The Illinois Campaign for Political Reform hosted a panel discussion Wednesday in Chicago on “the importance of keeping government accountable for clean and safe water.” Progress Illinois provides highlights from the talk.
The NRDC’s annual “Testing the Waters” report showed that 10 percent of water samples taken last year from 49 monitored Illinois coastal beaches and beach segments — all located in Cook and Lake counties — tested positive for high levels of bacteria from human or animal waste.
The “Wasting Our Waterways” report ranks Illinois as the 13th worst U.S. state for the total volume of toxic industrial releases to waterways.
At the national level, polluting facilities dumped 206 million pounds of harmful chemicals into American waterways in 2012, according to the report. And some 8.39 million pounds of toxic pollution were discharged into the Great Lakes watershed. Ammonia, chromium and lead are among the chemicals released into Illinois’ waterways, according to the report.
Proposed rules for hydraulic fracturing in Illinois fell
under harsh scrutiny Tuesday night, as the Illinois Department of
Natural Resources (IDNR) hosted its first public hearing on draft
regulations before the controversial horizontal oil and gas drilling technology
comes to the state.
“I know that we need natural gas,
but we need to do this in the safest way possible so that we’re not
killing ourselves,” said Jessica Bryant, a representative of Greenpeace, in her speech before
the panel of five IDNR representatives.
Bryant was one of
more than 250 people to attend Tuesday’s meeting at the University of
Illinois at Chicago, the first of five public hearings on the state’s draft fracking
“There are about a million fracking wells
nationwide. Industry itself has admitted that at least 5 percent of
those wells have failed, in case you’re not good at math, that’s 50,000
wells … What are the chances you live close to one of those wells,” asked Bryant, pointing out that the cement casing in the wells could
leak, causing the water and chemicals used in fracking to leak and
with Environment Illinois say it’s time to give Lake Michigan the
Halloween treat it deserves: protection from polluters.
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.
Less than one month after the Illinois Department of Natural
Resources (IDNR) opened registration for individuals and firms
interested in applying for hydraulic fracturing permits, a group of
protesters gathered in Chicago on Friday to say they don’t want the oil
and gas drilling technology in their state.
“We want Marc Miller
and all of the people at the Illinois Department of Natural Resources to
be sure they hear our message,” said Jessica Fujan, an organizer with Food & Water Watch.
“There is no such thing as safe fracking. For our water, for our air,
for our farmers and for our future, we want to ban fracking now.”
the 274 coal-fired power plants nationwide that discharge coal ash and
scrubber wastewater into public waters, 17 are in Illinois, according to a report released by Clean Water Action, the Sierra Club
and other conservation groups.
Not one of these Illinois
coal-fired power plants has a cap on the amount of toxic metals, such as
arsenic, boron, cadmium, mercury and selenium, allowed to be released
into waterways, according to the “Closing the Floodgates” report. Few of them have requirements to monitor or report the toxic discharges to federal authorities.
A few dozen activists and members of the Northern Illinois Light
Brigade gathered near the Palmer House Hilton Thursday evening in an
effort to shine some light, literally, on the pro-corporate and
conservative American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC).
day two of ALEC’s 40th annual three-day conference, which is being held at the downtown
hotel this week.
The light brigade illuminated large letter signs
that read “Fight To End ALEC,” and other slogans. The signs drew attention from
curious people on the street as well as looks from likely ALEC members
as they made their way in and out of the Palmer House.
Bill Weiss, a Kirkland, Illinois resident, said ALEC creates legislation
that hurts average people while filling the pockets of big corporations.
long as ALEC is allowed to continue to write our laws for us, they’re
never going to be laws for the people,” Weiss said. “They’re always
going to be laws for the corporations, and we can’t let that happen.”