ILLINOIS
CURRENTS JUNE 2007
Information about
NEWS LEGISLATION TRENDS RESEARCH
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Advancing Wind Power in Illinois
Illinois Farmers and Landowners Earn Carbon Credit Checks
Expanded Seven-Day Schedule for Illinois’ Historic Sites
Developing La Nina Expected to Lead to Warmer June
Getting Ready for Lincoln’s 200th Birthday
WildBlue High-Speed Internet Via Satellite Triples Capacity
210,000 Illinoisans Living With Alzheimer’s
Ethanol Demand Drives 15 Percent ­Increase in Corn Plantings
Learn More About Water Wells at Wellowner.org

Advancing Wind Power in Illinois

The Illinois Wind Working Group is holding its first conference, “Advancing Wind Power in Illinois,” on June 28-29, 2007. The conference covers all aspects of wind energy including small wind, community wind and large wind farms.

Sessions will cover how-to steps, policy recommendations, case studies and more. Exhibitors will be available to answer questions and provide information. More information and the conference agenda are available at: www.wind.ilstu.edu.

The cost of the conference is $50. The conference will be held at the Doubletree Hotel, 10 Brickyard Drive, Bloomington, Illinois 61701.

Contact David Loomis at dloomis@ilstu.edu or 309-438-7979 for more information.

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Illinois Farmers and Landowners Earn Carbon Credit Checks

In January 2006, Illinois became the first state to offer farmers and other landowners the opportunity to earn and sell greenhouse gas emissions credits by adopting conservation practices through the Illinois Conservation and Climate Initiative (ICCI).

Landowners can earn credits when they practice conservation tillage, plant grasses and trees, or capture methane with manure digesters. These practices capture carbon in the soil, which prevents greenhouse gasses from entering the atmosphere. These practices also have other environmental benefits such as the creation of wildlife habitat and reduced run-off from fields.

The ICCI is a joint project in partnership with the Chicago Climate Exchange (CCX), the Delta Institute, and an Advisory Committee representing Illinois agriculture and conservation groups. Since the first pool of carbon offset contract applications were submitted to the Delta Institute in October 2006, a total of 570 landowners and 113,889 acres have been enrolled.

The CCX allows greenhouse gas benefits from conservation practices to be quantified and sold. The credits from many different producers and landowners are collected by the Delta Institute. Credits are sold on the Chicago Climate Exchange trading platform to CCX members such as Baxter International, which have made voluntary commitments to reduce their greenhouse gas contributions.

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Expanded Seven-Day Schedule for Illinois’ Historic Sites

This past April, Illinois Historic Preservation Agency Director Robert Coomer stood at the entrance to the log village where Abraham Lincoln lived for six years and announced that Lincoln’s New Salem State Historic Site near Petersburg, and many of the state’s historic sites, will be open seven days a week through Labor Day.

“Opening our state’s historic sites seven days per week during the tourist season is a win-win situation. Tourists from around the world can experience our history no matter which day they visit, and these people will also spend time and money in nearby communities,” said Gov. Blagojevich.

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Developing La Nina Expected to Lead to Warmer June

Over the last couple months, sea-surface temperatures across the equatorial Pacific have continued their cooling trend. As a result, a weak La Nina phase has developed. Looking back at past years that have seen an El Nino transition into a La Nina during the spring (1978, 1988, 1995, 2005) reveals that all four years saw a June that had warmer than normal temperatures.

Depending on the strength of the La Nina, most of the summer in those years ended up warmer than average. In addition, other climate indices such as the NAO (North Atlantic Oscillation) suggest that June will be warmer than normal across the eastern third of the country.

The NAO index is expected to be primarily positive, which leads to an upper-level ridge pattern setting up across the eastern United States causing warmer and possibly drier weather.

These warmer June temperatures will lead to increases in cooling demand during the early portion of the peak cooling season and may result in higher than normal energy bills.

The Illinois map this month shows a projection of the total number of cooling degree days that are expected across the state during the month of June. On average, the total number is forecasted to be 90 cooling degree days higher or about 3 degrees warmer than normal across the state.

Source: EJS Weather, Newton, Ill., www.ejsweather.com or call 618-783-3040.

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Getting Ready for Lincoln’s 200th Birthday

The Illinois Abraham Lincoln Bicentennial Commission has launched a Web site to promote activities and events leading to the 200th anniversary of Lincoln’s birth. The Web site,

www.lincoln200.net, provides an online resource to build enthusiasm and support for the February 2009 observance in Illinois.

“This new Web site is a great resource that reminds us why our 16th President is one of world history’s most revered figures, and what we are doing to celebrate his Bicentennial in the Land of Lincoln,” says Gov. Rod Blagojevich. “I encourage everybody to visit this Web site as well as the many state-operated historic sites and memorials, to fully appreciate what Lincoln’s legacy means to us today.”

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WildBlue High-Speed Internet Via Satellite Triples Capacity

WildBlue Communications began offering high-speed Internet via satellite service through its new satellite, WildBlue-1, on March 20, 2007. The WildBlue service provides broadband Internet access via satellite to homes and small businesses not served by other high-speed Internet access providers, such as cable or DSL. WildBlue launched commercial service in June of 2005 and currently has more than 130,000 customers nationwide.

WildBlue-1 will enable the company to more than triple its customer capacity, making high-speed Internet service available to more than 750,000 rural consumers throughout the continental United States. WildBlue expects that the additional capacity accessible on WildBlue-1 will be available to all areas of the contiguous United States within the next three months.

210,000 Illinoisans Living With Alzheimer’s

The Alzheimer’s Association today reports that in 2007 there are now more than 5 million people in the United States living with Alzheimer’s disease. In Illinois there are 210,000 who are suffering from Alzheimer’s. By 2050, as many as 16 million Americans could have Alzheimer’s, more than the current total population of Chicago, Houston, Los Angeles and New York City combined.

In 2005, it is estimated that unpaid caregivers of people with Alzheimer’s and other dementias provided 8.5 billion hours of care, valued at almost $83 billion. As the prevalence impact of Alzheimer’s grows, so does the cost to the nation.

“Alzheimer’s Disease Facts and Figures clearly shows the tremendous impact this disease is having on the nation; and with the projected growth of the disease, the collective impact on individuals, families, Medicare, Medicaid and businesses will be even greater,” says Kent Barnheiser, President and CEO of the Alzheimer’s Association Greater Illinois Chapter.

“The absence of effective disease modifying drugs, coupled with an aging population, makes Alzheimer’s the health care crisis of the 21st century,” says Barnheiser.

According to the latest statistics from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, from 2000-2004 death rates have declined for most major diseases — heart disease (-8 percent), breast cancer (-2.6 percent), prostate cancer (-6.3 percent) and stroke (-10.4 percent) — while Alzheimer’s disease deaths continue to trend upward, increasing 33 percent during that period.

Medicare currently spends nearly three times as much for people with Alzheimer’s and other dementias than for the average Medicare beneficiary.

For more information contact the Alzheimer’s Association - Greater Illinois Chapter, which serves 68 counties in Illinois with offices in Bloomington, Carterville, Chicago, Joliet, Rockford, Skokie and Springfield.

Visit www.alz.org/illinois or call 800-272-3900.

Ethanol Demand Drives 15 Percent Increase in Corn Plantings

High corn prices spurred by a surge in demand for ethanol production have led to a 15 percent increase in planned plantings of corn in the United States, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA).

The “Prospective Plantings” report, issued by the USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS), says farmers intend to plant 90.5 million acres of corn this year—an increase of 12.1 million acres—resulting in the largest area planted for corn since 1944.

According to the Renewable Fuels Association (RFA), that acreage should yield more than 13 billion bushels of corn, which will provide “ample corn supplies to economically meet the needs of all the sectors that rely on it.”

While the increased ethanol production is pushing up corn prices and making it more profitable for farmers to grow corn, it also worries ranchers, chicken farmers, and others that depend on corn feed to raise animals. According to the National Chicken Council, the demand for ethanol has raised the wholesale price of chicken by six cents per pound.

In the future, cellulosic ethanol may replace corn-based ethanol production. Cellulosic ethanol uses non-food plant materials such as switchgrass, wood chips
and sawdust to produce alternative fuel. While the refining process for cellulosic ethanol is more complex than that of corn-based ethanol, cellulosic ethanol yields a greater net energy benefit and results in much lower greenhouse gas emissions.

The Department of Energy plans to invest up to $385 million in six bio­refineries over the next four years. Once up and running, the biorefineries—located in California, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Iowa and Kansas—are expected to produce more than 130 million gallons per year of cellulosic ethanol.

The six projects support President Bush’s Twenty in Ten Initiative, which aims to increase the use of alternative fuels to 35 billion gallons per year by 2017.
Learn More About Water Wells at Wellowner.org

Nearly half of Americans rely on ground water for all or part of their water supply through privately owned household wells or groundwater supplied community systems.

With all those wells come lots of questions about proper well construction, maintenance, water quality and ground water protection. Answers to many of these questions can be found at the National Ground Water Association (NGWA) Web site www.wellowner.org.

“Every day, Americans use 3.5 billion gallons of ground water from household wells,” says Kevin McCray, Executive Director of the NGWA. “Yet, many well owners know very little about well basics. Wellowner.org provides a place where well owners can learn more about the importance of well maintenance, water testing and ground water protection.”

The Web site provides practical information on what’s involved in a proper well checkup by a contractor, causes and solutions to water pressure issues, well protection, contamination and more.