Declaring, "The time has come for Illinois to take a bold step toward energy independence," Governor Rod Blagojevich sent a proposal for a Sustainable Energy Plan to the Illinois Commerce Commission on February 14th. The ambitious proposal calls for both a Renewable Energy Portfolio Standard and an Energy Efficiency Portfolio Standard. If implemented, the Renewable Energy Standard would make Illinois the second biggest windpower state in the country by 2012, and the Energy Efficiency Standard would reduce annual load growth of electricity consumption by 25% by the year 2017.
The Governor announced his Sustainable Energy Plan as part of his State of the State address. If you go to ELPC's website at http://www.elpc.org and click on (QuickTime video or MPEG video) in the lead story, you can watch the one-minute excerpt from Governor Blagojevich's speech in which he announces the plan, and you can read ELPC's press release commending Governor Blagojevich on this important announcement.
"We applaud Governor Blagojevich for this clean energy initiative," said ELPC Executive Director Howard Learner. "Wind power is good for jobs, good for rural economic development and good for the environment. This is a key pro-environmental step that will create good new jobs and spur rural economic development in some of the places in Illinois that need it most."
ELPC Executive Director Howard Learner and Staff Attorney Shannon Fisk presented oral arguments before the Federal District Court in Milwaukee in late January and, then again, in early February, on two of the lawsuits that ELPC filed against the U.S. Forest Service to protect the Chequamegon-Nicolet National Forest in Northern Wisconsin. Three proposed timber sales (totaling nearly 25,000 acres of logging) and related activities are causing harmful impacts on clean water, habitat, biodiversity and threatened species in the forested areas.
The Chequamegon-Nicolet was identified as one of the "10 most endangered national forests" in the nation in the recent "Endangered Forests, Endangered Freedoms" report by 130 environmental groups. It is one of the most heavily-logged national forests in the Eastern region (which stretches from Minnesota to Maine). At the cutting rate employed over the last 10 yeas, every single logable acre would be cut in 45 years. The harmful impacts of such extensive logging on waterways, habitat and related natural resources and conservation goals are significant.
ELPC filed the federal court lawsuits on behalf of the Madison-based Habitat Education Center against the Forest Service for violating the National Environmental Policy Act, the National Forest Management act and the Endangered Species Act by approving timber sales and logging activities in the Cayuga, McCaslin and Northwest Howell project areas of the National Forest. The cases are being heard by Federal District Court Judge Lynn Adelman in the Eastern District of Wisconsin (Milwaukee).
This is a vital case challenging the Bush Administration's harmful natural resources policies and protecting Northern Wisconsin rivers and lakes, biodiversity and key wildlife habitat. This litigation clearly exemplifies the key differences in natural resources protection values versus clearcutting in large areas of the Chequamegon-Nicolet National Forest. Click here to read more.
The Bush Administration announced recently plans to remove large sections of the Clean Air Act and replace them with the industry-friendly "Clear Skies" initiative. See the Chicago Tribune's article at http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/nationworld/chi-0501270332jan27,1,1200283.story?ctrack=1&cset=true
The Bush Administration's proposed plan will allow 520% more mercury pollution. In addition, the plan calls for loosening the cap on NOx (smog), thus allowing 68% more NOx pollution. Finally, the Bush plan weakens protections to allow 4.5 million tons of SO2, (soot and acid rain) by 2010, thus allowing a 225% increase of SO2 pollution.
This legislation will result in many steps in the wrong direction. Click here to fax your senators today, asking them to vote for truly healthier and cleaner skies by voting against the so-called "clear skies" initiative and keep the Clean Air Act in tact.
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ELPC Senior Attorney Albert Ettinger and ELPC Environmental Law Fellow Carrie LaSeur are representing the Iowa Environment Council, the Hawkeye Flyfishing Association and Sierra Club in working to bring Iowa water quality standards into compliance with the Clean Water Act. Carrie and others recently presented their case to the Iowa Environmental Protection Commission and warned that they would take legal steps if the Iowa DNR fails to meet the Clean Water Act in a reasonable time.
Click here to read, "Why take so long to improve Iowa's water quality" in the Des Moines Register.
When the Wauconda wastewater treatment plant filed for a permit to expand its facility, ELPC Senior Attorney Albert Ettinger objected to the permit on behalf of the Sierra Club and Prairie Rivers Network. Even though the permit was approved by the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency, ELPC appealed the permit to the Pollution Control Board, arguing that the increased waste would have harmful impacts on the Fiddle Creek Wetland area and the Fox River.
The final permit now has strong environmental guidelines for Wauconda's wastewater treatment plant - in fact, the facility will test for more pollutants than any other facility in Illinois. The settlement will protect the Fiddle Creek Wetland area and the Fox River from phosphorus and other forms of pollution and requires more rigorous testing of well and groundwater.
Click here to read, "Agreement reached on sewer expansion" in the Daily Herald.
Two weeks ago, we reported that President Bush has proposed to eliminate all funding for Amtrak - a move that would eliminate this important transportation alternative. We asked you to fax your members of Congress to tell them to oppose the President's plan. The response has been overwhelming. Already, ELPC supporters have deluged Congress with almost 2,000 faxes, and it is making a difference. Senator Durbin (D-IL) held a press conference in Union Station blasting the proposal. Senator Coleman (R-MN) has said that "we need to keep the trains running in Minnesota, not just the Northeast." Thirty-five U.S. Senators have signed a letter supporting Amtrak. But the fight is far from over. Please encourage your friends and colleagues to keep sending those faxes. They are making a difference. To send your fax, please click on http://actionnetwork.org/campaign/save_Amtrak.
The Environmental Law & Policy Center is pleased to announce that Ricca Slone has joined us on a short-term basis as an ELPC Fellow. Ricca will be working as a consultant on land use planning, water supply and rural water quality and other issues.
Ricca recently completed eight years in the Illinois General Assembly as a State Representative (Democrat) from the Peoria area. She served as the Chair of the Appropriations Committee - Higher Education and as a Vice Chair of the Environment and Energy Committee. Ricca is an attorney who practiced in the Peoria area and served as the Chair of the Illinois State Bar Association's Environmental Law Section Council (1994 - 1995).
Ricca received her law degree from the University of Illinois School of Law (1990), along with a graduate degree in Public Administration from Ohio State University, and an undergraduate degree in anthropology from Washington University in St. Louis, Missouri.
You can reduce hazardous waste by making an effort to purchase products that do not contain mercury. For lighting, low mercury fluorescent bulbs and high pressure sodium lamps are two examples of products that do not contribute to hazardous waste. Readily available, national brands such as GE Lighting, Philips Lighting, and Osram Sylvania, manufacture low mercury fluorescent lamps, compact fluorescent and high pressure sodium lamps. ELPC uses Philips low mercury fluoescents in our office space.
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