Position in Brief
The League of Women Voters of Illinois supports preserving and enhancing the environmental integrity and quality of the Great Lakes-St. Lawrence River Ecosystem. We support the attainment and maintenance of high water quality standards throughout the Great Lakes Basin, with emphasis on water pollution prevention. Water conservation should be a high priority of all governments in the Basin.
The EPA disclosed that about 25% of the pollution discharge permits are not being enforced! While they try to improve on that, they have published new application forms, which the public has been invited to comment on. Comments are due August 2.
Cook County is holding a public hearing on August 3 on a proposed ordinance which would require pharmacies to determine if there is a minimum level of appropriate, free drug disposal sites within Cook County districts, and if not, the pharmacies must develop a plan to meet the requirements of the ordinance and pay for the implementation of the plans. The LWV Cook County asked Krista Grimm to testify in favor of this ordinance.
The Clean Water Act Waters of the U.S. rule remains a focus for its critics in Congress. The House & Senate passed SJ Res 22, a disagreement resolution. President Obama is expected to veto the measure.
The new year brings a new opportunity to pass HB 2401, the Coal Tar Sealants ban. While efforts to pass a state ban will continue, municipalities including Highland Park and Wilmette are considering local bans in the absence of state leadership.
The Illinois EPA has released new water quality standards for mercury and PCBs in Lake Michigan's nearshore waters along the Illinois coast. Due to current levels of the pollutants, significant reductions are needed. Regulatory tools are not well suited to solve the problem.
Illinois Senator Mark Kirk has signed on as a cosponsor of SB 1140, a response to the expansion of the Clean Water Act. This bill would shift some of the regulatory powers for clean water from the federal government to the states and likely weaken clean water protections. A draft TFA was submitted to LWVUS for approval 10 days ago which asks League members to call Sen. Kirk and tell him to take his name off of the bill.
Meanwhile, several lawsuits have been filed by states challenging the administrative rules written for implementation of the Waters of the US rule under the Clean Water Act. The sixth circuit court has put a stay on enforcement of the regulation while other lawsuits continue.
At the state level, IL State Senator Laura Fine is the sponsor of HB 2401, Coal Tar Sealant Use and Sale Prohibited. She and Cook County Commissioner Larry Suffredin are co-hosting a forum on the issue tonight (10/17) in Wilmette. A US Geological Survey scientist from Texas is presenting scientific studies about the harmful effects of the sealant.
Coal Tar Sealants contain carcinogenic polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) that pollute storm water runoff and especially threaten the health of children. LWVIL has signed off on letters to universities, local governments and contractors asking for a voluntary ban of these sealants.
The League of Women Voters of Illinois will monitor several bills introduced in the General Assembly dealing with gray and green infrastrucure, flooding prevention, and clean water.