Illinois Environmental Community Legislative Successes

Illinois Environmental Council Advocates

The 2019 Illinois General Assembly legislative session is expected to end today. With the growing strength of our community and a legislature that increasingly prioritizes environmental issues, IEC is proud to announce that the environmental community had one of the most successful sessions ever.

We passed a broad and ambitious agenda, defeated damaging legislation, and secured important appropriations in the budget. This session has proved that elections matter. Our new governor, Gov. Pritzker, made a bold commitment to renewable energy and that momentum to tackle our biggest environmental challenges extended to the new legislature as well, where both chambers voted to position Illinois to begin regulating our carbon emissions for the first time.

This morning, we are still waiting to review any expected budget or capital plans. We’ll send a note about the results as we work to advance budgets that support clean energy, preserve natural resources, and protect our air and water. We hope to avoid reliance on fund sweeps or any cuts to agency staff and are actively fighting penalties to electric vehicles as a proposed revenue source.

Below is a list of our big environmental wins this session:


Coal Ash Pollution Prevention Act — SB9 (Bennett- Ammons)
IEC, along with many of our partners, heavily negotiated this major legislation to protect clean water and public health. This bill creates a regulatory framework to ensure polluters, not taxpayers, pay for needed closure and cleanup, guarantees public participation and transparency, and provides Illinois EPA the funds it needs to properly oversee closure and cleanup. SB 9 pass 77-35-1 in the House and 39-9-7 in the Senate.

Dirty Industry Bill–HB1633 (Hoffman/Hastings)
This was an ALEC bill that protected new pollution projects from criticism and enhanced penalties on criminal actions already illegal in Illinois. Sen. Hastings heard the concerns and demonstrated the courage to stand up against the bill, stopping it from advancing. HB1633 passed 77-28-3 in the House but was tabled in the Senate.

Solar and EV Ready Construction — HB2652 (Halpin-Belt)
This legislation will allow expansion of building codes to include solar, electric vehicle and other supplemental codes. HB2652 passed 112-1 in the House and 54-0 in the Senate.

Solar Opportunities for Universities — SB211 (Bennett-Stuart)
This legislation addresses regulatory barriers to university procurement of solar and wind power.  An initiative of SIU, this will increase the length of time that a university can use to pay back wind and solar power purchases. SB211 passed 49-0 in the Senate and 108-8 in the House.

County Wind Development — HB2988 (Williams/Cunningham)
This bill clarifies current law by making it even more explicit that only counties and municipalities have zoning authority over wind farm development. This change will facilitate wind development to facilitate growth, as it has since 2007, under the regulatory oversight of the county and municipal governments in Illinois. HB2988 passed 43-7-1 in the Senate and 95-12-1 in the House.

Resource- Efficient Cannabis — HB1438 (Steans/Cassidy)
IEC worked with legislators to add new Illinois specific, nation-leading standards and administrative framework to this bill that help mitigate some of the negative impacts that would otherwise result from expanding the cannabis industry in Illinois. The inclusion of our proposal makes this the “greenest” cannabis bill in the nation. This bill passed just moments ago! Check out our latest blog post on it here. This bill passed 38-17-2 in the Senate and 66-47 in the House.

Taking Action on Climate Change — HB3481 (Gabel/Ellman)
By removing a provision in existing statute, this bill authorizes Illinois to take action on climate change by regulating greenhouse gases. This vote on this bill demonstrates a pro-climate action majority for the first time in both chambers. It is the first stand alone climate bill to receive a majority roll call and move to the governor. HB3481 passed 66-44-1 in the House and 36-17 in the Senate.


Wrongful Tree Cutting — HB3105 (Edly-Allen/Stadelman)
This legislation fairly compensates owners of protected lands who have suffered damages from illegal logging. HB3105 passed 113-0 in the House and 53-0 in the Senate.

Conservation Easements — HB2601 (Morgan/Bush)
Makes changes to the law on conservation easement to encourage greater flexibility in protecting open space and conservation areas. HB2601 passed 56-0-1 in the Senate and 97-0 in the House.

Removing Endangered Species Protections — HB2425 (Chesney)
We were able to stop HB2425/SB1336, bill that jeopardize endangered species by eliminating certain requirements for permits, notice and public hearings. This bill would have left the protection of federal endangered species in the hands of the Trump administration, as they actively rolling back protection of endangered species. HB2425 was held with a vote of 60-47-3 in the House.


Promoting Soil Health — HB2737 (Halpin/Bennett)
The Soil Water and Conservation Districts (SWCDs) are an important resource for farmers in Illinois. This legislation adds soil health practices to the list of resources that SWCDs can provide for farmers. The bill passed the House 112-0 and 59-0 in the Senate.

Enhancing Local Food Opportunities — HB2505 (West/Fowler)
In redefining the definition of “local”, this bill will improve opportunities for the state to purchase local food. This bill passed unanimously out of both chambers. 112-0 in the House and 56-0 in the Senate

Supporting Nutrient Loss Reduction Goals — SR52 (Bennett)
This resolution calls for the state to support the Nutrient Loss Reduction Strategy.


Microplastics —  SB1392 (Morrison/Batinick)
With the growing threat of plastics in our water and our food sources, IEC introduced legislation that requires a study of the threat of microplastics and opportunities for regulatory and legislative protections. The bill passed 118-0 in the House and 57-0 in the Senate.

Equitable Water Rates — SB1724 (Harris/Ford)
This legislation requires that the University of Illinois-Chicago study the setting of water rates in northeastern Illinois. Subject to appropriation, the study will take into consideration factors when setting rates, challenges for low-income communities and opportunities for greater collaboration and equity. This bill passed the House 108-8 and 49-0 in the Senate.

Creating Water Infrastructure Jobs — SB2146 (Villivalam/Slaughter)
This bill will create funding and resources for water jobs training programs and those from disadvantaged communities that are placed in them. As of writing, this bill has not yet passed the Senate, but is expected to do so today. The bill passed the House 103-11 and will have a concurrence vote in the Senate today.

Dirty Industry Bill–HB1633 (Hoffman/Hastings)
To ensure that state revolving funds for water infrastructure can be used broadly by communities, this bill will set forth a rulemaking by IEPA to clarify the use of SRF for ‘set-aside’ programs, such as consolidation. Passed the House 108-0 and the Senate 56-0.


State Action on Waste — HB3068 (Costa-Howard/Ellman)
This bill will require the state to develop a comprehensive plan to address solid waste. This legislation also provides for the establishment of recycling programs at state agencies with specific goals around waste reduction. 104-6 in the House and 54-0 in the Senate.

Bulk Containers —  HB3440 (Guzzardi/Steans)
This legislation will cut down waste by ensuring that retailers may offer the use of personal containers for bulk foods. This clarifies uncertainties surrounding this issue and prevent municipalities from unnecessarily banning the use of personal containers in the future. 91-6 in the House and 54-0 in the Senate.


Ethylene Oxide — SB1852/SB1854 (Durkin/Curran, Mason/Bush)
IEC worked with Senators Curran and Bush, and Representatives Durkin, Mason, and Yingling to craft legislation that strengthens protections against ethylene oxide.  SB1852 regulates sterilization facilities such as Sterigenics and Medline, the two biggest emitters in the state. It provides a pathway to keep bad actors such as Sterigenics closed and lowers the emissions level of Medline to the lowest permitted emissions in the country. SB1854 is a step towards regulating Vantage, a manufacturing company that emits a large level of ethylene oxide, by requiring emissions monitoring, dispersion modeling, and giving the IEPA the ability to reopen and cap their emissions permit. SB1852 passed the House 108-0-1 and the Senate 53-0. SB1854 passed the House 90-17 and the Senate 55-1.

BPA Receipts — HB2076 (Villa/Gillespie)
BPA (bisphenol A) is an industrial chemical that has been used to make certain plastics and has been found to be a threat to human health. Some retail establishments still use receipt paper that is made with BPA, presenting a risk to both the workers and customers. This bill prohibits the manufacture and distribution of paper with BPA for the purpose of banking and business records. Passed the Senate 51-0 and the House 114-0.

EJ Permit Notice — SB1847 (Munoz/Mah)
IEC supported legislation this session that requires enhanced notice and opportunities for public participation for air permits within environmental justice communities. SB1847 passed the Senate 47-0 and the House 101-11.

Let’s keep up the fight,

Colleen Smith
Legislative Director, IEC

Redistributed from the IEC newsletter, “That’s a wrap! Check out our huge enviro wins this session!” 5/31/19

Gubernatorial Candidate Forum on Environmental Policies and Plans

Come See What the Candidates for Governor of Illinois Think About Environmental Issues


The University of Illinois, Chicago with Sierra Club Illinois is hosting a forum for candidates for Illinois Governor to tell us about plans for climate change, preservation of Illinois water supply and nature preserves.  See the information from the UIC events website below:

Gubernatorial Candidate Forum on the Environment

October 14, 2017

11:00 AM – 12:30 PM

Join us as we hear from candidates for Illinois Governor about our environmental challenges. What are their plans to act on climate change? Conserve Illinois’ wild places? Protect our water supply? As Trump tries to take America backward, will Illinois step up to lead on the environment?
Register at
Paid for by Sierra Club Illinois PAC. A copy of our report filed with the State Board of Elections is (or will be) available on the Boards official website or for purchase from the State Board of Elections, Springfield, IL.


Imperiled Future Energy Jobs Act

Illinois Environmental Council

The Act:

  • passed 7 months ago
  • with bipartisan support
  • Ameren committed to achieve a specific energy efficiency savings target
  • read more

The fall-short proposal by Ameren:

  • Loss of energeny efficiency
  • Loss of renewable energy/more fossil fuels
  • Loss of job training
  • Loss of zero emission standard

Take Action

Send a message to the ICC.


Protect Our National Monuments

Defend our Monuments

Action Item -July 10 DEADLINE:

Send an [editable] email [via NRDC] to Interior Sec’y Zinke, asking him to protect our national monuments. The details also appear in the above linked page/form.
President Trump is considering stripping away protections for some of America’s most cherished national monuments, including Bears Ears in Utah, Grand Staircase-Escalante, also in Utah, and the Northeast Canyons and Seamounts off of Cape Cod.

Trump’s executive order requires Secretary Zinke to review all monuments created since 1996 — an unprecedented assault on our natural heritage and the Antiquities Act itself, and a clear signal that the president’s ultimate goal is to open them up to dirty, dangerous drilling and mining operations for profit.

Tell Secretary Zinke to stand up to President Trump and maintain protections for America’s cherished national monuments and wildlands.

IL Plans to Take Clean Energy Funds from Your Electric Bill to Balance Budget

Red Telephone
Click Phone to Call

IL has passed the Future Energy Jobs Act, guaranteeing a portion of your electric bill to be dedicated to clean energy–solar funds–for low-income communities and job training.

Now the General Assembly plans to take $millions from this Act and use it instead to pay for State government. With the presidential administration attacking our most crucial clean air, water, and climate protections, leadership in the states is more important than ever.

Use this easy tool (click on the Red Telephone) from Environmental Defense Fund to call your State Representative today!

You will be called back immediately, connected with your Rep, and the talking points will be visible.

Anti-climate, Anti-conservation Illinois Budget

This is time sensitive. Contact your IL Senate & House rep now.

Governor Rauner has called state legislators into special session from June 21 to June 30 to address the state’s budget crisis. The Governor has endorsed the Senate Republican budget plan that would sweep hundreds of millions of dollars from clean energy and conservation funds, damaging the environment.

  • Clean Energy Programs Would Be Devastated
  • Natural Resource Funds Would Also be Swept – Damaging Conservation Programs 
Illinois Environmental Council
Illinois Environmental Council

Save Marine Life from Seismic Blasting

Humpback whale and calf

Email Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross.


The Trump administration has proposed permits for dangerous large-scale seismic blasting off the Atlantic coast, from Delaware down to Florida. Seismic airguns are a dangerous and destructive method for oil companies to test for the presence of oil and gas under the ocean. But scientists have determined that using these deafening airguns can injure or even kill whales, dolphins and many other species of wildlife.

This is another boon to Big Oil that leaves marine wildlife and coastal communities to pay the price — and we must fight back. Tell Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross to reject these permits and keep our Atlantic coast off-limits to Big Oil.

6/16/17 Town Hall Meeting of IL Reps Robyn Gabel & Laura Fine – Notes

Lynn B. attended the Town Hall meeting of IL State Reps Robyn Gabel and Laura Fine in Glenview on June 16th. If you were not able to attend and you are interested in what was discussed, here (below) is a summary written up by Lynn:

Laura Fine (17th) and Robyn Gabel (18th)
attended by Lynn B.

Passed 490 bills in this session, most with bipartisan involvement.

• Automatic voter registration (2 million eligible voters who are not registered in Illinois)
• Regulate trampoline parks
• Medicaid will allow second pair of glasses within a two year period after corrective eye surgery
• Immigration – local agencies are not required to enforce federal immigration laws
• Funding program to replace lead poisoned windows
• $15 minimum wage by 2022
• HB 3539 Equal Pay for women – will the governor sign it?

Health Care (Insurance committee-Fine chair)

If the ACA is overturned, try to have policies in place to protect those who would lose insurance. Bills passed this session

• Illinois children are covered until age 26
• Insurance sold in Illinois is required to cover per-existing conditions
• Better coverage for eating disorders
• Law enforcement will be required to have 8 hours of mental health training every three years
• Prescription synchronization – pharmacies are allowed to arrange patients prescriptions to all be filled at same time
• HB 40 – if Roe is overturned, abortion will remain legal in Illinois and will be covered by Medicaid and employers health insurance. GOVERNOR IS NOW SAYING HE WON’T SIGN


• Great Lakes Restoration – resolution to keep 300 million in funding from federal government
• Now filing resolution to continue to follow the Paris Climate Accord
• Solar panels allowed on homes and businesses and open lots for communities
• Last year passed Clean Jobs Bill – Gabel (Chair of the Green Caucus) noted that under this bill, communities can buy 100% renewable energy for electricity aggregation. Evanston has done so. WHAT ABOUT OUR COMMUNITIES?)


Current proposed bill is based on an evidence based formula with 27 aspects of students being considered to determine spending per student.
Governor says it gives too much to Chicago (Chicago has 20% of the students, 15% of the funding and has to fund their pension unlike the rest of the state)

Criminal Justice reform – now spend more in Illinois on prison than schools
Passed bail reform – if minor offense and low bail (which they are unable to pay), release to await trial

Term Limits

Gabel supports term limits on leaders but not members

In studies of other states with term limits, found that is there were term limits of members they were more often “professional politicians”, had fewer constituent meetings and mid-level bureaucrats had much more power (not elected)


Illinois the 5th wealthiest state and about 50th in education funding

We have a flat income tax unlike most states. Need a constitutional amendment to change it, requires 2/3 vote and then 60% in general election to pass

Workman’s Compensation

Reform bill in 2011 expected a 18% drop in insurance costs to employers that never happened.
Recently passed a bill to give insurance board more authority to regulate costs.
Also passed a bill to form public-private partnership and a $10million insurance pool for Workman’s Compensation (like Missouri) still waiting for signature of Governor

Other bills

To allow for sale of Thompson Center
Procurement reform to allow agencies to purchase supplies more easily
Government consolidation – allow some of our 7000 forms of government to consolidate (townships, road districts, etc)

Tell Gov. Bruce Rauner to join the United States Climate Alliance

ACTION ITEM – Call IL Gov. Bruce Rauner to ask him to join the United States Climate Alliance.
Bruce Rauner R-IL 217-782-0244
Your sample script:
Hi, my name is [NAME] and I’m a constituent from [your town].
I’m calling because I am extremely alarmed by the Trump Administration’s decision to withdraw the US from the Paris Climate Agreement, and I ask that the Governor join the United States Climate Alliance with other state leaders to maintain the climate goals set forth in the agreement. Climate change is a real threat to our safety, our health and our economy, and we must do everything we can to fight it. Thank you for your time and attention.
[IF LEAVING A VOICEMAIL: please leave your full street address to ensure your call is tallied]

Demand that the EPA adopt tough restrictions on the toxic herbicides imperiling monarchs

ACTION ITEM – Click this link to send an editable email (via NRDC) to EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt, to Demand that the EPA adopt tough restrictions on the toxic herbicides imperiling monarchs.
The number of monarch butterflies has declined by more than 80% in the last 20 years. What’s to blame? Big Ag’s use of potent glyphosate-based herbicides like Monsanto’s Roundup is killing off native milkweed plants that monarchs need to survive. Milkweed is the only food source for monarch caterpillars. So no milkweed means no monarchs.