Stories by Alex Ruppenthal

Threats to Great Lakes Topic of Summit at UIC’s Freshwater Lab

(U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service)

With nearly $300 million in federal funding on the chopping block, leaders from across the Great Lakes region will convene next month in Chicago to address lead poisoning, oil pipelines and other threats to the area’s waters.

Northwestern Expert Devises Method for Quantifying Impact of Global Warming

(NASA)

A study co-authored by Northwestern University climate expert Daniel Horton outlines a framework for measuring the impact of global warming on extreme weather events. 

Museum of Science and Industry Sits Out Chicago’s Science March

March for Science Chicago organizers said 60,000 people attended the April 22 event. (Susan Wigodner / Twitter)

According to organizers, an estimated 60,000 people attended the March for Science Chicago, making it the largest of those that took place Saturday in 400-plus cities worldwide. But some area institutions did not officially support the event.

Study: Disposable Bag Use Down 42 Percent in Wake of Chicago Bag Tax

(Walmart / Flickr)

Studies estimate that more than 100 billion plastic bags are used annually in the U.S. But in Chicago, many shoppers have switched their habits since the start of the city’s tax on plastic and paper bags, a new study shows. 

Chicago Park District Limits Pesticides, Offers Lawn Care Tips

(Midwest Pesticide Action Center)

As Chicagoans usher in spring and get outside, the Chicago Park District is highlighting its efforts to limit the use of pesticides at nearly 600 parks across the city.

Field Museum at Center of Chicago’s March for Science

Emily Graslie appears on Chicago Tonight in September 2015.

The rally, march and expo is projected to be among the largest of those taking place Saturday in 400-plus cities worldwide.

Photos: EPA Head Scott Pruitt Greeted by Protesters in East Chicago

Community Strategy Group organizer April Friendly, left, leads a rally Wednesday during EPA head Scott Pruitt's visit to East Chicago. (Alex Ruppenthal / Chicago Tonight)

About 100 East Chicago residents and activists rallied and marched Wednesday while EPA head Scott Pruitt visited the city's lead-contaminated neighborhoods.

Scott Pruitt to East Chicago Residents: Chicago EPA Office Not Closing

EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt speaks Wednesday after meeting with residents in East Chicago. (Alex Ruppenthal / Chicago Tonight)

The head of the Environmental Protection Agency told residents in East Chicago on Wednesday that the agency had no plans to close its Chicago office. 

Shedd Aquarium’s 1-year-old Dolphin Gets Checkup, Birthday ‘Cake’

(Shedd Aquarium)

Shedd Aquarium’s dolphin calf Kukdlaa celebrated his first birthday with positive results from a physical checkup. And with cake, of course.

Indiana Dunes Chemical Spill: What is Hexavalent Chromium?

Indiana Dunes

A spill last week at a U.S. Steel site in Northwest Indiana released an unknown amount of a potentially carcinogenic chemical into a Lake Michigan tributary, prompting the closure of three beaches at Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore.

Brookfield Zoo Welcomes First Baby Reindeer in 37 Years

(Jim Schulz / Chicago Zoological Society)

Just in time for Easter, a reindeer named Bunny gives birth to a male fawn – the first reindeer born at Brookfield Zoo since 1980. 

Scientists Discover Early Dinosaur ‘Cousin’ with Surprising Features

Life model of the new species Teleocrater rhadinus, a close relative of dinosaurs, preying upona juvenile cynodont, a distant relative of mammals. (Museo Argentino de Ciencias Naturales)

A Field Museum researcher is among a global group of scientists who have discovered an early dinosaur that reshapes our understanding of dinosaurs’ evolution. 

Shedd Aquarium Wants You to #SheddTheStraw for Earth Day

(Plastic Pollution Coalition)

With an eye toward Earth Day, Shedd Aquarium has launched a campaign encouraging people to switch from single-use plastic straws to reusable or biodegradable alternatives.

Scientists at Lincoln Park Zoo Working to Save Puerto Rican Parrot

(Tanya Martinez / Puerto Rico Department of Natural and Environmental Resources)

Experts in Chicago are working to save one of the world’s most endangered birds. 

Report: Chicago’s Health At Risk with 151 Dirty Air Days

(Bryce Edwards / Flickr)

In 2015, Chicago air pollution reached elevated levels for a total of 151 days, a new report shows, increasing the risk of premature death, asthma attacks and other negative health effects for city residents.

Chicago Commits to Renewable Energy for 900-Plus Government Buildings

(Chicago Mayor's Office)

Mayor Rahm Emanuel announced Sunday a commitment to transition the city’s municipal buildings and operations to 100 percent clean and renewable energy by 2025.

Armed Robbery Case Exposes Flaw in Chicago Park District Hiring

Organization plans to expand background checks following OIG report, Chicago Tonight inquiry

Jefferson Park is one of 597 parks operated by the Chicago Park District. (Apartments.com)

After unknowingly hiring a man convicted of armed robbery, battery and other felonies and misdemeanors, the Chicago Park District is changing its policy on background checks.

Illinois Threatens to Sue Trump Administration Over Energy Rules

Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan (Chicago Tonight)

Illinois and nine other states are threatening to sue the Trump administration over delayed implementation of energy efficiency standards. 

Grassroots Group Envisions Transformed Southeast Side

Peggy Salazar, director of the Southeast Environmental Task Force, works in the group's Hegewisch office in March. (Alex Ruppenthal / Chicago Tonight)

A community group has drawn up a plan to guide redevelopment of a heavily industrialized area in Chicago.

Second Site Linked to Manganese Dust on Chicago’s Southeast Side

Kinder Morgan's former site at 2926 E. 126th St. in Chicago. (Google)

A newly released report shows additional sources of manganese dust on Chicago’s Southeast Side, where residents were already dealing with exposure to manganese and other pollutants. 

Shedd Aquarium Celebrates Dolphin Awareness Month

First-time mother Katrl gave birth to a dolphin calf in April 2016. (© Shedd Aquarium / Brenna Hernandez)

What is it like to touch and work with dolphins? One Shedd trainer said they feel firm, smooth and a little colder than you might expect, according to the aquarium’s dolphin fact list.

Brookfield Zoo Addresses Ethics of Animal Captivity

(Brookfield Zoo / Chicago Zoological Society)

The ethical debate over zoos – and whether animals belong in them – has resurfaced over the past year, and now Brookfield Zoo is joining the discussion.

Chicago Lawmaker Proposes Urban Agriculture Zones

(Linda from Chicago / Creative Commons)

“The whole idea is to use our vacant land as a way to adjust the issue of food access by encouraging urban farms and community gardens in certain areas,” said state Rep. Sonya Harper.

Report: Candy-Flavored Tobacco Hooks New Generation of Kids

(Diedra Laird, MCT Campus)

Candy-flavored e-cigarettes and other sweetened tobacco products threaten to create a new generation of addicted users, warns a new report by five prominent public health organizations.

Illinois Lawmaker Wants to Protect Animals from Lead Poisoning

(iStock.com)

A state senator has proposed legislation that would partially ban the use of lead-based ammunition, but one gun rights group is calling the bill “a blatant attack” on the rights of hunters.