Day: November 22, 2013

The makings of the Urbana-to-Kickapoo rail trail

Read the full story in Smile Politely.

For over twenty years, plans have been in the works to transform a 24.5 mile section of abandoned railroad between eastern Urbana and Kickapoo State Park into a recreational trail. Once completed, this trail would provide a safe place for Champaign and Vermilion County citizens to walk, run, and ride their bikes, as well as promote the local economy through increased tourism and outdoor activity.

In the 1990s, the Champaign County Conservation and Design Foundation and the Champaign County Forest Preserve began negotiations to acquire the land needed to begin this project, but unfortunately met with some unexpected setbacks.

The company who owned the property, Conrail, had originally planned to donate the land to the cause, but was then dissolved. CSX Corp then came into ownership of the property, and negotiations had to begin anew.

Now, in 2013, negotiations have finally reached a conclusion and the section of railroad in Champaign County has been successfully purchased. At the time of this writing, the Vermilion County Conservation District has yet to purchase their portion of the trail, but it appears as though development will soon be underway.

President Steve Rugg of the Champaign County Design and Conservation Foundation generously agreed to an interview to discuss the trail project, the CCDC, and environmental awareness in Champaign County.

Black Friday: News Articles about Early Openings Miss the Point

Read the full story in Triple Pundit.

Nevertheless, with all the buzz over which retailer opens at what time, we need to remember that opening stores on Thanksgiving isn’t the problem, but only one indication of the problem. The real problem is the unsustainable culture of consumption where we “are being persuaded to spend money we don’t have, on things we don’t need, to create impressions that won’t last, on people we don’t care about,” as economist Tim Jackson explains.

Georgetown Climate Center Seeking Applications from Government Entities (and NGOs Working with Government Entities) to Provide In-Kind Legal and Policy Support for State and Local Adaptation Projects

The Georgetown Climate Center (GCC), a non-partisan center at Georgetown University Law Center, is seeking applications to provide in-kind legal and policy support for state and local adaptation projects.  The GCC provides assistance to state and local communities that are preparing for and responding to the impacts of climate change.

Applications are being sought from government entities (or NGOs working with government entities) that need legal or policy support to identify or implement adaptation policies.  Examples of previous GCC projects include model codes, analyses of legal authority, toolkits, and more.

Applications will be accepted through Friday, January 3, 2014, and selected projects will be announced by the end of January 2014.  To learn more and view the application form, visit

Department of Interior to Host Seminar on National Fish, Wildlife, and Plants Climate Adaption Strategy on December 9, 2013, 12:15 – 1:15 PM EST

Join the Department of the Interior’s Office of Policy Analysis on December 9, 2013 for their monthly speaker series, which will feature a discussion on the “National Climate Change Adaptation Strategy for Fish, Wildlife, and Plants.”

The National Climate Change Policy Advisor for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service will describe how this new strategy is being implemented by federal, state, and tribal governments to reduce negative impacts from a changing climate on natural resources, economies, and communities that depend on plants, animals, and ecosystems.  He will discuss the role for the Department of the Interior as well as its partners and will engage the audience in discussing what is needed to overcome challenges.

The presentation will be held in the Rachel Carson Room, located in the Basement Cafeteria of the Main Interior Building (1849 C St. NW, Washington, DC).  Livestream is available at  A login is required to ask questions.  Please click “join” or “login to chat” and follow instructions.  Closed captioning will be available, and the event will be recorded and posted to the Office of Policy Analysis’ website.  For more information, visit

EPA to Host Three-Part Webcast Series for State and Local Governments on Communications for Climate Programs – December 4, 11, and 18, 2013

EPA’s State and Local Climate and Energy Program will host a three-part webcast series on communications on December 4th, 11th, and 18th, 2013. This series will provide information on communication strategies and methods that state and local governments can use to ensure the ongoing success of climate and clean energy programs.

The structure of the three webcasts will parallel the general phases of program development and implementation: attracting stakeholder support and participation, sustaining change, and gaining momentum from program successes.

Participants will learn how to design communications strategies to engage and empower stakeholders, use communications methods to instigate and sustain behavior change and foster individual and community solutions, and effectively communicate their programs’ successes and resulting benefits to diverse audiences. For more information and to register, visit

For Utility-Scale Solar Industry, Key Questions About the Future

Read the full story at Yale Environment360.

Large-scale solar projects are enjoying steady growth in California and the southwestern United States. But will shifting government incentives and mandates slow the expansion of this key part of the solar energy industry?

Cleveland Browns Roll Out New Food Waste-to-Energy System

Read the full story in Triple Pundit.

The Cleveland Browns football franchise plans to showcase its food waste-to-energy system at a big home game against the Pittsburgh Steelers on November 24. The new system, called Grind2Energy, is the first of its kind at any NFL stadium. It reclaims food scraps for conversion into renewable methane gas, rather than sending it to a landfill where it would decompose and add methane (a potent greenhouse gas) to the atmosphere.

For those of you who follow clean energy news regularly, Grind2Energy isn’t new as in “new rocket science” new. It’s basically a highly efficient system for hauling slurry from on-site garbage grinders to off-site biogas digesters.

What’s really striking about the demonstration is that a pro football franchise would go out of its way to showcase something as humble and off-topic (off-topic to sports, that is) as sustainable food waste management. So, what’s up with that?

How Industrial Agriculture Has Thwarted Factory Farm Reforms

Read the full story at Yale Environment360.

In an interview with Yale Environment 360, Robert Martin, co-author of a recent study on industrial farm animal production, explains how a powerful and intransigent agriculture lobby has successfully fought off attempts to reduce the harmful environmental and health impacts of mass livestock production.

Solicitation Now OPEN for 11th Annual P3 Awards

Submission deadline: December 17, 2013 11:59:59 pm Eastern Time

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), as part of the P3-People, Prosperity and the Planet Award Program, is seeking applications proposing to research, develop, and design solutions to real world challenges involving the overall sustainability of human society. The P3 competition highlights the use of scientific principles in creating innovative projects focused on sustainability. The P3 Award program was developed to foster progress toward sustainability by achieving the mutual goals of improved quality of life for its people, economic prosperity and protection of the planet — people, prosperity, and the planet – the three pillars of sustainability. The EPA offers the P3 competition in order to respond to the technical needs of the world while moving towards the goal of sustainability. Please see the P3 website for more details about this program.

Public nonprofit institutions/organizations (limited to degree-granting public institutions of higher education) and private nonprofit institutions/organizations (limited to degree-granting private institutions of higher education) located in the U.S. (includes U.S. territories and possessions) are eligible to apply to be the recipient of a grant to support teams of undergraduate and/or graduate students. Profit-making firms are not eligible to receive assistance agreements from the EPA under this program.  See full announcement for more details.

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