The Illinois Clean Jobs Bill (SB1485/HB2607) presents an unprecedented opportunity for Illinois to improve our economy while ensuring a cleaner environment. Passage of this this bill will ensure that Illinois becomes a regional clean energy leader. Please take a moment to contact your state legislators and Governor Rauner to let them know that you support the Illinois Clean Jobs bill (SB1485/HB2607)!
SB3130 seeks to exempt seed libraries, and other noncommercial, interpersonal seed sharing activities from the burdensome and unnecessary requirements of the Illinois Seed Law. The application of this law to seed sharing activities would be illogical and inappropriate, but the definition of sell includes “giving away,” creating a gray area.
Seed libraries asked for greater certainty after two states began enforcing their seed laws against seed libraries in 2014. Both states have now reversed course and have made it clear that they support seed sharing activities. We want Illinois to show that it supports seed sharing too!
The Seed Law requires testing at least 400 seeds of every lot, which is not a scale that reflects seed sharing activities. The cost of testing is set by regulation at $4 for germination and $5 for noxious weed seed tests--$9, or even $5, is very unreasonable for each of many small donations of seed entering a seed library. Seed sharing should make gardening less expensive, not more.
Seed libraries should also be able to decide the labeling and record-keeping systems that work for them. The record keeping requirements of the Seed Law refer to records and samples pertaining to “shipments.” If applied literally, each individual who contributes seed to a seed library would have to keep records and samples for 2 years and allow the IL Department of Agriculture to inspect them “during customary business hours.” This truly does not sound like it was meant to apply to noncommercial, interpersonal seed sharing.
Regulators fear that unregulated seed swapping will expose us to the possibility of intentional, malicious introductions of noxious weed seed or poison-producing seed. We cannot let such extreme, hypothetical fears jeopardize participation in the positive and enriching activity of seed sharing.
President Obama’s Clean Power Plan—the first-ever federal plan to limit dangerous carbon pollution from power plants—presents an unprecedented opportunity for Illinois to improve our health, environment, and economy. In order to ensure Illinois creates a strong and just state implementation plan when it comes to curbing carbon pollutions, please take a moment to contact the Director of the Illinois EPA, Lisa Bonnett, and your state legislators in support of the plan.
Trees are fundamental to natural areas throughout Illinois: they provide wildlife habitat, prevent soil erosion, and filter water. They are the literal roots holding an ecosystem together. Despite these essential benefits provided by trees, perpetrators of illegal logging in conservation areas throughout the state get away without facing substantial consequences.
Amendments to the Illinois Wrongful Tree Cutting Act (HB5577) would allow a conservation or preservation property owner to be adequately compensated for all of the damage done to a natural area by illegal logging. The current law limits recovery for damages to three times the logged value of the trees and does not take into account other damages done to conservation and preservation properties when trees are cut unlawfully.
Cutting a tree or trees improperly can lead to soil erosion, spread of invasive species, damage to other flora and fauna - including endangered species - and other impacts to the surrounding natural area. The current law falls short of compensating for any of these losses because it only considers the stumpage value of the trees lost, which is not enough to allow the wronged land owners to clean up the mess left behind. To properly compensate the land trusts, conservation easement owners, forest preserves, park districts, and others that oversee natural areas, a change to the law is needed.
The proposed change to the Illinois Wrongful Tree Cutting Act would provide owners of conservation and preservation properties the funds necessary to remediate damages done to their properties, and serve as a deterrent to those who would knowingly and illegally cut trees in these protected areas.
One-third of food produced in North America depends on pollination by honey bees, including nearly 95 varieties of fruits and other foods of high nutritional value to all of Illinois's citizens. Over the past several years, documented incidents of colony collapse disorder and excessive honey bee mortality have been at a record high, with some beekeepers losing large portions of their operations and suffering reduced production of their valuable honey. Illinois saw a dramatic 62.4% loss of honey bee colonies in 2014-2015.
Scientists have linked the systemic use of neonicotinoid insecticides to the rapid decline of honey bees. The Saving Illinois's Pollinators Act (HB5900/SB2965) will make it unlawful to apply any neonicotinoid insecticides on any public lands owned or maintained by Illinois, and outdoor residential settings, including landscaping, ornamental, or other outdoor applications in Illinois.
The Illinois Department of Natural Resources has recently proposed changes to two sections of the Illinois Administrative Code that will allow for hunting and trapping of bobcats in southern and western Illinois. This rule is on first notice and you will have 45 days to comment. Please add your name to the petition below by March 11. In addition, you are highly encouraged to submit your own comment by mail to:
Should we settle for an outdated, stagnant energy system that struggles to meet new EPA carbon standards, regularly raises rates, and fails to generate new jobs? Or, should we move toward a cleaner, more reliable and affordable energy economy while creating thousands of new jobs?
The Illinois Clean Jobs Bill (HB2607/SB1485), will create thousands of jobs, support Illinois businesses, and protect the environment by growing the renewable energy and energy efficiency sectors. In short, this is a win-win-win opportunity for Illinois. But in order to ensure Illinois takes advantage of the opportunity before us, we need your help!
Currently, the Clean Jobs Bill 61 co-sponsors in the House and 28 in the Senate but you're receiving this message because your State Senator has yet to sign on as a co-sponsor. It is vital that these legislators hear from constituents like you!
Please use the action below to contact your legislator and ask them to CO-SPONSOR the Clean Jobs Bill, or SB1485, and customize as much as possible - especially the subject line - for maximum results.
We recently learned that the budget of the Endangered Species Protection Board was zeroed out by the Illinois Department of Natural Resources. We urge IDNR to fully fund and staff the Endangered Species Protection Board in a way that preserves the science needed to protect all species and maintains the board's independent decision making ability.
Illinois State Museums provide important environmental education opportunities to thousands of visitors each year. Governor Rauner recently announced that these museums are targeted for closure in the next fiscal year. In addition to important environmental education visits, facilities such as the Dickson Mounds and Lockport Gallery provide important learning facilities for critical conservation areas such as Emiquon NWR and TNC Preserve and the I&M Canal. Closing these museums during peak tourism season, when our children are on summer break, would be a huge loss for Illinois and it's families.
Per this announcement, the Illinois State Museum headquarters in Springfield will be closed, as will be the Research and Collections Center, which hosts 12 million objects vital to understanding Illinois's cultural and natural heritage. The other branch facilities targeted for closure include Dickson Mounds in Lewistown (50,000 visitors last year); the Illinois Artisans Shop and Chicago Gallery in the Thompson Center (Chicago) (103,000 visitors); the Lockport Gallery in Lockport (14,000 visitors); and the Southern Illinois Art Gallery at Rend Lake (18,000 visitors).
Please take action to tell the Governor and your state legislators to keep these museums open. We encourage you to share your personal story about visits to these museums, a list of which you can find below.
Please take action to support food scrap composting legislation in Illinois. These bills are well on their way to passage, but we need to let legislators know that these bills are important and that more work needs to be done to support this industry in Illinois.
Food scrap composting will provide benefits to Illinois' environment and economy. Read the report here.
A bill that is currently moving through Illinois legislature will amend the wildlife code and remove the prohibition of taking bobcats in the State – previously banned since 1972 because the species became threatened. The current estimated population of bobcats is around 3,000 with most of the population located in the southern region. Their diet consists of mainly rabbits, squirrels, and other rodents making them an important part of our ecosystem.
On March 3, 2015 the Illinois Senate filed SB274 Amendment 1 which will allow nearly $600 million in dedicated fund sweeps, including more than $37 million from the Open Space Lands Acquisition and Development (OSLAD) grant fund and nearly $5 million from the Natural Areas Acquisition Fund (NAAF).
These dedicated funds are needed to pay for current projects already underway in Illinois. These are not surplus funds. Money dedicated to OSLAD provides grants to local governments for the acquisition and development of parks and open space while NAAF provides funding for the acquisition and preservation of some of the most biologically significant natural areas in the state.
Unlike other special funds, OSLAD is a matching grant reimbursement program that cannot be paid to the local park district or agency until the grant project is completed. Therefore, while the balance may appear high, these funds have already been dedicated to specific projects and are not “surplus”. The Natural Areas Acquisition Fund is one of the few state sources for acquiring high quality natural areas and the only source of money for IDNR to manage its own natural areas and operate the Illinois Nature Preserve System.
Sweeping these important, dedicated conservation dollars would eliminate land acquisition projects and negatively impact the local communities where current projects are being completed. Contact your legislator today and ask them to oppose SB274 until the OSLAD and NAAF fund sweeps are removed.
Enter your information below to send a note to your legislator. It is recommended that you personalize the letter - especially the subject line, particularly if you have stories about the importance of OSLAD or NAAF funding.
Should we settle for an outdated, stagnant energy system that struggles to meet new EPA carbon standards, regularly raises rates, and fails to generate new jobs? Or, should we move toward a cleaner, more reliable and affordable energy economy while creating thousands of new jobs?
On Thursday, February 19 a bi-partisan group of legislators introduced HB2607/SB1485, or the Illinois Clean Jobs Act, which will create thousands of jobs, support Illinois businesses, and protect the environment. In short, this is a win-win-win opportunity for Illinois.
Please use the action below to contact your legislator. It is set up to send a THANK YOU note to our legislative co-sponsors and a note to CO-SPONSOR to the legislators that have not signed on. Customize as much as possible - especially the subject line - for maximum results.
Your state legislators will be making important decisions about the energy future of Illinois this year.
Should Illinois settle for an outdated, stagnant energy system that struggles to meet new EPA clean energy standards, regularly raises rates on customers, and fails to generate new jobs? Or-- should we move toward a cleaner, more reliable and affordable energy economy while creating thousands of new jobs?
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. Although there are required controls on the amount of mercury, sulfur dioxide, and nitrogen oxide power plants can emit, there are currently no limits on carbon pollution. The costs of this lapse include worsening air quality, causing severe respiratory health issues for children and increasing numbers of extreme weather events, like floods and tornados.
Nearly 100,000 workers in Illinois are employed in clean energy jobs. The clean energy industry – including renewable energy and energy efficiency – is roughly the size of Illinois’ real estate and accounting industries combined. That figure is growing at an impressive rate of 9% per year and can grow even higher if Illinois commits itself to proven technologies in renewable energy and energy efficiency.
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.
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!