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Lake Michigan


Quick Hit
Wed Mar 26, 2014

OP-ED: BP's Lake Michigan Oil Spill: More Mess And Less Transparency From The Refinery Chicagoans Love To Hate

The following is written by Henry Henderson, director of the Midwest Program for the Natural Resources Defense Council.

Ask any Chicagoan and they’ll tell you that Lake Michigan is a big part of what makes this town great. So, perhaps this is what makes BP’s nearby refinery in Whiting, IN so reviled.

The week of the Exxon Valdez disaster anniversary and a week after the Council of Canadians released a report highlighting the threat that tar sands oil imposes on the Great Lakes, BP did what it always does: crapped up Lake Michigan.

Yesterday, an undetermined amount of oil made its way into the refinery’s water treatment unit and was dumped into the Lake, mucking a half mile of shoreline with waxy residue.

That’s the same water treatment unit that was venting the carcinogen benzene directly into the air… Which is just one of many controversies that have emanated from this gargantuan facility perched just a few miles down the Lakeshore from Chicago, in the midst of densely populated Northwest Indiana.

PI Original
by Ellyn Fortino
Fri Jan 10, 2014

Study: Protecting Great Lakes From Asian Carp Could Cost Billions, Take Decades

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers on Monday submitted a long-awaited study to Congress detailing ways to prevent Asian carp and other invasive species from taking over the Great Lakes. Some of those efforts could cost billions of dollars and take decades to finish. Now that the study has been released, environmentalists and others are urging decision makers to move forward and take action before it's too late.

Quick Hit
by Ellyn Fortino
Wed Nov 27, 2013

Report: Illinois Ranks No. 5 For Reducing Pollution, Saving Water From Wind Power

A new report ranks Illinois as the fifth-best U.S. state when it comes to reducing carbon pollution and saving water thanks to wind power.

Illinois generated 7.7 million megawatt-hours (MWh) of electricity through wind power in the state last year, according to the "Wind Energy for a Cleaner America" report from Environment Illinois. That wind energy prevented some 4.7 million metric tons of harmful carbon pollution from getting in the atmosphere, similar to removing 971,000 cars from the road, according to the report.

Wind power in the Prairie State also helped to save 2 billion gallons of water in 2012, which would have instead been used to support coal-fired power plants, the report reads. Those 2 billion gallons of water are enough to meet the daily needs of more than 63,000 people.

Additionally, the wind energy Illinois generated last year stopped 4,300 tons of nitrogen oxide and 5,400 tons of sulfur dioxide from being released into the air.

“Wind energy has given us a lot to be thankful for this Thanksgiving,” Lisa Nikodem of Environment Illinois said in a statement. “Now our state and national leaders need to take action to make sure we don’t leave this cornucopia of environmental benefits on the table.”

Quick Hit
by Ellyn Fortino
Tue Oct 29, 2013

Environmentalists Want EPA, Obama To Close "Frightening" Clean Water Act Loopholes

Activists with Environment Illinois say it's time to give Lake Michigan the Halloween treat it deserves: protection from polluters. 

At a news conference at North Avenue beach Tuesday morning, environmental organizers said loopholes in the Clean Water Act have allowed Lake Michigan to become a "witch's brew of pollutants" for more than a decade, leaving nearly 56 percent of Illinois' streams unprotected. The unchecked pollution has the potential to put the drinking water of more than 1.6 million Illinoisans at risk, the group said.

In September, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers submitted to the Office of Management and Budget a draft rule designed to help clarify which U.S. waters are subject to protections under the Clean Water Act. Environmentalists say the proposed rule would be a big step in helping to restore Clean Water Act protections for streams, wetlands and others waters.

The proposed rule takes into consideration a recent draft report the EPA issued detailing the findings of more than 1,000 peer-reviewed articles and studies about the connectivity of streams and wetlands to downstream waters.

At today's press conference, the environmental organizers called on President Barack Obama to move forward with the proposed rule, which they say would help ensure Lake Michigan is protected from pollution such as sewage and runoff from factory farms.

Quick Hit
Tue Oct 15, 2013

Op-Ed: Petcoke Piles On The Calumet — Chicago's Newest Tar Sands Blight (VIDEO)

The following was written by Henry Henderson, midwest director for the Natural Resources Defense Council.

BP’s other very messy shoe is dropping now. With the expansion of their Whiting Refinery into one of the biggest tar sands processors on the planet, the increases in toxins dumped into the waters of Lake Michigan and airshed of Chicago and Northwest Indiana have triggered public outrage. But now a new pollution stream out of the facility is making itself known along the banks of the Calumet River.


Quick Hit
by Ellyn Fortino
Mon Sep 23, 2013

U.S. Rep. Quigley Urges Federal Lawmakers To Take Action On Climate Change

U.S. Rep. Mike Quigley (D-IL,5) says the country is falling behind when it comes to adopting forward-thinking policies meant to address climate change.

At a Chicago press conference Monday, the congressman continued the push for an urgent response to the effects of climate change, which if not addressed will continue to damage Lake Michigan and cause headaches for Illinois homeowners due to repeated flooding events, among other concerns, according to the lawmaker.

“This is the legacy we’re going to leave. We can be the first generation that leaves the world in a worse condition than we were born into it,” Quigley said. “We have a responsibility for our children and their children’s children.”