Category Archives: Illinois

Three Tips on the Road to a Great Governor’s Award Application

Over on the ISTC Blog, John Mulrow gives organizations tips for writing a successful Illinois Governor’s Sustainability Awards application. The deadline to apply is May 22, 2014.


Illinois Lawmakers Prepare for Black Bears, Wolves, and Mountain Lions to Make Their Return to the Prairie State

Read the full post from the NRDC.

Illinois is seeing an amazing wildlife resurgence, with wolves, black bears, and mountains lions returning to our state after a decades-long absence. The trouble is, because these predators have been gone for so long, we don’t have rules in place to protect them.

Today, the Illinois Senate Agriculture Committee took an important step towards correcting that problem by voting 6-0* in favor of a bill to add wolves, black bears, and mountain lions to the Illinois Wildlife Code. NRDC has been working with the Department of Natural Resources, Senator Linda Holmes, and other conservation groups to pass this bill in order to protect native predators as they return to their historic habitat.

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Posted by on March 26, 2014 in Environmental law, Illinois, Wildlife


ISTC now accepting applications for the 2014 Illinois Governor’s Sustainability Awards

The Illinois Sustainable Technology Center (ISTC) is now accepting applications for the 2014 Illinois Governor’s Sustainability Awards.

This award, begun in 1987, is the nation’s oldest continuing pollution prevention program and annually honors organizations and businesses that have made a commitment to the environment through outstanding and innovative sustainability practices.

The application deadline is close of business on May 22, 2014.


New ISTC technical report on the feasibility of saline aquaculture in Illinois

TR- 051 On the Feasibility of Establishing a Saline Aquaculture Industry in Illinois / Small, Brian; Rajagopalan, Nandakishore; Quagrainie, Kwamena. — Champaign, IL : Illinois Sustainable Technology Center, 2014.

Abstract: A considerable quantity of saline water is available in Illinois to support the needs of a marine aquaculture industry. The sources vary from isolated, deep rock aquifers to industrial effluents. In the present study, synthetic saline water prepared using known concentrations of salts, without trace minerals, in the Ironton-Galesville aquifer formation was used to rear striped bass, a euryhaline species. Growth indices were measured over a 24-week period and compared to striped bass reared in saline water prepared using a commercial marine salt mixture. The results indicate no differences in any growth parameter and no effect on body composition. The only observed differences were in fish behavior and water quality. Fish appeared more excitable in the aquifer treatment; however, stress hormone levels were not affected. Ammonia concentrations in the aquifer treatment system were higher throughout the study. From these results, one can conclude that water displaced from the Ironton-Galesville formation as a result of CO2 sequestration may be suitable for growth of saline aquaculture species assuming trace mineral and contaminant levels are found to be acceptable. It is recommended that a complete analysis (trace minerals and contaminants) of the Ironton-Galesville formation water be completed prior to using this water for food-fish production, because those were not included in the synthetic saline water prepared to mimic the Ironton-Galesville ground water. Undesirable concentrations of trace minerals or contaminates would require some degree of pretreatment prior to use for aquaculture.

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Posted by on March 6, 2014 in Publications, Illinois, Aquaculture


Study supports factory farm regulation

Read the full story in the Daily Illini.

Jim Francis owns a cow and calf farm in Jo Daviess County. It’s been in his family for more than 60 years, and he intends on passing the farm on to his son when he retires.

He considers himself one of many farmers who practice “responsible husbandry that preserves our precious natural resources for the generations that follow.” One of the most important aspects of this to him is responsibly storing and applying waste to fields and not letting it get into Illinois waterways.

That’s why in 2008, he and many other community members grew concerned over their possible new neighbor — a massive industrial dairy farm called Tradition Dairy, which would house about 14,000 cows…

A study published by Environment Illinois on Feb. 20 advocates for tightening regulations for these facilities because, according to the Illinois EPA, more than 672 miles of streams and 25,000 acres of lakes in Illinois have been polluted by animal waste from factory farms through spills, run-offs and other environmental hazards.


Illinois thermostat collection nets 8 tons of mercury

Read the full story in Great Lakes Echo.

Got Mercury? Illinois does. Eight tons.

A new study by the nonprofit organization, Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) shows that 1.86 million mercury thermostats are still used in residential and commercial properties throughout the state. Each thermostat contains about .14 ounces of mercury.

The Illinois Mercury Thermostat Collection Act passed in 2010 turned a voluntary collection program into a mandatory one. The law requires thermostat manufacturers, such as General Electric and Honeywell, to have contractors remove those remaining from buildings. New York also has a mandatory collection program for mercury thermostats.


Record levels of banned insecticide found in Illinois otters

Read the full story in Great Lakes Echo, which features research from the Illinois Natural History Survey.

The river otter – sleek swimmer, audience-magnets at zoos and aquariums, whiskered diver, aquatic frolicker, correct answer to crossword puzzle clue for “playful mammal.”

And biomonitor to track toxics that damage the health of an environment or ecosystem.

North American river otters play that role because they’re “apex consumers” in the aquatic ecosystem – meaning they’re at the top of the food chain. They eat primarily aquatic animals such as fish, turtles, amphibians and crayfish.


Spirit of cooperation frays in fracking debate

Read the full story from the Associated Press.

After environmentalists, lawmakers and the oil industry got together last year to draft Illinois’ first regulations for hydraulic fracturing, the rest was supposed to be easy.

The unusual collaboration was praised as a potential model for other states and a rare example of political foes finding common ground on a complex issue.

But six months after the regulations were signed into law, the spirit of cooperation is fraying: Environmentalists worry that state regulators are weakening the rules agreed to at the bargaining table. Industry officials say some policies could stall oil -and gas-drilling permits, and the state Department of Natural Resources insists it’s working hard to be fair to everyone involved.

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Posted by on January 15, 2014 in Fracking, Illinois, Regulation


New Study Finds Over 1.8 Million Mercury Thermostats Still in Use in Illinois

Read the full post from the Natural Resources Defense Council.

Mercury is a powerful neurotoxin, adversely affecting childhood development even in small concentrations.  Based upon blood testing data, federal scientists have estimated that tens of thousands of infants are born in the United States each year with mercury levels that are associated with the loss of IQ.  Mercury pollution comes from a variety of sources, including discarded products containing mercury.  A new study demonstrates the manufacturer-sponsored program in Illinois to prevent pollution from mercury thermostats is not working well, and will require state action this year to fix.

This new study, commissioned by the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) and the Clean Water Fund, finds that of the approximately 7.7 million thermostats currently in use in Illinois, 1.86 million contain mercury.  The mercury thermostats are largely non-digital round and square types installed decades ago; the more recently installed digital models do not contain mercury.  Since the average thermostat contains about four grams of mercury, these 1.86 million Illinois thermostats collectively contain over eight tons of mercury.


Subject homes needed for garage contaminant research

The Indoor Climate Research and Training program at the Illinois Sustainable Technology Center is conducting research funded by the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE), on contaminant transport from attached garages to adjacent indoor living spaces. We are looking for five (5) subject homes in Champaign County (Illinois) that have an attached garage which is regularly used to park one or more operable vehicles.

The testing will be multi-week (ideally, between 3-4 weeks) and will involve multiple house visits.  A cart of sampling equipment including inert tracer gas dosage and measurement devices will be placed in the garage and small measurement probes will be distributed throughout the living space and left in place for the duration of the study.  At several mid-test intervals, interventions including air sealing between the house and the garage and installation of a garage exhaust fan will be completed.

All intervention measures will be completed by a local contractor at no cost to the homeowner.

If interested, please respond to with the following information about your property:

Zip code in which the home is located?
Number of car parked in the garage?
Number of walls shared between the house and garage?
Whether there is a furnace located within the garage?
Whether there is a conditioned (heated/cooled) living space located above the garage?
Is there a window within the garage that can be opened?

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Posted by on January 13, 2014 in Illinois


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