Jenna Dooley / WNIJ

Last week, two dozen teachers from Beijing looked up at large, domed buildings. A translator explained how, inside, the gas from sewage waste is collected and converted into energy. The finished product is clean drinking water.

They were touring Freedom Field Renewable Energy in Rockford, which specializes in commercialized energy solutions.

The not-for-profit provides educational and technical support to businesses and manufacturers, as well as community members and students.

Carl Nelson/WNIJ

Governor Bruce Rauner has appointed Alec Messina as the new head of the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency. 

He replaces Lisa Bonnett, a carryover from the Pat Quinn administration who announced her resignation from the state agency Friday. 

Messina previously served as the Executive Director of the Illinois Environmental Regulatory Group.  That’s a trade association whose members include Ameren, Archer Daniels Midland Company, and ExxonMobil.  Messina also served as the IEPA's chief legal counsel from 2005 to 2010.   

Frank Dyke / WNIJ

The 13th annual Illinois Renewable Energy and Sustainable Lifestyle Fair is this weekend at the Ogle County Fairgrounds. 

Coal Curriculum To Continue In Illinois Schools

Apr 4, 2014
Dept. of Energy

A group of lawmakers don't like the idea that Illinois students are forced to learn how great coal is.  But they failed in an effort to take that requirement out of state law.

Rep. David Harris, R-Arlington Heights, says the legislation would prevent the state from doing anything to promote coal.

"Well if you're from Southern Illinois, let me tell you something: this is an attack on coal," Harris said.

Rep. Deborah Conroy, D-Elmhurst, says Illinois has a lot of energy sources -- wind, nuclear, even geothermal -- and shouldn't promote just one.

Coal Production Up in Illinois

Nov 14, 2012
Department of Energy

The low price of natural gas has meant tough competition for the coal industry. Production is down across the country, except, it turns out, in Illinois.