Day: August 7, 2020

Americans are planting mystery seeds the government has warned against

Read the full story in The Guardian. See this guidance from the Illinois Department of Agriculture to learn how to safely discard the seeds.

Americans have been planting mystery seeds which appeared to be sent from China, unaware of government warnings to dispose of the suspicious shipments.

Four people who have come forward after apparently randomly receiving the seeds have since contacted their local agricultural departments to collect the resulting mystery plants – or in some cases, fruitless seeds.

Problems plagued U.S. CO2 capture project before shutdown: DOE document

Read the full story from Reuters.

A $1 billion project to harness carbon dioxide emissions from a Texas coal plant suffered chronic mechanical problems and routinely missed its targets before it was shut down this year, according to a U.S. Department of Energy report.

New funding for water infrastructure projects announced

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has announced the 2020 notice of funding availability under its Water Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act (WIFIA) program, including funding for the new State infrastructure financing authority WIFIA (SWIFIA) program. These funding programs accelerate investment in critical water infrastructure through innovative and flexible financing that can support diverse projects in both large and small communities. This year’s funding will provide up to $6 billion to support $12 billion in water infrastructure projects while creating more than 35,000 jobs and improving public health and environmental protection in communities across the country.

“EPA’s WIFIA loan program has become one of the most effective tools used in President Trump’s efforts to upgrade our nation’s infrastructure, create jobs and safeguard public health and the environment,” said EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler. “This new round of $6 billion in funding comes in time to help communities that are trying to recover from the health and financial stress of the COVID-19 pandemic and, for the first time, includes funding expressly available to states.”

To date, EPA has issued 24 WIFIA loans totaling $5.3 billion in credit assistance to help finance $11.7 billion for water infrastructure projects while creating 25,000 jobs — including eight WIFIA loans closed and one refinanced from March 2020 through June 2020. These recent loan closings will save ratepayers over $1 billion compared to typical bond financing while supporting the financial health of vital water systems. This financial support came at a critical time as the federal government, EPA and the water sector worked together to help mitigate the public health and financial impacts of COVID-19.

This announcement marks the fourth round of WIFIA funding. This year’s notice of funding availability prioritizes construction-ready projects in three areas: updating aging infrastructure; reducing exposure to lead and addressing emerging contaminants; and water reuse and recycling. The 2020 notice of funding availability builds upon the existing, active pipeline of WIFIA projects, which includes 49 projects in 19 states and D.C. For the first time, the agency will evaluate submitted projects using additional criteria that were developed to help clarify project and federal budgetary considerations. EPA will accept letters of interest from prospective WIFIA borrowers through October 15, 2020.

EPA is also, for the first time, providing funds under SWIFIA. This new program, which was authorized by Congress as part of the America’s Water Infrastructure Act (AWIA) of 2018, offers low-interest loans to state water infrastructure programs (e.g., the State Revolving Funds) that then help finance needed water infrastructure projects in local communities. This round of funding will provide SWIFIA borrowers up to $1 billion to support $2 billion in water infrastructure projects. EPA will accept letters of interest from state water infrastructure programs through September 15, 2020.

For more information and to apply, visit EPA’s web site.

Nearly 60 different types of fish found in Chicago waterways, study shows. 30 years ago, there were fewer than 10.

Read the full story in the Chicago Tribune.

Amazing what can happen when a city stops dumping massive amounts of bleach into its waterways.

Nearly 60 different types of fish are swimming in the Chicago and Calumet rivers these days, up from fewer than 10 during the early 1980s, according to a new study of sampling conducted by the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District.

Associated journal article: Happel, A. and D. Gallagher (2020). “Chicago’s fish assemblage over ~30 years — more fish and more native species.” Urban Ecosystems https://doi.org/10.1007/s11252-020-01020-3

Environmental racism is killing Americans of color. Climate change will make it worse

Read the full story in The Guardian.

We’ve turned a blind eye to a public health time bomb in already vulnerable communities

Biodiversity: The next frontier in sustainable fashion

Read the full story at McKinsey & Company.

It’s time for the apparel industry to radically reduce the industry’s contribution to biodiversity loss. Here are four interventions that can make the biggest impact.

Young Climate Advocates Across Political Spectrum Say #YESonClimate at Virtual Summit

Read the full story at Audubon.

Nearly 100 college students unite behind climate action and environmental advocacy at the Youth Environmental Summit.

Tackling climate change, social injustice and the pandemic through sports

Listen to the podcast.

Roger McClendon, the executive director of the Green Sports Alliance, discusses what he terms ‘the three pandemics’ and how the organisation is galvanising members to counter them.

University of Illinois begins construction of Solar Farm 2.0

Read the full story from the University of Illinois.

Construction is underway on the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign’s Solar Farm 2.0, with a commercial operation date expected for early 2021. The new 54-acre, 12.1 megawatt (MWdc) solar array is located north of Curtis Road, between First Street and U.S. Route 45, next to the Village of Savoy.

Once completed, the solar farm will produce 20,000 MWh annually, almost tripling the university’s existing on-site renewable energy generation. Through a combination of utility-scale installations, integrated facility rooftop arrays, and wind power purchase agreements, clean power usage at the U of I will increase to more than 52,000 MWh per year, which is over 10 percent of the campus electrical demand.

Ten takeaways from ten years at Retraction Watch

Read the full story at Retraction Watch.

As we celebrate our tenth birthday and look forward to our second decade, we thought it would be a good time to take stock and reflect on some lessons we — and others — have learned.

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