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Quick Hit
by Aaron Cynic
3:59pm
Mon May 19, 2014

Marktown Residents, Supporters Rally Against Keystone XL Pipeline (VIDEO)

Nearly 200 demonstrators gathered in Marktown Park, a neighborhood in East Chicago, Indiana, as part of a nationwide day of action that took place in more than 100 cities to protest the use of fossil fuels and to urge President Obama to reject the Keystone XL tar sands pipeline. Demonstrators say they chose Marktown, which rests in the shadow of the BP Whiting refinery, because of the recent spill into Lake Michigan and an expansion project that will level the small community.

The demonstration was organized by 350.org, the Sierra Club, the Michigan Coalition Against Tar Sands, the Northwest Indiana Federation of Interfaith Organizations and other groups who say the $3.8 billion expansion of the BP Whiting facility threatens the health of the community.

Quick Hit
by Anthony Burke Boylan
11:19am
Wed May 14, 2014

Quigley Tours Chicago Petcoke Sites With Environmentalists, Affected Residents

A group of activists took U.S. Rep. Mike Quigley (D-IL-5) through the environmental mire that is Chicago's South Deering community as well as adjacent neighborhoods. During Tuesday's tour, the environmentalists and area residents pointed out the towering, six-story piles of petcoke that are ruining their health and quality of life.

Locals have long referred to the area as Slag Valley — so named for the waste produced by the steel mills that defined the community for a century before leaving disappointment and economic blight. While the mills polluted the air and water, at least they provided jobs, residents say.

Now, they talk of the pollution that, they say, is as bad or worse than what was created by the steel mills, adding that the petcoke piles cause eye irritation, asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and more. And, they noted, there is no economic benefit to the residents, who walked Quigley through the KCBX Terminals storage yard, even as they suffer from the presence of petcoke in their neighborhoods.

“The long-term solution is to move away from tar sands and dirty fuels,’’ said Quigley as he surveyed huge mounds of black petcoke at the Koch Brother-controlled KCBX storage yard. “The short-term solution is to get these piles of petcoke covered and lessen some of the immediate health concerns.’’

Quick Hit
by Anthony Burke Boylan
8:49pm
Wed Apr 23, 2014

Chicago Environmentalists Take Fight To Doorstep Of 'Worst Corporate Polluters'

Grassroots groups from all over Chicago’s progressive landscape came together for a Climate Convergence on Earth Day, chanting for environmental and economic justice. The activists marched to corporations they say are the worst environmental offenders to deliver cease-and-desist orders, including Boeing Co., JPMorgan Chase Bank, and the British Petroleum oil company.

“If we do not have immediate change, we will face climate catastrophe by 2050,’’ said Jackie Spreadbury, an organizer with Global Climate Convergence Chicago. She called for people, planets and peace over profits as the rally began in front of the State of Illinois Center Tuesday, The event included speeches and protest songs like “This Land is Your Land’’ and original songs tailored to the event.

“The forces against us are strong, so fight not just these ten days, but every day,’’ she said, referring to the 10 days of action GCC has scheduled through May 1, or May Day. The May Day event is a march from the historically significant Haymarket Square to the ICE building on Congress Street to fight for immigration rights. Click through for more details and check back with Progress Illinois for coverage of Chicago's May Day events.

Quick Hit
by Ellyn Fortino
7:29pm
Thu Apr 17, 2014

Schneider, Enviros Discuss Lake Michigan Oil Spill; Great Lakes Infrastructure Initiatives

In the wake of the BP oil spill in Lake Michigan, U.S. Rep. Brad Schneider (D-IL,10) met with local elected officials and environmental leaders in Highland Park to discuss ways to better protect and revitalize the Great Lakes region.

"Our needs are really very basic," Highland Park Mayor Nancy Roterin told the congressman on Thursday. "Keep our water clean and help us improve access to the beaches. [And] whatever you can to do to prevent these oil spills and the things like what happened at Whiting."

Quick Hit
by Ellyn Fortino
4:39pm
Tue Apr 1, 2014

Revised Chicago Petcoke Ordinance 'Opens The Door' For More Dirty Facilities, Environmentalists Say

Environmentalists and Southeast Side Chicagoans are furious over recent changes made to Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s proposed ordinance to crack down on petcoke, claiming the revisions have weakened the legislation.

The mayor’s measure, initially introduced at March’s city council meeting, originally sought to ban new petcoke facilities from opening in the city and prohibit existing sites from expanding. But at the council’s zoning committee meeting Tuesday, the public learned the pending petcoke ordinance, co-sponsored by Alds. Ed Burke (14th) and John Pope (10th), has since been revised.

“That blindsided us,” Peggy Salazar of the Southeast Environmental Task Force told Progress Illinois after the nearly two-hour committee hearing. “How can they provide us with information, an ordinance to review and evaluate … then when we get here to testify and speak [on] the ordinance, they give us something totally different than what we did all that work on? How can they do that? How is that allowed?”

The council’s Committee on Zoning, Landmarks and Building Standards agreed to defer consideration of the measure until its April 24 meeting to allow the public more time to review the substitute ordinance.

“I think there may be a few more items we can add,” Pope said before asking the committee to defer the vote.

Quick Hit
by Ellyn Fortino
5:57pm
Thu Mar 27, 2014

Illinois Lawmakers Wage Fight Against Water-Polluting Agents In Cosmetic Products; BP Oil Spill Clean Up Continues (UPDATED)

An extremely small plastic pollutant poses a big threat to the health of the Great Lakes and the state's environment. And some Illinois lawmakers are looking to take action against the problem.

At issue are the super-tiny plastic beads used in hundreds of personal cosmetic products like facial wash, body scrubs and even toothpaste. According to scientists, tens of millions of these little plastic particles have made their way into the Great Lakes.

The cosmetic microbeads, which are less than 5 millimeters in size and commonly used to help with exfoliation, often get washed down household drains. Because the plastic beads are so small, they are not captured during the water treatment process, allowing them to get into waterways.

"There's no way to recover those materials once they're out in open waters," said Olga Lyandres, research manager at the Alliance for the Great Lakes. "Once they enter the environment, they stay there."

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