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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.