the only one who gets something out of the hunt.
“It’s a partnership. They know that you’re out there helping them catch game. They rely on you.
You’re the dog for them and you’re the setup man for them. And they understand that.”
Dave Hogan has been practicing falconry since he was 15 years old. He’s 52 now. That’s 37
years. He uses birds of prey to hunt, he rehabilitates them and he breeds them. With all that
experience, he’s reached the highest level of falconry – a master falconer.
Hogan says some falconers keep the meat that the birds catch for themselves, but he has a lot of
mouths to feed.
The game that Buffy and her mate, Spike, catch helps to feed the birds that Hogan rehabilitates.
Right now he’s got an endangered Merlin and a Red-tailed Hawk. The Merlin broke its wing and
the hawk dislocated its shoulder.
He doesn’t want to get attached to the birds, so he hasn’t given them names. But Hogan will feed
and exercise the birds until they can return to nature.
Hogan says besides tending to injured birds, falconers also have a big role in conserving the birds
they train. Often a master falconer will capture a bird in its first year, train it and then let it go.
Hogan says it’s common to let the bird go only a year later. They’re left to their own devices.
But he says after a year, they’re fully grown and better able to fend for themselves.
Hogan says taking young birds lightens the burden on a crowded nest. And he says a lot of birds
can use that help.
“Eighty percent of all the hawks, eagles, falcons that are born die in the first year. It is that hard
for them to make a living. They get kicked out of the nest when they’re young. There’s
anywhere from, depending on the species, from one to four young in the nest. And the nest sits
way up high in a real tall tree, and very often one of them gets knocked out of the nest.”
So, by using the young birds, falconers say their sport is important in helping birds of prey
In central Wisconsin, another hunter, Kurt Reed, is about to apply for master falconer status. It
takes seven years to reach this level.
Reed is training his second Red-tailed hawk in a forest behind his home. He says he’s learned a
lot about falconry in the past seven years.
“In taking care of or training a Red-tailed Hawk. It’s all about weight control and
responsiveness. So for example, today my hawk is a little on the heavy side. He’s about 1340
grams and that’s about two ounces more than I would like him to be if I was going to go hunting
with him today.”
It’s beautiful outside, and sunny. Reed says days like this can be bad days to hunt, especially
when the bird is packing some extra ounces.
“If you take your hawk out when they’re way overweight, they’re going to go sit up in a tree and
sun themselves, and you’re going to wish you hadn’t done that.”
And that’s just what happened a few minutes later. He let his bird – Bucky – go for a test flight.
So he let the bird go about half an hour ago and it’s still up there – just looking around. It’s
changed trees quite a few times but it doesn’t seem to want to come down any time soon.
Bucky never did come down while I was there. Reed says Bucky does this all the time. He says
he’s learned that patience is the most important skill in falconry.
And Reed says the hard work gives falconers a deep appreciation for the birds they train.
That appreciation might be the reason many of these falconers go beyond daily hunting to help
birds of prey in need.
In fact, falconers have been credited for helping to bring the Peregrine Falcon back from the brink
Back in Michigan, one organization was instrumental in bringing Peregrines back to that state.
The Michigan Hawking Club helped save the endangered bird of prey in urban environments.
One of them is Zug Island in the Detroit River.
Zug’s Barren. It has no trees, just a giant steel mill. Still, Peregrines nest in the mill’s steel
girders just like they’re big tree branches.
Dave Hogan is the president of the Hawking Club. He says young birds would die if falconers
didn’t help them.
“Since 1991, out of the 70 young the wild Peregrines in Detroit have produced, we have had
hands on help on over 31 of them, where we’ve rescued them from certain things and put ’em
back in the nest or raised ’em and put ’em back in a family situation where the parents can take care of
Hogan says it’s not just about using the birds to hunt. He says the best part about falconry is
seeing the birds live to fly free, whether they come back or not.
For the Great Lakes Radio Consortium, I’m Corbin Sullivan.
A cover photo from the Twin Citian Magazine. From 1955 to 1980, Reserve Mining dumped tons of waste rock into Lake Superior every day. The court case that ended the pollution set new rules for industry. (Image courtesy of Twin Citian Magazine)
Thirty years ago this month, a court case changed the rules about how the government deals with pollution. The decision established the principle that the government can force industry to clean up its mess. And if industry refuses, the government can shut it down. The Great Lakes Radio Consortium’s Stephanie Hemphill reports:
Thirty years ago this month, a court case changed the rules about how the government deals with
pollution. The decision established the principle that the government can force industry to clean
up its mess. And if industry refuses, the government can shut it down. The Great Lakes Radio
Consortium’s Stephanie Hemphill reports:
Arlene Lehto grew up on Lake Superior. Her parents operated a resort near Silver Bay, 50 miles
up the shore from Duluth.
As a child, she liked to throw pebbles into the water. She’d try to get them to land on boulders,
15 feet under the waves.
“But I left in 1957, came back 1968, took my son down to show him how to play the game, and
we could no longer see the boulders.”
Lehto blamed Reserve Mining Company for muddying Lake Superior. Reserve built a processing
plant near Silver Bay in 1955. Huge machines crushed the rock, and separated the useable iron
from the waste.
Reserve dumped the waste rock in Lake Superior.
Lehto and some of her neighbors got together to try to stop the dumping. They asked the state
and federal governments for help.
In the early 1970s, the federal Environmental Protection Agency was brand new. One of the first
things it did was take Reserve Mining Company to court. The trial and appeals went on for years.
That was a tough time for the people in Silver Bay. Jim Kelly worked at the plant his whole life.
He says he and his neighbors didn’t believe for a minute there was any harm in the waste rock
they were dumping in the lake. And he says nobody’s ever proved it did cause a problem.
“We worked there. We worked with it every day. And if we thought it was detrimental to
ourselves and our families, we wouldn’t submit them to that. I know I wouldn’t. I would speak
out against it or move my family out of here.”
But in the middle of the trial, EPA scientists suddenly discovered something that scared a lot of
people down the shore, in Duluth.
In 1973, Phil Cook, an EPA chemist, found microscopic fibers in Duluth’s water supply. He
suspected the fibers could cause cancer. The fibers were similar to asbestos, and asbestos was
known to cause cancer.
“At that time the Duluth water supply was essentially unfiltered, because Lake Superior water
was very low in suspended solids. And I was surprised to find that every day this material was in
the water supply.”
The EPA put out a warning about the asbestos-like particles in the water. The government
installed special filters in schools and fire halls. Families began hauling water from the fire halls
to use at home.
The discovery of a possible carcinogen in the water supplies of cities along the North Shore of
Lake Superior turned the case into a major event. The New York Times and national network
television covered it.
The judge was Miles Lord. As the trial dragged on and on, Lord began to believe Reserve was
“I couldn’t believe a thing they said, because they were way out in left field. You had to be there
to realize how spacey this thing was, how out of focus some of this testimony was, by the
defense. There was no credibility to them at all.”
Eight months after the trial began, Judge Lord instructed both sides to sit down and try to work
out a solution. But those negotiations failed.
Finally, Lord took it on himself to try to arrange a settlement. In April 1974, he called Reserve’s
chairman, C. William Verity, to the stand. Lord accused Verity of stalling and dragging out the
court case in order to squeeze the last dollar of profit out of the operation.
“I said to him, ‘Now, can you get this thing out of the water? Can you stop poisoning the people
downstream, and the air and so forth? Can you figure out a way not to make so much dust?'”
Lord was furious with Verity’s response. “He said, ‘We don’t have to, we won’t.'”
That afternoon, Lord ordered Reserve Mining Company to stop dumping its waste in Lake
Superior, effective immediately.
Some 3,000 people were suddenly out of work. The United States lost one-twelfth of its supply
of iron ore.
It was the first time a judge had shut down a major industrial plant to protect the environment.
Reserve appealed the next day, and the appeals court allowed the plant to reopen. The court said
Reserve would have to stop polluting the lake eventually, but it could keep dumping in the lake
until it built an alternative.
Reserve built that alternative — a disposal area on land. Starting in 1980 it piped its waste to the
new pond, several miles away from Lake Superior.
Scientists have still not decided once and for all whether the fibers from the mine can make
But the court case set new ground rules for the debate over the environment.
Industry and the government still fight about how much pollution is acceptable.
But in the Reserve case, the government showed it can shut down an industry that pollutes too
For the Great Lakes Radio Consortium, I’m Stephanie Hemphill.
Shoppers take a coffee break at Eastwood Towne Center near Lansing, Michigan. The outdoor shopping mall is one of a growing number of "lifestyle centers" in the United States. (Photo by Erin Toner)
Eastwood Towne Center, near Lansing, Michigan, is one of several new "lifestyle centers" in the Midwest. It's an outdoor mall built to look like a downtown, with park benches, courtyards and brick sidewalks. (Photo by Erin Toner)
Eastwood Towne Center, in mid-Michigan, is one of the newest "lifestyle centers" in the country. It's built to look like an old-time downtown. But it has new, upscale stores and restaurants, a movie theater and plenty of parking. (Photo by Erin
For decades now, people have done most of their shopping at sprawling, suburban malls that offer plenty of free parking and shelter from the weather. But now, people are heading back outside to shop, to places reminiscent of quaint downtowns. The Great Lakes Radio Consortium’s Erin Toner reports:
For decades now, people have done most of their shopping at sprawling, suburban malls that offer
plenty of free parking and shelter from the weather. But now, people are heading back outside to
shop, to places reminiscent of quaint downtowns. The Great Lakes Radio Consortium’s Erin
It’s a sunny day in March. But, as anyone who lives in the Midwest knows, a sunny day this early
in the Spring is rarely warm day. Today’s temperature’s in the 30s. But that’s apparently no reason to
stay indoors, when there’s shopping to be done.
The stores just opened at Eastwood Towne Center on the outskirts of Lansing, Michigan and the parking lot is
slowing filling up. Shiny minivans unload mothers, and babies and old ladies. They disappear into
Pottery Barn, Ann Taylor Loft and the Yankee Candle Company. They march from one store to
another to the sounds of soft-rock drifting out of speakers perched on lamp posts outside.
Eastwood Towne Center is one of a growing number of so-called “lifestyle centers.” There are
several in the Great Lakes Region – in Michigan, Ohio, Illinois and Pennsylvania. Lifestyle centers
are outdoor malls built to look like old-time downtowns. They have pseudo Main streets, that
weave through upscale stores with brick or stone-facades. Shoppers or their bored husbands can
take a rest on wrought-iron benches in neatly-manicured courtyards, or in cozy chairs at Starbucks.
Lifestyle centers also usually have popular chain restaurants and movie theaters.
Beverly Baten shops and works at Eastwood Towne Center. She says people are coming to
Eastwood to do what they used to do in city centers.
“They’re coming here to socialize. They’re coming to have lunch, to maybe see a movie, and
shopping is always a part of that experience because right here, at Eastwood Towne Center, we
have the stores that people want. And that’s so important. Whoever built this mall, did their
Cincinnati-based Developer Jeffrey R. Anderson built Eastwood Towne Center. The company also
has lifestyle centers in Kentucky, Ohio and Illinois. And it’s opening four more in the next four
The company’s Mark Fallon says shopping malls took most of the retail out of real downtowns a
long time ago. But he says now, people are looking at getting to the mall as a hassle. Fallon says
lifestyle centers offer the best of both worlds. He says they re-create the feeling of friendly
downtowns, and have the free parking and the good stores that malls offer.
“It’s really the closest thing to what was free-standing shops, that ended up next door to each other,
or in a neighborhood and you’re kind of recreating that feel, and getting back to a more pleasant
and convenient shopping environment that really, the mega-mall or the regional shopping mall that
you’re used to, the enclosed behemoth, that’s usually outside of town that you have to drive to
doesn’t provide these days.”
But that convenience sometimes comes at a cost. The developer covered old farm fields and a
small wetland to build the new shopping center. But it’s just across the street from older city
neighborhoods and infrastructure. Some criticize places like Eastwood for adding to urban sprawl.
But planning experts say many lifestyle centers actually fit into so-called “smart growth.”
Marya Morris is with the American Planning Association in Chicago. She says many developers
are locating lifestyle centers close to existing suburban development – and typically not in big
fields outside of town. Morris says incorporating new development into communities is what
“smart growth” is all about.
“It’s generally building in areas, in already-developed areas through redevelopment or
intensification of development, particularly in the suburbs right now. Many suburbs grew up
without any specific center or town square or downtown. And lifestyle centers, in many
communities, have helped create such a downtown, along with other things like new city halls, or
libraries, or new public greens.”
Developers say lifestyle centers are more attractive to retailers than real downtowns because they
can build exactly the store they want from the ground up. In older cities, retailers would have to
pay to retro-fit existing storefronts. And in real downtowns, there’s usually limited parking that
customers have to pay for. Lifestyle centers also often let retailers pack up and leave — no strings
attached — if business starts to slide.
But it seems pretty hard to imagine that a business would fail at Eastwood Towne Center, as the parade
of cars and shoppers grows this morning.
There are 20 new lifestyle centers set to open around the country over the next two years.
For the Great Lakes Radio Consortium, I’m Erin Toner.