#DitchTheIlliana: Please Donate to Support ELPC’s Public Interest Litigation to Stop the Illiana Tollway and Protect the Midewin National Tallgrass Prairie

The boondoggle Illiana Tollway is on the ropes. ELPC’s public interest attorneys are in Federal Court and State Court fighting back against the Illinois Department of Transportation and Indiana Department of Transportation in order to bring the Illiana Tollway to a well-deserved end. This litigation is expensive, but necessary and effective. Please make a donation to support ELPC’s effective public interest litigation to win these federal court and state court lawsuits that can stop the proposed Illiana Tollway and protect the Midewin National Tallgrass Prairie.


Midewin_Illiana_250x330ELPC’s public interest attorneys are representing the Midewin Heritage Association, Openlands and Sierra Club Illinois challenging the approval of the flawed “Tier 2” Environmental Impact Statement by the Federal Highway Administration and the Illinois and Indiana departments of transportation.

The Tier 2 EIS is based on the very circular logic that the Illiana is needed to accommodate growth that would be generated by building the Illiana. If this sounds familiar, that’s because ELPC attorneys won a major legal victory invalidating the “Tier 1” EIS on the same grounds last year. The environmental studies are “tiered” because, generally, the first one selects a project site and the second one determines more specifics about that site. ELPC is arguing that the Tier 2 EIS is illegal both because it’s based on the already-invalidated Tier 1 analysis and the illogical assumptions about population growth and traffic patterns. ELPC’s legal briefs in this case are due in June.  ELPC’s public interest environmental attorneys are working hard to win. Please donate to support this important ELPC litigation to stop the Illiana Tollway boondoggle, support sound regional planning and protect the Midewin National Tallgras Prairie.


Homepage_MidewinIllianaBisonELPC’s public interest attorneys are representing Openlands and Sierra Club challenging the Illiana Tollway being illegally included in the “GO TO 2040” regional plan.

For a project to be included in the regional plan, state law requires approval from the CMAP Board (which voted no), and federal law requires sign-off from the MPO Policy Committee (which voted yes).  Including the Illiana Tollways in the GO TO 2040 Plan, even though the CMAP Board voted against it, violates the Illinois Regional Planning Act. ELPC has filed a motion for summary judgment in this case. A final round of briefs is due in June, and we will be urging the court to uphold and enforce Illinois’ regional planning law. Please donate to support this important ELPC litigation to stop the Illiana Tollway boondoggle, support sound regional planning and protect the Midewin National Tallgrass Prairie.

The proposed new Illiana Tollway proposal is fiscally irresponsible, contradicts sound regional planning, and would harm the Midewin National Tallgrass Prairie. We have won in the court of public opinion with your active support, and now we need to keep winning in the courts of law. Please make a donation to support ELPC public interest environmental litigation to #DitchTheIlliana.


New White Paper on “Repowering Chicago”

My new white paper, “Repowering Chicago: Accelerating the Cleaner, More Resilient and More Affordable Electricity Market Transformation,”  was commissioned by the University of Illinois-Chicago for its 2015 Urban Forum.  This forward-looking, strategic analysis and roadmap explains how Chicago and the Midwest are on the cusp of fundamental changes in the way that people and businesses obtain, supply and use electricity — and what that means for our economy and environment.  This analysis is specifically focused on Chicago, but it’s applicable to the Midwest and nationally.

Solar + Battery Storage + EE (especially LEDs) are disruptive technologies that will change the electricity system as much as wireless technologies have changed telecommunications and the ways that we live and work.  You’ve all heard some of the policy, market and technological change ideas from me over the years, and this White Paper pulls the specifics together into a bigger picture and vision.

This new electricity system transformation will be driven by technological innovation, more competition and choices, and much more clean renewable energy and energy efficiency.

I welcome your comments, edits, suggestions and ideas.

Illinois is #1 in LEED Certified Green Buildings; ELPC Is Very Proud

Smart, forward-looking policies make a difference.  I was very proud to read about the U.S. Green Building Council’s new ranking that Illinois is #1 in the nation (per capita) for LEED-certified green buildings.  ELPC has played a key leadership role over the past 15 years to help make this happen.

We led the charge to:

  1. Enact and implement Illinois’ strong energy efficient building code legislation for both residential and commercial buildings.
  1. Design and pass the Cook County Board’s green building ordinance.  Cook County was the first county in the nation to do so.
  1. In multiple ways, work with the City of Chicago and the Public Buildings Commission to design and implement green buildings policies and practices.
  1. Help design and create the Illinois Clean Energy Community Foundation’s green buildings grant program that has advanced support for better green building design and energy efficient code enforcement throughout Illinois.

All of that makes a difference.

GreenOffice-250x330ELPC of course didn’t do this alone.  Kudos to our partners at the U.S. Green Building Council, Illinois Chapter; American Institute of Architects, Chicago Chapter; Illinois Clean Energy Community Foundation, especially Jim Mann and Bob Romo; Midwest Energy Efficiency Alliance; Commissioner (now Congressman) Mike Quigley, who sponsored the Cook County Board ordinance; City of Chicago Sustainability directors Karen Weigert and Sadhu Johnston; and the City’s Environmental Commissioners, among other ELPC partners.  Success has many “mothers and fathers of invention.”

Moreover, ELPC is “walking the talk” with our own award-winning LEED Platinum Green Office at the ELPC Chicago Headquarters.

I’m very proud of ELPC’s key leadership role in achieving the real-world impacts and results of Illinois being ranked #1 in the nation in LEED-certified green buildings.  Working with our partners, ELPC is making a real difference to advance forward-looking policies that are resulting in Illinois’ green building successes.

President Obama’s Proposed Energy Security Trust: Advancing Clean Transportation and Aligned with ELPC’s Solutions

I had the honor of being invited to attend President Obama’s announcement of his proposed Energy Security Trust ($2B over ten years) at Argonne National Laboratory last Friday.  It’s both exciting and important.  ELPC’s long-term clean transportation advocacy is well aligned with President Obama’s approach.

President Obama’s Energy Security Trust “is designed to invest in breakthrough research that will make the technologies of the future cheaper and better – technologies that will protect American families from spikes in gas prices and allow us to run our cars and trucks on electricity or homegrown fuels.”  The President’s proposal sets asides $2 billion over 10 years from royalty revenues generated by oil and gas development on federal waters in order to support research into a range of cost-effective technologies – like advanced vehicles that run on electricity, homegrown biofuels, fuel cells, and domestically produced natural gas.  The Energy Security Trust “increase[s] momentum towards to a cleaner, more efficient fleet that is good for consumers, increases energy independence, and cuts carbon pollution.”

I’m proud of the direction that President Obama is taking to advance modern clean cars and trucks with transportation solutions that are good for both growing our economy and for improving our environment by reducing carbon pollution.  I’m proud of ELPC’s work on advancing transportation solutions and look forward to the opportunities that we’ll have to work with the Obama Administration, Congress and vehicle manufacturers and researchers to achieve breakthrough progress.

Here’s how the White House explains President Obama’s new advanced transportation strategy and the Energy Security Trust in more detail:

“The President’s proposal sets aside $2 billion over 10 years and will support research into a range of cost-effective technologies – like advanced vehicles that run on electricity, homegrown biofuels, fuel cells, and domestically produced natural gas. The mandatory funds would be set aside from royalty revenues generated by oil and gas development in Federal waters of the Outer Continental Shelf (OCS), already included in the administration’s five year plan. These revenues are projected to increase over the next several years based on a combination of leasing, production, and price trends, with additional revenues potentially generated as a result of reforms being proposed in the FY 2014 Budget. The Trust is paid for within the context of the overall budget.

Paired with other Administration policies, including our historic new fuel economy standards, the Trust would help solidify America’s position as a world leader in advanced transportation technology.

For example, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has released a new report that underscores the progress we have made to improve fuel economy, save American families money at the pump, and reduce carbon pollution that contributes to climate change. According to the report, from 2007 to 2012, EPA estimates that CO2 emissions have decreased by 13 percent and fuel economy values have increased by 16 percent. In addition, compared to five years ago, consumers have twice as many hybrid and diesel vehicle choices, a growing set of plug-in electric vehicle options, and a six-fold increase in the number of car models with combined city/highway fuel economy of 30 mpg or higher.

The Energy Security Trust builds on this historic progress, continuing to increase momentum towards to a cleaner, more efficient fleet that is good for consumers, increases energy independence, and cuts carbon pollution.”

The Energy Security Trust is clearly one of President Obama’s signature major second-term initiatives.  ELPC will work with the Obama Administration to help transform this vision into reality in ways that are good for America’s technological innovation and economic growth, good for national security and good for our environment through smart climate change solutions.

Best wishes,


PS: There will be several types of new electric and compressed natural gas vehicles on display at ELPC’s 20th Anniversary Gala Celebration at the Navy Pier Grand Ballroom on April 17th.   Please join us great ELPC celebration – for more info:


Smart Blog of the Week from ELPC’s Colleagues

ELPC Colleagues,

Many of our partners, friends and supporters have websites and blogs that share their strategic thinking on important environmental, clean energy and natural resource conservation issues in our Midwest communities and nationally.  Each week, I’ll be sharing with you a particularly interesting website or blog post for your education and engagement.   Let’s kick things off this April – right before Earth Day – with two recent posts for your reading interest.

Suggestions and ideas welcomed!

Best wishes,



Michigan Land Use Institute Blog on Why Detroit’s Public Transit Is Vital

This “post of the week” comes from Jim Lively, a planner and program director at the Michigan Land Use Institute (MLUI), a long-time ELPC partner in Northern Michigan.  Jim’s post “Detroit Transit Vital to the Whole State” explains his views on why the Michigan Legislature should create the state’s first regional transit authority in the Detroit Metro Area:

“But economists know that Michigan’s future, including Traverse City’s, is inextricably connected to the fate of Detroit.  And Detroit cannot succeed if Michiganders don’t stop the terrible, twin trends of public disinvestment and population loss from our state’s largest city.

Perhaps the most glaring example of disinvestment is the lack of a regional public transportation system that can move people between city and suburbs. Realtors, developers, and demographers confirm that cities without effective transit systems are not attractive to the young knowledge workers who are driving the new economy.”

The Scoop:  Jim Lively’s blog post describes how the proposed regional transit authority would better connect Detroit to the suburbs and shows the problems facing cities that lack regional transport.  Thanks Jim and MLUI, for your post and work on better transportation in Michigan.

Real the whole story here:


Amanda Hanley’s WREN Blog

This “post of the week” comes from Amanda Hanley’s WREN Blog – “Winnetka Resident’s Eco Notes”.  Amanda is an environmental consultant, activist and Mom writing about opportunities for people to be more conscious of sustainable living and talk about key environmental issues affecting our communities and the world.  In this month’s “Winnetka’s Dirty Secret”, Amanda explains that coal plants are the principal source of electricity in Winnetka even as many residents would like to green their community:

“Winnetka’s power is not very clean.  We are more dependent on coal than most every other town in Northern Illinois.  When it comes to renewable energy, neighboring communities are set to reach much higher targets.  Making matters worse, many North Shore towns have an opportunity to cut electricity rates (supply portion) up to 25% and get 100% green power.  This option is not available in Winnetka.” 

Winnetka is a member of the Illinois Municipal Electric Agency (IMEA).  Amanda explains her views on the limited accountability, disclosure and standards for IMEA’s operations and how IMEA relies on polluting power supplies.  She describes how some Winnetka residents are taking actions to make their community more environmentally friendly.  Amanda also calls for knowledge sharing on this issue:  the more people know where their electricity comes from, the more people can actively fight for cleaner, renewable electricity for their homes and businesses.

The Scoop:  Amanda Hanley’s blog post in WREN this month effectively highlights the problems of Winnetka relying on polluting electricity supplies and missing out on clean, renewable energy opportunities.  She’s right to urge people to take actions calling on IMEA to pursue more environmentally sustainable renewable energy supplies.  Thanks Amanda, for your WREN blog post and call to action.

Read the whole article here:


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