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Environment

Promoting a Safe and Healthy Environment

Citizen Action/Illinois believes all citizens have a fundamental right to a safe and healthy environment in their communities and work place, as well as an obligation to maintain environmental quality for future generations.

Citizen Action/Illinois opposes legislative attempts to weaken key laws designed to protect the quality of air, water, land and natural resources and will work toward the maintenance of existing networks of safeguards.

Citizen Action/Illinois supports strong legislation to reduce air pollutants that are related to health problems and the environment.

Victories!

Chicago City Council passed Clean Diesel Contracting Ordinance

In April of 2011, the Chicago City Council passed unanimously the "Clean Diesel Contracting Ordinance." Introduced by Mayor Daley and sponsored by the Chicago Department of Environment, the ordinance requires the use of cleaner diesel fuel and less-polluting diesel trucks and equipment to be used on city-funded construction projects.

President Obama Signs the Diesel Emissions Reduction Act of 2010

During the 2010 federal Lame Duck session, the reauthorization of the Diesel Emissions Reduction Act passed both chambers of Congress. The bill, cosponsored by Senator Durbin, is expected to provide $500 million in grants and loans over a five-year period for a variety of diesel cleanup options including retrofits and retirements of thousands of diesel engines nationwide.

Metra Commits to Cleaning Up Locomotive Fleet

On November 7th, the Chicago Tribune published an in-depth, front-page story about the poor air quality on Metra trains. Through their own testing, the paper discovered air pollution inside Metra cars to be 72 times higher than outside, ambient air. As a result, Senator Durbin (alongside Respiratory Health Association of Metropolitan Chicago) held a press conference urging Metra, the EPA, and OSHA to find both short term and long term solutions. As a result, the transit agency decided to begin using 100% Ultra Low Sulfur Diesel fuel by April 1, 2011. Metra's also committed to look for funding to affix idling controls to 100% of their fleet. Lastly, in an effort to identify long term solutions, Metra has agreed to apply for federal funding to develop a cleaner engine prototype.

IDOT Adopts Green Construction Policy

In 2009, Governor Quinn signed an Executive Order requiring that any equipment used during IDOT construction projects in the Metro East and Chicago Metropolitan areas be outfitted with pollution controls. The Campaign has been encouraging IDOT to adopt strong regulations to implement the Governor's order. This year, IDOT officially adopted a strong green construction policy mandating the use of pollution controls on most equipment that reduce diesel soot pollution by 50 percent. Citizen Action/Illinois and the Campaign are pleased with these regulations and want to offer thanks to all those who worked hard for their passage.

Chicago City Council Adopts Idling Limit

The Chicago City Council passed an ordinance to update the city’s air pollution code. Included in the ordinance is the city’s first ever idling limit aimed at reducing pollution from diesel trucks and buses. Drivers who idle such vehicles longer than 3 minutes will face a $250 fine. Chicago Police, city parking and traffic enforcement officials, and the Commissioner of the Environment have the authority to enforce this limit. Passage of the ordinance means Chicago now has the strongest engine idling prohibitions in the Midwest. New York City, Philadelphia, and Washington DC already have diesel engine idling limits of 3 minutes or less.

Governor Quinn Signs Diesel Anti-Idling Bill

Governor Quinn signed legislation (HB 2664) to strengthen the state’s 10 minute diesel vehicle idling limit by increasing the fines. Under the new law, fines for violators will increase from $50 to $90 for first offense and from $150 to $500 for subsequent offenses. In order to provide an incentive to local governments to enforce the law, the legislation allows local governments to keep a portion of the fine. A portion of the fine will also fund anti-idling education efforts by the Illinois EPA. Supporters of the Illinois Campaign to Clean up Diesel Pollution sent nearly 200 emails to their state legislators asking them to support the bill.

Cook County Board Passes Green Construction Ordinance

The Cook County Board of Commissioners recently approved a Green Construction Ordinance that will require all public county construction projects, costing $2 million or more, to use clean fuel and technology that removes up to 90% of dirty soot from their equipment.

With the announcement, Cook County will become the first County in the Midwest to adopt a green construction ordinance. The efforts of Citizen Action/Illinois and our Illinois Campaign to Clean Up Diesel Pollution coalition partners were crucial in making sure this ordinance passed. Thank you!