Environment and Sustainability

ISU Professor Says World Lakes Heating Up

Dec 16, 2015
Great Lakes Environmental Research Laboratory / NOAA

An ISU geology professor is one of the founding members of a group that is releasing a report today on warming lakes. Catherine O’Reilly won a fraction of the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize as a member of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. WGLT's Jim Browne sits down with her to determine the extent, and ramifications of the phenomenon.

Michael Brown / Ecology Action Center

The household hazardous waste collection event at Mitsubishi two months ago is being deemed a huge success by organizers. Michael Brown, Executive Director with the Ecology Action Center, says both fundraising and material volume goal were exceeded. He says costs came in lower than expected, meaning some funds for the next collection in two years are already in house.
 

Leonard G. / Wikimedia Commons

Negotiators at  the U.N. climate change conference in Paris have reached a rough blueprint for reining in emissions and reducing global warming. Many issues remain and those will need to be resolved by the summit’s end on Friday. WGLT's Mike McCurdy talked with two Illinois volunteers with the Citizens' Climate Lobby about their plan to address global climate change.

Staff / WGLT

While some people ride recreationally, an increasing number are using their bicycles to get to work, the store, and doctor.  The National Household Travel Survey showed that the number of trips made by bicycle in the U.S. more than doubled from 1.7 billion in 2001 to 4 billion in 2009. Bike BloNo, a Bloomington-Normal bicycle advocacy organization, recently helped compiled statistics to see where, and when, it's safest to ride your bike.

Monarch Milkweed Incentives Promised

Nov 27, 2015

Federal officials want landowners in Illinois and nine other states to grow milkweed to boost the population of monarch butterflies. The U.S. Department of Agriculture is due to spend $4 million in 2016 to help farmers and others plant milkweed and other nectar-producing plants. The agency wants to re-establish habitats for monarchs and pollinators in general. Milkweed is essential for monarchs since it is the only plant on which the butterfly will lay its eggs. It takes three to four generations for the monarchs to migrate to roosting spots in mountains of central Mexico.  
 

Winter Is Coming

Nov 20, 2015

Northern Illinois could see 10 inches of snow as the first wintry storm of the season comes into the state.  
 The National Weather Service says a mix of rain and snow Friday evening will turn to snow on Saturday. Snowfall totals will be as high as 8 to 10 inches across north-central Illinois. The area near Interstate 80 is forecast to see 3 to 6 inches and the shores of Lake Michigan should see 2 to 5 inches.  Central Illinois including the WGLT listening area will see 1 to 3 inches.

New Solar Farm Helping Power U of I Campus

Nov 19, 2015
Jim Meadows / Illinois Public Media

Drive down Windsor Avenue through the south end of the University of Illinois Urbana campus, and you can see the array of black objects on the south side of the road near the railroad tracks. Those are solar panels --- thousands of them. And while an official ribbon-cutting was held just Thursday morning Nov. 19, the panels are already generating electricity for the campus.

Mike Bernico / Bike BloNo

A new study says the largest single chunk of bicycle versus auto accidents in Bloomington Normal happen to bicyclists who are using sidewalks. Michael Gorman of the advocacy group Bike BloNo says it's safest for cyclists to behave like motorists and follow the rules of the road on the streets because cyclists are more visible to people around you.

Gorman says bikers are most visible when they are behaving like motorists and following the rules of the road, but car drivers may not notice bikers when the head into an intersection from a sidewalk.

Flagging A Bus Soon Thing Of The Past

Nov 6, 2015
Staff / WGLT

Beginning Monday, Connect Transit buses in Bloomington-Normal will only stop at designated spots.  Connect Transit General Manager Andrew Johnson says the signs marking bus stops have been up for a few weeks now, and he hopes the public is ready for the transition. He says the new system will increase efficiency, and cut down on travel times.

Illinois has joined 17 states supporting new domestic power plant limits being challenged in federal court by more than two dozen other states. The motion to intervene was filed in a federal appellate court in Washington by state Attorney General Lisa Madigan. California, New York and Virginia are among the other states siding with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, along with the cities of Chicago, New York and Philadelphia.  

Asian Carp On The Move

Nov 2, 2015
File / Microsoft Sample Pictures

Federal crews have discovered two Asian carp in the Illinois River, 12 miles closer to Lake Michigan than where others of that size previously were seen. U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service teams found two silver carp about 6 1/2 inches long late last month in the river's Marseilles Pool near Seneca. That means the leading edge of the river's juvenile Asian carp population is about 66 miles closer to Lake Michigan than it was at the beginning of this year.

Illinois Reviewing Clean Air Rules

Oct 30, 2015

A spokeswoman for Gov. Bruce Rauner says Illinois environmental officials are working to abide by new federal power plant limits that are being challenged by more than two dozen other states. Rauner responded cautiously after the early August unveiling of President Barack Obama's much-anticipated Clean Power Plan to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from domestic power plants.

Michael Brown / Ecology Action Center

McLean County's latest Household Hazardous Waste collection drew 22% more vehicles than the event held two years ago. Ecology Action Center Director Michael Brown says the 1,600 vehicles tallied was down from the inaugural event in 2012, but that's not necessarily a bad thing.

Contributions to pay for the collection and disposal of electronics, chemicals, oil paint, and other hazardous waste that should not be handled were more than the estimated $180,000 cost of the event. Brown says he is still developing totals for the amount of materials collected.
 

Tolono Pulls Plug On Coyote Hunt

Oct 22, 2015
jitze / Flickr via Creative Commons

Officials in the eastern Illinois community of Tolono are dropping the idea of allowing an organized coyote hunt to control the animal's population. Village board members concluded the effort would be futile in an area surrounded by prairie habitat. Others worried that mounting a hunt would risk accidental injuries to bystanders. Trustee Mike Golish explained that ``shells sometimes go not where you're aiming.'' Coyote sightings earlier this year prompted the village to hire a professional trapper. Five coyotes were caught, but the sightings continued.

One McLean County Board member says she hopes the Enbridge oil pipeline through central Illinois can be made more secure. Victoria Harris is urging county staff to study external leak monitors and anything else that has promise.

Enbridge periodically tests the insides of pipelines using robots. But, the company has not installed external leak detectors.

Harris says it is an easy retrofit.

But, industry representatives dispute that.

Radioactive Container Missing

Oct 20, 2015

Authorities are searching for a missing radioactive container in Illinois and Indiana. A southern Illinois logging company reported Friday that it wasn't able to locate a ``radioactive well logging source holder,'' which was last known to be in a company vehicle. The device owned by Wayne County Well Surveys Inc. of Fairfield is silver, measures about 12 inches tall and 14 inches in diameter, and weighs about 75 pounds. It's part of a larger tool used to assess geological formations in oil, gas, groundwater, mineral, and geothermal exploration.

Michael Brown / Ecology Action Center

The Ecology Action Center's Michael Brown plays "Can It Be Recycled" with WGLT's Mike McCurdy and listeners. Just what do you do with a Lava Lamp? Find out as Michael and Mike also talk about this weekend's household hazardous waste collection event.

New Rules On Old Tires

Oct 12, 2015

The Illinois Pollution Control Board has issued new rules about how to handle used tires. State officials say the rules will apply to operators of tire disposal and storage sites and facilities that retread, stamp and die-cut tires. The rules are meant to protect from tire fires and breeding of disease-carrying mosquitoes from standing water in tires. The rules will require operators to change the way they store used tires both indoors and outdoors. The rules also will give emergency responders easier access to tire piles in case there's a fire or other emergency.

Future Of Solar Power Bright

Oct 7, 2015
StraightUp Solar/straightupsolar.com

As politicians stake out their most advantageous positions on Barack Obama's Clean Power Plan to reduce carbon pollution from power plants, some are staking out the most profitable positions. That includes coal mine owners, oil companies, and those interested in solar power. WGLT's Jim Browne has more with Shannon Fulton of StraightUp Solar in Bloomington, who is also President of the Illinois Solar Energy Association.

Puny Pumpkin Crop

Oct 6, 2015

Crop experts say there should be enough pumpkins for Halloween, but that supplies of canned pumpkin could be scarce by Thanksgiving. Illinois is the country's top pumpkin-producing state. Mohammad Babadoost is a plant pathology professor at the University of Illinois. He says ``we'll have a pumpkin for everybody'' for Halloween, but cautions that canned pumpkin could run low by Nov. 26's Thanksgiving holiday. He says he'd ``buy it whenever it comes to the store.'' Meanwhile the large canned pumpkin manufacturer Libby says yields in Illinois appear to be less than anticipated this year.

September Warm, But No Record

Oct 5, 2015

The Illinois State Water Survey says last month was the ninth warmest September on record for Illinois. A statement from the research body says the average statewide temperature in September was 70.2 degrees. That's 4 degrees higher than average. The warmest September on record for Illinois came in 1933. That year the average temperature for the month was 72.2 degrees. It also reports the statewide average precipitation for September was 3.42 inches. That's 0.19 inches above average.

NIH

  The head of a suburban Chicago school district that evacuated because Legionella was found says there is a lack of public health guidance for schools to help deal with the bacteria. Elgin Area School District CEO Tony Sanders says he didn't receive guidance from state or federal agencies on when it was safe to reopen schools and it ``was incredibly frustrating.'' The district evacuated and shut three schools for three days last month after high levels of Legionella were found in water cooling towers.

The Sierra Club is blasting the Illinois Pollution Control Board for what it calls permissive emissions standards for a Tazewell County coal fired power plant. The environmental group says the U.S. EPA has designated the air in parts of Tazewell and Peoria Counties as unsafe to breathe because of high levels of sulfur dioxide pollution. The major source in the non-attainment area is the Powerton plant near Pekin.

Monsanto Donates For Monarch Rescue

Sep 28, 2015

A national wildlife group says it is doling out $3.3 million in grants as part of an initial push to stem the worrisome decline of monarch butterflies. The 22 grants announced by the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation will be matched by more than $6.7 million from the recipients, who are in at least a dozen states including Illinois. The money is meant to restore up to 33,000 U.S. acres of habitat in areas identified by experts as key to monarch butterfly recovery.  

Court Gives Enbridge Pipleline Green Light

Sep 23, 2015

Construction of the controversial Enbridge Pipeline in McLean County has moved closer to completion. An Illinois Appellate Court upheld a lower court's ruling allowing the work to proceed. This, despite outstanding legal issues between the pipeline company and local property owners. Earlier this year, landowners filed suit seeking to halt construction until financial terms with Enbridge could be reached. The Appellate Court upheld McLean County Circuit Court Judge Paul Lawrence's ruling allowing construction to proceed while the property owners' lawsuit is pending.

Fredlyfish4 / Wikimedia Commons

In late July and early August the Constitution Trail comes alive with chirping and buzzing, but most of of those sounds aren't from insects.  Take a listen to Mike McCurdy's recent night time bike ride.

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