Illinois Public Media News

AP - Illinois Public Media News - February 22, 2010

UI Conference Tackles Mounds of E-Waste

Environmental experts are looking for a little creativity this week when it comes to diverting tons of old TVs, computers or cell phones from the landfill - or worse.

Electronic waste can create pollutants as well as lots of solid plastic or metal waste, and much of it will come from machines that are still in working order. A two-day symposium on the University of Illinois campus begins Tuesday to address the large-scale problem.

Tim Lindsey is with the U of I's Sustainable Technology Center. He says everyone involved in the process - from manufacturers to retailers to recyclers - are getting together to talk about reducing the waste stream, and new reuse methods can play a huge role.

"You can take a ten-year old Pentium 3 computer, you could refurbish it, load it with Windows 7, and for most applications it will perform as well as a brand new computerwith respect to word processing, surfing the internet, spreadsheets and so forth. It would do just as well," Lindsey said.

Lindsey says one future answer may be to rethink how we buy electronics. He says consumers might warm up to the concept of buying a shell computer or cell phone and occasionally improving its performance with the newest technology.


WILL - Illinois Public Media News - February 16, 2010

Why Haiti Collapsed After the Quake

A University of Illinois researcher back from Haiti says it was hard to separate his scientific work from the crisis surrounding him. Scott Olson is a professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering. He and a team of other geo-engineers examined if a process called liquefaction shook the Haitian soil so much that it could no longer support the structures on top of it - like the giant cranes at the capital's only port. The destruction blocked valuable aid from getting to victims. Olson sat down with AM 580's Tom Rogers to talk about the trip in both scientific and human terms.

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Categories: Education, Environment, Science

AP - Illinois Public Media News - February 10, 2010

Small Quake Rumbles Under Northern Illinois

A small pre-dawn earthquake has hit northern Illinois, startling sleepy-eyed residents as far away as Iowa and Indiana, but no damage or injuries were immediately reported.

The U.S. Geological Survey reports that the 4.3-magnitude earthquake hit about 50 miles northwest of Chicago at 4 a.m. Wednesday.

USGS geophysicist Amy Vaughan says such quakes are rare in northern Illinois. She says the agency received reports from Wisconsin, Iowa and Indiana about feeling the ground shake.

Sheriff's dispatchers near the epicenter in Kane County say they've been flooded with calls from startled residents. But spokesman Lt. Pat Gengler says no injuries or damage have been reported.

Residents reported being tossed out of bed and finding books and tools scattered across the floor.

Categories: Environment

AP - Illinois Public Media News - February 08, 2010

Caterpillar Joins FutureGen Alliance

Peoria-based Caterpillar has joined the growing list of supporters of the FutureGen coal-burning power plant planned for Mattoon.

And the heavy equipment maker is the first member of the FutureGen Alliance not tied directly with energy production. The alliance now has 11 members committed to providing financial resources to get FutureGen off the ground, they include Chicago-based utility giant Exelon, and St. Louis-based coal company Peabody Energy. Monday's announcement drew praise from officials like Governor Pat Quinn and Urbana Congressman Tim Johnson. Coles Together Vice President Anthony Pleasant admits Caterpillar's backing may appear a bit unusual at the outset. "The rest are power generation companies, and clearly that's not what Cat does." says Pleasant. "But Cat's always been environmentally friendly. Just days ago, their headquarters in Peoria was LEED certified. They reduced energy by 40%, and water usage by 50%. So it's something they clearly invest in." In a release from the company, a Caterpillar official says the company has long been committed to technologies and policies that slow, stop, and reverse the growth of Greenhouse gas emissions.

Pleasant notes that Caterpillar also makes mining equipment. He says this move is a good sign that other companies not related to energy production will support FutureGen, and calm federal officials' concerns over cost. The price tag of the facility now stands at about 1-point-8 billion dollars, with the Department of Energy expected to handle just over a billion of that. Two years ago, the Bush Administration pulled the plug on the project due to cost overruns. A DOE announcement on whether FutureGen will be built could come later this month.


AP - Illinois Public Media News - January 04, 2010

Legal Move Against Asian Carp Migration from IL Grows

New York's attorney general says he'll join the legal effort to keep Asian carp from entering the Great Lakes because the species could devastate the fishing industry and the environment.

Andrew Cuomo said he'll file a brief in U.S. Supreme Court today supporting Michigan's request to sever a century-old Chicago canal connecting Lake Michigan and the Mississippi water basin. Wisconsin, Minnesota and Ohio also are supporting the request. Illinois' attorney general's office is reviewing the suit. The Metropolitan Water Reclamation District of Greater Chicago has said that closing the canal would not prevent the carp from migrating. Asian carp can grow to be 100 pounds and can consume massive quantities of plankton, the base of the Great Lakes food chain.


AP - Illinois Public Media News - December 21, 2009

Michigan Sues Illinois over Asian Carp Threatening Great Lakes

A spokeswoman for the Chicago-based agency that helps run the waterways into Lake Michigan says it's unfortunate that Michigan's attorney general is going to the U.S. Supreme Court over Asian carp.

Michigan Attorney General Mike Cox today sued the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District of Greater Chicago, the state of Illinois and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

The lawsuit seeks closure of shipping locks near Chicago to prevent Asian carp from invading the Great Lakes and endangering the $7 billion fishing industry.

Water district spokeswoman Jill Horist calls the lawsuit unfortunate and says it won't bring a solution any sooner.

A spokeswoman says Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan's office is reviewing the lawsuit and has no comment for now.


AP - Illinois Public Media News - December 21, 2009

UI Student’s Take on Copenhagen Climate Conference: Disappointing

Disappointment has been a common evaluation of the Copenhagen climate conference that ended last week.

It wrapped up with nations signing an accord that sets recommended guidelines for carbon emissions but didn't set any binding agreements or long-term goals.

Adam Lentz is a University of Illinois environmental sciences graduate student who got the chance to sit in on the talks. The native of Copenhagen feels most people left without very much optimism - and many world leaders left well before the end of the talks.

"It was, literally, almost all of them," Lentz told AM 580 from Denmark. "They were fleeing Copenhagen before they actually signed off on anything. I have never heard of any other meeting where world leaders gathered and they didn't take what they call a family photo."

Lentz says most observers were surprised by the unity displayed among the nation's developing countries - one likened it to a new world order. He was also struck by the assertiveness of countries that could be more directly affected by climate change, specifically island nations like the Maldives.


AP - Illinois Public Media News - December 18, 2009

Reward for Whooping Crane Shooting Info Now at $10,000

The reward money offered in connection with the shooting of a rare whooping crane in Indiana is now at $10,000, up from $7,500.

Government wildlife agencies, conservation groups and a private citizen have contributed money for information leading to the arrest and conviction of whoever shot the whooping crane near Cayuga in western Indiana's Vermillion County around December 1st.

The U-S fish and Wildlife Service says a leg band on the dead crane identifies it as the 7-year-old mother of "Wild-1", the only whooping crane chick to ever successfully migrate after being hatched in captivity. There are only about 500 whooping cranes left in the world.

If you have information on the shooting, you can call the Indiana Department of Natural Resources at 1-800-TIP-IDNR.

Categories: Environment

AP - Illinois Public Media News - December 16, 2009

Reward Offered for Info on Whooping Crane Shooter in Western Indiana

The death of a bird usually doesn't generate much outrage, but Indiana conservation groups say they want to find whoever shot and killed a whooping crane near Cayuga in Vermillion County, in western Indiana.

Someone noticed the carcass of the white, long-legged migratory bird along a county road two weeks ago.

Phil Seng is a volunteer with Indiana's Turn In a Poacher program, which has chipped in money toward a $7,500 reward to anyone with information on the incident. He says the whooping crane is one of the nation's most endangered animals.

"There's only about 500 of them left in the world", says Seng. "And so, they're trying to reestablish the population. It's a big part of our natural heritage, and we certainly feel that it's important that those birds be around for everyone's enjoyment.

Seng says it's hard to figure out why someone would want to shoot a whooping crane, which is distinctive from any other game bird by its striking white color and long legs. He says hunting long-legged wading birds such as herons and egrets is not permitted in Indiana, so it's unlikely that the whooping crane was mistaken for another legal game bird. "We feel that people who shoot animals like this are not legitimate hunters, they're more poachers and thieves", says Seng.

US Fish and Wildlife Service officials say the crane had an ID band on its leg and had been observed alive by a staff member of the International Crane Foundation just three days before it was found dead.

If you have information on the shooting, you can call the Indiana Department of Natural Resources at 1-800-TIP-IDNR.

Categories: Environment

WILL - Illinois Public Media News - December 10, 2009

Danish UI Student Heads Home to the Copenhagen Climate Summit

Adam Lentz is taking a week from his studies at the University of Illinois to go back to his home town in Europe. But it'll be a working break - his home is Copenhagen, where representatives from the world's countries have gathered to hammer out an agreement on climate change. Lentz is a Fulbright graduate student studying natural resources and environmental science. When he was an undergraduate at the University of Copenhagen, he was the president of the Union of Danish Natural Resource Students. He's going to the Copenhagen summit to monitor its progress, and he sat down with AM 580's Tom Rogers to talk about his expectations.

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