Environment & Weather
Bob Miller of Alma, WI Elected Pilot/CEO of National Mississippi River Parkway Commission PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Environment & Weather
Written by Kate Hagen   
Friday, 25 October 2013 08:25

ST. LOUIS, Mo. (October 24, 2013) – Bob Miller was elected Pilot/CEO of the National Mississippi River Parkway Commission (MRPC) at their annual meeting in St. Louis, MO September 18-20, 2013.

Mr. Miller has served on the Executive Committee for the past three years. In the past Miller served as chair of the MRPC Environment, Recreation and Agriculture Committee and the Endowment Foundation Committee, and spent seven years as the Wisconsin Commissioner.

“It is an honor to have been selected to lead this great organization,” Miller said. “I’ve enjoyed being a part of it for many years and I’m excited to bring that experience to this new position.”

In addition to his dedication and contributions to the MRPC, members also chose Miller for his instrumental role in developing a 10-state agritourism promotion funded in part by a National Scenic Byway grant.

The Mississippi River Parkway Commission was formed in 1938, made up of the 10 states that parallel the Mississippi River on both sides, for the purpose of developing the Great River Road.

The MRPC continues to support, preserve and enhance the resources and economic opportunities of the Mississippi River Valley and to develop highways and amenities of the Great River Road. The road stretches nearly 3,000 miles from the headwaters of the Mississippi River in Minnesota to the Gulf of Mexico.

For more information about the MRPC, log on to experiencemississippiriver.com or call (866) 763-8310.


Power Shift Conference Produces Great Results PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Environment & Weather
Written by Dave Murphy   
Friday, 25 October 2013 08:19

Pittsburgh used to be one of the dirtiest cities in the world. With its coal-burning steel plants and petroleum refineries, the air in Pittsburgh was so dirty the street lights often ran during the day! Now, Pittsburgh is changing its reputation. A city once dominated by fossil fuels is now among the leaders in green technologies. Companies formerly dependent on mining and burning coal for energy are now switching to wind and solar power. They still have a way to go, but the results, both environmentally and economically, are starting to show.

Because of its history and its ties to energy (both clean and dirty), Pittsburgh was the site of this year’s Power Shift conference. Ten thousand youth leaders all focused on taking action against global climate change, fracking, Keystone XL and more gathered to hear speeches from Bill McKibben of 350.org, Gasland director/writer Josh Fox, and Michael Brune of the Sierra Club, among others. They also attended seminars, received leadership training and networked with like-minded activists.

The Great March for Climate Action’s own youth leader, Marcher Director Zach Heffernen and a team of hard-working volunteers, recruited 60 new marchers while participating in the conference!

This changes the roster and profile of marchers significantly. Thirty-two states and Washington, D.C. are now represented along with three foreign countries. California was the state with the second most marchers, now they’re in fifth. The bulk of the marchers are now in their twenties.

So our marcher community is now, perhaps, much like Pittsburgh: growing, changing and developing for the better.

-Dave Murphy, Communications Director

The Great March for Climate Action

– stepping forward for our Planet, our Future --

EPA Won’t Appeal Court Decision on Wastewater Treatment Rule PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Environment & Weather
Written by Grassley Press   
Tuesday, 22 October 2013 07:43

October 21, 2013

Vitter, Grassley reiterate call for transparency, and for EPA to affirm its position; Say next move should apply court decision on a national scale


(Washington, D.C.) – Today, U.S. Sen. David Vitter (R-La.), top Republican on the Environment and Public Works Committee, and U.S. Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) made the following statements regarding the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) decision not to seek Supreme Court review of an appellate court ruling that invalidated new Agency wastewater treatment regulations. EPA had revealed in correspondence with Grassley that it had been enforcing a new interpretation regarding the blending of partially and fully treated wastewater at the municipality level that was not part of the EPA’s existing regulations and had not gone through proper rule-making procedures. Vitter and Grassley challenged the EPA on such a controversial practice earlier this year.

“I’d call this a modest win for municipalities across the country, reaffirming that EPA can’t sneak in a burdensome, new water treatment regulation whenever they want to. This isn’t the first time EPA has gotten creative to avoid transparency and established procedure to affect policy changes, and I don’t expect it’ll be the last,” said Vitter. “I urge the EPA to unambiguously and fairly apply the invalidation of this illegal water treatment regulation on a national level.”

“EPA said in its court petition that subjecting agency letters to Administrative Procedure Act review would create a ‘chilling effect’ that would hurt EPA’s ability to answer requests about its interpretation of laws and regulations.  This misses the point,” Grassley said.  “The court found that the EPA was improperly enforcing an interpretation of the law that was contrary to its published regulations, which is a violation of the Administrative Procedure Act.  The fact that the EPA said as much in writing to me simply brought this violation to light.  The solution is not to stop telling Congress what it’s up to, but to stop using interpretations that have not gone through the proper rulemaking procedures.  EPA should learn its lesson and follow the procedures in law meant to keep the agency accountable to the public and Congress.”

In March 2013, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 8th Circuit decided to invalidate new wastewater regulations disguised as guidance letters. EPA had attempted to explain their letters as a new interpretation of existing rules, but the three-judge panel decided that EPA changed its policy without notice and comment, as required by law.

Vitter and Grassley sent a letter in June to the EPA expressing their concern of how the Agency was moving forward with regulations on the wastewater treatment processes, following the 8th Circuit decision saying they cannot circumvent the Administrative Procedure Act. Click here to read more.


Vote Chad Pregracke as the 2013 CNN Hero PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Environment & Weather
Written by Quad Cities Convention & Visitors Bureau   
Monday, 14 October 2013 13:07

Chad Pregracke is one of the top 10 finalists in the 2013 CNN Heroes contest.   One of the top 10 will receive $250,000 for their cause if the public chooses them as the 2013 CNN Hero of the Year.   Go Vote for Chad!  Vote daily until November 17th.

Governor Quinn Announces Inaugural Illinois Coastal Management Grants PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Environment & Weather
Written by Brooke Anderson   
Monday, 14 October 2013 12:45

$730,000 in Investments Will Fund Environmental Projects Along Lake Michigan 

CHICAGO – Governor Pat Quinn today announced more than $730,000 in investments to support local environmental education projects along the Lake Michigan shoreline and in the Millennium Reserve-Calumet region. Today’s announcement is part of Governor Quinn’s agenda to protect our natural resources and ensure a clean and healthy environment for future generations.

“These important investments will protect and manage the incredible natural and cultural resources surrounding our beautiful Lake Michigan,” Governor Quinn said. “They will also involve thousands of students and residents of nearby communities in creating a better environment for all.”

The projects are part of the Illinois Coastal Management Program (ICMP), which was officially formed in 2012 at the direction of Governor Quinn to protect and manage the natural and cultural resources along the 63 miles of Illinois’ Lake Michigan shoreline. The ICMP Coastal Grants announced today are investments of federal funds in environmental education projects that help achieve one or more of the environmental priorities within the Illinois Lake Michigan Coastal Zone. These priorities include habitat, ecosystems and natural area restoration; priority rivers, lakes and harbors; invasive species; public access and recreation; sustainable development; and economic development.

“These projects will help thousands of people to learn more and do more in support of protecting and restoring the natural resources of the Lake Michigan shoreline, and the waterways and natural areas within the Millennium Reserve Calumet Core on Chicago’s south side,” Illinois Department of Natural Resources Director Marc Miller said. The department administers the Illinois Coastal Management Program.

For more information on the Illinois Coastal Management Program, visit the IDNR website at www.dnr.illinois.gov/cmp. Applications for the next round of grants for spring 2014 will be accepted from November 1 through December 16, 2013.

The Coastal Grant Program projects announced today include:

Expanding Youth Conservation Action in the Millennium Reserve – The Field Museum; $67,337

Through the “Expanding Young Conservation Action in the Millennium Reserve” project, the Field Museum will sustain and expand the scope and geography of its youth conservation action programming in the Illinois Coast Zone on Chicago’s South Side, with a special focus on the Millennium Reserve in the Calumet region. It is expected that 15 trained educators and 300 students will be working on year-long conservation projects.

Calumet is My Back Yard – Chicago Public Schools; $100,000

Calumet is My Backyard program participants are approximately 600 high school students from 13 Chicago Public Schools  – many with their first experience in natural areas – working to restore and protect 12 natural areas within the Calumet Region, providing over 6,000 hours of stewardship work and scientific investigation annually. The students focus on waterways in the Illinois Coastal Zone, including Lake Calumet, the Calumet River, the Little Calumet River, and the Grand Calumet River.

Think Beyond the Banks: Education and Outreach – Friends of the Chicago River; $30,806.67

“Think! Beyond the Banks” is a one-year, renewable outreach campaign that links river health and education with real world, everyday actions that improve the Chicago River. The campaign combines elements of Friends’ highly successful Chicago River Schools Network (CRSN) with new marketing materials and techniques to empower students to become river ambassadors within their schools, families and communities.

Experience Calumet Water Trails Community Workshops – City of Blue Island; $30,000

The City of Blue Island will hold a series of five workshops to raise awareness of Calumet area water trails, how water trails uniquely connect people to the ecological values of Calumet and to inspire stewardship activity.

Coastal Ambassadors Program – Chicago Park District; $96,371

The Chicago Park District (CPD) will create a new Coastal Ambassadors program to provide environmental education on coastal resources to thousands of children and families. Based on the successful Nature Oasis program in place at CPD, the team of educators will work with day campers, after school groups, families and other park customers through after school programs, field trips for day campers and family festivals.

Youth Outdoor Ambassadors – Forest Preserve District of Cook County; $99,115

The Forest Preserve District of Cook County will launch Youth Outdoor Ambassadors for the Calumet Region to facilitate youth and young adults having an active voice and role in the Forest Preserves.  The Ambassadors will identify which programs resonate with teens and how young people can become inspired to become lifelong advocates for nature.

Stormwater: From the Ground Up – League of Women Voters of Illinois Education Fund; $31,771.95

This project was born out of the April 18, 2013 storm in northeastern Illinois that caused widespread, destructive flooding.  Observing that most people did not understand how the storm sewer system worked, the Lake Michigan League of Women Voters will jointly conduct a campaign to educate citizens about problems associated with storm water runoff, emphasizing actions that individuals, communities and regions may take to prevent and alleviate flooding after rain events, with an emphasis on green infrastructure.

Lake Forest Ravine Education and Outreach Program – Lake Forest Open Lands Association; $74,036.70

The ravines of southern Lake Michigan play a critical role in protecting the water quality of the lake, preventing sediment runoff, protecting beaches, offering migrating birds a much-needed safe haven and protecting rare habitats native to this area. The Ravine Restoration and Outreach Program will create a comprehensive initiative to protect Lake Forest beaches and ravines, with education efforts and on-the-ground restoration.

AIS Outreach to Coastal Constituents – Illinois Natural History Survey; $38,500

Several aquatic Invasive Species (AIS) have been introduced into Lake Michigan via pathways including recreational boating and fishing, and intentional and accidental releases of invasive organisms in trade. Because prevention of introductions of new AIS is more cost effective than control or management of already established populations, prevention efforts will be promoted to recreational water users and water gardening hobbyists.

The Ripple Effect: Building a Community that Cares About Our Great Lake – Park District of Highland Park; $48,393

The Park District of Highland Park will develop interpretive signage, outreach materials, and purchase specialized science equipment to be used at their new Lakefront Interpretive Center opening in the summer of 2014 on Lake Michigan. The effort will enhance visitor learning about near-shore, dune and ravine ecosystems.

Millennium Reserve Regional Atlas – Biodiversity Project; $98,900

The project includes researching, writing and designing a report that outlines the great biodiversity of the Millennium Reserve region, with the Millennium Reserve Regional Atlas providing a resource for community leaders, local residents and educators to better understand the geologic, natural and human history of this unique region.

William Tillman Maritime Education Program – Prologue, Inc.; $57,210

This new program offers environmental education, job training and service learning for low-income, at-risk young people ages 16-24. Located along the Little Calumet River in Chicago’s Riverdale neighborhood and adjacent to Altgeld Gardens, it is a counterpart to Prologue’s new Tillman Maritime Academy, an alternative high school scheduled to open in fall 2014 for students who have struggled in traditional academic settings. The program will involve youth in a coastal and riparian setting working to gain employable skills and develop career pathways in maritime technology, waterway safety and conservation stewardship.


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