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OUR PROGRAM PRIORITIES: Clean Energy-Air | Clean Transportation | Midwest Places | Environmental Markets
The Environmental Law & Policy Center is the Midwest’s leading public interest environmental legal advocacy and eco-business innovation organization, and among the nation’s leaders. We develop and lead successful strategic advocacy campaigns to improve environmental quality and protect our natural resources. We are public interest environmental entrepreneurs who engage in creative business dealmaking with diverse interests to put into practice our belief that environmental progress and economic development can be achieved together. ELPC’s multidisciplinary staff of talented and experienced public interest attorneys, environmental business specialists, public policy advocates and communications specialists brings a strong and effective combination of skills to solve environmental problems.
ELPC’s vision embraces both smart, persuasive advocacy and sustainable development principles to win the most important environmental cases and create positive solutions to protect the environment. ELPC’s teamwork approach uses legal, economic, scientific and public policy analysis, and communications advocacy tools to produce successes. ELPC’s strategic advocacy and business dealmaking involves proposing solutions when we oppose threats to the Midwest environment. We say “yes” to better solutions; we don’t just say “no.”
ELPC was founded in 1993 and has achieved a strong track record of successes on national and regional clean energy development and pollution reduction, transportation and land use reform, and natural resources protection issues. ELPC’s creative public advocacy effectively links environmental progress and economic development together and improves the quality of life in our Midwestern communities.
ELPC is governed by a 18-member board composed of businesspeople, academics, attorneys, and civic leaders. They meet quarterly to examine our progress and guide staff on major organizational decisions. In 2008 we established a stellar Science Advisory Council including leading academics from the University of Michigan, University of Wisconsin, Northwestern University, and Loyola University to assure that our program decisions benefited from regular scientific input.
ELPC’s 45 multi-disciplinary staff work strategically to generate national and regional impacts through efforts focused in the 11-state Midwest and Great Plains regions (Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Ohio, Wisconsin, Michigan, Minnesota, Nebraska, North Dakota, South Dakota and Kansas). These states are both a center of our nation’s pollution problems as well as a fulcrum for solutions that make good sense for both our environment and our economy; while the region serves as the nation’s transportation hub and hosts the nation’s largest concentration of old, highly polluting coal-fired power plants, it also holds the nation’s richest and largely untapped clean energy potential. ELPC sometimes works at the national level, influencing policies like the federal Farm Bill and federal transportation legislation, and other times works at the state level, where we can continue raising the bar for state action and working toward tipping points for national action.
About one-third of our country’s global warming pollution comes from generating electric power. How we produce that power, and how much we generate, has a profound impact on global warming. ELPC is a leader in the Midwest and Great Plains working to:
• Create Markets for Renewable Energy. Renewable energy resources such as wind and solar are the fuel of the future, and passage of renewable portfolio standards (RPS) in every Midwestern state is a critical step to building a clean energy future. ELPC focuses on getting these good policies in place and then making sure that they are implemented well over the long-term.
• Clean Up Dirty Coal Plants. The Midwest still depends on coal plants for more than 75% of its electrical power. Coal plants are among the dirtiest sources of power. ELPC is working to bring these older plants up to modern pollution control standards and shut down those who wont install the necessary equipment.
• Promote Energy Efficiency Policies and Programs. ELPC’s primary goal is to ensure that utilities design and conduct energy efficiency programs that maximize environmental benefits and consumer savings. We are working to: ensure that the EEPS are implemented wisely to reach their full potential; replicate, improve and expand strong energy efficiency policies and programs across the region; and educate new policymakers and other leaders about the importance of energy efficiency.
• Promote Farm Energy. Producing energy from biofuels, biogas, wind power, and solar energy can reduce our demand for foreign oil, create jobs in America’s heartland, and reduce carbon pollution.
• Advance Transmission Policies to Support Clean Energy. ELPC is leading the Midwest ISO Environmental Sector’s focus on expanding demand side options for consumers in MISO. We are especially working to integrate energy efficiency and demand response into long-term system planning, bridging the wholesale/retail divide that limits customer participation in the wholesale energy markets, and preventing expensive subsidies to keep coal power plants running on the basis of erroneous reliability justifications.
• Implement Energy Efficient Building Codes. Doing energy efficiency “right” at the new construction and major rehab stage is by far the most cost-effective time to make these pro-environmental and energy cost reduction investments. ELPC was instrumental in getting a commercial energy efficiency building code passed in Illinois in 2004, a residential energy efficient building code in Illinois in 2009, and recently ELPC negotiated language with the Homebuilders’ Association that preserved the Code’s automatic 3-year update cycle and ensured that Illinois will be among the first states in the nation to adopt the 2012 International Energy Efficiency Code.
Motor vehicles consume almost 75% of the oil we use and produce about 26% of our global warming pollution. ELPC is a leader in the Midwest and Great Plains working to:
• Advance High-Speed Rail. High-speed trains in the Midwest would be three times as energy efficient as cars and six times as energy efficient as planes. Choosing rail travel over driving or flying will decrease our dependence on foreign oil and reduce air pollution that causes global warming and harms public health.
• Create a Market for Cleaner Cars and Electric Cars. Under new federal standards, average fuel economy for passenger cars will increase from 27.5 mpg in 2009 to 54.5 mpg by 2016. What’s more, electric vehicles are next generation clean cars — with smart strategies and the right locations, these vehicles present an exciting opportunity to reduce air pollution, save drivers up to $1,200 per year on gasoline, and reduce our dependence on foreign oil.
• Oppose Wasteful Highway Spending. ELPC partners with local environmental groups to oppose unnecessary highway projects which promote sprawl and encourage more fuel consumption.
The Midwest and Great Plains contain key natural treasures. ELPC works to protect this natural heritage from environmental threats, particularly those linked to global warming. ELPC is a regional leader working to:
• Change U.S. Forest Services Policies and Protect the “Northwoods.” The Chequamegon-Nicolet National Forest (CNNF) in Northern Wisconsin is part of the connected Northwoods ecosystem that stretches through Minnesota, Wisconsin, Michigan and Ontario, and is considered one of the “10 most-endangered national forests” because its trees, waterways, biodiversity and wildlife habitat are disappearing at alarming rates due to excessive logging. ELPC staff have been engaged in the development of the Climate Change Response Framework, which seeks to establish the CNNF as a model for climate change adaptation and mitigation regionally and nationally. The Framework offers an important opportunity to enhance the way U.S. forests are managed, so that climate adaptation principles and strategies are followed consistently to protect wildlife and maximize carbon storage and sequestration.
• Implement and Improve Policies to Assure Clean Water. ELPC has worked extensively to implement and enforce the Clean Water Act’s important anti-degradation requirements. These rules, intended to “keep clean water clean,” have been seriously underutilized by states in the Midwest. Illinois, Indiana and Iowa now have such rules due to ELPC’s effective advocacy. ELPC worked with The Mississippi River Collaborative to evaluate each state’s efforts to reduce non-point source pollution; our report Cultivating Clean Water, collects these evaluations and recommends effective strategies that all states can adopt.
Sustainable development and thriving eco-businesses are part of our vision that advances global warming solutions and reduces the carbon footprint of communities in the Midwest and Great Plains. ELPC is a leader in the Midwest and Great Plains working to:
• Demonstrate the Feasibility of Green Retrofits for Existing Buildings. Some of the biggest environmental challenges begin in the buildings where we live and work. Green building practices are an important part of the solution. ELPC is working to make green building practices the norm. ELPC’s LEED Platinum office puts our values into practice, combining innovative technology and forward-thinking design to create a workspace that protects the environment, is healthier for our staff and makes economic sense.