The Illinois General Assembly recently approved HB4226 which would allow bobcat hunting in Illinois. There was much opposition to this bill and it passed in the Illinois Senate by only one vote. The bill was rushed through the Illinois Senate, being allowed to waive several rules. Full testimony by ecologists and other opponents was never considered.
Bobcat hunting was banned in Illinois in 1972 after the species became threatened. Bobcat populations have recovered in several counties - a recent SIU study found significant recovery in 17 counties in Southern Illinois. Bobcats are important apex predators that live on a diet of rodents and small mammals and contribute to an overall healthy ecosystem.
The bill that passed has significant issues. First, the bill does not limit the areas or set bobcat population standards for counties to restrict hunting; hunting can be allowed in any county in the state. Second, the proposed season overlaps portions of the bobcat breeding season, putting both bobcats with kittens and pregnant bobcats at risk. Finally, there is no emergency procedure to close the season if the species becomes threatened again.
There has been significant citizen opposition on this bill and it helped to almost defeat the bill in the Senate. Ask the Governor to veto this bill.
As you may have heard, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency recently made history by announcing that for the first time it will require carbon to be treated as a pollutant.
Ilinois citizens have a right to clean air and clean energy
A downstate legislator has successfully moved to skip a hearing in the House Environment committee in order to have an anti-climate change proposal heard on the floor. This is a very unusual motion and it is very unusual for this type of motion to be successful.
- HR782 is a proposal with language provided by the American Legislative Exchange Council, a controversial right wing think tank. The proposal calls for weakening or delaying carbon pollution standards through Illinois' state implementation of them. These standards have not even been proposed yet. Limits on carbon pollution area signature element of President Obama's Climate Action Plan, which is expected to be unveiled in June of 2014.
- HR782 is an attempt to erode public support and deny Illinois citizens critical protections from dangerous carbon pollution.
- HR782 is not in the interest of Illinois consumers, businesses, and families.
ALEC supporters are hoping these resolutions will discourage Governors nationwide and impede EPA's progress on climate. We can't let this happen in Illinois.
Carbon pollution standards will be good for Illinois' economy, despite erroneous claims in HR782.
- NRDC shows that we can significantly cut carbon pollution from power plants while adding 200,000 jobs nationally.
- Illinois would create over 6,000 (job years) under NRDC's carbon standards proposal.
- Consumers in Illinois would save $2.45 a month on their utility bills.
On Friday, Speaker Madigan and Republican Leader Durkin introduced HR1146. This resolution calls for Illinois’ nuclear power plants to be subsidized as part of any carbon pollution standards in Illinois.
Nuclear power is less and less competitive with renewable energy and energy efficiency. When the carbon pollution standards for existing coal plants are introduced by President Obama on June 2, Illinois’ state implementation plan should absolutely prioritize renewable energy and energy efficiency over all other sources of renewable energy. This resolution will make that harder to do.
Nuclear power creates tremendously dangerous waste which is accompanied by extreme health and safety risks. HR1146 would prioritize this source of energy, possibly in a way that would cause new nuclear plants to be built.
This resolution is especially disappointing after the General Assembly chose not to vote on the fix to the renewable energy portfolio standards this year.
Please contact your legislator today and send a strong message to legislators that renewable energy and energy efficiency must be Illinois’ energy priority.
Take Action! Enter your ZIP code below and our system will generate a letter for you to send to your legislator. Please personalize the letter as much as you can, particularly the subject line.
This bill removes the legal mandate requiring the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity (IDCEO) to provide coal education for Illinois children
Illinois state law currently requires the development of a coal education program for our state’s children? Hard to believe, but at a time when our state is under severe financial pressure and science is telling us that we need to move away from fossil fuels, a little-known law called the “Illinois Coal Technology Development and Assistance Act” requires the Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity to use tax dollars to produce and distribute coal educational materials for our kids.
In 2011 environmental organizations began a campaign to call for an end to the program, which included:
In 2012 the DCEO paid $116,000 for a professional evaluation of the coal education program that concluded the program needs to be revised and updated. We have a better idea. Let’s put an end to the program now. We think that there are better uses for our public funds.
State Representative Deborah Conroy (46th District) is sponsoring HB5660 that will amend the Coal Technology Development and Assistance Act, eliminating the mandate for “coal education”. Use the letter below to send a note directly to your legislator. Be sure to personalize it with information on why you think this program should be ended. Changing the subject line is particularly effective. Here is a fact sheet if you'd like to add more information.
Every year in communities of all shapes and sizes, citizens flock to farmers markets to purchase food direct from farmers and entrepreneurs. The popularity of farmers markets and local food has grown to the point that regional planning commissions, communities and economic development organizations are consistently including local food and farmers markets as part of their long term development plans.
Despite this growth and popularity, inconsistent and inappropriate regulations have persisted as a barrier to further growth and economic success. Currently, rules and regulations governing farmers markets vary dramatically from county to county, as there are no uniform statewide regulations for farmers markets. In some counties certain practices are allowed, such as using coolers with icepacks to keep perishable items at the proper temperature, while in some counties they are not. In some counties the rules surrounding the offering of samples are very accommodating to farmers markets, in others they are inappropriate and burdensome, and in other sampling isn’t even allowed. All of which is impacting the viability of farmers markets and consumer access to local food as farmers leave markets and go to those in counties where the regulations are more accommodating.
Illinois can do better. We should be doing everything we can to support farmers markets, the jobs they create and the businesses they incubate. HB5657/SB3380 sponsored by Representative Mike Tryon and Senator David Koehler creates a process to address the larger issue of inconsistency by setting clear timelines for the Illinois Department of Public Health’s Farmers Market Task Force to address its original purpose to help develop statewide administrative rules for farmers markets. In addition, HB5657/SB3380 would also create a new and exciting statewide sampling at farmers market license, product origin transparency requirements for produce sold at farmers markets, so consumers know where the produce they are buying comes from; and changes to Illinois’ Cottage Food law that addresses some county to county inconsistencies that have emerged.
HB5657/SB3380 is a major step forward in creating risk and scale appropriate regulations for farmers markets that will improve consumer access to locally produced food, support farmers markets as a whole and the farmers and entrepreneurs that call them home.
For maximum effectiveness... REPLACE THE WORDS "MY LOCAL" in the first line of the letter with the name of the farmers market at which you shop. Adding your personal story and changing the subject line will further help your note get noticed.
Home rule communities in Illinois are able to make many decisions to protect community health and the environment, but pesticide regulation is not one of these rights in Illinois.
The chemical industry and those that use their products do not want us to have a say in how and when pesticides are used in our own communities. That's why back in 1995 special interest groups including lawn care chemical applicators pressured lawmakers to suspend home rule laws specifically for pesticide use. It's time for us to take back our rights to control our communities by supporting this amendment.
Senator Don Harmon has introduced SB3565, which gives communities with populations over 50,000 in Cook County the ability regulate their own pesticide usage. This important bill is the first attempt in years to allow Illinois communities the ability to regulate pesticide usage. Please contact your legislator to ask him or her to support this bill!
For better effectiveness, please add your own comments on the issue to the form letter and please change the subject line to reflect your concerns. Finally, if your legislator is Senator Don Harmon, please thank him for introducing the bill!
Illinois' energy efficiency building codes require that new buildings built in Illinois meet certain standards of efficiency. These measures have saved new homeowners and building owners thousands of dollars in energy costs by reducing energy usage.
Last year, the environmental community worked with home builders to agree to minor changes to the bill that would make the codes more workable for home builders. Despite this good faith effort last year, the home builders are back and are trying to repeal the automatic update provision in the bill. The automatic update provision is one of the strongest provisions in this bill. This assures that Illinois' energy efficiency code for homes is always up to date with the latest technology.
HB1331 was rushed through the House Energy Committee and may be up for third reading at any time this week.
Please write to your legislator to oppose this legislation. Personalize the letter - especially the subject - with your thoughts and experiences with at home energy efficiency.
Act Now! Call your State Representative and ask them to Co-sponsor and Support H.B. 2335 and H.B. 3319
On Thursday, March 21st, the Illinois House of Representatives Environment Committee will be considering two pieces of legislation that will remove barriers for Illinois rural and urban farmers and gardeners to compost and we need your help to make sure they pass out of committee.
H.B. 3319 - Rural Composting (Representative Brad Halbrook) increases the type of materials that farmers can compost on farm as part of an on farm compost permit exemption that already exists. H.B. 2335 - Urban Composting - Representative Robyn Gabel will allow urban and suburban farms to have a similar but limited exemption for composting on farm. Currently, Illinois Environmental law that pertains to composting fits into the one-size-fits all category, the laws are designed to regulate large scale commercial operations with little thought regarding the realities of urban farming, community gardens and sustainable agriculture. These bill will create scale appropriate laws for composting and open new opportunities for urban and rural agricultural operations to compost on their farm or garden and create high quality compost to grow crops.
H.B. 3319 will allow farmers in rural areas to compost crop residue and other organic agricultural materials from other farms. This simple change will give farmers access to new materials to create high quality compost.
H.B. 2335 will allow urban farms and gardens to compost off-site materials on up to 2% of their property. Many farms in urban areas do not have enough soil to grow high quality local food. This will give urban farmers the ability to create their own high quality compost.
Please personalize this letter as much as possible, including your organization, if applicable, and your stories or experiences with farming, gardening, compost, and local food. Personalizing the subject and adding your story makes these letters much more effective.
For more than 40 years,
In 2005, the law was changed to cover only landowners who make their land available for hunting and recreational shooting. It eliminated protection to landowners who opened their property to the public for all other activities.
Openlands and nearly 100 supporting organizations have been working to restore these protections for seven years. This year, Senator Harmon has introduced SB1042 Amendment 1 and is working with all sides to come up with a solution to this problem. There are a huge number of new legislators who need to be educated on this issue.
Please send the e-mail below and be sure to personalize! Change the subject line and also start the e-mail by describing your personal experience with outdoor recreation and why you support improved access to outdoor recreation opportunities on private lands.
Illinois has an immediate opportunity to generate strong, long term economic growth by capitalizing on clean energy production, harnessing renewable energy over the next 13 years. In 2007, the state passed visionary legislation establishing the Illinois Renewable Portfolio Standard (RPS), a path to ensure 25 percent of our energy would come from clean sources by 2025. This was one of the strongest RPS programs in the nation and to date has had positive results:
- $4.16 billion total economic boost over the life of the projects
- $22.2 million in new, annual property taxes (70 percent of which goes to local school districts)
- $10.23 million annual lease payments for Illinois farmers & landowners
- Approximately 13,323 full-time equivalent jobs during construction periods with a total payroll of over $762 million
- Approximately 598 permanent jobs in rural Illinois areas with a total annual payroll of over $35 million
However, the program has unexpectedly stalled due to implementation challenges with the increase in municipal aggregation and investments in renewable energy will not resume until 2018. This poses a great financial loss and missed opportunity unless we adjust to current market realities.
There is an easy fix for this situation. Currently, RPS compliance is met through different methods for customers that buy power from utilities or ARES, which creates separate and constantly changing funding buckets. By moving the compliance payment to the distribution side of the bill, where customer number and load are constant and predictable, the three buckets are combined into one. As a result, the Illinois Power Agency will have a predictable and reliable fund to continue procure renewable energy and invest in a clean energy future as initially intended by the RPS.
Currently, SB103 and HB2864 contains a proposal for a fix to the RPS. This issue may be heard during the second week of veto session.
Send your legislators this information using the fill in form below. You are encouraged to customize your letter.
Veto session runs from November 27-29 and December 4-6. During this time period, we have a chance to finally pass the funding package for the Illinois Department of Natural Resources. On June 1 at 1AM when this bill came for a vote in the Illinois Senate, a majority of legislators supported the bill - 33 out of 59 voted yes. Unfortunately, the bill wasn't called soon enough and required 36 votes - a supermajority. Advocates and IDNR have worked all summer to lock up the needed votes, but your help will put us over the top.
When filling out the below action, your letter will reflect whether your state senator voted yes and will thank them and encourage them to vote yes again. If they voted no or present, your letter will focus on encouraging them to vote YES when the bill comes up again. You can view the roll call here. Letters will only be addressed to Senators at this time.
Please fill out the below letter and ask your legislators to support legislation to keep IDNR funded.
****You are encouraged to personalize this letter as much as possible, especially the subject line. If you are being directed to this action alert by an environmental, conservation, recreation, hunting, fishing, sporting group, etc. please be sure to indicate your group membership.****
In a last minute budget maneuver, $3.7 million was re-appropriated from the Renewable Energy Resources Trust Fund to the Illinois Green Economy Network (IGEN). This is over 75% of the money in this fund. This transfer of money from RERTF has already raised alarm in the solar business community, and undermined their ability to plan for a sustainable business future. Some businesses have already reduced employee hours or instituted lay-offs.
The RERTF assisted Illinois small businesses in their ability to hire and maintain local workforces. This fund provided rebates to consumers wishing to put renewable energy devices on their property. Over the last couple of years the program has been massively oversubscribed, oftentimes selling out within a day or two. The rebate provided an incentive for consumers, opening the market to families who may not have otherwise afforded renewable energy. This in turn provided jobs for Illinois residents. Solar installation is done by a local workforce; the money used to pay these workers stays in State.
The RERTF money is collected from ratepayers and exists to address ratepayer issues. The statute authorizing the RERF states that the money should be used “to provide grants, loans, and other incentives to foster investment in and the development and use of renewable energy resources….”. IGEN’s mission is to raise the awareness of sustainability throughout the State and train workers for sustainable careers. This newly trained workforce will have limited options in Illinois as renewable energy businesses will not be hiring.
Please personalize the below letter, particularly if you are a solar energy business owner. The letter will be sent to the Governor and your legislators.
SB3442 is an effort to prohibit local governments from regulating plastic bags in their own communities. This includes the sale, use, collection, and recycling of plastic bags in addition to banning community plastic bag bans and fees. The bill purports to put together a statewide recycling program, but the goals of this program are extremely weak and will not even move Illinois to the national recovery rate for plastic bags.
Allowing communities to innovate and lead the way on plastic bag reduction will lead to better outcomes than the proposal outlined by this bill.
Governor Quinn has vetoed this bill and now opponents are trying to override the veto. Ask your legislator to oppose the veto override.
SB2897 creates the Illinois Benefit Corporation Act. This act creates a new and voluntary corporate entity in Illinois. This new business opportunity allows benefit corporations to have a mission supporting its community, improving the environment or promoting social responsibility.
Under current law, corporations must maximize profits and legally cannot take into consideration other factors in business operations. Many businesses seek to not only make a profit, but also pursue a public benefit mission, such as environmental sustainability or social responsibility. Benefit corporation legislation is a completely voluntary new corporate form that does not impact existing corporations and does not provided tax incentives, but rather provides a free market opportunity for businesses to consider society and the environment in addition to profit.
This bill creates an important new tool for socially responsible businesses to pursue sustainability.
There is significant demand from the Illinois business community to allow the creation of benefit corporations. Other states have used the Benefit Corporation form to provide legal protection for companies wishing to help their communities while also making a profit. There are also visionary entrepreneurs in other states who could be attracted to Illinois if we had a Benefit Corporation law. Benefit corporations create jobs and provide a material positive impact on society and the environment by doing the following three things:
Seven other states have passed benefit corporation legislation - Maryland, New Jersey, New York, Vermont, California, Hawaii, and Virginia. By passing this legislation, Illinois will attract Benefit Corporations to the state.
HB 3881 will be voted on by the House of Representative in the next two days and the waste industry will be fiercely opposing it. We need your help to press our senators to vote yes on HB 3881.
Millions of taxpayers’ dollars have been invested across the City of Chicago and Cook County to preserve and restore open space. Now, waste companies want to use that land for dumping, hurting our environment and affecting our quality of life.
Introduced by State Rep. Marcus Evans (D-Chicago) and supported by dozens of community and environmental groups, HB 3881 will preserve Chicago’s 30-year-old landfill moratorium that has protected the Lake Calumet region from further landfilling. Without a landfill ban, waste companies will once again be able to ship garbage into our communities.
Help pass HB 3881 to ban landfills in Chicago and Cook County. Contact your state representative and tell them to support the landfill ban by voting yes on HB 3881!