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Environment
Quick Hit
by Ellyn Fortino
3:39pm
Fri Jul 18

Report: U.S. Lags Behind Other Nations On Energy Efficiency

The United States is lagging behind many other nations in terms of energy efficiency, according to a new scorecard from the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy (ACEEE).

The ACEEE's second edition of its "International Energy Efficiency Scorecard" ranks the United States 13 out of 16 leading world economies analyzed for policies and performance on energy efficiency. The 16 economies cover more than 81 percent of global gross domestic product and 71 percent of global energy consumption. Read more »

Quick Hit
by Ellyn Fortino
3:17pm
Fri Jul 18

Chicago Commercial Buildings In Retrofit Program Making Progress To Cut Energy Use

In the first two years of the Chicago Commercial Building Initiative, participating buildings have cut their collective energy use by seven percent compared to their 2010 baseline, officials with the city and the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) said Friday.

The seven percent reduction in energy use is the equivalent of avoiding 28,000 metric tons of carbon dioxide emissions, or taking some 5,800 cars off the road for a year. 

Over the past two years, the 32 commercial buildings enrolled in the voluntary program reduced their collective energy use by switching to more efficient LED lighting; installing motion sensors connected to heating, cooling and lighting systems; upgrading heating and cooling systems with better ventilation fans and motors; and improving tenants' office-space efficiency. Read more »

Quick Hit
by Ellyn Fortino
9:56am
Mon Jul 14

Study: Vegetarian & Low Meat Diets Can Help Mitigate Climate Change

Eating less meat or none at all has the potential to significantly shrink an individual's diet-related carbon footprint and "can make a valuable contribution to climate change mitigation,"according to a recent study published in the journal Climatic Change.

The study examined the diets of 29,589 meat eaters, 15,751 vegetarians, 8,123 pescatarians (vegetarians who eat fish) and 2,041 vegans between the ages of 20 to 79 in the United Kingdom. Participants took a "food-frequency questionnaire" asking how often in the last year they consumed 130 different food items. Researchers were able to estimate the greenhouse gas emissions, which trap heat and warm up the planet, associated with the various foods. Read more »

Quick Hit
by Ellyn Fortino
7:32pm
Wed Jul 2

Report: 10 Percent Of Illinois Beach Water Samples Have Unsafe Bacteria Levels

Hitting the beach this Fourth of July holiday?

A recent report from the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) suggests that swimmers take precautions to avoid getting sick from beach water that might be contaminated.

The NRDC's annual "Testing the Waters" report showed that 10 percent of water samples taken last year from 49 monitored Illinois coastal beaches and beach segments — all located in Cook and Lake counties — tested positive for high levels of bacteria from human or animal waste. Read more »

Quick Hit
by Ellyn Fortino
4:09pm
Tue Jul 1

Lake County Environmental Coalition Sends Petitions To NRG Energy Over Future Of Waukegan Coal Plant (VIDEO) (UPDATED)

Lake County residents and environmentalists are asking the new owner of Waukegan’s aging coal-fired power plant to produce a long-term transition plan for the facility in collaboration with local community stakeholders.

Toting signs reading "Clean air wins" and "It's time for a clean and healthy lakefront," about 25 members of the Clean Power Lake County Campaign mailed more than 2,500 petition postcards on Tuesday to New Jersey-based NRG Energy Inc. The petition calls on the company to set a retirement date for the 90 year-old Waukegan plant, located on the city's lakefront, and make investments in clean energy projects that will hire local workers. A transition plan for the outdated plant should also consider the city of Waukegan's tax base as well as those currently employed at the site, the petition states.  Read more »

Quick Hit
by Ellyn Fortino
4:28pm
Tue Jun 24

Southeast Side Chicagoans Want Answers About Reported Uptick In Petcoke-Filled Trains

Southeast Side Chicagoans are sounding the alarm on the latest environmental and public safety issue impacting their communities — an alleged uptick in trains transporting uncovered piles of petcoke, a byproduct of oil refining.

Over the past two months, some Southeast Side residents say they have noticed increased train traffic on old rail lines in the Hegewisch community that have previously been unused for many years. The trains, many of which pull more than 100 cars, are moving in and out of the area day and night, said Tom Shepherd of the Southeast Environmental Task Force. 

Shepherd said the trains are carrying unenclosed petcoke, which is mostly coming from the BP refinery in Whiting, Indiana and stockpiled at storage facilities along the Calumet River on Chicago's far Southeast Side.  Read more »

Quick Hit
by Ellyn Fortino
2:18pm
Thu Jun 19

Report: 6 Million Pounds Of Toxic Industrial Pollution Discharged Into Illinois Waterways (VIDEO)

Industrial facilities discharged 6.1 million pounds of toxic chemicals into Illinois' rivers and streams in 2012, shows a new report by the Environment Illinois Research & Education Center.

The "Wasting Our Waterways" report ranks Illinois as the 13th worst U.S. state for the total volume of toxic industrial releases to waterways.

At the national level, polluting facilities dumped 206 million pounds of harmful chemicals into American waterways in 2012, according to the report. And some 8.39 million pounds of toxic pollution were discharged into the Great Lakes watershed. Ammonia, chromium and lead are among the chemicals released into Illinois' waterways, according to the report. Read more »