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Quick Hit
by Ellyn Fortino
1:27pm
Fri Aug 23, 2013

IL Advances Offshore Wind Energy Research, But Lake Turbines Still 'Light-Years' Away, Experts Say

Gov. Pat Quinn signed the Lake Michigan Wind Energy Act earlier this month, but don’t expect wind farms to pop up in the lake anytime soon.

The bill, sponsored by State Rep. Robyn Gabel (D-Evanston) and Sen. Daniel Biss (D-Evanston), authorizes the state to conduct further research on which parts of Lake Michigan are suitable for offshore wind energy development before any leases or permits are issued for such projects.

The recent measure piggybacks on the recommendations cited in an Illinois Department of Natural Resources (IDNR) report released last year that first explored the issue after the state set up the Lake Michigan Offshore Wind Energy Council in 2011.

Under the new measure, IDNR is now tasked with developing an offshore wind “siting matrix” to identify preferred or prohibited development areas in the lake based on existing wildlife, infrastructure, transportation and other environmental factors. IDNR is expected to use its own funds for the study, which is projected to take at least two years.

Within this two-year research window, devices will be installed on the lake to track wind currents, peak hours and other factors, explained Gabel’s legislative assistant Matt Trewartha.

But that’s just the beginning, acording to experts.

PI Original
by Ellyn Fortino
1:21pm
Tue Aug 6, 2013

A Look At How Climate Change Could Affect The Prairie State

Illinois is on track to experience more scorching summers and frequent extreme weather events like droughts, heat waves, and severe storms in the upcoming years if significant steps to address climate change are not taken soon, climate experts say. Progress Illinois examines what climate change means for different parts of the state. 

Quick Hit
by Ashlee Rezin
1:03pm
Wed Jul 3, 2013

Illinois Beaches Experience High Levels Of Contamination, Report Finds

Ten percent of water samples taken from the 65 beaches and beach segments of Illinois in 2012 tested positive for high levels of bacteria, according to a new report from the National Resources Defense Council (NRDC).

Illinois ranked 24th out of 30 states evaluated for beach water quality last year in the NRDC’s annual “Testing The Water” report. The state, which rose from being ranked 28th in 2011, has 52 public swimming beaches along the coast of Lake Michigan.

“We have a closed system here in the Great Lakes, and all of our pollution tends to linger,” said Karen Hobbs, senior policy analyst with NRDC. “It’s hard to say exactly what’s happening in Illinois. That’s why its important for beach managers to be proactive and be out there testing the water and identifying the sources of pollution.”

PI Original
by Ashlee Rezin
3:01pm
Wed May 1, 2013

Quigley Goes On Climate Change Tour, Hopes Increased Awareness Can Result In Legislative Action (VIDEO)

Too few congressional delegates fully grasp — or even believe in — the adverse effects of climate change on the environment, according to U.S. Rep. Mike Quigley (D, IL-5). In the hopes of broadening his understanding and equipping himself to translate the message of climate change adaptation strategies, Quigley hosted a two-day Climate Tour across Chicago this week.

Quick Hit
by Ellyn Fortino
12:03pm
Thu Apr 4, 2013

State Coalition Hosts Talk On Reversing The Chicago River

Illinois’ Healthy Water Solutions Coalition has a vision for Chicago’s future.

It includes revitalizing the Chicago River via restoring the natural divide between the Great Lakes and Mississippi River Basins.

Physical separation of the basins and Lake Michigan is the only permanent solution to prevent invasive species from transferring through the Chicago waterways, members of the coalition said at it’s public “Changing Course: Revitalizing the Chicago River” talk Wednesday night. The meeting was set to get more people engaged with the issue.

“This is about a lot more than Asian carp,” said Tim Eder, executive director of the Great Lakes Commission. “This is about more than just one fish that threatens Lake Michigan. It’s about a number of different invasive species ... but it’s also about more than fish, and the ecosystem, and the lake. It’s about restoring and utilizing a precious resource that in many ways the city has turned its back on.”

Quick Hit
by Matthew Blake
3:36pm
Fri Jul 13, 2012

Despite Congressional Action, Alarm Bells Continue To Sound On Asian Carp

A Canadian government study (PDF) released yesterday revives fears that Asian Carp will set up a population in Lake Michigan before the federal government takes preemptive action. The report arrives as both the U.S. Congress and five Great Lake states, not including Illinois, push the U.S. Army Corp of Engineers (USACE), a federal government agency, to take action by the end of 2013.

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