Weekend Planner: Under the dome

The last two shows of 2016 at the Staerkel Planetarium at Parkland College will be full-dome events with seasonal topics: "Santa's Secret Star" at 7 tonight and "Season of Light" at 8.

"They're both programs that project over the entire dome," said David Leake, planetarium director. "We add a little live segment to both of them."

Rob Kanter/Environmental Almanac: Clean water is a human right

Water is life.

So say members of the Standing Rock Sioux tribe and their allies in North Dakota, who seek to halt completion of the Dakota Access pipeline and name themselves Water Protectors. Among the thousands of Water Protectors are many who have put their bodies on the line and faced violent response from militarized police and private security forces.

Water is life.

Top of the Morning, Dec. 12, 2016

By Rick Danzl

The announcement that the nuclear power plant in Clinton wouldn't be closing was big news.

But when I was assigned to travel to DeWitt County to photograph Gov. Bruce Rauner for the signing of the Future Energy Jobs Bill, I wasn't aware how big it was.

Letter from Birdland: Signs of winter falling from sky

In Birdland, we enjoyed such a mild, lingering autumn that yesterday's snowfall took me by surprise.

In the morning, as I was getting ready to leave for town, Michael said, "It's snowing." I didn't really believe him. My husband likes to joke sometimes, and the snow at that point was just a kiss of mist, some of it maybe solid, but dissipating before it hit the earth.

Deal with wind farm to boost UI's clean-energy use

URBANA — University of Illinois officials announced Thursday a 10-year agreement to buy power from the largest wind farm company in the state, significantly boosting the renewable-energy use of the Urbana-Champaign campus.

Ameren customers should see savings from new energy bill

SPRINGFIELD — The typical Ameren Illinois residential customer will pay about $1.93 less per month for power after a far-reaching energy bill goes into effect June 1, 2017, according to an analysis of the Future Energy Jobs bill by the Illinois Commerce Commission.

Eventually, however, rates will start to increase beyond today's levels around 2023, according to the ICC model.

Letters from Birdland: A wonderful holiday with my boys

Birdland awoke this morning in a shroud of fog. As much as I love to see the horizon when I walk out with a scoop of pellets for the chickens, I can honor the mystery of having the long view hidden. I somehow feel sheltered, even though that fog offers no real protection from whatever waits out there.

Champaign business is lone bidder for Kickapoo cafe, river trips

CHAMPAIGN — A Champaign recreation business has submitted a proposal to run river trips and the cafe at Kickapoo State Recreation Area next year, according to state officials.

Water officials: Lake Vermilion's nitrate levels too high

DANVILLE — Over the past three years, nitrate levels that exceed drinking-water standards have been recorded in Lake Vermilion, Aqua Illinois officials told Vermilion County landowners Thursday.

Rauner assist nudges energy bill toward House vote

SPRINGFIELD — With an assist from Gov. Bruce Rauner, a multimillion-dollar deal that raises electric rates, saves jobs at two nuclear plants, provides more money for energy conservation programs and preserves Illinois as a leader in clean energy inched closer to a House floor vote.