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:

ENERGY

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.

CONSERVATION

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.

SUSTAINABLE AGRICULTURE

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.

WATER

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.

WASTE

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.

TOXICS

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