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Jack Lessenberry on Environmental Issues| GGL

Russ White, Jack Lessenberry

Ubiquitous and respected journalist Jack Lessenberry joins me on Greening of the Great Lakes to share his thoughts on a variety of environment-related topics in the news.

On Thursday, June 29, the state released the draft analysis of alternatives to the Enbridge Line 5 pipeline under the Straits of Mackinac. The alternatives study doesn’t make any recommendations. Michigan’s Pipeline Safety Advisory Board will recommend what action, if any, Governor Snyder or Attorney General Schuette should take in regard to continued operation of Line 5.

“What we all know is that something like 540,000 gallons a day of oil and natural gas move through that pipeline, which has been at the bottom of the Straits since 1953. And if anything were to happen, both Lakes Michigan and Huron could be damaged beyond our power to imagine. It remains to be seen how much political pressure will be put on Enbridge to do something about that.”

Lessenberry thinks that President Trump pulling the United States out of the Paris climate accord “is a very bad thing” that sends the wrong message to the rest of the world on our commitment to the environment.

He doesn’t feel we’ve done enough to keep the Asian carp out of the Great Lakes.

“I’m told that if we got 400 of them in the Great Lakes we’d be doomed. If one or two get in we may be able to sustain things. But if they get a breeding population, we’re in serious trouble.”

Lessenberry updates this summer’s battle with algae blooms in Lake Erie and talks about the 1 trillion ton iceberg, with twice of the volume of Lake Erie, that broke off from the Larsen C ice shelf this week in Antarctica.

Despite the era of fake news we’re living through, Lessenberry, who teaches journalism at Wayne State University, is optimistic about the profession’s future. He says concern about the Trump administration and some of its policies will make serious journalism more popular than ever.

“Some of the major newspapers including the New York Times, Washington Post, and Wall Street Journal have seen their circulations go up, and we have more journalism majors at Wayne State University than we’ve had in a while.

“But it is a changing world where there are not enough journalists, many have lost their jobs. So this is going to be a constant struggle. As we all know, and as people have known since time as far back as Ben Franklin, it’s better to have an informed public than an ignorant one.”

Greening of the Great Lakes airs inside MSU Today Sunday afternoons at 4:00 on 94.5 FM and AM 870.

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