Author name: Dave Dempsey

Dave Dempsey is a writer active in conservation for more than 25 years. A frequent freelance contributor and newsweekly columnist, Dave is the author of four award-winning books on the environment and a biography of Michigan’s longest-serving Governor, William Milliken. A native of Michigan who now lives in the Twin Cities metro in Minnesota, Dave served as environmental advisor to Michigan Governor James J. Blanchard from 1983-89. President Clinton appointed him to the Great Lakes Fishery Commission in 1994. Dave has also held numerous administrative, policy and consulting positions for nonprofit conservation and environmental organizations in Michigan and Minnesota. He was both policy director and executive director at the Michigan Environmental Council and Great Lakes policy consultant for Clean Water Action. Dave has a bachelor of arts degree from Western Michigan University and a master’s degree in natural resource development from Michigan State University, and has served as an adjunct university instructor at MSU in environmental policy.

Paper or Plastic? Neither

[social_buttons] Green Cities California (GCC) announced today the release of its Master Environmental Assessment (MEA) on Single Use and Reusable Bags. The MEA, commissioned by GCC and developed by ICF International’s Sacramento office, summarizes existing studies on the environmental impacts of single use plastic, paper, compostable and reusable bags, as well as the impacts of

DE bottle refund law: Mend it, don't end it, say advocates

A volunteer poses with the bottles and cans collected at a Massachusetts watershed cleanup. [social_buttons] A month after the governor of Delaware proposed dumping the state’s beverage container refund law in favor of a new tax for community recycling, in-state and national environmental groups have come out against the recommendation.  Delaware is one of 11

Is A Pill Take-Back Law in Our Future?

[social_buttons] As the product stewardship movement gains steam, attention is turning to the issue of unsafe disposal of residue or unwanted consumer pharmaceuticals.  The widespread detection of pharmaceutical residues in public waters and fish has raised biologists’ concerns.  In Minnesota, the popularity of public-sponsored take-back days and a coming legislative proposal in the 2010 session

Asian Carp Near Great Lakes: Are They So Bad?

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service biologists with a bighead carp, one of two species whose entry into the Great Lakes is sparking widespread concern. [social_buttons] Last week’s edition of Great Lakes Asian carp news brought both a U.S. Supreme Court decision and disclosure of the species’ environmental DNA in Lake Michigan.  But as members of

MN Solid Waste Reform Could Sharply Reduce Greenhouse Emissions

A new Minnesota stakeholder report identifies 38 solid waste reform recommendations that could dramatically reduce the state’s greenhouse gas emissions. [social_buttons] A report submitted December 31 to the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA) outlines 38 ways the state could achieve a 20-year reduction of 52.5 million metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalent emissions through changes

Barn Owl's Wisconsin Appearance A Rare Event

The Common Barn Owl is not so common in Midwestern states where it’s considered vulnerable. A recent surprise appearance in Wisconsin highlighted the species’ fragile status in the region. [social_buttons] A raptor listed as an endangered or threatened species in seven Midwestern states made a rare appearance in Wisconsin late in 2009.  The ailing barn

Michigan Offshore Wind Proposal Stirs Waves

A map prepared for Michigan’s Great  Lakes Offshore Wind Council shows areas of high wind power production potential in the state’s offshore waters. [social_buttons] One of the first proposals for a major offshore wind project in America’s freshwater has surprised Michigan regulators and begun to stir opposition from onshore property owners. But the company behind

Coalition Says MN Climate Solution Includes Nukes

The Prairie Island nuclear plant at Red Wing, Minnesota, on the Mississippi River.  Nuclear power advocates want to repeal the state’s 15-year-old ban on new nuclear plants. [social_buttons] The state that enacted one of the nation’s most farsighted clean energy laws in 2007 may be a battleground over nuclear power in 2010.  A coalition of

Curbside Vs. Deposit and GHG Reduction

[social_buttons] The beverage container industry continues to fight state and national container legislation despite evidence that such laws could contribute significantly to greenhouse gas reduction while providing energy, recycling and litter control benefits. The industry says community recycling programs, which put the cost burden on communities rather than container manufacturers, are a superior system for

Gender-Bending Chemicals in Minnesota Waters

The discovery of malformed frogs in the Minnesota River watershed in the 1990s touched off field and lab research on endocrine disrupters that is continuing to yield findings. [social_buttons] Minnesota, the state that made national headlines with the discovery of malformed frogs in the 1990s, has found endocrine disrupting chemicals and traces of pharmaceuticals even

Big Fish in the Great Lakes

The ancient lake sturgeon, a threatened species, is making a modest comeback in the Great Lakes after more than a century of overharvest and habitat destruction. [social_buttons] Even as news spreads of the possible imminent invasion of giant Asian carp in the Great Lakes, there’s also good news — the mammoth, native lake sturgeon is

Invasion of the Fish Snatchers?

Bighead carp are one of two non-native species of Asian carp causing widespread concern among Great Lakes advocates. The other is silver carp. [social_buttons] Great Lakes advocates are calling it a “conservation emergency” now that non-native Asian carp have been detected within seven miles of Lake Michigan. They want an immediate closure of locks and

The Western Lake Erie Waterkeeper

[social_buttons] One of the leading voices in the campaign to rescue Lake Erie from dying again is a persistent, thoughtful, dedicated water protector promoting awareness of the Lake’s benefits, supporting lighthouse restoration, fighting resurgent algae and proposed new pollution sources, and seeking funding to restore all of the Great Lakes. She’s an example of the

Environmentalist, Conservationist, Or Neither?

[social_buttons] Darby Nelson, a member of a Minnesota state panel that advises the Legislature on fish, game and wildlife habitat spending, is a classic conservationist. Almost 40 years after the first Earth Day, the term environmentalist is in some disrepute. Once a badge of honor for public-spirited citizens seeking to protect and clean up air,

Great Lakes Get $475 Million in New Money, Questions Persist

Pollution from industrial facilities like this one at East Harbor in Indiana up to the 1970s left a legacy of contamination still in need of cleanup from new Great Lakes restoration funding. [social_buttons] Giving President Obama a major victory, Congress on Thursday sent him a spending bill containing $475 million in new funding to help

An Ocean of Effort

Ocean trash is one of the problems photographed by Christopher Swain on his 1,000-mile ocean advocacy and education journey. [social_buttons] As the Obama Administration’s Interagency Ocean Policy Task Force moves into its sixth public meeting on an interim report in Cleveland this week, one determined ocean advocate is continuing to make his way from Massachusetts

The Missing Link in Climate Change: Product Policy

[social_buttons] Although images of giant coal-fired smokestacks and automobile tailpipes characterize greenhouse gas scenarios, a new report proposes a different way of thinking about it – product policy.  Products and packaging contribute 44% of U.S. greenhouse gas emissions and reduction plans are more likely to succeed if extended producer responsibility (EPR) is made a cornerstone

Is Great Lakes Shoreline Public or Private?

[social_buttons] Legal skirmishes in Ohio and Michigan are reviving debates over whether those who own Great Lakes shoreline properties exclusively control their waterfront land or whether the public can access and travel along the coast.  The same legal doctrine at issue in these battles is a central focus in current debates about n a time

Algae Blooms in Lake Erie Bring Back Bad Memories

Lyngbya wollei, south shore Maumee Bay in Ohio, September 23, 2009. [social_buttons] Lake Erie, declared dead by the news media in the 1960s because of widespread, repulsive algae blooms, is once again marred, this time by both old and new causes. Some scientists and lake advocates worry that the unsightly algae is a warning of

Dog Death Caps Summer of Blue-Green Algae in MN

Blue-green algae blooms on Minnesota lakes are linked to a dog death and illnesses, and apparently caused by runoff pollution. [social_buttons] The death of a dog after it frolicked in a Minnesota lake plagued with blue-green algae was a sad coda for a late summer in the state. Although no necropsy was done, a spokesperson

Double Whammy of Pollution for Mississippi River in Minnesota

A U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service employee samples river water for endocrine disrupting pollutants. [social_buttons] Study results publicized this week suggest Twin Cities water resources and the Mississippi River downstream from the Cities are suffering from pollution by road salt and endocrine disrupting chemicals. The results are from U.S. Geological Survey analysis of watersheds around

The Greening of Paint

[social_buttons] Oregon this summer became the first state to enact in law a product stewardship law for the collection of leftover consumer paint.  The pilot program, which expires in 2014, involves a consumer fee that a nonprofit organization established by paint producers uses to pay for the collection and proper disposal or reuse of the

The Great Lakes: Whose water is it anyway?

[social_buttons] In a century of rising fresh water scarcity, a community of activists in the Great Lakes region is working to prevent private ownership of that water resource, although most mainstream conservation and environmental activists are focused elsewhere. If the activists’ concerns are valid, their battle has national as well as international implications. The fear

What's In Your Bloodstream?

[social_buttons] A two-year-old Minnesota biomonitoring program has now confirmed that residents of suburbs east of the Twin Cities have perfluorochemicals (PFCs) in their blood, although government agencies stress that the levels are only slightly higher than those in the general population. Several landfill sites where 3M formerly dumped CFC wastes leaked the chemicals into groundwater

Minnesota Moose on the Run from Climate Change

[social_buttons] An expert advisory committee this week released recommendations on restoring Minnesota’s dwindling moose population, whose decline one expert said is related to gradual warming of the state’s climate. “The moose, of course, is not an animal that deals very well with heat,’’ panel chairperson Rolf Peterson of Michigan Technological University said. “We wouldn’t even

Freshwater Dreams and Schemes

The North American Great Lakes contain 6 quadrillion gallons of freshwater, about one-fifth of the world’s available freshwater supply. [social_buttons] For more than 25 years, residents of the Great Lakes region have feared large-scale public works projects to take freshwater from the Lakes to thirsty, faster-growing areas of North America. That’s why the eight Great

Great Lakes Offshore Wind Aesthetics

[social_buttons] While public opinion remains divided about the risks and benefits of installing wind farms in the Great Lakes, several of the eight states with Great Lakes water are racing to be first to approve projects capturing energy from frequently strong offshore winds. It remains to be seen whether a public generally supportive of developing

Who Needs a Phone Book?

[social_buttons] As the Internet becomes the resource more Americans turn to for phone numbers, lawmakers are beginning to examine the proliferation of unwanted phone books — and their environmental impact. A Minnesota legislator, Rep. Paul Gardner, has introduced state legislation to allow consumers to opt-out of receiving the paper directories, but is taking a wait-and-see

Minnesota's New Conservation Tax Beginning to Pay Dividends

[social_buttons] Restoration of shallow lake habitat in southern and western Minnesota is one of the habitat programs funded by a new 25-year conservation tax in the state. Photo courtesy of Ducks Unlimited. A new three-eighths cent Minnesota sales tax that took effect July 1 is beginning to result in conservation improvements. Approved as a constitutional

What is 18% of the globe's freshwater worth?

[social_buttons] In the Obama Administration’s proposed 2010 budget, it’s $475 million in new money in the first year for Great Lakes restoration. The five lakes hold about 6 quadrillion gallons of water and provide drinking water for 40 million North Americans but are afflicted with aquatic invasive species, habitat destruction, lingering and new chemicals, and

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