Operators of a southern Illinois coal mine dumped toxic foam deep underground in an unsuccessful attempt to extinguish a fire that idled production last month, according to documents obtained by the Chicago Tribune.
The type of foam used by St. Louis-based Foresight Energy is being phased out in Illinois and 11 other states under laws that for the first time restrict unregulated chemicals known as PFAS—shorthand for perfluoroalkyl and polyfluoroalkyl substances.
A team led by University of Illinois researchers has created a new model that provides researchers and policymakers with a database to estimate location-specific emissions for all greenhouse gases related to the plant- and animal-based human food industries.
China will boost its plastic recycling and incineration capabilities, promote “green” plastic products and take action against the overuse of plastic in packaging and agriculture, it said in a 2021-2025 “five-year plan” published on Wednesday.
Consumer brands giant Procter & Gamble announced today a series of new climate goals, expanding and accelerating the company’s new climate action plans, including commitments to achieve net zero GHG emissions across operations and supply chain by 2040.
The mission of OurEnergyPolicy (OEP) is to facilitate substantive, responsible dialogue on energy policy issues and provide this dialogue as a resource for the American people, policymakers, and the media. In doing so, we inform and support the creation of sound and effective policies. OEP seeks to encourage dialogue representative of viewpoints from across the energy sector, rather than advocating for any specific political, programmatic, policy, or technological agenda. As part of this mission, OEP started an initiative to produce a list of principles that can guide the creation of sound energy policy and convened several discussions to reach this objective. The goal is for policymakers at any level of government—and of any political affiliation—to use these principles to guide the development of well-constructed energy policies.
The principles that experts identified through these discussions are the following:
Reliability – The public depends on energy to keep the economy running, especially during extreme weather events.
Affordability – Americans depend on daily, affordable energy to function and thrive.
Decarbonization – Climate change threatens the basic systems of modern society.
Equity and Inclusion – Policy must take into account likely impacts on various communities and ameliorate inequities.
Integrated Policy – Policies should be drafted with the understanding that our energy systems are interconnected; achieving one goal may affect our ability to achieve others.
Respecting Sound Science – Energy policies should be evidence based and in harmony with the best scientific studies and data.
Technology Neutral – To the extent possible, energy policies should take a technology-neutral, market-oriented approach, as this most efficiently promotes the continued evolution of the energy sector.
OEP held three separate conversations with energy leaders to explore this concept: a February 10, 2021, webinar; an online, written discussion in February; and an April 14, 2021 stakeholder roundtable. In this paper, we highlight points of consensus and various points of view by participants of these discussions. All three conversations were structured to include experts from across the political spectrum and to include energy leaders with extensive experience in government, non-profit organizations, academia, finance, law, and industry. We are grateful to our participants for their involvement. We would also like to highlight the involvement of the J.M. Kaplan Fund, the generous support of which has made OEP’s 2021 roundtables possible. The opinions expressed here do not necessarily reflect the views of the J.M. Kaplan Fund or the individual participants listed. The principles and associated content also do not express the position of OEP, which, as a non-partisan organization, does not advocate for any particular policy or approach.
While thousands of Illinoisans go hungry every day, up to 40 percent of food goes uneaten. The Illinois Sustainable Technology Center (ISTC), Feeding Illinois, and other organizations are partnering to explore new, viable ways to connect farmers directly with food banks to increase the state’s food supply for the food insecure and reduce waste.
The Farm to Food Bank program partners are conducting a feasibility study for a statewide program, identifying approaches to address barriers, evaluating logistical challenges, and uncovering locally appropriate strategies. The result will be a roadmap used to roll out a state-funded program in Illinois, according to Zach Samaras, ISTC technical assistance engineer.
Besides ISTC and Feeding Illinois, study collaborators include the Illinois Farm Bureau and the Illinois Specialty Growers Association. In the first year, the team has conducted a farmer survey, started a pilot project, and visited the eight state food banks.
One of the first actions was to create and distribute a statewide survey to farmers. Questions pertained to the type of product that farmers produce, their marketing strategies, barriers to production, and food losses. Slightly less than 10 percent of survey participants responded. The next step is survey analysis.
Farmers are also being recruited for focus groups to be held at an agricultural conference in early winter. This will be an opportunity for the collaborators to gauge farmers’ interest in the possibility of participating in a Farm to Food Bank program and collect further information on factors that would make participation more feasible for producers. Those interested in participating in focus groups should contact ISTC at email@example.com.
In the first pilot project, which started this summer, Rendleman Orchards in Alto Pass donated grade 2 peaches to a food bank in southern Illinois. Grade 2 produce is typically small or has slight blemishes.
The organizations are looking to find an optimal mixture of incentives for farmers to participate in the program. In this case, the farm receives a tax deduction for the donated produce and reimbursement from Feeding Illinois and the food banks for the “pick and pack” costs.
The pilot project quickly scaled up from two pallets of peaches transported to one food bank in southern Illinois to over 40 pallets sent to four food banks in various parts of the state.
“While we are very happy with the numbers, our biggest goal was to build relationships between the farmers and the food banks and develop a process that could work for a variety of farms across the state,” said Samaras. “We certainly feel like we are on the right track.”
Since the program began, farmers have been receptive to learning more about the opportunity, said Steve Ericson, executive director of Feeding Illinois. Actual participation has been more challenging because once the growing, harvest, and marketing seasons begin, farmers find it too disruptive to start or change plans already in place. Also, it is important not to interfere with existing relationships farmers have with food pantries, which are distribution centers that receive food from food banks.
“The primary thing we’ve learned in this first year is that this is a learning year, Ericson said. “The interest is definitely there. In general and by nature, farmers are community-oriented. ‘Helping others’ is in their DNA. We want this program to provide a meaningful way for them to do that as a group and individually.”
A major future challenge will be determining the logistics of transporting a certain volume of produce efficiently from the farm to food banks. The growing season for specialty crops in Illinois is only six months long, a time when farmers are consumed with work at the farm. Another barrier is that Illinois’ specialty crop farms are for the most part smaller and more widespread than those in other renowned produce states.
Convincing farmers that it is worthwhile to build business relationships with food banks versus contributing locally will take time to instill and to prove the benefits, Ericson said.
The Farm to Food Bank program is supported by the USDA through The Emergency Food Assistance Program. For more information, visit the Farm to Food Bank Program website.
PepsiCo has introduced pep+ (pep Positive), a strategic end-to-end transformation with sustainability at the center of how the company will create growth and value by operating within planetary boundaries and inspiring positive change for the planet and people. pep+ will guide how PepsiCo will transform its business operations: from sourcing ingredients and making and selling its products in a more sustainable way, to leveraging its more than one billion connections with consumers each day to take sustainability mainstream and engage people to make choices that are better for themselves and the planet.