A blue state asks: Is carbon capture part of climate agenda?

Read the full story from E&E News.

Illinois’ landmark climate law signed by Gov. J.B. Pritzker in 2021 made it clear that renewable energy and electric vehicles would be centerpieces of efforts to eliminate fossil fuels from the state’s economy.

Less clear, however, is whether Pritzker and Illinois’ Democratic-led General Assembly are willing to embrace carbon capture — a third rail of climate politics — as a complementary solution.

While carbon capture technology and its promises aren’t new, the state has only recently faced the reality of companies seeking permits for pipelines to transport millions of tons of liquefied carbon dioxide from dozens of ethanol and fertilizer plants across the region. The two pipelines proposed so far would each cross hundreds of miles of rural landscape, raising a raft of legal and policy questions — and public pushback…

The potential for hosting future carbon sequestration projects led the General Assembly to pass a law two years ago, during the climate bill debate, requiring a study of the potential for carbon capture to help the state meet its climate goals.

The study by scientists at the Prairie Research Institute at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign, was overseen by a government advisory committee that included Williams. Conducted at the request of the Legislature, the report concluded that carbon capture, utilization and sequestration “could play an important role in achieving the state’s decarbonization goals and equitable clean energy workforce development.”

How to make hydrogen straight from seawater – no desalination required

Read the full story from RMIT University.

Researchers have developed a cheaper and more energy-efficient way to make hydrogen directly from seawater, in a critical step towards a truly viable green hydrogen industry.

The impact of climate change on the US healthcare system

Read the full story at Environment + Energy Leader.

Changing weather patterns are impacting the spread of water-, vector- and food-borne diseases.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that climate change will cause an additional $2 billion in healthcare costs by 2030 due to increased air pollution, an increase in heat waves and wildfires, and more frequent extreme weather events. These factors have already impacted hospital emergency rooms across the country and have led to a higher number of patients with respiratory illnesses like asthma.

A copper mine could advance green energy but scar sacred land

Read the full story in the New York Times.

Tribal groups are fighting an Arizona project whose backers say increasing the supply of copper, crucial to batteries, would reduce fossil-fuel use.

The museum built on Native American burial mounds

Read the full story at Pro Publica.

For decades, Dickson Mounds Museum in Illinois displayed the open graves of more than 200 Indigenous people. Thirty years after a federal law required museums to begin returning remains, the statewide museum system still holds thousands.

Sabert to eliminate ‘forever chemicals’ from food packaging portfolio

Read the full story at NJ Biz.

As part of an ongoing commitment to sustainability, Sayreville-based food packaging company Sabert Corp. plans to eliminate all intentionally added per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) from its portfolio by the end of 2023.

In a Jan. 23 press release, the company said its entire line of food packaging products – including all future items and customer-specific product designs – will be completely free of PFAS, which are potentially harmful substances known as “forever chemicals” because they never break down in the environment and have been linked to numerous health issues, including immune system suppression and increased cancer risk.

State tackling harmful Lake Michigan shoreline erosion at Illinois Beach State Park

Two ground-breaking projects underway at Illinois Beach State Park will help protect precious shoreline from erosion caused by Lake Michigan waves and inform future decisions about how to blunt the effects of erosion and climate change, Gov. JB Pritzker, the Illinois Department of Natural Resources and the Illinois Capital Development Board announced today.

Illinois Beach State Park in Lake County, home to unique prairie and wetland habitat and a beloved local and regional recreational draw, features the last remaining natural shoreline in the state. However, the shore is constantly battered by Lake Michigan waves, making it a priority for preservation and mitigation efforts.

Some parts of the park’s coastline have receded by as much as 100 feet in one year. Aerial photos and maps show how the shoreline, roads and dune ecosystems have been drastically altered; visitors can see evidence of some of the damage in person.

“Illinois’ lakefronts are a national treasure and one of our greatest natural resources, and it’s essential that we preserve these spaces for future generations to love and learn from,” Governor Pritzker said. “This historic, ambitious project from IDNR and its partners is a commitment that Illinois will continue to tackle the effects of the climate crisis head on and work to build a cleaner, more sustainable Illinois for everyone to enjoy.”

Largest capital project in IDNR history will protect shoreline

The larger of the two projects is construction of a revolutionary system to preserve 2.2 miles of Illinois Beach State Park shoreline. This is a $73 million project, which is believed to be the largest capital project in the history of the Illinois Department of Natural Resources (IDNR). Funding for the project was secured by the Capital Development Board (CDB) and made possible through the historic Rebuild Illinois capital plan. Construction is set to begin in spring 2023.

“It is a priority for IDNR and the State of Illinois to do everything we can to protect the precious public shoreline at Illinois Beach and the native species that live there before they both vanish forever,” said IDNR Director Colleen Callahan.

Rather than stopping erosion by building walls or high-profile coastal structures, the design seeks to guide and direct the movement of the sand instead of simply trying to prevent its movement. The approach uses creatively shaped and formulated islands and submerged reef structures, positioned out in the lake rather than built directly along the shore. These structures serve multiple roles, blocking and reducing the erosive force of incoming waves, redirecting nearshore currents, and providing a new home to aquatic and avian species that live along the shoreline.

The unique solution is the result of more than a year of computer simulations and intense physical modeling to explore how Lake Michigan waves would behave passing around the structures and ultimately transform the shoreline. To test and verify design performance, consultants built a scale model in a giant hydraulic laboratory in the United Kingdom – larger than a soccer field – to replicate conditions along 11,000 feet of Lake Michigan shoreline.

More than 100 variations of possible shoreline solutions were tested until an effective solution was found. The lessons learned through this trailblazing effort set new standards and guidelines for how living shoreline design can manage highly erosive wave forces while remaining as natural as possible.

The completed project will utilize about 250,000 tons of rock fill and armor material, creating 22 submerged and low emergent stone breakwaters covering 12.2 acres of lakebed and renourishing the shoreline with nearly 430,000 cubic yards of sand.

This goal of this massive effort is to protect critical ecological habitats like the 21st Street wetlands and the North Dunes Nature Preserve Trails, as well as vulnerable infrastructure like the Lake County intake plant.

Visitors will not see much of the protective structures because they will be underwater. Protecting the lake views and natural character of Illinois Beach State Park were a priority.

“This approach reflects a broader change in the way shorelines are being protected around the globe,” Callahan said. “Our project explores new ground and sets new standards for what living shorelines can be and what we can achieve in the Great Lakes.”

The Illinois Capital Development Board (CDB) will oversee the project’s design and construction in accordance with the protocol for state-appropriated projects.

“The construction at Illinois State Beach is critical to stabilizing shoreline erosion and ensuring the property is preserved,” said CDB Executive Director Jim Underwood.

‘Rubble ridges’ pilot project could become model for other states

The second project involves the installation of stone “rubble ridges” in Lake Michigan off the southern end of the Illinois Beach State Park coastline. This pilot project is an example of an innovative design focused on development of lower impact and less expensive measures that can protect shoreline.

During the summer of 2021, crews finished constructing three 750-foot-long rubble ridges in the shallow water of Lake Michigan about 500 feet offshore of Illinois Beach State Park. Built of more than 10,000 tons of stones that were placed by a crane, the ridges are intended to work in concert to lessen storm wave impact and protect the eroding beach and unique ecosystem in the dunes.

The ridges are submerged in the water to preserve the view from the shoreline. They also create fish habitat by offering small, protected pore spaces within the structures – in effect, protecting habitat with habitat

“This project represents an important step toward the future of Great Lakes coastal resiliency,” said Ania Bayers, natural resources manager of the IDNR Coastal Management Program. “It’s also a testament to the importance of interagency collaboration, a reliance on good science, and innovative design to preserve the most basic and important qualities of the places Illinoisans love.”

Each year, winter wreaks havoc on Lake Michigan communities as waves and ice pummel the coast. More recently, storms combined with record-high lake levels have been especially damaging to the shoreline.

“From 2012 to 2020, a period coinciding with record-low to near record-high lake levels, the north unit of the park alone lost an estimated 670,570 cubic yards of sediment,” said Robin Mattheus, coastal geologist of the Illinois State Geological Survey. “To help put that into number into perspective, that’s enough to fill about 50,000 dump trucks.”

Coastal Management Program staff began working three years ago with community stakeholders, scientists and a team of design researchers to better understand changes to the coastal landscape and develop a solution to the erosion problem.

The resulting rubble ridges will be carefully monitored by scientists during the next five years with support from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Agency (NOAA). Their study will help inform coastal protection across the Great Lakes and may lead to better in-water habitat and more affordable shoreline protection alternatives.

Construction of the rubble ridges is anticipated to cost an estimated $1.5 million.

Monitoring of the project is performed by staff from ISGS and the Illinois Natural History Survey, who look for changes in the landscape, lakebed, area hydrodynamics, and habitat usage through an array of instruments and techniques. One such technique uses eight monitoring “cages” that were designed and fabricated to be placed on the surrounding lakebed, collecting hydrodynamic data from waves as they pass through the project area.

Collaborators with IDNR’s Coastal Management Program on the project include Healthy Port Futures, Great Lakes Protection Fund, U.S. EPA, Illinois Natural History Survey, ISGS, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, and NOAA.

To learn more about this project at Illinois Beach State Park, visit http://healthyportfutures.com/illinois-beach-state-park/.

New State Water Plan spotlights 13 critical water-related challenges for Illinois

The Illinois State Water Plan, which serves as a blueprint for addressing key water-related challenges in the state over the next decade, has been updated for the first time since 1984 and is available to help guide state and local leaders in setting priorities for water resources.

Different from previous Illinois state water plans, the updated plan intentionally strives to integrate social and environmental justice perspectives into recommendations in every section to better serve economically and socially marginalized individuals and communities in Illinois. It also addresses climate change impacts for the first time.

“Like throwing a rock into a lake, implemented actions of the plan and the resulting plan accomplishments over the next seven to 10 years will have ripple effects in Illinois for the next 50 years,” said Loren Wobig, director of IDNR’s Office of Water Resources and chair of the State Water Plan Task Force. “These effects are necessary to address a changing climate, economy, landscape and social structure.”

The report was prepared by members of the State Water Plan Task Force and the state agencies they represent, as well as a range of diverse individuals representing a broad spectrum of water interests in Illinois.

The updated Illinois State Water Plan spotlights 13 key water issues and focuses on improving the resiliency, sustainability, public safety, stewardship, economic development, and understanding of the water resources of Illinois to improve the lives of the people of the state.

The State Water Plan presents an opportunity to adjust state programs and policies in water resources by recommending necessary changes and new ideas to elected officials and key leaders in the state of Illinois. The updated State Water Plan provides a seven-year-focus strategic plan containing 147 actionable and measurable recommendations for future inclusive and equitable state water resources development in Illinois.

Directors and leaders from nine state agencies and programs have signed a letter of support for recommendations outlined in the report. Those organizations include IDNR, the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency, the Illinois Department of Transportation, the Illinois State Water Survey, the Illinois Department of Public Health, the Illinois Water Resources Center, the Illinois Emergency Management Agency, and the Illinois Pollution Control Board.

The next phase is to work closely with the General Assembly to implement the plan. The plan is dynamic and subject to change by the State Water Plan Task Force based on stakeholder collaboration to address these changes in Illinois for the good of its inhabitants.

To read the 2022 Illinois State Water Plan, visit https://bit.ly/2022ILStateWaterPlan. To learn more about the State Water Plan Task Force, visit https://bit.ly/ILstatewaterplan.

Tracing the flow of forever chemicals into waterways and wildlife

Read the full story at Undark.

In Maine, PFAS compounds in surface water and groundwater have reached the sea, where they’re turning up in marine life.

2023 FOG Forum

Apr 11-12, 2023, Hood River OR and online
More information and registration

The FOG Forum is a two day training and networking event focused on FOG (Fats, Oils, and Grease). The Forum is designed to inform and train wastewater professionals, restaurant owners, pretreatment professionals, plumbers and adjacent industries on the latest in FOG issues.

This two-day workshop and conference will offer 14 hours of FOG related technical training and networking with industry professionals. CEUs have been granted for past conferences and will be applied for in Oregon, Washington, Idaho, and Alaska. This is an excellent opportunity for municipal managers, supervisors, engineers and technicians, consultants, food and hospitality service providers, pumpers, other service providers, and anyone interested in best practices for managing FOG.

The forum is offered in a hybrid format so that it may be attended in-person or virtually (synchronous) via Zoom.