Category Archives: Events

Events and or activities that do not fit into one of our traditional campaigns.

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


Questions? Email Barbara Hill

New Report Shows Clean Water Means Jobs for Illinois

image (1)

Earlier today, we joined the Chicago Federation of Labor to appear before the Board of Commissioners of the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District of Greater Chicago (MWRD) to release a new report titled “A Flowing Economy: How Clean Water Infrastructure Investments Support Good Jobs in Chicago and in Illinois.” The report reveals some of the major benefits that investments in clean water generate for the economy and the environment, both locally and statewide, and highlights the need for additional clean water projects.

IMG_0402During the Board Meeting, the Commissioners passed a resolution recognizing the report and Commissioners Debra Shore and Barbara McGowan gave positive remarks. Bob Reiter, Secretary-Treasurer for the Chicago Federation of Labor, addressed the Board on the need to focus on upgrading and repairing the state’s clean water infrastructure to protect our water resources and expand the economic and environmental benefits they generate.

Frank Manzo, Policy Director at the Illinois Economic Policy Institute and co-author of the report, helped to highlight its key findings, including:

  • For every $1 billion invested in clean water infrastructure, approximately 11,200 jobs are created throughout the economy and there is an 8% one-year GDP Return on Investment.
  • In the Chicago area, clean water investments boost the regional economy by nearly $2 billion and lower the unemployment rate by 0.7 percentage points.
  • Employment in the water infrastructure sector increases an Illinois worker’s hourly earnings by 10.1 percent on average, providing a personal benefit that roughly equates to an additional year of schooling.

IMG_0397Our own Clean Water Program Director, Cindy Skrukrud, and Director Jack Darin spoke to the Board and the audience at the meeting about the need to address threats to our waters such as combined sewer overflows, aquatic invasive species and nutrient pollution. The report offers a snapshot of these challenges facing the Chicago Waterway System and waterways throughout Illinois and the opportunities to address them through future investments. Local, state and federal agencies have an opportunity to boost the economy and create good jobs for hardworking men and women while solving problems that threaten the health of our water resources.

One such problem is the threat of Asian Carp and other invasive species moving through the Chicago Area Waterways into Lake Michigan, and invasives moving from the Great Lakes to the Mississippi River Basin. While there is broad agreement among stakeholders in both regions that a solution is urgently needed, there is additional information necessary to move decision makers to implement the best approach. We hope that local, state and federal agencies will work together to expediently fund and complete the necessary studies to move forward. We know that control measures must be constructed in the waterway system to prevent invasives from moving between the basins, and investing in this solution will bring benefits to the region’s economy and workforce while protecting some of our most valued bodies of water.

We’re excited to be a part of this initiative and stand ready with our partners to advocate for prioritized investments to achieve clean water and a thriving economy. We hope you’ll join us in being voices for the protection of our waterways and the future of our working class.


 Read the press release: 

 Read the full report:

 Watch a video of the January 7th presentation:





January 7, 2016


New Report: Clean Water Projects Employed 19,443 In 2014

Chicago Federation of Labor, Sierra Club Present Findings at MWRD Board Meeting

“A Flowing Economy” Details Clean Water Benefits to Workers & Regional Economy

Chicago, IL– The Chicago Federation of Labor and the Sierra Club today made a unique joint appearance before the Board of Commissioners of the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District of Greater Chicago (MWRD) to release a new report on the benefits that investments in clean water generate for the economy and the environment both locally and statewide, and to highlight upcoming opportunities for clean water projects.

“We are fortunate to have one-fifth of the world’s fresh surface water right outside our front door, in Lake Michigan and all our Great Lakes,” said Jorge Ramirez, President of the Chicago Federation of Labor. “Thanks to an initial investment by the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District of Greater Chicago and the City of Chicago Department of Water Management in 2014, we have already begun to see the economic and environmental benefits of investing in clean water projects in the Chicago area, namely job creation and increased worker productivity thanks to improved regional health. We need to build on this success and focus on upgrading and repairing the state’s clean water infrastructure.”

“Protecting Lake Michigan and restoring our rivers are not only essential for public health but also significantly contributes to a healthy economy,” said Jack Darin, Director of the Sierra Club, Illinois Chapter.

The report, titled “A Flowing Economy: How Clean Water Infrastructure Investments Support Good Jobs in Chicago and in Illinois” finds that for every $1 billion invested in clean water infrastructure, approximately 6,200 direct jobs are created in construction or water and sewage facilities, and 11,200 total jobs are created throughout the economy. Additionally, every $1 billion investment brings an 8 percent one-year GDP return on investment. The report was prepared by Illinois Economic Policy Institute (ILEPI) and the School of Labor and Employment Relations at University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

“Investments in clean water benefit the whole economy by making businesses and households run more smoothly, with less frequent disruptions from leaks, contamination and other water infrastructure failures,” said Frank Manzo, Policy Director at ILEPI and an author of the report.

Leading the region in clean water investments are the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District (MWRD) of Greater Chicago and the City of Chicago’s Department of Water Management. In 2014 alone, these two entities created or saved a total of 19,400 jobs and reduced the regional unemployment rate by 0.73 percent.

“America’s economy runs on water,” said MWRD President Mariyana Spyropoulos. “Between the City of Chicago and the MWRD, hundreds of thousands of annual jobs will be supported and billions in economic output will be produced over the next decade. When we invest in water, we put people to work, support economic growth and build a stronger foundation for our nation.”

While investments in clean water have led to major improvements in water quality and efficient water management, there are outstanding needs for additional investments that will continue to bolster the economy and enrich our communities. The report offers a snapshot of the challenges facing the Chicago Waterway System and waterways throughout Illinois and the opportunities to address these challenges through future investments.

“We need our local leaders and agencies to continue investing in two things every city needs: clean water and good jobs. Fortunately, there are opportunities to achieve both through smart investments in the right projects,” said Dr. Cynthia Skrukrud, Clean Water Program Director for the Illinois Chapter of the Sierra Club. “We need to address serious threats to our water resources, such as invasive species, combined sewer overflows and nutrient pollution, which will require new water infrastructure to be built by hardworking men and women. We stand ready to help local, state and federal agencies prioritize investments to achieve clean water and a thriving economy.”

The report and its key findings were presented at the MWRD Board Meeting earlier today, and the District Board approved a resolution supporting the report.

To read the report visit:



Two National Leaders to Discuss the Environment and Justice Connections

Heart of Illinois Sierra Club Group announces a Very Special Opportunity!

Aaron Mair-1An historic opportunity to witness two national organizational presidents stand side by side to discuss the connections between local environmental and justice issues is coming to central Illinois–and you are invited. The weekend of October 30-31, Sierra Club President Aaron Mair will share the stage with NAACP National President Cornell Books at the 2015 NAACP Illinois State Conference Convention on October 30th in Peoria. The following morning, October 31st, the Heart of Illinois Group will host a brunch with Aaron Mair.  CANCELLED

Mark Your Calendar — SAVE the DATEs

Friday, October 30th

Peoria Marriott Pere Marquette Hotel
501 Main St, Peoria, IL 61602

3:30 – 5:00 PM
“Union and Minority Job Opportunities in the Illinois Energy Economy.” Moderator George P Mitchell, President, Illinois State Conference of Branches, NAACP  with  Panelists Illinois Senator Dave Koehler, Chair majority Party Energy & Conservation Committee, Jacqui Patterson NAACP Director of Climate and Environmental Justice Division, Aaron Mair, National President Sierra Club and Tony O’Brian, Business Representative, AFL-CIO Local 649 Operating Engineers. Tony Pierce, Chairman Illinois Peoples Action.

7:00 – 9:00 PM
President Cornell Brooks
Sierra Club President Aaron Mair

Cornell Brooks is in his second year of leading the NAACP with its long history of advocating for racial justice, economic opportunity, equal educational  and job opportunities, fair housing and voting rights. NAACP is involved in battles on the local, state and national level for these issues and has become  committed to environmental justice issues steadily for the past 20 years, with multiple publications and initiatives.

Aaron Mair is a long time NAACP member and Sierra Club activist from upstate New York. He recently marched with NAACP leaders in Selma, Alabama. Sierra Club has committed itself to linking social justice with environmental issues. He is in his first year as President of Sierra Club, the largest grass roots environmental organization in America.

Saturday Earth Day Events

Earth Day is day to celebrate every person’s power to do something to protect our planet.  Sierra Club volunteers across Illinois will be busy Saturday with a variety of cleanups, restoration projects, and other service projects to improve Illinois’ environment.  All members and the public are invited to join in as we get to work making Illinois cleaner and greener.

Here are Saturday’s events – hope to see you there!

Montrose Beach Sweep (Chicago)

Sat, April 21 9:00AM to 11:00AM

Celebrate Earth Day with Sierra Chicago Group by giving beautiful Montrose Beach a spring cleaning. A Nature Tour for beginning birders and other nature lovers will begin at 7:00 a.m. at the Montrose Beach House. Bring binoculars if you have them and dress for the weather. The Beach Sweep will run from 9:00 to 11:00 a.m. and gloves, trash and recycling bags and other supplies will be provided. Meet at Montrose Beach House and be sure to dress for the weather.

Earth Day Celebration At Deer Grove Forest Preserve (Palatine)

Saturday, April 21 9:30AM to 2:30PM

LOCATION:  Deer Grove Forest Preserve, Palatine.  Entrance is on North side of Dundee Road between Quentin and Hicks Roads – Picnic Spot, Grove #2.  Sierra Club volunteers and partners work to restore natural habitat to Cook County’s Forest Preserves at Deer Grove.

Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle will speak at 1:00PM

For more info:


Green Block Party at Southern Illinois University Edwardsville

Saturday, April 20 sponsored by SIUE’s EcoHouse and Student Organization for Sustainability to kick off Earth Week. Farmers/craft market and vendor booths (food, crafts, clothes, jewelry, flowers and art). Hours are 1 to 3 p.m. in the EcoHouse parking lot, next to SIUE Gardens building in Cougar Village. Free and open to the public. Volunteers needed for Sierra Club booth. Sign up for a shift at

For more information about these events, and others throughout the year, see our events page.

Happy Earth Day!

Don’t Frack With Illinois!

That’s the message a growing coalition of organizations and concerned citizens is sending to industry and decision-makers regarding the proposal to open Illinois to high-volume hydraulic fracturing–or fracking.

Gas leasing speculation has been quite a spectacle in Illinois, especially in the southeastern counties where shale gas development is thought to be the most promising. We learned early on that the state has virtually no regulations in place to protect the public and the environment from the hazards of fracking. Seeing all to0 clearly the myriad of damages to people, communities and the environment that shale gas development has caused in other states a coalition of environmental organizations came together to address the issue head on.

For nearly a year, Sierra Club and other organizations have established a list of measures that are necessary for the protection of people and places in Illinois. They include:

  • Chemical disclosure–before fracking–of exactly what chemicals are being used in the frack.
  • Baseline groundwater testing before the frack and following monitoring afterwards.
  • Water withdrawal plans.
  • An adequate public notice and appeal process for frack well permits.
  • Adequate setbacks from water supplies, including water wells, streams, ponds and lakes.
  • Prohibition on the use of toxic chemicals such as BTEX chemicals (benzene, toluene, ethylbenzene, and xylene).
  • Prohibition of storing wastewater in open pits.
  • Treating  fracking waste as hazardous waste.
  • Ending clean air act exemptions for fracking sites.

Until industry is willing to accept reasonable regulations that protect the environment and the people who depend upon it for their lives and livelihoods, no permits should be issued for high-volume hydraulic fracturing. Therefore, we continue to support a moratorium on fracking until Illinois has developed robust and comprehensive regulations that protect people and places from an activity that has been so harmful in other parts of the country.

Please ask your state legislators for his or her support by co-sponsoring Senate Bill 3280 with a moratorium on fracking until robust regulations have been developed.

And, please support this important campaign by taking part in the Don’t Frack With Illinois event—a virtual fundraising event sponsored by the Shawnee Group Sierra Club. Win a handcrafted acoustic guitar generously donated by Whipple Creek Guitars in Pomona, Illinois. Visit the event website to buy tickets and your chance to WIN!!

High-volume Hydraulic Fracturing Background Information

Industry is proposing to use high-volume horizontal hydraulic fracturing to reach oil and/or natural gas in the New Albany Shale. After drilling into the shale, which is located between 4,000 to 5,000 feet down, the well bore is then drilled horizontally for one to two miles. Following the drilling the well is then “completed” or “fracked.” Fracking is process in which water, sand and toxic chemicals (fracking fluid) are injected into the well at high pressure to create small cracks in the rock that allow natural gas to freely flow to the surface.

Each well uses between 2 to 8 million gallons of fresh water taken from our lakes and aquifers. Since one well is often fracked up to 18 times and there could be one well for every forty acres of land within the New Albany Shale, this amounts to an enormous quantity of fresh water permanently taken out of the system.

Additionally, an estimated 30% to 70% of the fracking fluid will resurface, bringing back with it toxic substances that are naturally present in underground oil and gas deposits, as well as the chemicals used in the fracking fluid. Industry is proposing to store this toxic brew in open evaporation pits until it can be hauled away in tanker trucks to deep injection wells. Spills and leaks throughout this process are inevitable, putting wells, farm ponds, streams, lakes, and aquifers and the people, pets, livestock and wildlife that use them at great risk.

In many areas, after a well has been fracked, people’s well water has become contaminated by chemicals (some even radioactive) that migrate into aquifers through natural fissures and/or possibly through abandoned wells.

Air pollution is also a big problem. Volatile organic compounds from wastewater flowback pits and airborne chemical releases from the equipment involved in the fracking process all add up to a high level of air pollution in many areas.

A Night Under the Stars: Ravinia 2012

The time has come for our annual fundraiser at Ravinia!

Come and join the Sierra Club for a summer evening under the stars at the Ravinia Festival as we enjoy the innovative sounds of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra playing, “Brahms Bonanza.”

This year, we are proud to honor retiring State Representative Karen May for over a decade of hard work fighting for our environment in Springfield. Karen has been one of our tireless champions in Springfield who has fought for wetlands protection, clean energy initiatives and green healthy schools. We will truly miss her leadership and voice in Springfield. We plan to work hard to make sure we find another champion that can carry the flag for our environment daily. Come out and thank Karen for her great efforts in protecting our environment and the health of Illinoisans.

Tickets are $75 per person; $250 to be a Host (includes 4 tickets). All tickets can be purchased at

Dinner drinks, chairs and tables will be provided. The event is rain or shine! We will be under the stars, not under a tent, so please prepare for the weather!All proceeds will benefit the Illinois Chapter PAC and will be used to help elect pro-environment champions and ensure that Illinois has a safer, cleaner future. We are looking forward to seeing you there!

Event Details

Friday, July 13, 2012                                                                                                           200 Ravinia Park Road – Highland Park                                                                6:00pm- Food, Drinks and Welcome/ Dinner Served by He’s Kitchen Catering    8:00pm- Brahm’s Bonanza                                                                                   Featuring: The Chicago Symphony Orchestra

*Because 100% of your contribution will be used to help elect pro-environment candidates, contributions are not tax-deductible. A copy of our report filed with the State Board of Elections is available for purchase from the State Board of Elections, Springfield, Illinois.