Illinois Legislators to Trump: We Will Not Roll Back Historic Environmental Laws
Illinois state legislators announced Friday a series of legislative proposals that would block any weakened environmental and worker protection standards from taking effect in Illinois, and also respond to President Trump's decision to pull out of the Paris agreement.
House Bill 1438 and Senate Bill 2212, introduced by chief sponsors Rep. Juliana Stratton and Sen. Daniel Biss, would maintain existing environmental and worker safeguards in Illinois, even if they are weakened at the federal level.
President Trump, his administration and leaders in Congress have signaled their intent to roll back federal environmental and labor protections, which in many cases would authorize Illinois to weaken its own standards.
"Donald Trump is beginning a race to the bottom by dismantling the EPA and rolling back protections for our air, water and natural resources," said Jack Darin, director of Sierra Club Illinois Chapter. "Illinois does not have to follow Trump backward when it comes to the health and safety of our environment and our workers."
HB 1438/SB 2212 would bar Illinois agencies from following the federal government in lowering standards required by these federal laws: Clean Air Act, Clean Water Act, Safe Drinking Water Act, Endangered Species Act, Occupational Safety and Health Act, Mine Safety and Health Act and Federal Labor Standards Act.
"With the Trump administration's unfortunate announcement of the United States' withdrawal from the Paris accord, it is now up to states and localities to keep fighting for environmental justice," said Rep. Juliana Stratton (D-Chicago). "I am proud to be the chief sponsor of House Bill 1438 because we all have a part in acting on climate change to protect future generations."
Sen. Daniel Biss (D-Evanston) agrees. "It's time for Illinois to set a goal of 100 percent clean energy for our state," he said. "Just because the Trump administration has declared it will lodge its head firmly in the sand and ignore the need for realistic environmental policy doesn't mean we can't act. These efforts put us on track to comply with the Paris climate agreement here in Illinois. I hope it serves as an example to other states as Illinois begins to chart a path to a 100 percent clean energy future."
Green Caucus Chair Rep. Robyn Gabel plans to introduce a joint resolution calling on Gov. Rauner to support the Paris agreement by joining governors across the country in the U.S. Climate Alliance, and to deliver a state power plan to put Illinois on a path towards 100 percent clean energy.
"Trump's plan to pull out of the Paris climate agreement is irresponsible and reprehensible," said Rep. Robyn Gabel (D-Evanston), chair of the Illinois Legislative Green Caucus. "The Paris agreement was a major milestone in the fight to combat climate change—but we also knew even at the time that it was merely a first step—and that there would be much more work to do for the U.S. and governments around the world. We call on Gov. Rauner to condemn this decision and step forward to do everything possible to protect our water, land and the air we breathe."
Sen. Heather Steans (D-Chicago) announced plans to introduce legislation establishing a goal of 100 percent clean energy for Illinois to assert state leadership on climate change.
"President Trump made an egregious error when he decided to withdraw the U.S. from the Paris agreement," said Steans. "To combat this decision and ensure that Illinois continues to reduce greenhouse gases, I am working on legislation to move Illinois toward 100 percent clean energy and a bill to increase the use of electric vehicles. I will continue to push Illinois to be an environmental leader."
In less than one week, Interior Sec. Ryan Zinke will submit his final recommendations to President Trump on whether 27 national monuments around the country should be downsized, eliminated, transferred to state control or left alone.
But as Aaron Weiss, the media director of the conservation group Center for Western Priorities, pointed out: "Rather than spending his final week hearing from local communities who have worked tirelessly to protect their natural and cultural heritage as national monuments, Secretary Zinke is on vacation in the Mediterranean. His wife, Lola Zinke, tweeted a picture early this morning of herself and Secretary Zinke enjoying a sunrise on the Bosphorus Strait."
Energy Transfer Partners' controversial $4.3 billion Rover pipeline has more negative inspection reports than any other major interstate natural gas pipeline built in the last two years, according to a new Bloomberg analysis.
The 713-mile pipeline, which will carry fracked gas across Pennsylvania, West Virginia, Ohio and Michigan and Canada, has been stalled from numerous environmental violations, including a 2 million gallon drilling fluid spill into an Ohio wetland in April.
'A Major Win for New Yorkers': Court of Appeals Upholds State's Denial of Water Quality Certification for Constitution Pipeline
The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit upheld New York State's denial of a water quality certification for the Constitution Pipeline Friday, a critical win for the Attorney General's office and the state's authority to take necessary action to protect its waters and natural resources. The appeals court noted that the state is entitled to "conduct its own review of the Constitution Project's likely effects on New York waterbodies and whether those effects would comply with the state's water quality standards."
New York must be able to do what's necessary to protect our environment—and we're glad that the court agreed.
By Anne Bolen
On Aug. 21, for the first time since 1918, a total solar eclipse will cross the U.S. from coast to coast. Along the path of totality, the moon will completely block out the sun, turning day to twilight for nearly three minutes. While a partial eclipse will be visible throughout the U.S., millions will be flocking to spots along the path of totality, which begins in Salem on Oregon's coast about 10:15 a.m. Pacific Daylight Time and exits the nation at Charleston, South Carolina, where maximum coverage will occur about 2:47 p.m. Eastern Daylight Time. Perhaps no other natural event will inspire so many people to go outdoors.
The Trump administration released an environmental review Thursday of Hilcorp Alaska's Arctic offshore drilling development. Hilcorp plans to build a 9-acre artificial island and 5.6-mile pipeline in the Beaufort Sea for its offshore drilling project. The Trump administration's draft environmental impact statement proposes to greenlight the dangerous drilling plan, which would be a first for federal waters in the Arctic.
The incident was detailed in several Facebook posts from Equinac, a Spanish marine wildlife conservation group.
The National Park Service (NPS) announced Wednesday that it has rescinded the 2011 "Water Bottle Ban" that allowed parks to prohibit the sale of disposable plastic water bottles. That same day, news emerged that the Trump administration removed a nine-slot Capital Bikeshare station at the White House that was requested and installed during the Obama years and used by staffers.
By Catherine Collentine
This week, a federal court ruled that the Obama administration over-penalized Exxon for dumping hundreds of thousands of gallons of a pollutant onto the streets of Mayflower and threw out a number of safety violations levied against Exxon on the basis that the company met its legal obligations to consider the risks associated with the pipeline.