Author Archives: Terri Treacy

Bill to Protect Monarch Butterfly Habitat Passes in Senate Today

milkweed

This year Illinois Sierra Club worked with, Representative Anna Moeller (D-Elgin) and Senator Melinda Bush (D-Grayslake), to pass two important pieces of legislation aimed at helping the monarch butterfly. Back during the spring session, HB2568, designating milkweed as the state wildflower, passed both chambers and was signed into law in August. Also during the spring session, HB685, which provides that counties and municipalities may not classify milkweed as a noxious or exotic weed, passed the House, but got delayed from a vote in the Senate. But, all that changed today when HB685 passed in the Senate  41-6-1.

Over the last 20 years monarchs have seen a precipitous 80 to 90 percent decline in population due to environmental threats, including a drastic reduction in native milkweed, the only source of food for monarch larvae. Of the twenty-three species of milkweeds that are native to Illinois, five are listed as endangered, and one is listed as threatened on the federal endangered and threatened species list.

Lonnie Morris, an Illinois Sierra Club volunteer and longtime advocate for monarchs, proposed the ideas for both bills. Morris believed that designating milkweed as our state wildflower would raise awareness of its importance as monarch habitat. She also discovered that many municipalities listed milkweed as a noxious weed, preventing people from planting it in their gardens. The passage of HB685 today in the Illinois Senate is particularly important because it comes at a time when habitat for monarchs and other pollinators is being seriously threatened.  We need to be planting more milkweed,  not banning it.

In addition to the Illinois Sierra Club, the Illinois Environmental Council and Prairie Rivers Network supported both bills in an effort to increase monarch butterfly habitat in Illinois. Each spring and fall monarchs make their way through Illinois during their 3,000 mile migration between Mexico and Canada and back to Mexico. But this trip is becoming increasingly perilous due to massive habitat loss, climate change, and unintentional exposure to insecticides and herbicides.

Monarchs were named Illinois’ State Insect several years ago, so recognising the value of milkweed, the monarch’s only host plant,  is a logical next step in monarch protection.

Monarchs serve as a beautiful reminder that all pollinators are vital not only for the survival of native plants and animals, but also that our crop plants require pollinators, making them essential for our food system. In total, pollinators provide $10 billion in economic value annually in the United States.

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Spring & Summer Pollinator Events In Illinois

Wed 5/17/17 Weed (the verb) and Wine at the EVG Garden Eagle View Group (IL)
Sat 6/10/17 Churchill Woods/Glacial Ridge Forest Preserve Service Event River Prairie Group
Sat  5/20/17 Pollinator Family Day Heart Of Illinois Group
Sat 5/20/17 Spring Valley Native Plant Planting Project NW Cook County Group
Sun  6/09/17 Gardening for Butterflies and Hummingbirds Stickney-Forest View Public Library District
Wed  5/31/17 Saving the Monarchs DuPage Monarch Project
Sun 6/11/17 Bluff Spring Fen Annual Botanical Hike (late spring) River Prairie Group
Sun 7/09/17 Children’s Monarch Festival Elmhurst Garden Club’s Garden Walk & Faire
Sun 7/23/17 Monarchs & Music: Monarch Mania Family Fun Fair Hackmatack Monarch Coalition; Crystal Lake Main Beach Pavilion

Illinois Takes Action: People’s Climate March + May Day

On April 29, thousands marched in DC, Chicago, and in cities across the state and the country to demand climate justice as part of the People’s Climate March.

Some highlights from our Chapter:

Illinois Sierra Club activist Connie Schmidt marches in DC

Illinois Sierra Club sent three buses (one from Chicago, one from the suburbs, and one from Central Illinois) and countless others traveled on their own from Illinois to DC’s massive 200,000 person march.

3000+ braved the rain and cold in Chicago to rally and march to Trump Tower

In Chicago, 3000+ people and more than 80 organizations came out in the cold rain to rally and march.

Activists (including Octavius Hayes, right) lead chants at the end of the march at the Trump Tower

At the rally, activists heard from rank-and-file union activists and environmental justice community leaders, including Octavius Hayes–a leader with Clean Power Lake County who spoke about the community’s work to address ongoing coal pollution and transition their community to a clean energy economy.

Champaign PCM

Community members gather in Champaign

In Champaign more than 200 community members gathered at Grace Lutheran Church and heard from speakers including State Sen Scott Bennett, State Rep Carol Ammons, and Sierra Club Prairie Group Chair Alice Englebretsen. Ten different organizations tabled at the event. After the program, people marched down Prospect Street, and were greeted with enthusiastic honks and waves from passersby.

Community members rally in the Quad Cities

In the Quad Cities, more than 300 people gathered at a local ball park. Speakers included the former Mayor of Rock Island, a local student leader, and an Indigenous leader from the Sage Sisters of Solidarity who are doing pipeline resistance.

Shawnee Group members at the Carbondale event

In Carbondale, hundreds gathered for a rally at Gaia House and a march through Carbondale.

Just two days later, the Sierra Club mobilized in Chicago yet again for a massive May Day rally in Chicago to bring attention and urgency to all the challenges facing our communities, especially in the wake of Trump’s election. May Day traditionally honors the work and dignity of immigrants and of labor. This year’s event also brought attention to urgent needs around racial justice, economic justice, environmental justice, women’s rights, and LGBTQ rights. State Director Jack Darin was one of the speakers at the end of the march.

People’s Climate Marches-Get on a bus in Illinois to DC or find an event near you!

On April 29–the 100th day of Trump’s Presidency–thousands will rally in DC, and thousands more will take the streets across the country to demand climate justice as part of the People’s Climate Movement.

Here in Illinois, you can jump on a bus to DC, or join a rally near you. We need you in the streets! Check out a list of statewide opportunities.
Part 1: Buses to DC
Part 2: Events in + near Illinois

Get on a bus to DC!

Chicago Buses:

  • Bus 1:
    Departs Chicago: Friday, April 28th at 7:00PM from (565 W. Adam St. Chicago, IL 60661).
    Arrives back in Chicago: Sunday, April 30 @ 6 am
    Follow this link to purchase tickets or donate to help cover a seat for scholarship riders.
    Questions? Contact JC Kibbey: jckibbey@ucsusa.org
  • Bus 2:
    Departs Chicago: Friday, April 28th at 9:00 AM from (70 E. Lake St., Suite 920 Chicago, IL 60601).
    Arrives back in Chicago: Sunday, April 30 @ 6 pm
    Follow this link to purchase tickets.
    Questions? Contact Rev Vance: revvance@faithinplace.org

NW Cook County Bus:
Departs Elk Grove Village: Friday April 28th at 7:00 PM from (Ned Brown Preserve at Grove 25 Elk Grove Village, IL 60007–Free, secure parking available at the Forest Preserve!).
Arrives back in Elk Grove Village: Sunday, April 30 @ 6 am
Follow this link to purchase tickets or donate to help cover a seat for scholarship riders.
Questions? Contact Tim Milburn: logintim@gmail.com

Central IL Bus:
Central IL: Peoria, Bloomington, Champaign. BUS IS FULL! Please consider donating $ here to help cover a seat for scholarship riders.
Questions? Contact Elizabeth Scrafford: elizabeth.scrafford@sierraclub.org

Sister Marches in or near Illinois:

PEOPLE’S CLIMATE MARCH – CHICAGO
April 29, 2017 @ Noon
Federal Plaza (230 S Dearborn)
March for our climate + our communities.
Rally @ Federal Plaza, then march to the Trump Tower
Contact: caroline.wooten@sierraclub.org
Share on Facebook
RSVP here

Coming from Lake County?
Clean Power Lake County is sponsoring two buses from Waukegan to the Chicago Climate March leaving at 8 am Saturday, April 29 and returning at 5 pm for $20 and hardship price $10.
Buses will leave from Christ Episcopal Church, 410 W. Grand Ave. in Waukegan.
Reserve your seat on the bus here.

NW Indiana:
People’s Climate March: Northwest Indiana
April 29, 2017 • 11:00 AM
Main Square Park
3000 Highway Ave, Highland 46322
Highland, IN

Rockford:
Earth Day March for Science & Climate
Rockford
April 22, 2017
4:00 PM Joe Marino Park
100 N. Water Street
Rockford, IL 61107
Facebook Event

Galesburg:
People’s Climate March: Knox County
April 29, 2017 • 12:30 PM
Public Square
29 Public Square
Galesburg, IL 61401

Quad Cities:
Quad Cities People’s Climate March
April 29, 2017 noon- 2 pm
Modern Woodman Park, Davenport, Ia• 209 S Gaines Street, Davenport, IA 52802
Questions: eagleviewgroupsc@gmail.com
RSVP here
Facebook Event

Champaign:
Champaign-Urbana Rallies for our Earth
April 29, 2017
2:00 PM
West Side Park
400 W University Ave
Champaign, IL 61820
RSVP here
Questions? Contact Stuart Levy stuartnlevy@gmail.com
Facebook Event

St Louis:
Saint Louis People’s Climate March
April 29, 2017 • 12:00 PM
Luther Ely Smith Square
20 N 4th St
Saint Louis, MO
Facebook Event

Carbondale:
Peoples Climate March of Southern Illinois
April 29, 2017 • 12:30 PM
Gaia House
913 S. Illinois Ave.Carbondale, IL 62901
Questions: jane.cogie@gmail.com
RSVP here
Facebook event

Reviving the Everglades of the North

0700-kankakee1January 26, 2017  The Kankakee River Basin lies just south of Chicago in Kankakee and Iroquois counties. The Basin was once considered among the most important freshwater ecosystems in the world. Dubbed The Everglades of North,  it had some of the highest concentrations of wildlife on the planet and was known as Chicago’s food pantry.

Last year the Kankakee National Wildlife Refuge and Conservation Area (NWR&CA) was formally established. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) is now taking the next step in the refuge planning process to preserve and enhance the remaining wetland habitat along the Kankakee River Basin.

Support the USFWS in the development of a Land Protection Plan (LPP).

Protecting the remaining remnants of wetland landscape and working with landowners to interconnect them will protect the many endangered plant and animal species that depend on wetland habitat for their survival.

Please take action today to let the USFWS know you are in support of the Kankakee NWR&CA. The USFWS comment period ends January 31st.

You can learn more about the Refuge and the Conservation Map here.

People’s Climate Movement–Chicagoland

Join us Today! January 23rd from 3:30 to 5:30

The People’s Climate Movement is calling for 100 hours of action in response to the inauguration. Sierra Club Valley of the Fox is joining nearby Sierra Club groups in a rally at Rep. Peter Roskam’s office to let him know that his constituents and neighbors want action on climate change. If you want to do something NOW to have a voice in our future, come to this rally. We will have speakers, chanting, and marching. Make some signs. Have your kids make some signs.

Action nourishes hope.

January 23 – Monday – 3:30 pm – 5:00 pm
People’s Climate Movement-Chicagoland
Rally at Peter Roskam’s Office
2700 International Drive, West Chicago, IL

Facebook 

Questions? Email Barbara Hill

Illinois Budget Crisis Threatens Ratepayer Protection and Clean Energy Programs

While the Illinois budget crisis wreaks havoc on social programs across the state, the budget impasse also poses a major threat to three other major funds. These funds, each funded by ratepayers, not tax dollars, that are the primary funding for Illinois’ programs to protect the most vulnerable, lower bills through energy efficiency, and create jobs in renewable energy projects. Each of these funds have been specifically targeted during this budget crisis. We must act together to ensure that these important resources are protected in this time of crisis.

psp take action button2SB3382 and HB5791 will protect our most vulnerable, create good jobs in clean energy, and reduce pollution. SB3383 and HB5971 both ask for full funding and protection for the the Energy Efficiency Portfolio Standards (EEPS) Fund, while SB3383 also asks for full funding and protection for the Low Income Heating and Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) and the Renewable Energy Resources Fund (RERF).

1. Low Income Heating and Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) This fund is a mix of ratepayer and federal funds, and helps low income utility customers pay gas and electric bills to avoid the shut-off of service. Funds are also used to help these customers save energy through weatherization projects. More than 300,000 vulnerable Illinois households use LIHEAP to assist with energy costs. This includes seniors, disabled persons and low-income families. LIHEAP is funded by federal funds and a charge on utility bills – no state tax dollars are provided. The program consists of two funds – the Supplemental Low-Income Energy Assistance Fund and the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Block Grant Fund In 2015, the LIHEAP program was targeted for elimination. SB 3383 would protect both LIHEAP funds in Fiscal Year 2017 by appropriating the full amount of anticipated funds collected from ratepayers and received from the federal government to protect our most vulnerable.

2. Renewable Energy Resources Fund (RERF) This fund, held at the Illinois Power Agency, is collected from alternative electric suppliers and is supposedly dedicated to buying renewable energy as part of Illinois’ electric suppliers. Payments from these alternative suppliers are part of their required compliance with Illinois’ Renewable Portfolio Standard, which requires a certain percentage of each supplier’s energy portfolio to come from renewable sources. To date these funds have been used to buy renewable energy credits from newly constructed solar energy projects – directly creating good jobs in Illinois. Both the pending Clean Jobs Bill (HB2607/SB1485) and ComEd’s Future Energy Plan (HB3328/SB1879) depend on RERF dollars for a new low-income community solar program. No state tax dollars are used on these programs. They are entirely collected from electric suppliers. In 2015, $98 million was swept from the RERF. SB 3383 would protect RERF funds in Fiscal Year 2017 by appropriating $120M, the approximate current balance in the Fund, to create jobs in solar energy projects.

3. Energy Efficiency Portfolio Standards (EEPS) Fund The Energy Efficiency Portfolio Standard (EEPS) at DCEO is used by ComEd and Ameren to help homes, businesses, and local governments save energy. These projects have lowered electric bills by well over $1 billion in the last decade and created good jobs modernizing and retrofitting homes, businesses, and local government buildings with energy-saving technologies. No state tax dollars are used on these programs. They are entirely collected from ratepayers and used by ComEd and Ameren on energy efficiency projects. In 2015, these funds were targeted for sweeps. SB 3383 would protect EEPS funds in Fiscal Year 2017 by appropriating up to $125M, or the maximum amount collected from ratepayers, to help lower electric bills through energy conservation.

DON’T SWEEP AWAY ILLINOIS’ CLEAN ENERGY FUTURE

Act Now — Support SB 3383 and HB5791