Susan Bence

Environmental Reporter

Susan Bence entered broadcasting in an untraditional way. After years of avid public radio listening, Susan returned to school and earned a bachelor's degree in Journalism from the University of Wisconsin Milwaukee. She interned for WUWM News and worked with the Lake Effect team, before being hired full-time as a WUWM News reporter / producer.

Susan is now WUWM's environmental reporter, the station's first. Her work has been recognized by the Milwaukee Press Club, the Northwest Broadcast News Association, and the Wisconsin Broadcasters Association.

Susan worked with Prevent Blindness Wisconsin for 20 years, studied foreign languages at UWM, and loves to travel.

Ways to Connect

Neumann Companies

Pewaukee-based builder and developer Matt Neumann added solar installation to his business in 2009. He calls the timing perfect.

“Because in 2008 the federal investment tax credit was extended until the cap was lifted so you could receive a 30 percent tax credit for any system you install, whether is was $1,000 or $ 1 million,” he says.

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The International Joint Commission, or IJC, released that advice on Tuesday.

The U.S. and Canadian governments created the commission in 1909 to resolve disputes around “shared” waters.

The last time the International Joint Commission released a major report protecting the Great Lakes from diversions was in 2000.

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Oak Creek’s new civic center abounds with sustainable features – natural light pouring into the buildings, LED lights and geothermal heating and cooling. But what has most excited city’s environmental engineer, Susan Winnen, about the new Drexel Town Square development is the wetland.

Located next to the former industrial site, this parcel of land survived decades of intense activity. The 18 acres have now been christened Emerald Preserve.

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Waukesha has been working toward this moment for over a decade. On Thursday morning, Wisconsin’s Department of Natural Resources forwarded Waukesha's application to draw drinking water from Lake Michigan to the remaining Great Lakes states and Canadian provinces.

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Teams of middle school students around the country have taken on the challenge of “waste not, want not.” It’s the theme of this year’s Future City Competition.

The annual challenge is designed to inspire students to latch onto engineering and math. 115 teams representing 20 Wisconsin schools hope to have a chance to compete at the national finals in February.

Longfellow Middle School in Wauwatosa gets into Future City in a big way. It boasts 21 teams.

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Each year, Americans toss out nearly 34 million tons of food – and the vast majority of it ends up in landfills. On Monday, WUWM looked at local efforts to transform food waste to compost. Today, we talk with people converting food into energy.

The sun is about to rise as the first customers straggle into Sendik’s grocery store in Mequon. Inside, Jeff Schutte just finished prepping the produce.

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We, Americans, waste a lot of food. Approximately 40 percent is never eaten. That amounts to 34 million tons of waste annually; most ends up in landfills. WUWM Environmental Reporter Susan Bence digs into the problem - starting with her own refrigerator.

"You don’t have to go very far from home to experience food waste. Like inside my refrigerator…has some pretty nasty looking red cabbage, broccoli I thought I would make soup out of. And I don’t know what this mush is, could have been cilantro," she says.

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Sharon Adams sips a Purple Haze, a beet infused drink, and marvels. She’s glancing out the window of The Juice Kitchen on North Avenue off 17th Street.

“We used to walk the streets that were trouble, it would be noisy. Now it’s peaceful out there and the noise is good in here,” Adams says.

Frank Zufall, Sawyer County Record

The biggest environmental headlines of 2015 poured out of Paris late in the year as the world monitored 13 days of U.N. climate change negotiations. We also had plenty to follow in Wisconsin.

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Tia Nelson was one of thousands of people who closely observed the recent United Nation’s climate change conference in Paris. The 13-day, nonstop negotiations culminated in an international climate agreement.

Nelson’s interest runs deep, starting with the fact that she is daughter of Earth Day founder and former U.S. Senator Gaylord Nelson.

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Forty-five former Department of Natural Resources' staff and administrative heads have publicly expressed concern that the agency is not carrying out its mission of protecting Wisconsin’s environment. They took their message to the EPA in the form of letters.

In the letters, the authors list what they perceive to be the "most serious problems with the new DNR," which include:

Jamie K Johnson, flickr

The Wisconsin DNR announced Tuesday that it is pushing Waukesha’s water application forward.

The City’s deep wells are increasingly tainted by cancer-causing radium, so the utility wants to start drawing water from Lake Michigan.

The DNR has now signed off on the diversion plan and will forward it to the other Great Lakes states. Final approval requires yes votes from all eight governors.

Peter Annin attended all three DNR public hearings last August as the agency carried out its charge to scrutinize every facet of Waukesha’s application.

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Emily Belknap was selected for the 2014 Mary L. Nohl Fund Fellowship for Individual Artists, Emerging Artist category.

All of the fellows’ works are on display at INOVA (Institute of Visual Arts), UWM’s Peck School for the Arts’ contemporary art gallery and research center.

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Official delegates aren’t the only people milling about at the United Nations Climate Change Conference. NGOs and businesses are also well represented.

Clay Nester is representing Johnson Controls at the UN conference. It’s not his first; Nester attended the 2009 gathering in Copenhagen.

“We can be observers within the plenaries, but very rarely have any sort of formal role. I’ve been fortunate enough to make a couple of interventions for exactly two minutes on the role of the private sector, marketplace mechanisms, innovations, things such as that,” Nester says.

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