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Environmental News from the Great Lakes Region

Wednesday, March 12, 2014
Michigan State University advances algae's viability as a biofuel
Lab success doesn't always translate to real-world success. A team of Michigan State University scientists, however, has invented a new technology that increases the odds of helping algae-based biofuels cross that gap and come closer to reality. Source: Biodiesel Magazine, 3/6/14

Nominations now being accepted for Indiana Governor's Awards for Environmental Excellence
The Indiana Governor's Awards for Environmental Excellence recognize exemplary projects across Indiana. Projects must demonstrate significant and measurable results, be innovative, comprehensive and documented.

The awards are open to all Indiana facilities, state and local units of government, individuals, and technical assistance organizations that operate or support environmental protection efforts of outstanding quality. Eligible technical assistance organizations include, but are not limited to, public entities; trade associations; individuals; and, public interest, community, educational, and labor groups. Source: Indiana Department of Environmental Management, 3/12/14

Tuesday, March 11, 2014
From mines to megawatts: The promise of 'conflict-free Big Solar'
Contaminated former industrial sites and other degraded lands represent a relatively untapped opportunity for developers to steer clear of the litigious environmental conflicts and tradeoffs associated with large-scale solar power in ecologically sensitive and pristine areas. Source: GreenBiz, 3/11/14

3 paths for plugging in to better energy management
After 400 EDF Climate Corps engagements, the program has found three key constituencies to tap into for energy management. Source: GreenBiz, 3/11/14

Why upcycling is both a science and an art
Using recycled materials once made for a pretty good sustainability story. Today, though, recycling is blase, and the bar is set higher: Companies need to upcycle materials, shifting their story from "less bad" to "more good." But as companies jump on the bandwagon and strive to hit the market with new upcycled products, we need to figure out exactly what that phrase means. Source: GreenBiz, 3/11/14

iPhones Recycling Reaches Canada
Apple said its iPhone reuse and recycling program is now available in Canada Customers can now trade in old iPhones at an Apple store for a credit of up to $275. Source: Environmental Leader, 3/11/14

'Seed libraries' try to save the world's plants
A basic principle of any library is that you return what you take out. By that standard, the new scheme at Hampshire College's library is a roll of the dice. Since last November, librarians have been lending out packets of seeds, allowing people to plant them, and checking them back in if--and only if--the borrower manages to grow thriving plants in the meantime. Source: Boston Globe, 3/9/14

Sweet smell of sustainability: renewable sources for artificial scents
Fresh banana, a waft of flowers, blueberry: the scents in Shota Atsumi's laboratory in the Univ. of California, Davis (UC Davis) Dept. of Chemistry are a little sweeter than most. That's because Atsumi and his team are engineering bacteria to make esters--molecules widely used as scents and flavorings, and also as basic feedstock for chemical processes from paints to fuels. Their latest work is published in Nature Chemical Biology. Source: R&D Magazine, 3/11/14

IN: Senate votes to turn off the lights on energy-saving program
A 2-year-old program designed to cut energy consumption in Indiana homes, schools, stores and factories could end Dec. 31, under a bill that passed the Senate by a wide margin Monday. Source: Indianapolis Star, 3/10/14

Monday, March 10, 2014
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. The application deadline is close of business on May 22, 2014. Source: ISTC, 3/10/14

Thursday, March 6, 2014
Michigan use of state's landfills continues decline; Canadian imports up
Despite a slight increase in Michigan's population, 2013 witnessed a decline of 0.5 percent in solid waste generated in the state, continuing a 10-year trend, according to a report by the Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ). Source: Great Lakes Echo, 3/6/14

The Latest in Sustainable Textiles
Finding ways to curb the environmental pollution caused by textile production starts with finding new ways to produce fabrics that don't require toxins and large amounts of water, and which minimize harm to local the ecology. Source: Triple Pundit, 2/25/14

Americans have no idea how much water we use -- or how to conserve it
According to a recent study in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, the average American consumes twice as much water as she thinks she does. Furthermore, we Americans are not quite sure which practices are the most water-intensive. As it turns out, the Olympic-sized pool isn't the biggest concern -- 70 percent of personal water use occurs within the home, according to a 2005 EPA study. And the biggest culprit under the roof? Toilet-flushing, accounting for 27 percent of all indoor water use. Source: Grist, 3/5/14

Wednesday, March 5, 2014
House passes Welch bipartisan energy efficiency legislation
By a vote of 375-36, the U.S. House of Representatives this afternoon approved energy efficiency legislation authored by Representative Peter Welch. The Energy Efficiency Improvement Act, H.R. 2126, is the first significant bipartisan energy initiative approved by the House in the 113th Congress. Source:, 3/5/14

Minnesota seeks comment on draft paint stewardship plan
In accordance with Minnesota legislation signed into law in May 2013, all architectural paint sold in the state must soon be managed through a statewide product stewardship program implemented and financed by producers of paint. Upon the slated launch date of July 1, 2014, no architectural paint may be offered for sale in the state unless the paint's producer participates in an approved stewardship plan. PaintCare Inc., serving as a stewardship organization on behalf of paint manufacturers, submitted a detailed stewardship plan on March 3, 2014. The MPCA has 90 days to review, and must approve this plan before the program can begin. A public comment period is open through April 15. MPCA will post comments and take them into consideration as part of the staff review of the stewardship plan. Source: Minnesota Pollution Control Agency, 3.5.14

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