Great Lakes offshore wind farm has funding, but faces hurdles before construction

Read the full story in Great Lakes Echo.

Armed with a $40 million federal grant, the Lake Erie Energy Development Corp. (LEEDCo) plans to start building the first wind farm on the Great Lakes in the summer of 2018.

But government officials, legal experts and opponents of the Lake Erie project say many hurdles remain before construction can begin.

Illinois: New Law Encourages Schools to Donate Food

Read the full story from SCARCE.

For the past year SCARCE Director Kay McKeen worked with Jennifer Walling of the Illinois Environmental Council to get a state-level bill written and signed into law that would prohibit any language in school food-service contracts that prevented donation of leftover food items. The Food Donation for Schools and Public Agencies bill was signed by Gov. Rauner on July 15, 2016 and took effect immediately.

The Grand Calumet River – Fighting its Way Back to Life

Read the full story from U.S. EPA.

A combination of efforts by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, Indiana Department of Natural Resources and Indiana Department of Environmental Management had contributed some $52 million—including funding through the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative and the Natural Resources Damage Assessment process—to revive the area in and around Roxana Marsh. The revival involved removing upwards of 730,000 cubic yards of contaminated sediment. It also involved replacing invasive, cattail-like Phragmites, with native plantings in some 25 acres of wetlands along 2 ½ miles of the Grand Cal River.

U.S. and Canada Release Final Report on Groundwater Science

Read the full story from the USGS.

The 2012 Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement includes a commitment to publish a report on relevant and available groundwater science. In response to this commitment, a report that documents groundwater science relevant to the Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement has been finalized after considering public comments received over December 2015 to the end of January 2016. The report is a product of extensive collaboration among experts in a variety of subject areas and summarizes current knowledge on groundwater in the Great Lakes region.

Leading companies collaborate to launch new circular economy initiative

Minnesota’s proud history of corporate citizenship and environmental stewardship has reached a new tipping point. Today, more than 25 businesses and organizations announce the Minnesota Sustainable Growth Coalition, a business led partnership harnessing their expertise to advance the next frontier of corporate sustainability – the circular economy.

A circular economy is an economic system that values and preserves all types of capital – financial, natural, manufactured, human, or social. In this system, nothing is lost or wasted, and all resources are utilized to their highest potential. The end result is an economy that decouples economic growth from the consumption of finite natural resources.

Minnesota’s business community is leading the charge to advance a circular economy by going above and beyond addressing environmental performance in their operations and supply chains to identify what progress can be made by working across sectors and across industries. Coalition members see the adoption of circular economy principles as a way to uncover business growth opportunities, drive innovation, and ensure a healthy and sustainable region. And, one of the defining characteristics of the group is commitment to real action.

“Minnesota has a rich legacy of corporate philanthropy and collaboration,” said Jay Lund, Chairman and CEO of Andersen Corporation, a founding member of the Coalition. “Climate change, water risk, waste – these complex environmental issues affect our economy, our natural resources, and our communities. The Coalition provides an exciting opportunity for leading businesses and organizations across the region to identify new solutions to these systemic challenges.”

Coalition members will identify and scope projects that advance clean energy, convert organic waste into valuable resources, and protect or restore the natural water cycle. Advancing clean energy projects is an early priority for the group’s work together.

“Minnesota is uniquely gifted to lead the crafting of a more socio-environmentally responsible society. Our community hosts a well-diversified economy with strong leaders in industry, services, agriculture, some of the best of North American academia, and a well-educated population led by progressive thought-leaders,” said Dominique Conseil, President of Aveda and founding coalition member.

Environmental Initiative, a local nonprofit organization is convening and facilitating the coalition. “Moving towards a future where our economic growth doesn’t deplete our natural resources or create harmful waste is a massive challenge. But, collaborating to achieve positive environmental outcomes at scale is what Environmental Initiative does,” said Mike Harley, Executive Director. “We’re excited to be convening such a passionate group of businesses and organizations to work towards this ambitious vision.”

About the Minnesota Sustainable Growth Coalition
The Minnesota Sustainable Growth Coalition is a business-driven collaboration of more than twenty leading companies and organizations working to re-imagine business as usual through the acceleration and advancement of a thriving circular economy.  Members include: 3M, Andersen Corporation, Aveda, Best Buy, Cargill, Center for Energy and Environment, Dow Water, Ecolab, Ever-Green Energy, Fredrikson & Byron P.A., General Mills, Greater MSP, Great Plains Institute, Great River Energy, HealthPartners, Hormel Foods, Institute on the Environment – University of Minnesota, Medtronic, Metropolitan Airports Commission, Metropolitan Council, Pentair, Target, Tennant Company, Tunheim, Uponor, Wenck, and Xcel Energy.

About Environmental Initiative
Environmental Initiative is a nonprofit organization that builds partnerships to develop collaborative solutions to Minnesota’s environmental problems. Environmental Initiative convenes and manages the Minnesota Sustainable Growth Coalition.

Emily Franklin, Director of Communications

Improving Household Hazardous Waste Collection Options for East Central Illinois

The Illinois Sustainable Technology Center’s latest technical report, Improving Household Hazardous Waste Collection Options for East Central Illinois, assesses the current state of household hazardous waste (HHW) collection activity in Illinois and reviews the options in Champaign County as of January 2013.

It summarizes applicable federal and state regulations, best management practices related to HHW collection, and challenges associated with HHW collection in Champaign County. It also compares the costs of one-day collection events in Illinois and the costs associated with start-up, operation, and processing of permanent HHW collection facilities. Finally, it includes a preliminary “strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, threats” (SWOT) assessment for three potential options for Champaign County.

The Underwater Pipeline That Could Break the Great Lakes

Read the full story in Pacific Standard.

In 2010, a ruptured pipeline in Michigan caused the greatest inland oil spill in U.S. history. The company responsible owns other infrastructure in the state and many residents are worried it could someday soon contaminate this country’s greatest fresh water resource.