Category Archives: Press Releases

“Illinois Must Step Up” In the Wake of Trump’s Unlawful Dirty Power Plan

As Trump and Wheeler Gut Clean Air Safeguards to Appease Coal, Will Rauner Respond?

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, former coal lobbyist and acting Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Andrew Wheeler released an unlawfully weak carbon pollution policy that would gut the Clean Power Plan’s life-saving standards and do next to nothing to fight the climate crisis, continuing the agenda of disgraced former EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt.

Since the Clean Power Plan was proposed in 2015, hundreds of businesses and organizations and tens of thousands of Illinoisans have asked Governor Rauner to commit to a carbon reduction plan, but Rauner has never responded.  Earlier this month, Rauner keynoted a rally with coal CEOs where he praised the Trump administration’s efforts to roll back clean air standards and said “I think we’ve got a friend now in the White House.”

In response, Jack Darin, Director of the Illinois Sierra Club, released the following statement:  

“Donald Trump’s decision to opt out of reducing carbon pollution is unlawful, immoral, and threatens to opt America out of the global clean energy economy.  Illinois must step up to object to this plan, and set bold clean energy and climate goals to protect our health and bring clean energy jobs to our communities.  Instead of rallying with coal barons to cheer on Trump’s rollbacks, Bruce Rauner should listen to the Illinois residents, businesses, and lawmakers urging him to make it clear that clean energy is Illinois’ future.”

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Sierra Club, Friends Seek to Join Attorney General in Trump Tower Lawsuit

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On Monday, August 20, 2018, Friends of the Chicago River and the Sierra Club filed a motion in Cook County Circuit Court to intervene in a lawsuit against the Trump International Hotel & Tower in Chicago.

The lawsuit stems from permit violations by the Trump Tower which uses 19.7 million gallons of Chicago River water a day for cooling. The Tower has ignored federal and state laws and regulations that require buildings, especially new ones, to minimize damage to fish and other aquatic life from water intake structures and to implement protective measures.

Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan filed suit August 13, 2018. Earlier on June 15, 2018, the Illinois Chapter of the Sierra Club and Friends of the Chicago River had provided notice of their intent to sue the Chicago Trump International Hotel and Tower over its continuing violation of the Clean Water Act based on their investigation.

Regarding the request to intervene in the state lawsuit, Friends of the Chicago River Executive Director Margaret Frisbie issued this statement: “Friends of the Chicago River is eager to join forces with the Attorney General to assure the law is enforced and the river is protected. We have worked for decades to improve the health of the river and help transform it into a natural, recreational, and economic asset for the region. We want to protect those investments, the health of the river, and the wildlife that depends upon it.”

Jack Darin, Sierra Club Illinois Chapter Director, said: “Over and over we’ve heard Donald Trump say ‘we want crystal-clean water, and we want clean air — the cleanest ever’ but his actions say otherwise. For years, Trump’s tower on the Chicago River has been violating the Clean Water Act. It’s disappointing that the Rauner administration turned a blind eye to these violations for years, but we are now hopeful that they will be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law. We will work with the Attorney General to ensure that justice is served and the Chicago River is fully protected.”

Friends of the Chicago River and Illinois Chapter of the Sierra Club are represented by Attorney Albert Ettinger and the Abrams Environmental Law Clinic.

Federal law mandates that Trump Tower do extensive studies of Chicago River fish populations and the impact of the building’s water intake system. Trump Tower failed to file any study results to the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency, Illinois Attorney General Madigan said. Such cooling water intake structures can pull large amounts of fish into building cooling systems. Fish and other aquatic life can also get trapped against intake screens. The suit filed by Madigan alleges that Trump Tower dumps millions of gallons of heated water daily into the Chicago River without a valid permit.

Frisbie noted that her organization, in partnership with the Illinois Department of Natural Resources, has spent nearly $1 million on fish habitat projects in the last five years including along the Main Stem of the Chicago River. Since 2014 they’ve released 277,000 Illinois native channel catfish and 8,000 Illinois native northern pike into the Chicago River system at a cost of $484,000.

About Friends of the Chicago River

Friends of the Chicago River is the only organization solely dedicated to the Chicago River. Since 1979, Friends has been working to improve the health of the Chicago River system for the benefit of people, plants and animals; and by doing so, has laid the foundation for the river to be a beautiful, continuous, and easily accessible corridor of open space in the Chicago region. For more information, visit http://www.chicagoriver.

About the Sierra Club

The Sierra Club is America’s largest and most influential grassroots environmental organization, with more than 3 million members and supporters. In addition to helping people from all backgrounds explore nature and our outdoor heritage, the Sierra Club works to promote clean energy, safeguard the health of our communities, protect wildlife, and preserve our remaining wild places through grassroots activism, public education, lobbying, and legal action. For more information, visit http://www.illinois.sierraclub.org.

About the Abrams Environmental Law Clinic at the University of Chicago Law School

The Abrams Environmental Law Clinic works to solve some of our region’s and country’s most pressing environmental problems. On behalf of clients, the Clinic challenges those who pollute illegally, fights for stricter permits, advocates for changes to regulations and laws, holds environmental agencies accountable, and develops innovative approaches for improving the environment.  For more information, visit https://www.law.uchicago.edu/clinic

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Sierra Club Announces General Assembly Endorsements, Launches Climate Voter Contact Campaign to Elect 27 New Environmental Champions to Springfield

For Immediate Release: Monday, August 20th, 2018
Contact: Kady McFadden, kady.mcfadden@sierraclub.org, (630) 747-0915


Chicago – The Illinois Sierra Club today announced its endorsements in races for the Illinois General Assembly and its largest ever voter contact campaign to elect 27 new environmentalists to state legislative districts. Sierra Club’s full list of endorsements can be found here.

“With Donald Trump taking apart our nation’s environmental protections and trying to move America backward out of the clean energy economy, state and local leaders must lead the way,” said Jack Darin, Director of the Sierra Club, Illinois Chapter.  “These are leaders who want to protect our drinking water, open spaces, and move Illinois to 100% clean energy. We are proud to recommend them to Illinois voters.”

Sierra Club’s Illinois endorsements can be found at www.sierraclub.org/illinois/vote.  To support these candidates, Sierra Club has fielded a staff of full-time paid organizers to support its mobilized grassroots membership base in swing districts in southern, central, and northeastern Illinois to inform voters about where candidates stand on energy and environmental policy.

“Ever since Trump began his assault on America’s environmental protections, thousands of Illinoisans have become energized to resist those attacks and move Illinois towards environmental justice, safe and clean water, open spaces we can all enjoy, and a 100% clean energy future,” said Barbara Hill, Political Chair for the Sierra Club, Illinois Chapter.

Sierra Club has placed 15 paid organizers across these key districts to activate the organization’s 100,000 members and supporters across Illinois to volunteer and vote for these candidates. By Election Day, Sierra Club aims to have 75,000 contacts with Illinois voters about these candidates and issues.  

Sierra Club’s contacts with Illinois voters on behalf of endorsed candidates are funded by Sierra Club Illinois PAC.  Copies of our reports are available from the State Board of Elections in Springfield, Illinois.

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Sierra Club, Senator Durbin endorse Kwame Raoul for Attorney General

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
August 17, 2018

Durbin, Sierra Club endorse Raoul for attorney general to fight federal threats to environment

CHICAGO – Today, U.S. Senator Dick Durbin and the Sierra Club Illinois Chapter announced their support for Kwame Raoul, Democratic candidate for attorney general, as they sounded the alarm on federal environmental protection rollbacks and emphasized the importance of the attorney general’s role.

“I am joining with the Sierra Club to endorse Kwame because we are in a moment where the willingness of our elected officials to stand up for environmental protections will determine whether we pass on a healthier planet to future generations or lose the progress we’ve made,” said Senator Durbin. “Now more than ever we need an attorney general who will act as a check on the Trump administration and stand up for environmentalprotections. Kwame has a proven record in this fight, and I know he’s ready to step up and protect Illinoisans as attorney general.”

“It is vital that Illinois’ next attorney general protect our health and our communities from corporations who violate our environmental laws,” said Jack Darin, Director of the Sierra Club, Illinois Chapter. “With Donald Trump and his cronies rolling back protections for our water and air, it has never been more important that Illinois’ top law enforcement officer put the health of our communities first. Kwame Raoul has a track record of fighting for clean energy, environmental justice, and the rights of citizens to protect themselves from pollution, and he will stand up to challenge the Trump administration’s illegal attempts to roll back vital protections.”

“As attorney general, I will aggressively and fairly enforce environmental laws and stand strong for state-level standards to protect Illinoisans’ air, water and health, no matter what the federal government does,” said state Senator Raoul. “I’m honored to have the endorsement of Senator Durbin and the Sierra Club: a public servant and an organization that stand up to Donald Trump every day, fighting for our natural resources and the rule of law.”

Raoul has sponsored legislation that would combat federal rollbacks by requiring state agencies to maintain environmental standards as strict as the federal government’s were on the day before Trump’s inauguration. He has worked to ensure that residents whose health, property and quality of life may be harmed by environmental permitting decisions have a voice in the process. He also helped create the Commission on Environmental Justice and supported renewable energy procurement goals, testing school water fountains for lead and banning plastic microbeads, which threaten wildlife in the Great Lakes.

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Kwame Raoul was born in Chicago to Haitian immigrants. In 2004, he was appointed to fill the State Senate seat left by Barack Obama. He’s been a leading voice for a woman’s right to choose, criminal justice reform, and equal rights. As a cancer survivor and son of a community physician, Kwame knows firsthand the importance of access to affordable, quality healthcare. And as a father of two children, Kwame will crack down on violent criminals and sexual predators, and make sure victims get the support they need.

Paid for by Sierra Club Illinois PAC. A copy of our report filed with the State Board of Elections is (or will be) available on the Board’s official website (www.elections.il.gov) or for purchase from the State Board of Elections, Springfield, IL

Farmers, Agriculture Suppliers, and Clean Water Advocates Mark Five Years of Partnership in Nutrient Research and Loss Reduction

Peoria, IL – Farmers and environmentalists celebrated the first five years of the Illinois Nutrient Research and Education Council (NREC) this week, a unique partnership aimed at supporting research and farmer education on fertilizer practices that improve water quality and economics. Since its inception in 2012, Illinois NREC has invested nearly $9.8 Million into nutrient related research efforts.

IMG-3175The celebration, held during the Illinois  Fertilizer and Chemical Association’s annual convention at the Peoria Civic Center, featured remarks from Illinois State Treasurer Michael Frerichs, who sponsored the original legislation as a State Senator in 2012. The legislation enacted a $1 per ton fee on agricultural fertilizer sales to fund Illinois NREC and related programs of the Illinois Department of Agriculture.

“Clean water is essential for our health and our environment, and agriculture is Illinois’ number one industry,” said State Treasurer Michael Frerichs. “I applaud the collaboration between environmental and agricultural interests to create NREC and build consensus on strategies that protect our water supply and work for farmers.”

“Limited state resources, combined with serious water quality challenges, inspired us to reinvent the way we fund and deliver nutrient research in Illinois, and it took everyone working together with the legislature to accomplish this.” said Illinois Fertilizer and Chemical Association President Jean Payne.

“This partnership with farmers is critical in implementing the Illinois Nutrient Loss Reduction Strategy and to clean up nutrient pollution in our lakes, streams and rivers,” said Dr. Cynthia Skrukrud, Clean Water Program Director for the Sierra Club, Illinois Chapter. “NREC’s research identifies science-based strategies that will protect our water supply and work on the farm.”

Jeff Kirwan, Chairman of Illinois NREC, Illinois Farm Bureau Director and Mercer County farmer said, “NREC has proven to be a great opportunity for Illinois agriculture and our environmental partners to collaborate and learn from one another about nutrient stewardship – an issue of critical interest to both groups. NREC has provided the venue for us to work together, share successes and concerns and work together to move the needle towards increased nutrient efficiency. Everyone wins when we effectively manage nutrients – it adds to farmer bottom line and decreases the potential for unwanted nutrients making their way into our water systems.”

More information about the Illinois Nutrient Research and Education Council is available at illinoisnrec.org.

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Julie Armstrong, Illinois Nutrient Research and Education Council Executive Director; Jean Payne, President, Illinois Fertilizer and Chemical Association; Illinois State Treasurer Michael Frerichs; Sierra Club Illinois Director Jack Darin, Sierra Club Illinois Clean Water Program Director Dr. Cindy Skrukrud

 

 

 

Groups applaud release of Asian carp study, urge swift action to move from study to construction

Alliance for the Great Lakes   •   Natural Resources Defense Council
Prairie Rivers Network   •   Sierra Club, Illinois Chapter

Chicago, IL (August 7, 2017) – After much delay, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers today released the Brandon Road Lock & Dam Study. The study provides critical new information on the options for implementing additional Asian carp control measures to slow the movement of the invasive fish. Environmental and conservation groups released the following statement in response:

“The recent finding of an adult Asian carp nine miles from Lake Michigan underscores the urgent nature of this threat to Lake Michigan and all of the Great Lakes. The study, which was completed months ago, should have been released in February yet the Administration sat on it in reaction to pressure from industry groups and officials from the states of Illinois and Indiana. This delay wasted valuable time, putting the Great Lakes at unnecessary risk.

“We look forward to reviewing the findings in detail and to continuing the conversation on this critical issue with elected officials and concerned citizens during the public comment period. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers must listen carefully to public input on the study and then move quickly from study to implementation of additional protection measures at the Brandon Road Lock and Dam, a logical choke point in the system.

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Map showing locations of key features, or measures, of the tentatively selected plan at Brandon Road Lock and Dam. [Source: USACE]

“While possible control measures at Brandon Road Lock and Dam represent another step in the fight against the upstream movement of Asian carp, we cannot lose focus on the need for a two-way solution that also addresses invasive species moving from the Great Lakes into the Mississippi River basin.

“Thank you to the many Congressional Great Lakes champions who have advocated for the release of this study. Continued effort by elected officials will be needed to ensure the process is not delayed further and funding is appropriated for future construction needs.”

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Media Contacts:

Alliance for the Great Lakes: Jennifer Caddick, (312) 445-9760

Natural Resources Defense Council: Ivan Moreno, (312) 651-7932

Prairie Rivers Network: Robert Hirschfeld, (217) 344-2371 x8205

Sierra Club, Illinois Chapter: Cindy Skrukrud, (312) 251-1680 x110

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The Brandon Road Draft Integrated Feasibility Study and Environmental Impact Statement is available for review at the Great Lakes and Mississippi River Interbasin Study (GLMRIS) site.

Comments will be accepted through October 2, 2017. They can be submitted online or mailed or delivered to:

US Army Corps of Engineers, Chicago District
231 S. LaSalle St. Suite 1500
ATTN: GLMRIS – Brandon Road Comments
Chicago, IL 60604

The Corps will hold a series of public meetings in order to open a dialogue and obtain feedback. Scheduled meetings are:

  • September 11, 2017 from 1 to 5 p.m. at James R Thompson Center, 100 W Randolph St., Chicago, Illinois
  • September 14 from 3:30 to 6:30 p.m. at Muskegon Community College, Collegiate Hall, 221 S. Quarterline Road, Muskegon, Michigan
  • September 18 from 3:30 – 6:30 p.m. at Joliet Junior College, “U” Conference Center, 1215 Houbolt Road, Joliet, Illinois

During the meetings, the Corps will provide a presentation on the tentatively selected plan that includes structural and nonstructural options and technologies for preventing upstream transfer of aquatic nuisance species, such as Asian carp, at Brandon Road Lock and Dam on the Des Plaines River. Oral and written comments will be accepted at the meetings. A webinar and Facebook Live format will be provided for the September 14 and 18 meetings. Meeting details will be posted at the GLMRIS Public Meetings page.

Illinois House Passes Resolution Urging Governor Rauner to sign Illinois onto U.S. Climate Alliance

Springfield, June 26 – This morning the Illinois House passed HR490, urging Governor Rauner to have Illinois join 12 states, Puerto Rico, and over 300 cities in supporting the goals of the Paris Climate Agreement and signing onto the U.S. Climate Alliance. The resolution also urges the state to develop a plan of how Illinois can achieve 100% clean, renewable energy by 2045, a goal that dozens of cities and the state of California are working towards. The Resolution passed 54-29.

 

In response, Jack Darin, Director of Sierra Club Illinois Chapter, released the following statement:

“Governor Rauner, it is time for Illinois to join the US Climate Alliance, and chart our own course to a clean energy future. President Trump is stepping back from the global move to clean energy, but Illinois does not have to follow him.  It’s time to commit to fighting the climate change that threatens Illinois, and plan for the bold long term goal of a 100% clean energy future.

“Illinois is already on track to meet the Paris Agreement emissions reduction targets, as the clean energy boom on the way under the Future Energy Jobs Act (FEJA) is projected to reduce carbon emissions at least equal to those agreed to in the Paris accord. A transition to 100% clean energy will not happen overnight, but the transition has already begun, and setting that as a long term goal for Illinois will guide job training, economic development, grid infrastructure, and other components of a clean energy future.”