Author: David Jakubiak

Read Howard’s Speech from #Rally4ThePlanet

On April 21, 2017, ELPC hosted an Earth Day Rally in Chicago with partners included elected officials and friends from across the environmental and public health advocacy sector.

Here is Howard’s speech from that event:


Good afternoon!  This Earth Day, let’s commit to work together to make Chicago the cleanest and greenest city in the country.

Everyone in Chicago, and across our nation, has the right to breathe clean air.  All people have the right to have safe clean water to drink.  All people have the human right to live in a healthy community without toxic threats.

Safe clean drinking water.  Healthy clean air.  Healthy communities without toxic threats.  These are not just Democratic values or just Republican values.  They are not just the value of city dwellers or rural folks.  These are core environmental values shared by all Americans.  Not just on this Earth Day, but on every day of the year.

President Trump and his EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt don’t seem to share these values.  Their shortsighted actions are harmful to achieving safe clean drinking water, healthy clean air, healthy communities and accelerating clean renewable energy.

We need to fight back – and win!  Not “fight the good fight.”  We will play to win – and we will work together to win the fights.

We won the fight by working together to force Midwest Generation to shut down the old, highly polluting Fisk and Crawford coal plants in Pilsen and Little Village.  Chicago’s air became cleaner and healthier for us all.

We won the fight by working together to force the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District to finally disinfect and keep some of the bad bacteria out of the Chicago River.  We gained a safer, cleaner river with better recreation for us all.

We won the fight by working together to pass the Illinois clean energy legislation to accelerate solar energy, advance more wind power and achieve more energy efficiency.   We can make Chicago a leading clean energy community in ways that reduce pollution, create jobs, grow the economy and help to solve our climate change problems.

We will win the fight against the Trump Administration’s misguided plans to cut the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative funding from $300 million annually to $0.

We will win the fight against the Trump Administration’s reported misguided plans to close down the EPA Region 5 Office in Chicago that oversees the Great Lakes, the largest fresh water body in the world, and move the EPA staff to Lenexa, Kansas.  What are they thinking?

Do they really think that when BP, Enbridge or U.S. Steel spill oil or toxic chemicals in Lake Michigan and nearby rivers that EPA’s emergency response team can get there more quickly from Lenexa, Kansas than from Chicago?

We will continue working together to reduce pollution and clean up and restore the Great Lakes to be a great place to fish, swim and enjoy the outdoors…and to provide safe, clean drinking water supplies for all Chicagoans.  We will keep doing so

We will continue working together to achieve better public transit that is affordable and accessible to all.  And to achieve a more livable, walkable and bikeable city that is healthier and less dependent on cars.  And to develop a modern intercity higher-speed rail that improves mobility, reduces pollution, creates jobs and pulls together our regional economy.

Chicago can and should become a cleaner and greener city, and a safer and healthier city that makes all of us proud.

Joining us on Earth Day today are some of the people and organizations, political and environmental leaders, and community activists that make things happen.  These are dedicated and effective people who work every day for Chicago to become a clean water, clean air and clean energy leader.

Thank you all working to make Chicago a healthier place to live, work and enjoy.  Thank you for now for what you will keep doing every day, not just on Earth Day, to build a cleaner and greener and a better Chicago for everyone.

ELPC Letter Asks Michigan AG Bill Schuette to Withdraw His Appeal Challenging the EPA’s Mercury Pollution Reduction Standards

I think you will be interested in this letter that I sent on Tuesday to Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette. It’s time for AG Schuette and the State of Michigan to act to better protect children’s health, safe food and safe water.

Mercury is a known neurotoxin that impairs fetal brain development, reduces children’s IQ and their ability to learn, and otherwise harms children’s health.  Especially in light of the Flint lead poisoning tragedy, Attorney General Schuette and Michigan’s other leading public officials are painfully aware of the importance of appropriate and necessary regulation to protect public health, clean air, safe water and safe food.

The Mercury and Air Toxics Standards will reduce mercury, acid gases and other toxics pollution from coal-fired power plant smokestacks and thereby protect human health and our environment.  This is sound regulation to avoid mercury contamination of the Great Lakes, inland lakes and rivers that results in the bioaccumulation of mercury in fish, which are eaten by people.  Sadly, it’s not safe for many people – especially pregnant women – to eat much of the fish they catch in the Great Lakes, inland lakes and rivers as the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services has recognized.  Consumers Energy and DTE have already or will soon install modern pollution control equipment on the coal plants, which these companies plan to continue operating, by the extended April 2016 deadline to comply with the Mercury and Air Toxics Standards.

Dozens of Michigan residents are engaging by requesting that Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette withdraw State of Michigan’s challenge to the Mercury and Air Toxics Standards.  That would show the people of Michigan that he understands of the importance of taking actions now to better protect children’s health, clean air and safe water.  It’s time for the State of Michigan to move forward in this positive direction to reduce mercury and other toxics pollution that harms our children’s health and our environment.



Howard Learner’s Comments on Report on Exelon’s Economically Uncompetitive Nuclear Plants

January 7, 2015
David Jakubiak

Environmental Law & Policy Center’s Howard Learner’s Comments on HR 1146 Report
Report Confirms Energy Policy Key to Environmental Progress, Economic Development

CHICAGO – Howard Learner, Executive Director of the Environmental Law & Policy Center, responded to the release of the state’s report on Exelon’s economically uncompetitive nuclear power plants with the following statement:

“This report shows that Exelon’s nuclear plants that aren’t economically competitive can be retired without added costs to Illinois consumers, without hurting reliability, and with more job creation by growing clean renewable energy and energy efficiency.”

“This report confirms that the competitive power market is working to hold down Illinois energy costs. We shouldn’t bailout Exelon’s old, uncompetitive nuclear plants. Instead, we should invest in new renewable energy, like wind and solar, and energy efficiency to grow a cleaner Illinois energy future.”

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