The Illinois Environmental Protection Agency has slashed its staff almost in half over the past 15 years.
Keith Rohl remembers the day he was asked to lease the coal rights to his farmland in Homer, Illinois.
It was 2009, a wet year for the crops, when he was lined up at the grain elevator with his neighbors hearing about the proposed Bulldog Mine for the first time.
“The neighbors were all talking about, ‘You sell your coal rights, and you get to farm your land on top. You’re going to have all kinds of money and everything.’ And I thought ‘Boy, that sounds great to me, and I was ready to sign up,’ ” he said.
As a result of the Farm Bill passed by Congress a year ago, efforts to increase wildlife habitats and natural areas that filter fertilizer run-off will receive less funding and result in fewer acres of conserved land.
As of December, there were 9,770 acres set aside in Champaign County for a program in which the federal government rents land from farmers for conservation purposes.
By Robert Holly/CU-CitizenAccess.org — Thousands of agriculture groups and independent farmers – including many from Champaign and other central-Illinois counties – are using a public comment window to express concern over federally proposed water regulation. The proposed Waters of the U.S. rule is a joint-proposal from the Environmental Protection Agency and the Army Corps of Engineers. The rule aims to clarify which bodies of water the two federal agencies can lawfully regulate. The agriculture industry has largely opposed the rule, as farmers argue it will impede on their operations through unnecessary and unclear regulation. “It’s very concerning,” said Lin Warfel, a corn and soybean farmer from just outside Tolono.
By Maisie Sackett / For CU-CitizenAccess.org — The city of Champaign has set a goal to be “a model for environmental sustainability.”
But it has found it is much easier to set the goal than reach it. Among the challenges are limited budgets, shortage of community participation and debates over approaches. “It’s a great goal, but we’re a long, long way from that,” said Lacey Rains Lowe who has been with the city six years and is now head of the Champaign Growing Greener Plan. Setting the goals
The city plans to call for improvements to energy efficiency in city buildings and increasing the availability of recycling, among other programs.
To help City Council achieve these goals, the Planning Department of Champaign started the Champaign Growing Greener Plan about a year ago. The plan has been focusing on improvements towards energy efficiency in facility buildings, storm water run off, transportation and more.