Energy & Environment

The Importance of Pollinators

Jul 12, 2019
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WSIU/Kevin Boucher

On this edition of WSIU InFocus, we visit a southern Illinois farm that has eight acres planted in native plants to provide much-needed food for a group of insects and mammals, known as pollinators.

The Illinois Pollution Control Board determined an energy company is responsible for contaminating groundwater with coal ash in four Illinois communities. 

A local city commission released a survey to have public input influence a sustainability action plan. WSIU's Amelia Blakely has more.

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Illinois News Connection

Conservation groups are asking Gov. J.B. Pritzker to speak out this week against a proposal that could weaken clean-water protections for the Ohio River.

The Ohio River Valley Water Sanitation Commission will vote Thursday, June 6, on a plan that would make adoption of the agency's pollution-control standards along the river voluntary.

As grassland and prairies gave way to farmland in the Midwest, habitats for some native birds disappeared. There’s a relatively new program in central Illinois looking to restore wetlands for migrating birds and help farmers at the same time.

The program to help them is limited but is secure for now. However, the future for both the bird and the program could be on shakier ground in just a few years.

Andrew Joyce won’t be growing any tomatoes this summer. His three-acre produce farm in Malden, Missouri, will lie fallow. The cause: damage from the weed killer dicamba.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is taking public comments on a plan to expand the clean-up at Koppers Wood-Treating Facility in Carbondale.

The EPA wants the current site owner, Beazer East, to excavate contaminated soil from over eight acres of the property for disposal in an off-site landfill. Another seven acres of contaminated soil would be covered with a one-foot thick clean soil cover.

WSIU's Jennifer Fuller talks with Nancy garwood and Jean Sellar about the upcoming Indigenous Plant Symposium at John A. Logan College.

Ticks, And How Are They Adapting?

Mar 21, 2019
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Courtesy of the Illinois Department of Public Health.

With Spring arriving and many of us getting outside, ticks will no doubt be doing the same thing.

On this edition of WSIU INFOCUS, we visit with some tick experts to learn more about this amazing

creature, which has survived on the earth a long time.

At Hummel’s Nissan in Des Moines, Kevin Caldwell sells the all-electric Leaf. Driving one is basically the same as driving a typical gasoline or gas-electric hybrid car, he said, except for a few new features like the semi-autonomous hands-free option. And the fact that you plug it in rather than pumping gas into it.

About a quarter to a third of Caldwell’s Leaf customers are farmers, some of whom grow corn for ethanol.

Environmental groups want Illinois to produce more clean energy, but the state is already behind on its renewable energy goals.

Activists are calling on Illinois to improve transparency in the oil and gas extraction technique known as fracking.

The Illinois Supreme Court is being asked to settle a fight between two of the state’s environmental regulators. At issue is whether certain waste disposal sites should have to do groundwater testing.

Gov. J.B. Pritzker signed an executive order making Illinois the 18th state to join the Unites States Climate Alliance on Wednesday. The alliance was created when President Donald Trump withdrew from the Paris climate change agreement back in 2017. 

What is It Like To Walk The River To River Trail?

Jan 14, 2019
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Provided by Chris Benda.

On this edition of WSIU InFocus, we hear from Botanist and avid hiker, Chris Benda who, back in December of 2018, hiked the length of the River To River Trail in southern Illinois.

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Provided by Chris Benda.

The River To River Trail runs from the Ohio River to the Mississippi River in southern Illinois, and runs through lands owned by both the State and the Federal Government, as well as some portions which are privately owned.  (The owners have  given hikers permission to use the trail)

A stand of trees in the Mark Twain National Forest in Missouri looks a little more sparse than what is often depicted in a forest.

The trees are eight to ten feet apart, and that’s on purpose, fire management officer Greg Painter said.

Dicamba, the controversial herbicide used on soybeans and cotton, is responsible for thousands of acres of damaged crops in recent years.

Experts say that despite new federal rules that go into effect in 2019, the drift will continue but the victims will be different.

Illinois coal-fired power plants are allowing hazardous coal ash—a byproduct of coal burning—to seep into groundwater and affecting the quality of future drinking water. That’s according to a recent report, "Cap and Run," released Wednesday by several environmental advocacy groups that included the Sierra Club, Prairie Rivers Network, Earthjustice, and the Environmental Integrity Project.

WSIU's Jennifer Fuller talks with Food Works Executive Director Jennifer Paulson and Keepers Quarters Chef/Owner Doug Robinson about the upcoming farm-to-table Fall Feast.

President Donald Trump signed America's Water Infrastructure Act on Tuesday, which authorizes work on many projects around the U.S., ranging from water treatment to mitigating invasive species to transportation.

Ameren and NAACP Offer Energy Saving Tips

Oct 24, 2018

The Carbondale NAACP Branch wants to help the community find ways to save energy.

The organization teamed up with Ameren on Tuesday to educate others on how switching to LED light bulbs, and even finding a better showerhead, can help lower energy costs.

President Donald Trump’s administration will “unleash the power of E15,” allowing the 15 percent gasoline-ethanol blend to be sold year-round.

The announcement, made public this week at a rally in Council Bluffs, Iowa, is being welcomed by corn growers and biofuel groups. But it may take longer for farmers like Kelly Nieuwenhuis of Primghar, Iowa, to feel the positive impact of E15 than they would like.

An international panel on climate change this week warned greenhouse gas emissions will keep increasing if left unchecked and called for urgent action. According to one Illinois scientist, that means frequent heavy rain events and flooding could become the norm.


Illinois’ pollution regulator moved ahead Thursday with a proposal to change emissions rules for coal power plants, a move opponents say could be dangerous to public health.


Following the passage of the Future Energy Jobs Act, the Citizens Utility Board wants feedback on issues about clean energy.

The Future Energy Jobs Act requires 3,000 megawatts of new solar energy, but Illinois is only at 100
megawatts.

Rural counties are facing a lot of heat over Illinois’ booming solar power development.

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Peoria Journal Star

State wildlife crews have poisoned a central Illinois lake as part of a plan to kill off the carp that have overrun it and restock it with game fish.

Illinois Department of Natural Resources biologists on Monday spread a compound toxic to fish around the 30-acre Eureka Lake.

National parks in Illinois and across the nation may be a step closer to getting much needed repairs.

The House Committee on Natural Resources has approved the Restore Our Parks and Public Lands Act (HR 6510), which would use revenue from energy production on public lands to address the $11 billion maintenance backlog at national parks.

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