Day: August 13, 2018

What Happens When a Pipeline Runs Afoul of Government Rules? Authorities Change the Rules.

Read the full story at Pro Publica.

Federal authorities halted work on the massive Mountain Valley Pipeline this month after an appeals court ruled that federal agencies neglected to follow environmental protections.

As bouts with killer algae rose, Florida gutted its water quality monitoring network

Read the full story from the Miami Herald.

When Florida Sea Grant director Karl Havens, a well-regarded expert on water quality who has studied pollution all over the world, began hearing about a deepening algae bloom in his own backyard in Lake Okeechobee this summer, he struggled to find information that could tell him what was going on.

State scientists sample water in the lake, but too infrequently to track rapidly evolving algae blooms. So instead, Havens had to rely on satellite images taken thousands of miles away. But only on sunny days when clouds don’t get in the way.

Flint researchers find alarming levels of lead in Cicero, Berwyn tap water, suggesting thousands of older homes at risk

Read the full story in the Chicago Tribune.

As far as state and federal regulators are concerned, there is no reason to worry about brain-damaging lead in tap water throughout Chicago and the city’s older suburbs.

But samples drawn independently in Berwyn and Cicero during the past year provide the latest evidence of hidden hazards lurking in homes and small apartment buildings built before 1986, when Congress outlawed the use of lead pipes to convey drinking water from municipal street mains.

Webinar: Sustainability in the Built Environment: Why Materials Matter?

Thu, Aug 23, 2018 12:00 PM – 1:30 PM CDT
Register at

The built environment touches all aspects of our lives, encompassing the buildings we live in, the distribution systems that provide us with water and electricity, and the roads, bridges, and transportation systems we use to get from place to place. Creating all these spaces and systems requires enormous quantities of materials. As competition for natural resources continues to intensify due to global population and economic growth, the availability of materials will be subject to increased uncertainty. The webinar will introduce the importance of using and reusing materials in the most productive and sustainable way over their entire life cycles to help address the material and resource needs in the built environment.

Champaign County Board committee OKs zoning change for solar farms

Read the full story in the News-Gazette.

Solar farms could soon become a reality in rural Champaign County.

On Thursday night, the county board’s Environment and Land Use Committee voted 4-0 to recommend amending the zoning ordinance to allow photovoltaic solar farms on certain agricultural properties. The amendment that was approved would require solar-farm companies to provide a letter of credit covering the eventual costs of decommissioning solar farms no longer in use.

Environmental Footprints of Foods

The life cycle of food products are complex and to review their environmental impacts. Oregon DEQ researched a variety of different types of foods, some produced in whole or in part in Oregon, and some not produced here but consumed in significant quantities in Oregon. To understand the context and parameters of this project, begin your exploration with the project foreword.

In addition, DEQ’s literature review has also evaluated two issues that cut across multiple types of foods:

Background documents


Climate change threatens Midwest’s wild rice, a staple for Native Americans

Read the full story from Minnesota Public Radio.

Each year, Dylan Jennings harvests wild rice from the lakes and rivers near his home in northern Wisconsin. He and a partner use a canoe, nosing carefully through rice beds and knocking rice kernels into the boat’s hull using special sticks.

“It’s a really long process,” he says. “It starts with identifying the area where you are going to go ricing and knowing those areas in a very intimate way.”

Northern wild rice, also known as manoomin, is a staple food in Ojibwe communities across the Upper Midwest, where it’s also used in traditional ceremonies. And, like any wild crop, some years yield more than others, depending on the weather.

ISTC Sustainability Seminar: Looking Ahead at Solar Panel Recycling in Illinois

Sep 6, 2018   12:00 – 1:00 pm
Conference room at ISTC – 1 Hazelwood Dr in Champaign or online at

Speakers: Nancy Holm, Assistant Director, and Jennifer Martin, Environmental Program Development Specialist, both from the Illinois Sustainable Technology Center, a division of the Prairie Research Institute at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

The new Illinois Future Energy Jobs Act which went into effect on June 1, 2017, now requires an updated Renewable Portfolio Standard (RPS) in Illinois. This new RPS directs that solar energy use be expanded across the state, increasing Illinois’ solar capacity from about 75 MW to about 2,700 MW by 2030. With these new requirements for increased solar installations, there will be a critical need to examine the disposal and recycling or repurposing of used and broken solar panels to ensure protection of the environment and also to explore the economic benefits of recycling/repurposing solar panels in the state.

As the solar energy industry continues to grow in the state as well as nationally and globally, there is a looming waste management issue at the end-of-life of these panels. The design life of a solar panel is roughly 20 – 30 years. Given this, it is estimated that there will be a surge in solar panel disposal in the early 2030s, and by 2050, there will be 60 to 78 million cumulative tons of solar panel waste globally.  Some countries, particularly in Europe, have established recycling networks. However, in the U.S. we are just beginning to develop a network of recyclers and, as yet, there is not a strong recycling infrastructure in place in Illinois. These used or broken solar panels should be properly recycled to prevent toxic compounds from leaching into the environment, as well as to avoid disposal of valuable and finite resources into landfills.

ISTC is working with the IL EPA, Solar Energy Industry Association, IL Solar Energy Association, and other entities to create awareness around these issues, as well as establish the necessary policy and standards required to build a network of solar panel recyclers in Illinois. Details on solar panel waste and recycling will be discussed in this presentation.

Project begun to protect endangered landscapes

Read the full story from the News-Press.

A collection of business, agriculture, grazing, conservation and government officials have combined to launch a market-based approach to reduce soil erosion and protect Northwest Missouri landscapes.

E.P.A. Staff Objected to Agency’s New Rules on Asbestos Use, Internal Emails Show

Read the full story in the New York Times.

Top officials at the Environmental Protection Agency pushed through a measure to review applications for using asbestos in consumer products, and did so over the objections of E.P.A.’s in-house scientists and lawyers, internal agency emails show.

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