Natural Resources/The Environment

Local Issues Director: Alexandra Darrow, The League of Women Voters of Glen Ellyn

Our chapter of the League follows major issues of interest to our membership; each area is the responsibility of a local issues director.  They track legislation and items of particular timely interest. Our Observer Corps attends meetings to report back to the board and members on key issues.

 

LATEST REPORT: January 2019

 

EARTH DAY EDITION Environment/Natural Resources

“Nature shrinks as capital grows. The growth of the market cannot solve the very crisis it creates.” Vandana Shiva, Soil Not Oil: Environmental Justice in an Age of Climate Crisis

global Issues

The wildlands and the bulk of the Earth’s biodiversity protected within them are another world from the one humanity is throwing together pell-mell. What do we receive from them? The stabilization of the global environment they provide and their very existence are gifts to us. We are their stewards, not their owners.  — Edward O. Wilson

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·  WORLD (NBC News On-Line)

·      United Nations Climate Conference Poland December 2018.  The Trump administration continued its rejection of mainstream climate science and reembraced Earth-warming fossil fuels.  Those contrarian views emerged even as US government scientists from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) reported that humanity’s actions were rapidly driving up temperatures with devastating impacts for the Arctic and the rest of the globe.  U.S. officials at the Conference argued that the carbon fuels are necessary because renewable sources will not provide enough electric power in the short term.  The U.S. joined Russia, Saudi Arabia and Kuwait as the only countries that declined to endorse an international report on the destructive fallout that will occur if the temperatures increases cannot be limited to 1.5 degrees Celsius over pre-Industrial levels.

·      Paris Agreement Withdrawal.  Even though President Trump announced the USA’s withdrawal from the Paris climate agreement last summer, the USA still participated in the UN Climate Conference in Poland.  The reason being that the administration opted not to pursue a radical exit but rather decided to follow the rules outlined within Article 28 of the Paris Agreement.  The text specifies that a country can’t leave for 3 years, after which there is a one year waiting period for the leave to be fully effective.  The Agreement was officially entered into Nov. 4, 2016.  The U.S. can initiate the withdrawal process on Nov. 4, 2019.

 

U.S.  National ISSUES

E.P.A RECONSIDERING REGULATION AND CURRENT CURBS ON POWER PLANTS

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·      ·      2019 Top Five Environmental Issues www.envirotech-online.com/news

o   Biodiversity.  Billions of species (animals, plants, and insects) are in danger of extinction with increases in global warming, pollution and deforestation.  Some scientists are suggesting that we are in the beginning of a 6th mass extinction.  Reducing meat intake, particularly red meat, as well as making sustainable choices can help keep our planet running smoothly.

o   Water.  Water pollution is a huge concern for us and the environment.  Not only is polluted water a huge financial strain, it is also killing both humans and marine life and impacting food sources.  By educating people on the causes and effects of water pollution, we can work together to undo the damage caused by humans. Focusing on maintaining laws and making pollution laws tougher within the USA and across national borders will help fight pollution.

o   Deforestation.  Trees and plants are needed to survive providing oxygen, food and medicine all over the globe.  However, deforestation is increasing at an alarming rate and threatens to what extent these resources remain.  To help combat, you can buy more recycled and organic products, limiting the amount of paper and cardboard you use.

o   Pollution.  All 7 key types of pollution – air, water, soil, noise, radioactive, light and thermal – are effecting our environment.  All types of pollution, and environmental concerns, are interlinked and influence one another.  So, by tackling any one of them is to tackle them all.  By working together, as a community, we can reduce the impact pollution is having on our environment.

o   Climate Change.  As pointed out by a recent UN report, without “unprecedented changes” in our actions and behavior, our planet will suffer dramatically from global warming in just 12 years.  Freak weather incidents, the rise of global sea levels, and the increase in ocean temperatures will continue and may result in irreversible damage.  Actions you can take to reduce climate change include driving less which will reduce your carbon footprint, as well as switching off electrical items when not in use. Educating ourselves and others on the effects and severity of global warming.

REGIONAL ISSUES

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·      Midwest Waterways, Great Lakes and the Mississippi River Basins

(Environmental Law & Policy Center; www.elpc.org)

Trump Administration’s Clean Water Rollback Threatens America’s Drinking Water.

On December 11, 2018 EPA announced rollback of federal clean water rules undermining safe clean drinking water.  Many Midwest cities and towns are already experiencing unsafe drinking water, and the Environmental Law & Policy Center warn that that this rollback of critical protections of community waterways will only exacerbate the problem.  The interconnectedness of waterways requires federal oversight to ensure the safety and security of our fresh water by the protection of backyard brooks, community creeks and steady streams that feed them as well as the large bodies of water they feed into.

·      LWV UMRR Advocacy Update Nov/Dec 2018.

LWV Upper Mississippi River Region is focusing on three areas of advocacy: the Farm Bill; the Clean Water Rule and Foxconn.

o   Farm Bill.  LWV UMRR urged Congressional leadership to pass final $867 billion Farm Bill.  House passed on Dec. 12, 2018 and Trump signed into law Dec. 20, 2018 minus the food stamp changes he wanted. The bill includes continuing support for incomed-based food support, additional support for dairy farmers, and a provision to ease the restriction on the growing of hemp.

o   Clean Water Act Preservation and Support.  In 1970 LWV US was extremely involved in the initial passage of the Clean Water Act.  The current federal administration is seeking to roll back the Clean Water Act protections by rewriting the Clean Water Rules.  The National Wildlife Federation circulated a sign-on letter addressed to the EPA that both LWV UMRR and LWV US signed urging the Agency to maintain the Clean Water Act rules.  One key provision the EPA seeks to change revolves around the definition of “Waters of the US”.  As noted above, the EPA announced proposed changes on Dec. 11, 2018 and a 60 day comment period will soon begin.  LWV UMRR is working with LWV US to participate in this rule making.  If you are interested in learning more about this proposed rule, and helping the LWV UMRR prepare comments, please contact lwvumrr@lwvmn.org.  You will receive materials and be asked to participate in conference calls to discuss comment areas. 

o   Foxconn.  LWV Wisconsin has lead LWN efforts to oppose the withdrawal of 7 million gallons of water per day from Lake Michigan for Foxxconn industrial development near Racine. LWV Lake Michigan is a party to the petition seeking reconsideration by WI DNR.  LWV UMRR has made a resolution in opposition and continues to work against this transfer of water resources.

DUPAGE COUNTY ISSUES

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On March 6, College of DuPage hosted viewing of “Wasted.” It showed that in the U.S. one-third or 40% of our food is going to waste at a cost of $1 trillion and 1.3 billion lbs. of food. On a related, positive note, the Illinois Environmental Council reports that their bill on food waste passes out of committee! SB2606, sponsored by Senator John Curran, passed unanimously. This legislation will provide that state agencies have a policy in place to donate leftover food, and possible organizations and pantries where leftover food can be donated.

Local Issues for Glen Ellyn

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Idling Reduction Initiative–

Following up on initiative to generate awareness and action for an “Idling Reduction” campaign to reduce the cumulative pollution created in one small space as well as noise, emerging and cost savings by car idling.    Have calls in to Glen Ellyn Newcomers, GE schools, COD and village to reestablish contacts and discuss rebooting initiative. 

https://www.epa.gov/sites/production/files/2017-01/documents/webinar.antiidling.pdf    

Update: Willowbrook – Stergenics International High Cancer Risk Cluster (Chicago Tribune)
In August 2018 US Department of Health and Human Services Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry released a report finding that people living near the Sterigenics plant face some of the nation’s highest cancer risks as a result of pollution caused by the release of gas, ethylene oxide, into the atmosphere.  Sterigenics uses this gas to fumigate medical instruments, pharmaceutical drugs, and food to kill bacteria and pests.  Willowbrook currently tracks as 109 in the nation with cancer risk scores of 100 equating to 6 cases of cancer for every 1000 residents.  The company has installed equipment to reduce plant pollution and both the Federal government and Illinois EPA are monitoring.  Sterigenics was fined $50,000 and 3 law suits filed to date by individuals.  IL. Attorney General Lisa Madigan and State Attorney for Dupage Robert Berlin filed a bipartisan lawsuit accusing the Sterigenics of violating state envirnonmental laws.  Sterigenics hired industry-connected researchers to raise doubts about EPA’s measurement of ethylene oxide. At Thanksgiving the EPA announced that it might have overestimated levels of ethylene oxide in air samples collected near Sterigenics.  Additional air samples are being collected by EPA officials and consultants hired by local government.  Dan Lipinski (US Rep. D-Chicago), Tammy Duckworth (US Sen. D Illinois), Dick Durbin (US Sen. D Illinois) and Rep. Bill Foster want probe of Trump EPA response to Sterigenics cancer risk.

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·      NATIVE TREE & SHRUB SALE- PICKUP IN GE

https://gepark.org/recreation/nature/native-tree-shrub-sale/

THE GLEN ELLYN ENVIRONMENTAL COMMISSION/LANDSCAPING. Sustainable landscapes are responsive to the environment, regenerative, and can actively contribute to the development of healthy communities. Sustainable landscapes sequester carbon, clean the air and water, increase energy efficiency, restore habitats, and create value through significant economic, social and, environmental benefits. (see http://www.glenellyn.org/ec/landscaping.html)

Sustain DuPage “Turners.” Mission: Creating a generation of thought leaders who reflect critically and independently regarding current events and sustainability issues. We are an educational, guided reading discussion group who come together to explore sustainability theory. Every year will feature readings selected around a specific theme in order to construct a lattice of understanding around a critical sustainability topic. http://sustaindupage.com/turners

Submitted by: Alexandra Darrow, alix.darrow@cdk.com


OFFICIAL POSITION OF THE LEAGUE OF WOMEN VOTERS OF ILLINOIS:

NATURAL RESOURCES POSITIONS:  The Illinois LWV takes action on the state level in the following areas based on these LWVUS positions: Agriculture Policy; Environmental Protection and Pollution Control; Natural Resources; Public Participation; and Resource Management.