2015 IGEN Sustainability Conference

Illinois Green Economy Network (IGEN)
Thursday, January 29, 2015 at 10:00 AM - Friday, January 30, 2015 at 4:00 PM (CST)
Normal, IL
Register at

The Illinois Green Economy Network (IGEN) is hosting a statewide conference on January 29 – 30, 2015 at Heartland Community College in Normal, IL. The purpose of the two-day conference is for representatives from Illinois community colleges and communities to come together and exchange successes and lessons learned to advance sustainability across the state.

We have secured a block of rooms at the Bloomington-Normal Marriott Hotel & Conference Center for Thursday, January 29, located at 201 Broadway Street in Normal. The room rate is $70/night. Please reference the Illinois Green Economy Network to receive the reduced rate. Please make your reservation by Wednesday, January 7.

Additional information will be provided as it becomes available.

Please contact with any questions.

NOTE: If you are interested in being a sponsor for the conference, please notify us at


Illinois Coastal Management Program Grants

The Illinois Coastal Management Program is accepting applications for Illinois Coastal Grants for environmental education and outreach projects and sustainable coastal planning projects. New for this year will be proposals for habitat restoration projects and small grants. Application materials are available at the Illinois Coastal Grant Program Website at Applications will be accepted through 5:00 p.m. on Monday, December 15, 2014. All potential applicants are invited to sign up for a one-on-one consultation about your project idea. Email Lisa Cotner at for more information.

Microplastic is an Abundant and Distinct Microbial Habitat in an Urban River

Amanda McCormick, Timothy J. Hoellein, Sherri A. Mason, Joseph Schluep, and John J. Kelly (2014). “Microplastic is an Abundant and Distinct Microbial Habitat in an Urban River.” Environmental Science & Technology Article ASAP. DOI: 10.1021/es503610r.

Abstract: Recent research has documented microplastic particles (< 5 mm in diameter) in ocean habitats worldwide and in the Laurentian Great Lakes. Microplastic interacts with biota, including microorganisms, in these habitats, raising concerns about its ecological effects. Rivers may transport microplastic to marine habitats and the Great Lakes, but data on microplastic in rivers is limited. In a highly urbanized river in Chicago, Illinois, USA, we measured concentrations of microplastic that met or exceeded those measured in oceans and the Great Lakes, and we demonstrated that wastewater treatment plant effluent was a point source of microplastic. Results from high-throughput sequencing showed that bacterial assemblages colonizing microplastic within the river were less diverse and were significantly different in taxonomic composition compared to those from the water column and suspended organic matter. Several taxa that include plastic decomposing organisms and pathogens were more abundant on microplastic. These results demonstrate that microplastic in rivers are a distinct microbial habitat and may be a novel vector for the downstream transport of unique bacterial assemblages. In addition, this study suggests that urban rivers are an overlooked and potentially significant component of the global microplastic life cycle.

U.S. EPA Approves Carbon Sequestration Permit in Decatur, Illinois

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has approved a permit allowing the Archer Daniels Midland Company to inject carbon dioxide deep underground in Decatur, Illinois. This process – known as “carbon sequestration” – is a means of storing carbon dioxide, a greenhouse gas that contributes to climate change.

ADM plans to capture carbon dioxide produced by an ethanol manufacturing facility. ADM’s goal is to capture and inject 1.1 million metric tons of carbon dioxide each year. Sequestering 1.1 million metric tons of carbon dioxide each year is the equivalent of eliminating carbon emissions from over 230,000 cars.

U.S. EPA completed a technical review of the Class VI permit and responded to over 100 public comments before approving the permit. ADM can begin drilling the well in November in preparation for injecting liquefied carbon dioxide. ADM must demonstrate the integrity of the well before injecting carbon dioxide and conduct extensive monitoring at the location.

ADM is the second facility in the nation to receive a Class VI underground injection permit for carbon sequestration. In August, U.S. EPA issued four Class VI permits for a FutureGen Alliance facility in downstate Illinois.

For more information:

Illinois professors and students study community resilience around polluted waterways

Read the full story in Inside Illinois.

There’s no such thing as a good place to have a natural disaster, nor has there ever been an appropriate site to release toxic pollutants. But scientists have long recognized that some areas can handle such catastrophes better than others. As early as the 1970s, they used socioeconomic data from the U.S. Census to develop a tool called the Social Vulnerability Index, known as SoVI, to gauge the likely resilience of different communities.

Now a team of professors and graduate students at the University of Illinois is testing and tweaking the SoVI model by studying at a more granular level the communities around two polluted Midwest waterways. Bethany Cutts, a professor of natural resources and environmental sciences, and Andrew Greenlee, a professor ofurban and regional planning, received a two-year Illinois-Indiana Sea Grant to study communities around the Lincoln Park-Milwaukee Estuary and portions of the Grand Calumet River south of Chicago, both designated “areas of concern” by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

Construction Begins at a Carbon-Capture Plant, but Will It Ever Be Completed?

Read the full story in MIT Technology Review.

After a decade of stop-and-start efforts and a $1 billion federal pledge, construction of the country’s most hyped project for capturing carbon dioxide from a coal-fired power plant and storing it underground has finally begun. But even now, the project, called FutureGen, faces hurdles. An environmental group has brought a lawsuit against the project that threatens to undermine the additional funding needed to see the job through.

Illinois compost group solicits input from local businesses and government

Currently in the state of Illinois, if your organization produces lots of food scraps, the most cost-effective removal option is to put them in your trash and pay your waste hauler to bring them to the landfill. But according to EPA, Illinois landfills have only 21 years of capacity, and it is costly to build new ones–in dollars and environmental costs.

A group of more than 100 Illinois businesses, municipalities, county governments, universities and nonprofit organizations wants to address these issues by developing and promoting solutions for affordable, state-wide food scrap composting. Food scrap composting–which turns the material into usable soil nutrients–can take pressure off landfills and extend their life.

The Illinois Food Scrap Coalition ( will hold a FREE Food Scrap Composting Challenges and Solutions in Illinois Stakeholder Forum at the Champaign Public Library on September 22 from noon to 4 p.m. The group invites entities that produce food scraps, such as restaurants, hotels, hospitals, colleges and large businesses; large and small waste haulers; commercial compost facilities; and municipalities, government agencies, landscape companies, golf courses and others who use, or have the potential to use, large amounts of finished compost.

“In order for our project to work, we need input from Illinois stakeholders about their experiences and challenges with regard to composting,” says Cassandra Carroll, Executive Director of the Illinois Green Business Association and member of the Illinois Food Scrap Coalition. “Their day-to-day experiences in dealing with food discards will help shape practical solutions for advancing food scrap composting in the state.”

Three other forums are being held across the state. Forums in Central and Southern Illinois will also explore the agricultural aspects of commercial composting. This work is generously sponsored by the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity (DCEO).

Recommendations from the Food Scrap Composting Challenges and Solutions in Illinois Stakeholder Forums will be incorporated into a formal report providing a snapshot of the food scrap activities already underway in Illinois and including recommendations on how to encourage more food scrap diversion from landfills. The report summary will be presented to the Task Force on the Advancement of Materials Recycling, which, in turn, is required to submit a report to the Governor and General Assembly by January 1, 2015.

To register for the forum, visit

The Illinois Food Scrap Coalition (IFSC) is a group of more than 100 solid waste agencies, county governments, nonprofit organizations and state and federal agencies organized to promote food scrap composting in Illinois. Founding members include representatives from: Seven Generations Ahead, School and Community Assistance for Recycling and Composting Education (SCARCE), Solid Waste Association of Northern America (SWANA), Solid Waste Agency of Northern Cook County (SWANCC), Solid Waste Agency of Lake County (SWALCO), Illinois Counties Solid Waste Management Association (ILCSWMA), Kendall County, DuPage County, Kane County, Cook County, Will County, Loyola University, McHenry County College, Village of Oak Park, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), and Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity (DCEO). Learn more at