2012 Victories: Protecting Our Environment, Health and the Midwest’s Special Places in Ways that Grow the Economy
Monday, November 19, 2012
The Environmental Law & Policy Center celebrates its 20th Anniversary in 2013. Twenty years ago, ELPC’s start-up was guided by a strategic vision, dedicated early colleagues and an entrepreneurial, results-oriented approach to solving vital environmental and clean energy problems. ELPC has grown from eight staff in Chicago to 48 talented multidisciplinary staff and eight offices in Chicago, Columbus, Des Moines, Jamestown, Madison, Minneapolis, Sioux Falls and Washington, D.C. ELPC is now the Midwest’s premier environmental legal advocacy and eco-business innovation organization, and we’re among the very best in the country. We are achieving important victories and succeeding in showing that job creation, economic growth and environment progress can be achieved together for clean energy, modern high-speed rail and cleaner air and water.
Please consider making a financial contribution to ELPC this year. ELPC combines strong legal and policy advocacy with diverse eco-business partnerships to advance our mission of achieving environmental progress and economic development together. This is the right approach, especially in times of extreme political partisanship. ELPC has produced strong successes and remarkable results:
- Shutting Down the Old Highly-Polluting Fisk and Crawford Coal Plants in Chicago in August. The old State Line coal plant on the Illinois-Indiana border was shut down in spring. ELPC’s tenacious, strategic legal and policy advocacy to “clean up or shut down” Fisk and Crawford, combined with public health and community groups’ organizing and outreach, achieved a “coal-free Chicago” that’s part of a climate change solution. More coal plants are likely to shut down soon due to both economic and advocacy pressures.
- High-Speed Rail: Moving from Vision to Reality. The “trains are out of the station” in the Midwest. Demonstration runs have begun on the Detroit–Chicago and Chicago–St. Louis corridors. Modern, fast, comfortable and convenient high-speed passenger rail will improve mobility, reduce pollution, create jobs and spur economic growth. Developing the Midwest rail network will transform our region’s transportation infrastructure.
- Stopping the Sprawl-Inducing Hastert Highway in Chicago’s Exurban Area. ELPC’s federal court lawsuit on behalf of Citizens Against the Sprawlway and Friends of the Fox River paved the way to an innovative solution: Transfer the federal funds to support needed local road improvements and other better alternatives for Kane County. ELPC’s litigation + grass roots organizing + creative strategic solutions + cooperative negotiations = a smarter and better solution.
- The “Quiet Revolution” in Energy Efficiency. More efficient lighting, appliances, HVAC systems and motors are holding down electricity demand and avoiding pollution. ELPC’s work on $500 million of energy efficiency programs in Illinois, Iowa, Michigan and Ohio is producing results. Energy efficiency is a smart way of doing business and the best, fastest and cheapest way of saving consumers money on utility bills, reducing pollution, creating new jobs and enhancing grid reliability. Combining technological innovations with policy advances can help save our planet.
- Growing Wind Power and Solar Power. ELPC’s advocacy in Illinois, Iowa, Michigan, Ohio and South Dakota is helping to achieve rapid advances in clean energy deployment. Iowa is #2, Illinois is #4 and Minnesota is #6 in the nation for installed wind power capacity. ELPC is partnering with the City of Chicago on the SunShot Initiative to accelerate rooftop solar installations and on “brownfields to brightfields” projects. In Iowa, ELPC led the charge to pass a new solar energy tax credit. Wind power and solar power are the fastest growing energy sources in the world, creating jobs and spurring business and avoiding pollution.
- Cleaning Up the Chicago River – A Turning Point! Chicagoans have sadly tolerated our namesake river being unsafe and unhealthy for recreation and enjoyment. In 2011, ELPC’s, Friends of the Chicago River’s and our colleagues’ persistent and effective advocacy succeeded when the U.S. EPA and the Illinois Pollution Control Board directed the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District to install modern pollution control equipment to disinfect wastewater. The District has now committed to disinfect earlier than originally planned. Many Chicagoans enjoying the Chicago River are looking back, shaking their heads and asking why did Chicago wait so long to clean it up? Stay tuned for news about ELPC’s work to help clean up Wisconsin’s rivers and lakes, too.
The 2012 election results were victories for clean energy, clean air and climate change solutions, as well as for high-speed rail development. President Obama’s re-election sets the overall direction for the nation, and he is ready to advance America’s clean energy economy, accelerate high-speed rail development as his #1 transportation priority, move forward Clean Air Act and Clean Water Act standards that were deferred pending the election, and continue the Great Lakes restoration. The Obama Administration also appears ready to advance EPA’s carbon pollution reduction standards.
ELPC’s win-win-win – environmental progress, job creation and economic growth – approach makes sense, focuses on solutions and brings together the people and partners who can get things done. We’re proud of our 2012 accomplishments and look forward to seizing more strategic opportunities for environmental solutions. Thank you for considering a contribution to support ELPC’s successful work protecting the Midwest’s environmental quality and preserving our natural resources.