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Quick Hit
by Ellyn Fortino
3:17pm
Fri Jul 18, 2014

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.

Quick Hit
by Ellyn Fortino
4:09pm
Tue Jul 1, 2014

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 A transition plan for the outdated plant should also consider the city of Waukegan’s tax base as well as those currently employed at the site, the petition states. 

Quick Hit
by Ellyn Fortino
4:28pm
Tue Jun 24, 2014

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. 

Quick Hit
by Ellyn Fortino
2:18pm
Thu Jun 19, 2014

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.

Quick Hit
by Ashlee Rezin
6:38pm
Thu May 29, 2014

Debate Over Proposed Metal Recycling Facility In Pilsen Heats Up (VIDEO)

Debate about a proposed metal recycling facility in Chicago’s Pilsen neighborhood got heated Thursday morning when activists arguing for and against the new project squared off outside of Ald. Danny Solis’ (25th) office.

The $30 million metal shredding facility, run by Pure Metal Recycling, is proposed for 15 acres of land near Cermak Road and Loomis Street near the South Branch of the Chicago River. It would be on the same block as Benito Juarez Academy, 1510 W. Cermak Rd., and a few blocks from another metal shredding facility, Sims Metal Management, at 2500 S. Paulina St.

Supporters of the project say it would bring much-needed jobs to the area and is slated to be an environmentally friendly, state-of-the-art facility.

But environmental activists claim the new facility would be at a high risk for fires and explosions and bring increased air and water pollution, soil contamination, truck traffic and noise pollution to the neighborhood.

“They’re saying they’re going to be totally unlike any other facility, and totally brand new and clean, but its like playing Russian Roulette by putting it next to a school,” said Jerry Mead-Lucero of the Pilsen Environmental Rights and Reform Organization (PERRO). “Maybe they’ll pull off this miracle and it’ll be unlike any other recycling facility. But if they don’t, it’s going to be awfully bad for the community. They’re taking too big of a risk.”

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