EPA Awards Environmental Education Grants in 24 States, Puerto Rico, D.C.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has announced the completion of the latest round of awards under the Environmental Education (EE) Grants Program.

Projects include a community-based program to study Monarch butterflies, a watershed and stream monitoring teacher training program, a classroom-based simulation of the United Nations Climate Summit, and a mobile laboratory. Additional projects include school-based, after-school and non-formal EE programs focusing on a range of environmental issues, from air quality to recycling.

The agency funded 35 grants from across the country, ranging from $40,000 to $192,200, for a total of approximately $3.3 million.

Grant recipients include organizations in 24 states as well as from Puerto Rico and the District of Columbia. States include: Alabama, California, Colorado, Georgia, Hawaii, Idaho, Indiana, Iowa, Louisiana, Maine, Massachusetts, Missouri, Nebraska, Nevada, New Mexico, New York, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Vermont, Washington and Wisconsin.

Projects funded in U.S. EPA Region 5 include:

Since 1992, EPA has distributed between $2 million and $3.5 million in grant funding per year, for a total of approximately $65.5 million supporting more than 3,600 grant projects.

This year, EPA distributed two types of grants under the EE Grants Program. Projects awarded under the Model Grants Request for Proposals (RFP) are intended to serve as model, replicable projects; each project will be implemented in at least two states. Local Grant awards fund locally focused EE projects. EPA anticipates issuing a new RFP for Local Grants in the winter of 2015-2016.

The grantees were selected from more than 400 applications received in February and March of this year. This longstanding, highly competitive grants program supports EE projects that increase public awareness about environmental issues and provide participants with the skills to take responsible actions to protect the environment. The program provides financial support for projects that design, demonstrate, and/or disseminate environmental education practices, methods or techniques.

For more information on the new awardees and on how to apply for future EE grant competitions, please visit http://www2.epa.gov/education/environmental-education-ee-grants

Scientists alarmed as tiny plastic turns up in lakes

Read the full story in the Toledo Blade.

Tiny bits of plastic known as microbeads are emerging as one of the more troubling forms of pollution in the Great Lakes, especially Lake Ontario and Lake Erie.

So small that they pass undetected through sewage treatment plants, microbeads are part of the larger issue of plastic that has plagued oceans worldwide for years. Biologists fear that microbeads — which are ingested by fish that mistake them for eggs or zooplankton — could lead to a long-term impact on the Great Lake’s $7 billion fish industry and ultimately work their way into the human food chain.

Illinois Companies, Organizations Honored for Achievements In Sustainability

Nineteen Illinois companies and organizations were honored October 27 for their demonstrated leadership in implementing sustainable principles and practices. The Governor’s Sustainability Awards, the “Emmy Awards for Sustainability,” were presented by the Illinois Sustainable Technology Center (ISTC) during a ceremony in Chicago. ISTC is a unit of the Prairie Research Institute at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

Since 1987, ISTC has presented Governor’s Awards to organizations in Illinois that have demonstrated a commitment to environmental excellence through outstanding and innovative sustainability practices. Any Illinois public or private organization is eligible to apply for the award. Winners are selected through a rigorous process of review and examination by ISTC technical assistance experts.

“Businesses that invest in sustainability drive a thriving Illinois economy by creating jobs and making an investment in our future,” said Governor Rauner. “The Governor’s Sustainability Awards foster sustainable innovation and encourage our public and private sector to build a stronger, more sustainable Illinois.”

Sustainable economic growth is essential to the long-term competitiveness of the state, according to ISTC Director Kevin O’Brien. “These awards demonstrate that you can preserve natural and cultural resources and simultaneously grow your business,” he said. “That is why this award is very critical. It demonstrates it can be done, it’s being done in Illinois, and it is what sets us apart as Illinoisans.”

The complete list of 2015 award winners is listed below.

2015 Governor’s Sustainability Award Winners

  • Abbot Laboratories – Abbot Park
  • Abbie Inc. – North Chicago
  • Argonne National Laboratory – Lemont
  • Caterpillar – Morton Parts Distribution Center
  • Clarke – St. Charles
  • ComEd – Oak Brook Terrace
  • Cook County – Chicago*
  • Golden State Foods Chicago – McCook*
  • Griffith Laboratories – Alsip*
  • Hoffer Plastics Corporation – South Elgin*
  • Illinois Tollway – Downers Grove
  • J.L. Clark – Rockford
  • John G. Shedd Aquarium – Chicago*
  • McHenry County Government – Woodstock*
  • Public Building Commission – Chicago*
  • Saratoga Food Specialties – Bolingbrook*
  • Silgan Containers Manufacturing Corporation – Rochelle*
  • University Housing at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign*
  • Western Illinois University – Macomb*

 * Indicates a first-time winner of the Illinois Governor’s Sustainability Award.

Additional information on the Governor’s Sustainability Awards program, lists of previous winners, and information on technical assistance for Illinois companies and communities are available from the Illinois Sustainable Technology Center, One Hazelwood Drive, Champaign, IL 61820, phone (217) 333-8940, http://www.istc.illinois.edu/

To Request Photos of Winning Teams, please contact jdexter@illinois.edu

OH: Kasich says indefinite freeze of clean-energy standards is ‘unacceptable’

Read the full story in the Columbus Dispatch.

Count Gov. John Kasich among the opponents of a legislative plan to be released today calling for an indefinite freeze in the state’s clean-energy standards.

2015 Illinois Solar Tour scheduled for October 3

The Illinois Solar Tour, on Saturday, October 3rd, 2015 is a FREE PUBLIC OPEN HOUSE.

Home and business owners with renewable energy installations will open their homes to the public to share their passion, knowledge and experience of owning and living with renewable energy.

Visit any site at any time between 10 am and 2 pm. Homeowners will be available at each site to provide information, share experiences and answer questions. Find a site near you.

Attend the Illinois Solar Tour to:

  • Learn how home and business owners are utilizing solar and other clean energies to reduce their dependence on fossil fuels and to become energy independent
  • Meet people who have renewable energy installations, learn why they did it, the process, what they love about it and lessons learned
  • Learn about the different technologies and see how they are installed
  • Hear how different renewable energy technologies work together
  • Find out all of the ways you can use clean energy to power your life

Manure spill blamed for fish kill

Read the full story in the Champaign-Urbana News-Gazette.

State-protected fish were killed when liquid manure discharged from a Fithian-area farm into Stony Creek and then the Salt Fork over the weekend, state officials say.

Biologists estimate the pollution affected about 10 miles of waterway, killing fish up to the Oakwood Road bridge over the Salt Fork of the Vermilion River.

The spill also was identified as a potential threat to Oakwood’s water supply, but the operator kept the water intake pump off to cease pulling water from the river, according to a news release.

Grand challenge: reduce carbon and water footprints of industry

Read the full post from the University of Minnesota Institute on the Environment.

From cars and personal care products to the food on their dinner table, consumers are increasingly seeking out products that are less harmful to the environment. Many companies are, in turn, responding to these demands by altering the way they make products — from the ingredients going in to the pollution coming out.

But the full impact of a product reflects a complex system that often has hundreds of producers engaged in thousands of processes to put that product into the hands of the end user. Once there, how the product is used and dispatched at the end of its life can have big impacts as well. Even the most well-intentioned companies struggle to identify which changes at what point in the value chain will give them the most sustainability bang for their buck.

Through the Institute on the Environment’s NorthStar Initiative for Sustainable Enterprise, the University of Minnesota is reaching across academic disciplines as well as out to the private sector to develop the tools and processes that will help companies meet the grand challenge of reducing their carbon and water footprints.