Last year the five lakes that together hold 20 percent of the fresh surface water on the planet broke 10 high-water records, and more are expected to fall this year. The inundation follows a 15-year span from 1999 to 2014 when the so-called upper lakes of Superior, Michigan and Huron experienced the longest period of low water in recorded history.
The lakes have always been tempestuous neighbors, but today they appear to be entering a new era of volatility that is testing the region as never before. The simple explanation is that the last five years have been the wettest in history in the Great Lakes watershed, which encompasses parts of eight states and two Canadian provinces. But some scientists believe a more complicated dynamic is at work: a warming climate that will continue to cause extreme fluctuations in weather and water levels, threatening havoc for lakeside homeowners, towns and cities, tourism and shipping.
All of this has many lakefront property owners reconsidering their relationship with the lakes they love. Should people living in areas prone to flooding and shoreline erosion pack up and leave? Or should they stay, and at what cost to themselves and taxpayers? How much are communities willing to spend to protect against storms and rising waters?
In 2013, Lake Michigan reached its all-time recorded low, forcing ships to carry less cargo and leaving docks high and dry. Now, just seven years later, the lake is approaching its all-time high. Earlier this month, waters from a January 11 storm tore up the lakefront path, temporarily shut down portions of Lake Shore Drive, and forced the permanent closure of three Rogers Park beaches, which will now be covered with protective riprap.
Dan Egan, a Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel reporter and author of The Death and Life of the Great Lakes, gave a talk at the Harold Washington Library four days after that storm. He spoke about climate change’s contribution to the lake’s rapid fall and rise, and why this is particularly threatening to low-lying Chicago. This week, I spoke with Egan about that same topic in more depth.
Fascinating interview, worth a read. One snippet that has been haunting me a bit:
EM: Over the years, Chicago built its shoreline outward into Lake Michigan using thousands of acres of landfill. Would we still have these problems if we had our original, natural shoreline?
I think the problems would be worse. Chicago was kind of a sag. It was lowland. It was built up — that’s why Chicago is where it is. It doesn’t take a lot of imagination to put three more feet of water into that lake. Just think: we’ve been up six feet since 2013. What if we went up six feet from 2020?
EM: Then all the lakefront streets are underwater.
It would seem. But they already were when the storm came in a couple weeks ago.
EM: Could we end up back down six feet, if we don’t have a polar vortex and we go back to the evaporation we were having?
It could go down further than that. At five feet above the long-term average, we armor the coast, then all of a sudden it shrinks back ten feet. That riprap at Howard Beach, what’s that going to look like if the lake goes down? Do you go in and pull it out?
The Trump administration on Thursday will finalize a rule to strip away environmental protections for streams, wetlands and other water bodies, handing a victory to farmers, fossil fuel producers and real estate developers who said Obama-era rules had shackled them with onerous and unnecessary burdens.
From Day 1 of his administration, President Trump vowed to repeal President Barack Obama’s “Waters of the United States” regulation, which had frustrated rural landowners. His new rule, which will be implemented in the coming weeks, is the latest step in the Trump administration’s push to repeal or weaken nearly 100 environmental rules and laws, loosening or eliminating rules on climate change, clean air, chemical pollution, coal mining, oil drilling and endangered species protections.
What an asshole. And I would hazard a guess that the “farmers” discussed here are not small hard-scrabble salt-of-the-earth types, but agribusinesses with hundreds of thousands of acreage, and they want to be free to pollute all of our water without regard to consequence. You’d think some outdoorsman types would object to the destruction of lakes and rivers, I guess they are too swept up in deregulation fever to care.
Despite having endured lead-laden tap water for years, Flint pays some of the highest water rates in the US. Several residents cited bills upwards of $200 per month for tap water they refuse to touch.
But just two hours away, in the tiny town of Evart, creeks lined by wildflowers run with clear water. The town is so small, the fairground, McDonald’s, high school and church are all within a block. But in a town of only 1,503 people, there are a dozen wells pumping water from the underground aquifer. This is where the beverage giant Nestlé pumps almost 100,000 times what an average Michigan resident uses into plastic bottles that are sold all over the midwest for around $1.
To use this natural resource, Nestlé pays $200 per year
How is this right? Nestlé should have to provide clean drinking water to Flint as part of their deal, or even better, pay to upgrade the water mains, especially since Nestlé is trying to increase the amount of water they pump out:
Now, Nestlé wants more Michigan water. In a recent permit application, the company asked to pump 210m gallons per year from Evart, a 60% increase, and for no more than it pays today.
Access to clean water should be a human right, all over the world, including in Michigan. Private corporations shouldn’t be able to profit from a public good.
The fight continues:
Michigan’s second-highest court has dealt a legal blow to Nestlé’s Ice Mountain water brand, ruling that the company’s commercial water-bottling operation is “not an essential public service” or a public water supply.
The court of appeals ruling is a victory for Osceola township, a small mid-Michigan town that blocked Nestlé from building a pumping station that doesn’t comply with its zoning laws. But the case could also throw a wrench in Nestlé’s attempts to privatize water around the country.
The fight to stop Nestlé from taking America’s water to sell in plastic bottles
If it is to carry out such plans, then it will need to be legally recognized as a public water source that provides an essential public service. The Michigan environmental attorney Jim Olson, who did not represent Osceola township but has previously battled Nestlé in court, said any claim that the Swiss multinational is a public water utility “is ludicrous”.
“What this lays bare is the extent to which private water marketers like Nestlé, and others like them, go [in] their attempts to privatize sovereign public water, public water services, and the land and communities they impact,” Olson said.
The ruling, made on Tuesday, could also lead state environmental regulators to reconsider permits that allow Nestlé to pump water in Michigan.
The Osceola case stems from Nestle’s attempt to increase the amount of water it pulls from a controversial wellhead in nearby Evart from about 250 gallons per minute to 400 gallons per minute. It needs to build the pump in a children’s campground in Osceola township to transport the increased load via a pipe system.
The township in 2017 rejected the plans based on its zoning laws, and Nestlé subsequently sued. A lower court wrote in late 2017 that water was essential for life and bottling water was an “essential public service” that met a demand, which trumped Osceola township’s zoning laws.
However, a three-judge panel in the appellate court reversed the decision.
Coal mining, lumber, whale oil extraction: none of these industries are going to be resurrected to save the working classes of the United States, those eras are over, and are not returning. No amount of new regulation or removal of existing regulation is ever going to bring those jobs back.
Sadly for all of us, many Trump voters expect him to be able to magically recommission steel plants, to make coal a cost efficient means to create energy, and so on.
To see where things get more tangled, head into the damp woods of the Cascade Range in central Oregon, and the Olympic Peninsula of Washington State, where a long economic decline began in the late 1980s as international trade shifted timber markets to places like Canada, and automated mills eliminated tens of thousands of jobs. Those computer-run mills are not going away even if more logs start arriving.
“We really don’t have a clear and easy path to go back to the good old days when natural resource extraction was driving our economy,” said Sean Stevens, the executive director of Oregon Wild, a conservation group. “It is not as easy as just logging more,” he said.
But the hopes, and the fears, about how that system might now change are boundless.
“My big hope is that people would be able to go back to work in San Juan County and these rural areas,” said Phil Lyman, a county commissioner in southern Utah, where antigovernment feelings run as deep as the slot canyons. “You just feel like everything has been stifled with regulations.”
Robot, living in the future
Republicans in Congress have proposed bills weakening federal laws that protect wilderness, water quality, endangered species or that allow presidents to unilaterally name new national monuments. Some conservatives hope Mr. Trump will support their efforts to hand federal land over to states, which could sell it off or speed up drilling approvals.
Uranium mines around the Grand Canyon. Oil drilling rigs studding the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. New coal and timber leases in the national forests. States divvying up millions of acres of federal land to dispose of as they wish.
To environmental groups, it would be a nightmare. To miners, loggers, ranchers and conservative politicians in resource-dependent areas, it would be about time. Either way, Donald J. Trump’s election presages huge potential change on America’s 640 million acres of federal public lands, from the deep seas east of Maine to the volcanic coasts of Hawaii.
A common theme that’s being tossed around is that Trump’s election was the white working class’ chance way to say “F**k you!” to the political elites who forgot about them, sucked up their factory jobs and left them out to dry. I take issue with this for a number of reasons.
The first and most obvious reason is this: How do you buck a system ruled by elites by electing a billionaire who was born rich, employed the Mexicans he blamed for taking jobs away and could never possibly understand someone else’s struggle? Next, I don’t fully understand the term “hard-working whites.” I come from the blackest community in one of the blackest cities, and I don’t know how not to have 10 jobs. Everybody I know has 10 jobs, even the infants. Black people, Asians and Mexicans alike work their asses off, so why is the “hard-working white” class even a voting bloc?
What’s sad is that these angry, hard-working white people don’t understand that they saw more economic gains under President Obama than they did under George W. Bush. Unemployment went down across the board except among African-Americans — the rate actually doubled for us — so those folks should be praising Obama, not championing Trump or subscribing to all this alt-right B.S.
Then there’s the myth of returning factory jobs. It’s not a real thing! And trust me, I used to subscribe to the same ideas, all caught up in the nostalgia of the old dudes from my neighborhood. My friend Al’s grandpa used to park his Cadillac on Ashland Avenue, hop out and roll up on us nine-year-olds like, “Finish high school, get a job at Bethlehem Steel and your future is set!” He’d spin his Kangol around backwards, pull out a fistful of dollars, give us each a couple and continue, “I made so much money at the steel factory, my lady ain’t worked a day in her life! I bought a house that I paid off and that shiny car right there! Yes sir, life is good!”
Those jobs were long gone by the time we came of age, at Bethlehem Steel and almost every place like it across the country. They weren’t taken by Mexicans or sent overseas — industries changed, new products were made and robots were invented that could do the job of 10 men and work all night without complaining. Those beautiful factory positions for uneducated hard-working whites (or anybody else) aren’t coming back, and I don’t care what Trump says. What’s even weirder is that we have created a generation of people complaining about jobs that they have never had and will not see in their lifetime — and again, for what?
The Trump administration on Monday announced that it would change the way the Endangered Species Act is applied, significantly weakening the nation’s bedrock conservation law credited with rescuing the bald eagle, the grizzly bear and the American alligator from extinction.
The changes will make it harder to consider the effects of climate change on wildlife when deciding whether a given species warrants protection. They would most likely shrink critical habitats and, for the first time, would allow economic assessments to be conducted when making determinations.
The rules also make it easier to remove a species from the endangered species list and weaken protections for threatened species, a designation that means they are at risk of becoming endangered.
Overall, the new rules would very likely clear the way for new mining, oil and gas drilling, and development in areas where protected species live.
Totally and utterly disgusting. Enabled by all the lick-spittle Republicans who go along with every abomination Trump births from his spit-speckled maw, and assisted by the idiots who voted for Gary Johnson or Jill Stein in 2016.
In truth, if Ted Cruz had won the nomination in 2016, he might have done this same thing, but he might not have beaten Hillary Clinton either. And what-ifs are pointless.
In Chicago, officials warned about the risk of almost instant frostbite on what could be the city’s coldest day ever. Warming centers opened around the Midwest. And schools and universities closed throughout the region as rare polar winds streamed down from the Arctic.
At the same time, on the other side of the planet, wildfires raged in Australia’s record-breaking heat. Soaring air-conditioner use overloaded electrical grids and caused widespread power failures. The authorities slowed and canceled trams to save power. Labor leaders called for laws that would require businesses to close when temperatures reached hazardous levels: nearly 116 degrees Fahrenheit, as was the case last week in Adelaide, the capital of South Australia.
This is weather in the age of extremes. It comes on top of multiple extremes, all kinds, in all kinds of places.
And of course President Dumb-Ass tweets about the cold weather, as if the very fact that it is cold in the Midwest is irrefutable proof that climate change is a Chinese hoax…
As Chicago and much of the Midwest braced for a dangerous blast of arctic air — the worst in recent memory — President Donald Trump leaped at the chance to take a questionable swipe at one of his favorite targets, global warming.
“In the beautiful Midwest, windchill temperatures are reaching minus 60 degrees, the coldest ever recorded,” Trump tweeted. “In coming days, expected to get even colder. People can’t last outside even for minutes. What the hell is going on with Global Waming (sic)? Please come back fast, we need you!”
Not to mention real life Bond villains like Peter Thiel are pushing propaganda about climate change. Mother Jones reports on a science journal called Inference: International Review of Science:
Several articles on the site argued against the theory of evolution, for example, and at least one dismissed the overwhelming scientific consensus on global warming. Later, through tax documents and interviews, I would learn that all of Inference‘s funding came from a surprising source: Peter Thiel. Since Inference’s start, Thiel, a prominent Silicon Valley venture capitalist, has donated at least $1.7 million to the outlet.
Those tax returns reveal that Inference’s entire operating budget came from $1.7 million in donations during its first three years (through August 2017, the latest reports available). These donations came from a single donor: Auzen LLC. Looking at corporate tax reports and other registration documents, it’s unclear whether Auzen LLC and another entity, Auzen Corporation, are involved in activities other than funding Inference. But those documents make it clear that Auzen LLC and Auzen Corporation are run by the same people — and they also state that the sole director of Auzen Corporation is Peter Thiel.
Thiel, whose net worth is estimated at $2.5 billion, is among the best-known venture capitalists in the world. In addition to co-founding Paypal, he was an early investor in big tech companies including Lyft, AirBnB, LinkedIn, and Facebook, where he is also a board member. Thiel is also the chairman and co-founder of Palantir, a CIA-backed data science company that analyzes surveillance from many U.S. government intelligence services.
As the Trump shutdown lumbers on, The Washington Post reports:
On Friday, the Bureau of Land Management changed its plan to allow for 19 percent of its 9,260-person workforce to continue on the job during the shutdown.
According to BLM officials, employees who are back on the job are working on activities including law enforcement, grazing activities and preparing for March lease sales that will take place in several Western states.
Interior’s Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, for its part, has also brought back employees to avert any delays in its March auction for offshore oil and gas drilling.
Priorities. The most important thing to accomplish for the GOP is selling off the public’s land and drill, baby, drill. Jerks.
But some Democrats and environmental groups attacked the decision as political and dangerous.
On Wednesday, House Natural Resources Committee Chairman Raúl M. Grijalva (D-Ariz.) led a group of House Democrats in calling the assistance to the oil and gas industry “an outrageous step,” with a “farcical” justification in a letter to acting Interior secretary David Bernhardt.
“One of the most striking features” of the shutdown, the lawmakers wrote, “is the way the administration has bent over backwards to ensure that the pain of the shutdown falls only on ordinary Americans and the environment, and not on the oil and gas industry.”
Researchers say air pollution may increase risk of autism. Two studies concluded there may be a link, but more research is needed.
Two new studies have found an association between relatively low levels of air pollution and children’s risk of autism spectrum disorder (ASD).
One study, published in JAMA Pediatrics, studied 132,000 births in Vancouver, Canada, from 2004 to 2009. Researchers concluded there was a link between exposure to nitric oxide from car exhaust during pregnancy and greater incidence of childhood ASD.
The second study, published in Environmental Epidemiology, observed more than 15,000 infants born in Denmark between 1989 and 2013. It found that air pollution exposure during the first months of life and later was also associated with ASD.
“The study showed a small increase in autism for infants exposed before birth to one of the pollutants: nitric oxide. While it’s a small increase, if large populations are exposed, it could still affect many children,” Lynn Singer, PhD, professor of population and quantitative health sciences, pediatrics, psychiatry, and psychology at the School of Medicine at Case Western Reserve University in Ohio, told Healthline.
If the Democrats were smart, they would hammer this talking point over and over, despite it not being scientifically proven (yet). Take a page from the GOP/NRA playbook, and link the EPA’s (original) mission of clean air for everyone vs. pollution created by coal/chemical plants being encouraged to pollute so as to make more profits. Say it a million times, say it unprompted. Say the Trump admin is knowingly causing autism by their deregulatory fever, etc.
At issue for many is where the two fish swim. Most Asian salmon spend the bulk of their lives in saltwater. Rainbow trout are often cultivated in water tanks or ponds, which could expose them to freshwater parasites that could infect humans if the fish is eaten raw. The United States Food and Drug Administration warns of potential parasite hazards from eating freshwater fish. In Hong Kong, a Chinese city that operates under its own laws, serving freshwater fish raw is illegal.
“It’s not only the issue of rainbow trout being substituted for salmon, but whether freshwater fish should be used for sashimi at all,” Dr. Kevin Kwok, an assistant professor in the department of applied biology and chemical technology at the Hong Kong Polytechnic University, said.
Fish is often mislabeled around the world in order to fetch higher prices, such as labeling yellowtail as mahi mahi or sea bass as halibut. Regulators in the United States label these substitutions as economic deception.
That goes for salmon, too. Officials in the United States forbid fish sellers from labeling steelhead trout — essentially, rainbow trout that swim in saltwater — as salmon. Generally, salmon spawn in freshwater but return to the sea.
I wouldn’t be surprised if this and similar substitution happens frequently in the US as well. Budgets of regulatory agencies have been sliced over the last decade, so who really monitors what kind of fish gets delivered to restaurants?
Kroger Co. plans to eliminate plastic shopping bags from its supermarkets, the latest retailer to address customer backlash against disposable packaging and utensils.
The largest U.S. grocery chain by stores and sales said Thursday that it would remove single-use plastic bags from its 63-store QFC chain in the Pacific Northwest next year and eliminate them from all 2,800 Kroger-owned stores by 2025.
“This is the way things are headed and we figured we should be in front of that,” said Jessica Adelman, Kroger’s group vice president for corporate affairs.
Ash and smoke are choking Seattle’s air for the second week in a row, as wildfires smolder in the Cascades and in British Columbia. The air quality in Seattle this week has been worse than in Beijing, one of the world’s most notoriously polluted cities.
As of Wednesday morning, the Air Quality Index in Seattle was at 190, a rating classified as “unhealthy.” In parts of the city, the index rose as high as 220, which is “very unhealthy.” Other parts of Puget Sound, like Port Angeles, Washington — 80 miles from Seattle — saw the AQI rise to 205 this week.
To put it in perspective, an AQI of 150 is roughly equal to smoking seven cigarettes in a day. People breathing air this unhealthy should avoid being outside and exerting themselves, particularly people with heart and lung problems, the elderly, and children.
And yet one of the two major political parties in the US is adamant that nothing can or even should be done to ameliorate the effects of climate change. A vote for the GOP is a vote for this kind of apocalyptic condition to worsen.
Fires are a natural occurrence in many woodlands and are essential to a healthy ecosystem. But the growing scale and destruction from these fires stems from human activity.
What kinds of human activity? According to Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke, environmental terrorists.
“[Fires] have been getting worse,” Zinke said in an interview with Breitbart News Saturday. “We have longer seasons, hotter conditions, but what’s driving it is the fuel load. And we have been held hostage by these environmental terrorist groups that have not allowed public access, that refuse to allow the harvest of timber.”
I asked the Interior Department who these terrorists are and they pointed me toward Zinke’s August 8 editorial in USA Today, where he said that radical environmentalists “make outdated and unscientific arguments, void of facts, because they cannot defend the merits of their policy preferences year after year as our forests and homes burn to the ground.”
Environmentalism is a recurring scapegoat in the Trump administration. Earlier this month, Trump blamed “bad environmental laws” for amplifying wildfires.
But researchers say this ire is pointed in the wrong direction. And in Zinke’s zeal to blame conservationists for deadly fires, he conspicuously sidestepped larger human-caused factors driving the current rash of wildfires, including climate change.
Politico reports on why elections matter, part the 567,543,566th:
The Trump administration is suppressing an Environmental Protection Agency report that warns that most Americans inhale enough formaldehyde vapor in the course of daily life to put them at risk of developing leukemia and other ailments, a current and a former agency official told POLITICO.
The warnings are contained in a draft health assessment EPA scientists completed just before Donald Trump became president, according to the officials. They said top advisers to departing Administrator Scott Pruitt are delaying its release as part of a campaign to undermine the agency’s independent research into the health risks of toxic chemicals.
Andrew Wheeler, the No. 2 official at EPA who will be the agency’s new acting chief as of Monday, also has a history with the chemical. He was staff director for the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee in 2004, when his boss, then-Chairman Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.), sought to delay an earlier iteration of the formaldehyde assessment.
Formaldehyde is one of the most commonly used chemicals in the country. Americans are exposed to it through wood composites in cabinets and furniture, as well as air pollution from major refineries. The new assessment would give greater weight to warnings about the chemical’s risks and could lead to stricter regulations from the EPA or class-action lawsuits targeting its manufacturers, as frequently occurs after these types of studies are released.
“They’re stonewalling every step of the way,” the current official said, accusing political appointees of interfering with the formaldehyde assessment and other reports on toxic chemicals produced by EPA’s Integrated Risk Information System. Industry has long faulted the IRIS program, the agency’s only independent scientific division evaluating the health risks of toxic chemicals, whose assessments often form the basis for federal and state regulations.
Interfering with the formaldehyde study is one of several steps Trump’s EPA has taken to side with the businesses the agency is supposed to regulate and undermine the agency’s approach to science, critics say. Public health advocates also expressed alarm after Pruitt replaced academic scientists with industry advocates on the agency’s influential science advisory boards and sought to limitthe types of human health research the EPA can rely on in rulemakings.
The officials said Trump appointees have required that career officials receive their permission before beginning the required internal review of the formaldehyde study and have canceled key briefings that would have advanced it. That interference came after EPA career scientists revised the study once already last year to insulate it from political controversy, they said.
And this isn’t a new story, as it was discussed back in 2010, for instance
Kevin Grandia reported:
Our research has uncovered very strong ties between Georgia-Pacific, a company co-owned by David Koch through Koch Industries, and a political lobby group called the Formaldehyde Council that is involved in efforts to downplay the dangers posed by formaldehyde to human health.
Formaldehyde is classified as a “Group 1 Carcinogen” which is defined as an agent that “is definitely carcinogenic to humans” by the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), and “a complete carcinogen” in the words of the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). The National Toxicology Program also recently revised its characterization of formaldehyde to that of “known human carcinogen.”
But this determination by top scientists and researchers has not stopped Formaldehyde Council Inc. from trying to convince lawmakers on Capitol Hill that the links between Formaldehyde and cancer are highly overstated.
According to IRS filings [pdf], the Formaldehyde Council was formed in 1995 with the mission to,
“encourage accurate scientific evaluation of Formaldehyde and Formaldehyde-based materials and to communicate sound scientific information relating to the uses, benefits and sustainability of these products.” The Council’s operating budget in 2008 was $2.7 million and it reported $2 million in “membership dues and assessments.”
David Koch’s company, Georgia-Pacific, one of the largest manufacturers of Formaldehyde in the United States, is listed on the Formaldehyde Council’s website as a “member” since at least 2004.
The Environmental Protection Agency on Tuesday barred reporters from three news organizations from an event on the impact of toxic chemicals on drinking water at the agency’s headquarters.
The event, during which the E.P.A. administrator Scott Pruitt declared that addressing the impact of a class of man-made chemicals was a “national priority,” came at a time when Mr. Pruitt is the subject of at least 12 federal investigations.
Among those denied entry from the morning session of the planned two-day event was a reporter from The Associated Press, Ellen Knickmeyer. When she requested to speak to an E.P.A. public affairs official, she was “grabbed by the shoulders and shoved out of the building by a security guard,” according to a report from the wire service.
Also turned away were Corbin Hiar, a reporter for E & E News, and Rene Marsh, of CNN, along with a camera operator and a producer from the cable network.
How is that even acceptable behavior for a thug like Scott Pruitt? In a normal administration, Pruitt would have resigned in disgrace as soon as this despicable action became public, but then in a normal administration, Pruitt would have been fired long ago.
What was the topic that Pruitt wanted hidden? How polluted our national water supply is, specifically in this case by perfluorinated compounds (PFAS), used mostly in teflon and fire-fighting foam.
As Politico reported:
Scott Pruitt’s EPA and the White House sought to block publication of a federal health study on a nationwide water-contamination crisis, after one Trump administration aide warned it would cause a “public relations nightmare,” newly disclosed emails reveal.
The intervention early this year — not previously disclosed — came as HHS’ Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry was preparing to publish its assessment of a class of toxic chemicals that has contaminated water supplies near military bases, chemical plants and other sites from New York to Michigan to West Virginia.
The study would show that the chemicals endanger human health at a far lower level than EPA has previously called safe, according to the emails.
“The public, media, and Congressional reaction to these numbers is going to be huge,” one unidentified White House aide said in an email forwarded on Jan. 30 by James Herz, a political appointee who oversees environmental issues at the OMB. The email added: “The impact to EPA and [the Defense Department] is going to be extremely painful. We (DoD and EPA) cannot seem to get ATSDR to realize the potential public relations nightmare this is going to be.”
More than three months later, the draft study remains unpublished, and the HHS unit says it has no scheduled date to release it for public comment. Critics say the delay shows the Trump administration is placing politics ahead of an urgent public health concern — something they had feared would happen after agency leaders like Pruitt started placing industry advocates in charge of issues like chemical safety.
The former coal-fired power plant in Little Village is set to be demolished and replaced with a 21st-century use: warehouses to speed orders for online customers in Chicago.
Northbrook-based Hilco Redevelopment Partners has bought the former Crawford Power Generating Station as part of a $100 million-plus project to demolish the facility and replace it with up to 1 million square feet of warehouses along Interstate 55, Pulaski Road and the Chicago Sanitary and Ship Canal. No tenant has been signed.
The facility was one of the last two coal plants in operation in Chicago until 2012, when power company Midwest Generation closed the facility and its Fisk generating station in Pilsen. The Crawford plant opened in the 1920s.
Roberto Perez, president and managing director of Hilco Redevelopment Partners, said “70 acres in a perfect rectangle is almost impossible to find in downtown Chicago.”
Hilco is working on a community benefits agreement with 22nd Ward Ald. Ricardo Munoz on the Crawford redevelopment. “No. 1, I want to see it cleaned up properly, and No. 2, I want to see jobs go to local residents,” Munoz said. “It’s great that they’re going to repurpose the site, put it back on the tax rolls and bring jobs back to the site.”
Site cleanup and demolition is expected to take 14 to 24 months. Hilco will talk with prospective tenants during that time.
Hilco has been buying and redeveloping similar sites in other parts of the country, including Boston and Baltimore, as online retailers and other companies seek “last mile” distribution centers close to residential areas. The company signed leases with Amazon, FedEx Ground and Under Armour on a former Bethlehem Steel plant it is redeveloping into distribution space in Baltimore.
Good news, I guess, though I hope they use permeable pavement. Would have been nicer if that area had become a beautiful parkland instead of warehouses. But, still better than a heavy metal spewing power plant, especially if the site is cleaned thoroughly.