Welcome to IEC's Summer 2021 Newsletter!

We've been hard at work at the capitol, in the City of Chicago and now at the federal level as well, to continue to building power for Illinois' people and environment. Here's a quick round-up of some of the wins we've already racked up this year, and a look at the landscape moving forward as we keep pushing for clean air, water, energy and communities in Illinois. 

To the Governor's Desk!

This past legislative session, while unprecedented and challenging, did culminate in some big wins for team IEC!

  • Lead Service Line Replacement: With a concurrence vote in the House, this spring we passed the Lead Service Line Replacement and Notification Act! Illinois, the state home to around 1/8th of the nation's lead service lines, will now require all municipalities to identify and replace all of the roughly 700k lead service lines while prioritizing replacement in high-risk populations. 
  • Partners for Nutrient Loss Reduction: For those following this battle from the start, you may recall that IEC initially pitched Partners for Nutrient Loss Reduction as a bill; however, this session proved fairly unpredictable, and our team had to roll with the punches. We did so and squeaked out a major victory for sustainable agriculture-- the FY22 budget will now include funding for nutrient reduction loss strategies like cover crops! Read about why funding these programs is so important in this op-ed by IEC's  Agriculture & Water Programs Director Eliot Clay.
  • Take a look at the full list of bills we and our partners checked off this session in our full End of Session Legislative Update here.


Keeping up the Energy

If you follow IEC, you've certainly heard about the Clean Energy Jobs Act; you may have even written your legislator or attended one of our Clean Energy Lobby Days to advocate for it. So to those who've been with us in this fight-- thank you! You've gotten us to the point we're at now, which is the closest we've ever been to passing a nation-leading climate bill!

Session may have wrapped up without a decision being made on an energy package, but the negotiations are far from over! Days before the House and Senate ended their session for the second time, the Governor released the most comprehensive and equitable climate and energy plan in the nation.

What's more, while we may not have passed Gov. Pritzker's proposal yet, the people power of our movement continues to grow. Now with allies in the Governor and nearly 50 House and Senate members who've all committed to only sign an energy package that prioritizes climate and equity, we're poised for success. But we need to keep up the pressure if we want to see Illinois become a champion for climate action.

Our fossil fuel opponents are pulling out all the stops. We can't let them pollute our planet and jeopardize our climate for profit any longer.

Click here to tell your legislator to support Gov. Pritzker's energy proposal! No climate? No equity? No deal!

Windy City Wind Up

We've taken our movement work from the state level to the City of Chicago, and are hard at work building power within the City's communities and government. This year, we added capacity to our Chicago team, who you can see pictured outside of City Hall. Iyana, Tonyisha and Dany are already seeing some of the exciting results of their work.

Featured Blog: A Snapshot of EJ Issues in Chicago

Having trouble keeping up with the discouraging amount of environmental justice issues happening throughout the city? We've put together a blog to take a brief look at some of the ongoing battles, specifically those IEC is engaged in. While this is an incomplete list, we hope it will be a resource in helping folks navigate some of these issues.

Click here to read our blog summarizing a range of environmental justice issues in Chicago.

Read IEC's Inaugural City Council Scorecard!

IEC this year released our first-ever Chicago Environmental Scorecard! The scorecard is a tool for Chicagoans to check on how their alderperson is doing on environmental issues based off the votes they've taken on environmental issues over the past two years. While no alderperson scored under a 75%, only nine managed to achieve a perfect score. 

Check out this great interview on WBBM radio with our executive director, Jen Walling.

While we've been building power in Springfield since the 70's, and more recently in Chicago's City Council, IEC's most recent expansion has been into federal environmental and climate policy. We've added on federal staff to advocate for the betterment of Illinois' communities and environment in Congress. 


American Jobs Plan

At the federal level, one of IEC's top priorities is not only the passage of a robust and sustainable infrastructure plan, but a true climate plan that includes funding for critical green infrastructure in Illinois-- this could mean substantial investments in electrified transportation, clean energy and lead-free drinking water for our state!

Keep an eye out for upcoming American Jobs Plan town halls with some of Illinois' members of Congress including Congressman Garcia and Congresswoman Underwood. Dates to be announced.

30x30: What it means for conservation, climate and open space in Illinois

IEC is excited to rally behind the international 30x30 initiative, which is aimed at conserving 30% of the world's natural spaces by 2030. President Biden, earlier this year, announced that the United States would sign on to this ambitious goal; but what does that mean for Illinois?

Our team is bringing together advocates and experts from every corner of Illinois' conservation community to answer these questions and more.

Click here to read Conservation Director Lindsay Keeney's blog about the opportunity this initiative could bring for our state.

Back on Tour: A Peek at IEC's 2021 Legislative Tours & 30x30

Annual conservation tours with elected officials are underway. IEC grows the number of environmental legislative champions by connecting legislators with hands-on experiences in some of Illinois' best conservation landscapes. IEC also launched the Illinois 30x30 Coalition, convening conservation-minded organizations to seek alignment with Biden's Restoring and Conserving America the Beautiful campaign in Illinois. IEC will begin the first of summer-long community listening sessions regarding 30x30 in July.

IEC's Eliot Clay, Sen. Sally Turner, State Rep. Murphy and Vern LaGesse of Friends of Sangamon Valley pictured at Nipper Wildlife Sanctuary in Loami, IL. 

Rep. Murphy, the farm owner and the tenant helping transition the farm to climate smart agriculture stand at the edge of a no-till bean field at Wilcox Farms in Decatur, IL.

State Rep. Bennett pictured at Zumwalt Farms in Iroquois County alongside Kathleen Mueller of Illinois Stewardship Alliance and Tuomas Sivula from Zumwalt Farms. 

Stronger Together: Partner Highlights

IEC isn't the only organization in our Illinois environmental community finding great success so far this year. Our affiliate member organizations are also celebrating, including some major policy wins and an internationally recognized grassroots campaign.

Especially if you're in the Chicago area, you've probably heard about the heated campaign against the relocation of the scrap metal facility General Iron (rebranded as "Southside Recycling") into Chicago's environmentally overburdened Southeast side. This area of the city already faces high concentrations of petroleum coke, manganese and landfill pollution, and Southside Recycling would have only added these health risks. Not to mention that they'd be moving in down the street from a high school.

Ultimately, this campaign came to a close earlier this year when the Mayor's office announced the decision to halt the last permit RMG, General Iron's parent company, would have needed to move.

This fight was built on the incredible work of some of our partners, who we'd definitely recommend following if you're not already, including: Southeast Environmental Taskforce, Alliance of the Southeast and United Neighbors of the 10th Ward.

What's next?

The Chicago Environmental Justice Network has introduced a bill to begin to tackle the legacy of environmental racism in zoning and land use decisions in Illinois. You can read their press release on our website here.

What's more-- the proposal is backed by Gov. JB Pritzker & the Illinois EPA. While we weren't able to move the bill this session, CEJN and IEC remain hopeful for the next session and expect to be in a strong negotiating position to make some meaningful policy changes to Illinois' zoning and permitting laws & procedures.

When it comes to passing policies for sustainable agriculture in Illinois, IEC is in good company. Congratulations to the Illinois Stewardship Alliance for leading on the passage of the Home-to-Market Act!  

This is particularly a win for small farmers, women-owned businesses and low-income entrepreneurs, as the bill sought to eliminate some of the barriers to Cottage Food operations, making them more accessible to more Illinoisans, in particular those historically left out. Plus, who doesn't love a world with more buttercream icing in it?

What's left? See ISA's website for more information on Home-to-Market and to urge Gov. Pritzker to take the final step and sign the Home-to Market-Act into law!

Bring out the hoop houses: Right to Garden Passes!

After years of work, IEC and our partners at Illinois Stewardship Alliance, Advocates for Urban Agriculture and the Institue for Justice have finally passed the Right to Garden Act through the House and Senate!

This bill allows for Illinoisans to grow fruits and vegetables in their own yards and protects them from government interference. 

Click here to read an op-ed by Nicole Virgil explaining the need for this bill not only in encouraging self-sufficiency but in protecting residential gardeners of color in Illinois from undue scrutiny over their own back yards.

Join IEC on Tuesday, October 5, 2021 for our Annual Environmental Leadership Dinner-- where we will be returning in person this year! All funds will go to supporting IEC's work.

You can buy your tickets now at ilenviro.org/dinner


2022, here we come!

IEC will begin issue planning for the year ahead with calls and listening sessions for our affiliate organizations across the state, as well as those in Chicago. We look forward to hearing from our members, and pushing for new green policies in the coming year!

In the Media

Watch Jen Walling on Chicago Tonight to talk about the status of an energy package in Illinois.

Watch the TV debut of our most recent Environmental Justice Lobby Day in May.

Hear Colleen Smith on WBEZ's Curious City segment on the significance of passing the lead service line replacement bill

Victory Reel from our Movement!

About us.

Since 1975, IEC has worked to safeguard Illinois—its people, its plants and animals, and ecosystems by building power for people and the environment.

Representing over 100 environmental organizations, IEC carries out its mission to advance public policies tHat support clean energy, clean water, waste reduction, sustainable transportation, land conservation and sustainable agriculture across Illinois through education, advocacy and movement building.


Illinois Environmental Council
520 E Capitol | Springfield, Illinois 62701
Question? Email us at IEC@ilenviro.org or call (217) 544-5954

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