Environment and Sustainability | WGLT

Environment and Sustainability

Ralph Weisheit

During a Bloomington council discussion of a complete streets policy, 4th Ward Alderman Amelia Buragas introduced two related resolutions. She said the resolutions to add transparency to a traffic committee and to hire a traffic engineer would complement a complete streets ordinance.

David Proffer / Creative Commons

An Illinois State University scholar said climate change is raising the water temperature of a 10-million-year-old lake in East Africa. 

ISU Professor of Geography-Geology Catherine O'Reilly has been studying Lake Tanganyika for 15 years.

Michael Brown / Ecology Action Center

The McLean County Landfill accepted more solid waste last year than any year since 2009 and the county recycled a record amount of waste. Nearly 160,000 tons of solid waste were landfilled and nearly 92,000 tons were recycled. The numbers come from the latest report from the Ecology Action Center.  The 11.3 percent increase in total tons solid waste in 2015 comes after a 15 percent uptick in 2014.

Ground Breaking For 'Active' Community Garden

May 20, 2016
Colleen Connelly

The Twin Cities is about to get a new community fruit and vegetable garden.

Groundbreaking for the West Bloomington Active Garden on Illinois Street will take place Saturday. Colleen Connelly, one of the project's coordinators, says the garden will serve as a learning tool for children and youth.

Michael Gorman

Elena Studier arrived at the 3rd floor WGLT studios by bike, rolling it off the elevator and down the hall.  Not surprising since she's using her bike to explore communities located along passenger rail corridors across the country.


The author and biologist Rachel Carson was a pioneer of modern ecology. In 1962, her seminal book, “Silent Spring,” documented how human practices can adversely affect the natural world.

Her research led to a ban on the pesticide DDT for agricultural use and sparked an environmental movement that eventually led to the creation of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

2016 Bike To Work Day

May 9, 2016

Bloomington-Normal celebrates Bike To Work day, thanks to Bike BloNo, The Friends of the Constitution Trail, Coffee Hound, and Cravin' Donuts! It's all to encourage to you participate in the Good To Go Commuter Challenge!

Judith Valene / WGLT

There have been two oil pipeline leaks in the past month -- one in South Dakota and one in southern Illinois. But the city of Bloomington says it has not yet arranged for more extensive leak detection equipment to be placed along the Enbridge petroleum pipeline in McLean County. The pipeline crosses under three bodies of water that help supply Bloomington's drinking water.

Equinox House Models Rainwater Collection

Apr 18, 2016
Michael Hill / WGLT

An increasing number of people are seeking ways to better conserve water and decrease water contamination. Ty Newell is a retired engineering professor from the University of Illinois.

He's been working to make his home in Urbana a model of conservation and energy efficiency by collecting rain water for use in a range of household purposes. Newell recently gave a tour of his home to WGLT's Michael Hill.

How's The Water? Part 2

Apr 17, 2016
Judith Valente / WGLT

Lake Bloomington is the main source of drinking water for the city of Bloomington. The lake is also a popular recreation destination. In recent years, it’s increasingly become a site for large, and in some cases, year-round homes.

The homes along the lake all use septic systems to dispose of human waste. They discharge treated effluent to within just a few feet of the lake. In Part Two of the investigative series, “How’s The Water?” a growing number of experts question the wisdom of having these septic systems so close to the city’s drinking water supply. WGLT’s Judy Valente has the story.

Native Americans Protest Pipeline

Apr 15, 2016
Enbridge LLC

The Standing Rock Sioux has set up a camp in North Dakota to protest a planned pipeline to carry crude from the Bakken oil fields to Illinois. The ``spirit camp'' at the confluence of the Cannonball and Missouri rivers has been occupied for two weeks. The tribe opposes the $3.8 billion Dakota Access pipeline planned by Dallas-based Energy Transfer Partners because it fears a spill could contaminate its drinking water. The company maintains the pipeline will be a safe and cost-effective way to transport oil, and will create jobs and boost the economy.

Chilly Temps Put Chill On Planting

Apr 14, 2016
Daniel Schwen / Flickr via Creative Commons

Cooler temperatures sometimes dipping below freezing have prohibited Illinois agricultural producers from planting until they find warmer soil.

Gay Fuhrmeister

Chronic wasting disease in Wisconsin's deer population is growing geographically and in prevalence. The Department of Natural Resources says more than 9 percent of white-tailed deer tested last year were positive for CWD.

Peabody Files For Bankruptcy

Apr 13, 2016
Peabody Energy

Peabody Energy, the nation's largest coal miner, filed for bankruptcy protection Wednesday as a crosscurrent of environmental, technological and economic changes wreak havoc across the industry.

Ralph Weisheit

Solar electric power generation, an energy option which could reduce greenhouse gases and combat climate change, is facing some serious hurdles in Illinois.

During a Sound Ideas climate change panel discussion at the Illinois Sustainable Living and Wellness Expo, the five guests agreed that Illinois has more than enough sunshine to produce ample solar power, that solar power would create jobs, and lower utility prices.

Decatur Zoo Welcomes Pair of Cheetahs

Apr 11, 2016
Karamash / flicker via Creative Commons

  The Scovill Zoo in Decatur is celebrating the arrival of two cheetah brothers. It's the first time the central Illinois zoo has had new cheetahs in 13 years. 

Don DeBold / Flickr via Creative Commons

Illinois senators Thursday passed legislation out of committee to ban trapping bobcats and selling their pelts.

Connect Transit Updates Payment Options

Apr 7, 2016

Beginning in June, Connect Transit riders will use new electronic fare boxes when boarding a bus.

Customers will be able to pay for rides with a magnetic strip card. Riders can also continue to use Connect Transit issued passes or cash. Bus tokens will be phased out beginning in May and no longer accepted after June 3rd.

Monthly 'Fast Passes' already purchased will work until June and any remaining credit can be transferred to a new mag-strip card after June.

Connect Transit Tweaks Route Plan

Apr 6, 2016
Jim Browne / WGLT

Connect Transit is continuing to make adjustments to its proposed bus route plan. The new change in the plan will keep a stop in front of Phoenix Towers.

The green bus will no longer stop near Chestnut and Center streets, so the vehicle no longer has to get across two lanes of traffic in a single block.

The blue route will be extended down Chestnut to Locust, and will also stop at Phoenix Towers. That was a stop that was formerly made by the purple bus.

Connect Transit indicates more shifts in the proposed route overhaul are probably coming.

Possible Keystone Oil Line Leak

Apr 5, 2016
Shannonpatrick17 / Flickr via Creative Commons

TransCanada Corp. says the Keystone pipeline, which carries crude into Illinois, will likely remain shut down for the rest of the week while officials investigate an apparent oil spill in southeastern South Dakota.

Cover Crops Coming Back

Mar 29, 2016
Leslaw Zimny / Flickr via Creative Commons

Cover crops are regaining popularity in central Illinois as a way to preserve nutrients in soil and purity in water runoff.

Jaap de Roode / Facebook via Creative Commons

A Senate Democrat is proposing a special Illinois license plate to help preserve the monarch butterfly. The plan by state Sen. Melinda Bush of Grayslake is to allow motorists to pay a surcharge for stickers to indicate their support for the insect's viability. The monarch population in Illinois has decreased 90 percent in the past two decades because of changes in habitat. Bush says monarchs need milkweed plants to lay eggs and feed. Interstate highway medians could be developed with the plant so the butterfly could visit the milkweeds with little outside distraction.

Storms Threaten

Mar 16, 2016
CJohnson7 / Flickr via Creative Commons

Winds ripped the roof off a home in Springfield and a possible tornado was reported in Kankakee County as a severe storm moved through Illinois.

Attorney Explains Bicycle Laws, Insurance

Mar 15, 2016
Arturo Satilla / Flickr via Creative Commons

A bicycle lawyer is addressing the Bike BloNo meeting March 16th. Brendan Kevenides is partner in a Chicago firm that specializes in the legal needs of cyclists.

Another Mild Winter For Central Illinois

Mar 7, 2016
noaa via FaceBook

Wet, and not as cold. That sums up this year's winter, according to a state climatologist. With a look back at the winter season, and a peak ahead at what spring may hold, GLT's Jim Browne talks with Jim Angel about our weather, and long term trends.

Jim Angel says the fact winter temperatures rose to their highest average readings is a trend that also is reflected in the other three seasons. This past winter was about 7 degrees warmer than average.

Galesburg Invests in Hybrid Buses

Feb 18, 2016
John Eisenschenk / Facebook via Creative Commons

Galesburg has agreed to purchase two hybrid mass-transit buses, but they won't hit the streets for a few years. The city council has approved using $1.2 million in state Transportation Department funding to buy the diesel-electric machines. City Manager Todd Thompson says the city's purchase is part of a joint order of nearly 200 vehicles so it could be up to two years before they're delivered to the city. The city entered a joint procurement in February 2015 with Interurban Transit Partnership of Grand Rapids, Michigan, for 186 buses to be built from 2015 to 2020.

MichaelINBA / Flickr via Creative Commons

A Midwest environmental group has followed through on its promise to formally challenge Peabody Energy's ability to guarantee it has enough money for future cleanup of its Illinois and Indiana coal mines. The Environmental Law and Policy Center asking regulators to stop allowing the St. Louis-based company to use the process known as self-bonding instead of posting conventional bonds for mine remediation.

thomassplettoessa / NOAA

U-S Senator Dick Durbin says Illinois should start working to achieve energy efficiency and use green technology to combat climate change. The Supreme Court last week blocked a federal plan to limit greenhouse gases emitted by power plants. Durbin says it's time for Illinois to be proactive about saving the planet. "It's really going to help us in the future and for our kids, it's going to leave them a world they can live in." Nearly 30 states have filed a lawsuit challenging the President’s Clean Power Plan; Illinois is not one of them.

Midwest To Be Used As Model For Conservation Efforts

Feb 12, 2016
Michael Hill / WGLT

Illinois, Iowa, and Kentucky will be the proving ground for land and water conservation across the United States. The efforts aim to reduce the amount of chemical runoff to keep the land fertile and increase water quality.

Eagles Soar Over Illinois

Feb 12, 2016
Dave Menke / US Fish and Wildlife Service

It's the annual, "Eagle Days" at Havana, along with other sites on the Illinois River. ISU professor of Biology Angelo Caparella says Bald Eagles reuse their nests, unless a competing bird takes it over. While not especially social, Bald Eagles are like in-laws, they tolerate each other as long as there's plenty to eat. But even more thrilling to birders like Caparella, are sightings of the eastern Hudson Bay Golden Eagles.