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: March 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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·  Climate Change. 

NYT 1/31/2019 “Why is the Cold Weather So Extreme if the Earth is Warming?” As climate change heats up the planet, winters are warming faster than summers. But during periods of extremely cold weather, many people wonder, “If the Earth is getting warmer, how can winter still be so cold?” President Trump raises this question frequently. In the beautiful Midwest, windchill temperatures are reaching minus 60 degrees, the coldest ever recorded. In coming days, expected to get even colder. People can’t last outside even for minutes. What is going on with Global Warming?

So, how can the temperature still tumble so low? The answer lies the difference between local weather and climate.  Climate refers to how the atmosphere acts over a long period of time, while weather describes what’s happening on a much shorter time scale. The climate can be thought of, in a way, as the sum of long periods of weather.

Or, to use an analogy Mr. Trump might appreciate, weather is how much money you have in your pocket today, whereas climate is your net worth. A billionaire who has forgotten his wallet one day is not poor, any more than a poor person who lands a windfall of several hundred dollars is suddenly rich. What matters is what happens over the long term ……..

Read the entire article:  https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2019/climate/winter-cold-weather.html?rref=collection%2Fsectioncollection%2Fclimate&action=click&contentCollection=climate&region=rank&module=package&version=highlights&contentPlacement=2&pgtype=sectionfront 

World Environmental Day.  June 5. This is not a public holiday, but rather an environmental awareness day run by the United Nations. This year the focus is ‘Beat Plastic Pollution’, and the press and media are already gearing up for this by reporting on events and efforts to reduce plastic pollution.  India hosts the campaign this year; Canada hosted last year.

U.S.  National ISSUES

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

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EPA Nomination.  

Proposed Clean Water Rule Changes

o   EPA and the Corps of Engineers proposed a new definition of Waters of the US; that significantly reduces the number of water bodies which are subject to Clean Water Act protections by removing 1/2 of nations wetlands and 1/5 of streams without protection.  Comments open until April 15. LWV UMRR requests local member leagues to participate in providing comments to LWVUMRR.

Climate Test

o   The LWVUS supports a set of climate assessment criteria that ensures that energy policies align with current climate change established science.

Carbon Pricing

o   The LWVUS stands with, and is in support of, efforts to price carbon emissions, whether cap and trade, carbon tax/fee or another viable pricing mechanism.

REGIONAL ISSUES

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LWV Jo Daviess County

LWVJDC collected water samples from 6 area springs and found microplastic contamination is getting into the ground water. Plastic is the most prevalent type of marine debris found in our ocean and Great Lakes. Plastic debris can come in all shapes and sizes, but those that are less than five millimeters in length (or about the size of a sesame seed) are called “microplastics.”

LWVIL 2019 Issues Briefing

o   Getting the Lead Out: Illinois Drinking Water (David G. Mueller, Esq. Guscott Mueller Law, LLC and Jennifer Walling, Ex. Dir. Illinois Environmental Counsel)

IL P.A. 99-0922 this new IL law addresses Flint, MI** type water threats to lead contamination in potable water in 4 principle ways by requiring:

1.     Testing for lead in schools (pre-K thru 5) and notification of parents of elevated lead levels

2.     New rules for testing daycare facilities

3.     Community water systems to create a comprehensive lead service line inventory and report to the IEPA (Illinois EPA).  (IL Dept. of Public Health approved a timeline for submitting service line inventory for community water systems no later than 1/01/25.)

4.     Committee to provide enhanced notice to residents of construction and repairs impacting water distribution systems and associated mitigation measures

**In 2014 widespread contamination of Flint water supply discovered after Flint changed source to Flint River in place of Lake Huron and failed to treat and provide corrosion control to prevent leaching of lead from old service lines in the water distribution system (Flint River 19X more corrosive then Lake Huron).

There is no safe level of lead in drinking water!

Climate. Environmental groups organizing around Illinois to focus on the next round of environmental advocacy.  “Clean Energy Jobs Coalition” regrouped and organized into the “Illinois Climate Action Table” to listen and develop future action to garner broad public support.  Whether LWVIL joins this group and works with them is to be determined.

Air Quality & Energy.  LWVIL monitoring 3 key IL bills that refine the Future Jobs Act:

§  Solar Pollinators.  Directs U of I Dept. of Entomology to create standards to define pollinator-friendly solar projects within the state

§  Solar Projects Uniform Assessments creates uniform standards for county assessors across the state to use when assessing value of solar projects.

§  Solar Agricultural Impact Mitigation Act.  Similar to Wind Energy Act, sets standards for solar projects to protect agricultural interests.

Pesticides.  LWVIL voiced opposition to provision in Federal Farm Bill that will diminish federal regulatory standards governing the use of pesticide by relegating to oversite and use directly to the states.

Anticipated 2019 Issues:

§  Federal Deregulation and Reliance on individual states for environmental protection.

§  Pre-emption and Lowering of Standards of state and local regulations to create lowest common denominator of protection

§  Transportation Infrastructure

Foxconn.  There are many conflicting stories in the news leading to confusion and uncertainty as to whether manufacturing of LCD screens and the proposed daily removal of 7 million gallons of water will actually take place.  Foxconn recently communicated that it would be economically unfeasible to proceed with the plant.  Donald Trump intervened with a phone call and the production of the plant is back on the table.  According to the Wall Street Journal, Foxconn has a history of bait and switch and changes plans after commitments are made.  Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported that Foxconn has made plans for, and then abandoned, plants in Pennsylvania, Brazil and Vietnam.  The project still seems to be in a state of flux and lawsuits suing the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources addressing the proposed water diversion should put the plant on hold.

IEPA Appointments.   Jim Kim* will serve as the Director of the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency (IEPA). Under the Rauner administration referrals to the IEPA to below 100 a year from 200/300 cases a year under prior administrations.  Various environmental groups expressed concern that the IEPA neglected its watch role.  The IEPA suffered multiple cutbacks of staff and funding.  In campaign promises JD Pritzer vowed to prioritize strengthening and rebuilding Illinois agencies to protect the environment including the IEPA and the Illinois Environmental Justice Commission. The administration promised to support the IEPA and other environmental agencies to thwart actions and rollbacks by the US EPA to ensure that progress is made for clean air, land and water for Illinois residents.

* Kim has served in many senior roles during 25 years at the department under five governors of both parties. Kim previously served as director, interim director, ethics officer, deputy general counsel, assistant counsel/special assistant attorney general, and project manager for an IEPA-China pollution prevention project. Kim left the IEPA for just over a year to serve as acting general counsel of the Illinois Department of Agriculture in 2008 and 2009. Before joining IEPA, Kim was an Assistant Attorney General of Illinois and was the general counsel to the Midwest Environmental Enforcement Association.

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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Upcoming Local Water Workshops

LWVGE. Water Literacy.  April 18 Rain Barrel Raffle

Krista Grimm is set to provide an informative and timely program on water literacy and the critical issues facing Illinois residents in general and DuPage county residents in particular.

Idling Reduction Initiative Collaboration–

o   Rose Arnold, President of the COD Environmental Club, and COD Environmental Club members look forward to collaborating with LWVGE on the Idling Reduction Initiative as well other Environmental Programs and knowledge sharing.  Invitations have been extended to join the LWVGE as student members and co-sponosor the upcoming Water Literacy Program on April 18.

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

Clean Energy Forum: Clean Energy in DuPage: Bartlett, Bloomingdale and Roselle

LWV Roselle/Bloomingdale Monday April 8th 7:00-8:45 pm at the Bloomingdale Public Library, 101 Fairfield Way in Bloomingdale.

Forum to raise awareness of clean energy options for our communities and how to implement them it in our homes, businesses and institutions. Presentations on the Illinois Approach to Solar Energy, by Jeff Gahris, Illinois Solar Energy Ambassador, a panel discussion on clean energy, solar options and an update on State/Federal legislation featuring: Edith Makra, Regional Clean Energy Programs; Jeff O’Connell, Lake Park High School; and Deni Mathews, Bartlett SolSmart Experience. 

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.

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


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.