Great Lakes

Challenges and Opportunities in the Land of Lincoln

Read the full post from ACEEE.

Illinois—the land of Lincoln according to its license plate—has made great strides in energy efficiency in recent years. In 2014 it ranked 11th overall in ACEEE’s annual State Energy Efficiency Scorecard, up 15 slots from its score 5 years earlier. The main reason for its rise in rank was the state’s performance on utility-sector energy efficiency programs and policies. Energy efficiency measures installed under utility-sector programs reduced statewide electricity use by about 1% of the state’s total electricity consumption in 2013, the most recent year for which data are available. This placed Illinois 13th among US states in electricity savings, up from a tie for dead last in the 2009 Scorecard.

Under Illinois law, utilities collect the money for efficiency programs through rates, keeping 75% of the funds to operate their energy efficiency programs. They remit the remaining 25% to the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity (DCEO), which uses these funds to operate energy efficiency programs for low-income households and for state and local government facilities. Both the utilities and DCEO have done well. A 2014 ACEEE analysis found that Illinois electric utilities have exceeded their energy saving goals every year, while the gas utilities have just about met theirs. A 2014 independent evaluation of DCEO’s programs estimated that they have an overall benefit-cost ratio of 2.26.

Unfortunately, in late February, Illinois’ new governor, Bruce Rauner, proposed a budget that would divert $265 million of ratepayer funds intended to be used for energy efficiency and low-income energy assistance to the state general fund, to apply to a state budget shortfall (further information here ). This includes DCEO’s energy efficiency programs that are discussed above as well as the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP), which helps pay the energy bills of low-income families. Even though the proposed budget isn’t effective yet, it’s reported that senior staff at DCEO’s energy efficiency programs have already been laid off, and remaining staff told not to sign any new contracts or to approve any new rebate applications. Most legal observers believe the legislature must approve the diversion—its approval is far from certain—but the governor appears not to be waiting.

Great Lakes Science Boot Camp – Save the date June 3-5, 2015

Please save the date (June 3-5, 2015) for the inaugural Great Lakes Science Boot Camp for librarians! This immersive 2½ day conference offers librarians an opportunity to learn about current research advancements in science. It will explore key concepts and research in Great Lakes Aquatic Ecosystems, Genomics, and Medical Chemistry. The Great Lakes Science Boot Camp will strive to cultivate an ongoing learning community of academic and medical librarians dedicated to providing research support to faculty and graduate students.

June 3-5, 2015
Wayne State University
Detroit, Michigan
Boot Camp website:
Registration opens in mid-March
Please contact Katherine Akers, Wayne State University, if you have any questions.

2015 Indiana Governor’s Awards for Environmental Excellence now accepting nominations

The State of Indiana is seeking nominations for the 2015 Governor’s Awards for Environmental Excellence. These awards recognize Indiana’s leaders who have implemented outstanding environmental strategies into their operations and decision-making processes.

The Governor’s Awards are open to all Indiana manufacturers and other organizations with projects that qualify under the categories of Pollution Prevention, Energy and Renewable Resources, or Environmental Stewardship.

Nominations must be received (not postmarked) by IDEM by 5 p.m. (EDT) on Friday, April 17, 2015.

For more information please visit

Sen. Peterson sponsors legislation to fight toxic algae in Ohio

Read the full story in The Highland County Press.

State Senator Bob Peterson (R–Sabina) this week introduced Senate Bill 1, which seeks to ramp up the state’s efforts to fight toxic algae and support clean drinking water.

Peterson jointly sponsored the measure with Senator Randy Gardner (R–Bowling Green).

The legislation would establish the Office of Harmful Algae Management and Response under the direction of the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency (OEPA). The new department would work with local governments and water treatment plants to coordinate support for Lake Erie and inland lakes with other state agencies.

The new effort would also update provisions to support agriculture’s role in working to reduce phosphorus in Lake Erie and inland lakes.


$50 million cut for Great Lakes cleanup in Obama 2016 budget riles healthy waters group

Read the full story from MLive.

Backers of a multi-year plan to clean up the Great Lakes are crying foul about a $50 million funding cut proposed in the president’s $4 trillion 2016 fiscal year budget released this week.