Natural Resources/The Environment
Local Issues Director: Bonnie Gahris, 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 11, 2018
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
In November of 2017, the COP23 will convene in Bonn, Germany. The climate change conference will look at progress made since the 2015 convention (aka, the Paris Agreement) where legally binding actions and targets for reducing greenhouse gas emissions were agreed upon.
PERMAFROST: Models based on current levels of greenhouse gas emissions project that by 2100 more than 50 percent of near-surface permafrost worldwide will be lost. Thawing releases buried carbon dioxide and methane, compounding the effect. The warmed earth sinks as water drains away or is transpired by plants. (excerpt from Alaska’s Thaw Reveals - and Threatens - A Culture’s Artifacts, National Geographic, April 2017)
Quartz Media LLC – “The 99 best things that happened in 2017.” Attached are excerpts related to the environment: Some stunning victories for global conservation; A terrible year for the fossil fuels industry and;
…an amazing one for clean energy.
U.S. National ISSUES
ASSAULT ON USEPA. President Trump and EPA Head Scott Pruitt want environmental protections abolished via huge budget cuts and massive program cuts. Among the dozens of changes/cuts:
1) The 2018 budget would eliminate 58 programs and 3,200 positions
2) For any new rule proposed, EPA must eliminate two others
3) Repealing the Clean Power Plan
4) Reducing regional offices by two, including the largest in Chicago
5) Cutting funding for R&D in half;
6) Relaxation of limits on toxics emitted from coal-fired power plants. (from Sierra Club River Prairie Group program 10/12/17, presenter Dale Bryson, retired EPA water division sr. manager)
CITIZEN'S CLIMATE CAUCUS. On Wednesday evening, Nov. 1 a one-hour forum on the floor of the U.S. House was conducted. It was organized by Illinois Congressman Dan Lipinski and featured remarks by 10 caucus members (four Republicans - who uttered the words “climate change” - along with six Democrats). Representatives Lipinski, Fitzpatrick, McNerney, Faso, Bonamici, Deutch, Suozzi, Carbajal, Curbelo, and Panetta spoke on the floor. Congressman Bacon from Nebraska was not present to speak, but submitted written remarks for the record. (Citizens’ Climate Lobby Chicagoland email, Nov. 4, 2017)
ELECTRIC CARS. Just as Apple unleashed a surge of innovation that upended the mobile phone industry, electric cars, with a little help from ride-hailing and self-driving technology, could be about to pull the same trick on Big Oil. The rise of Tesla and complementary services from Uber technologies and Alphabet Inc.’s Waymo unit - autonomous electric cars available on demand - could transform how people travel and confound predictions that battery-powered vehicles will have a limited impact on oil demand in the coming decades. (excerpted from Daily Herald article, 10/22/17, Electric cars might spark iPhone-like changes)
Clean Power Plan Rollback. With thanks to the LWVUS, was able to go online to submit talking points on the Plan to Repeal the Clean Power Plan. Deadline for submitting comments is January 16, 2018. http://forum.lwv.org/member-resources/article/opportunity-comment-clean-power-plan-rollback
Breathing Easier on Ozone. EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt had planned to delay implementation of a new stricter 2015 ozone standard; due to UCS (Union of Concerned Scientists), et al., raising the alarm, Pruitt reversed his decision to delay the standard! — UCS Fall 2017 Catalyst
REGIONAL – LWV UMMR held a “Celebrate the Headwaters” event and board meeting in early October. Speakers from Minnesota Dept. of Health and non-profit “Toxic Talkers” spoke about increasing amounts of nitrate in drinking water across our watershed. (from LWVUMMR website)
STATE ISSUES FOR ILLINOIS
ILLINOIS ENVIRONMENT COUNCIL (IEC) Houston-based Dynergy Inc., the owner of 12 coal power plants in Illinois, introduced new legislation (SB2250) asking for bailout to keep its uneconomical plants open. This is in addition to a rulemaking put forward by IEPA that would reduce pollution control requirements for Dynergy’s plants. (excerpt from IEC Veto Session Update, 10/30/17).
Illinois Environmental Council is offering Civics for Environmentalists: Legislative Procedure, Lobbying, and Advocacy for Environmental Advocates on Friday, January 19, 11 am-1 pm, Chicago. This lecture/training will cover how a bill becomes a law in Illinois and how you can participate in the process by building a relationship with your state lawmakers.
The Oak Park/River Forest Resilient Communities Forum. The forum takes place on Jan. 31, 2018, in Oak Park. At this meeting, learn firsthand the latest sustainability news from the North American Climate Summit held in Chicago Dec. 4-6, 2017, the Chicago Community Climate Forum, and the UN climate talks held in Bonn, Germany. http://www.greencommunityconnections.org 12-7-17
Faith In Place (faithful people caring for the Earth) – This organization is offering free Level 1 energy audits to houses of worship in the Chicagoland area and Champaign/Urbana. https://www.faithinplace.org/our-programs/ energy-audit-retrofits
DUPAGE COUNTY ISSUES
· The Future Looks Bright for Solar: The Impact of FEJA in DuPage County. This seminar will be held on Mon., Jan. 29, 6-9 pm at IBEW Local 701 Hall in Warrenville. The Future Energy Jobs Act (FEJA) will stimulate job creation throughout our state, providing the opportunity to strengthen our local economy by expanding solar/renewable energy programs. Learn how DuPage Co. can best take advantage of all FEJA has to offer.
· Morton Arboretum. “As the climate changes – models suggest Illinois will eventually be similar to today’s Arkansas or even Texas – the Arboretum and other public gardens may become refuges for more oaks.”
— Westwood, Morton Arboretum Fall 2017 Program Book
Fossil Free Action Network. To combat the scale of the climate crisis, this organization encourages taking action at all levels of government; we attended an inaugural meeting in Downers Grove. As a result, Jeff attended the Glen Ellyn and Wheaton city councils to let them know about the upcoming solar energy program (see above, The Future Looks Bright for Solar)
Local Issues for Glen Ellyn
On July 26, LWVGE members Amy, Sonja and Bonnie met with the Director of the Westminster Preschool, Sue Clary, to discuss Car Idling along Cottage Ave. and the church parking lot. After discussion and presenting information/studies on idling, Sue was amenable to putting out a No Idling sign; she already encourages car pooling, posts no-idling info in school newsletter, and brings up to parents at meetings.
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
SAVE THE DATE • One Earth Film Festival March 2-11, 2018
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.