PEORIA, IL -- The Central Illinois Healthy Community Alliance had a good year, thought it lost a battle, at least for now.
From a news release:
PEORIA, IL -- The Central Illinois Healthy Community Alliance had a good year, thought it lost a battle, at least for now.
From a news release:
From a news release:
Illinois One Step Closer to Improved Regulations For Factory Farms
A 45-day public comment period opens on new CAFO rules to protect environment and human health:
Regulations set up first-ever registration of State’s polluting factory farms
SPRINGFIELD, IL––DECEMBER 2, 2013 ––In a significant action affecting Illinois’ environmental and community health, the Illinois Pollution Control Board (“Board”) has issued a notice in today’s Illinois Register on proposed new regulations for one of the state’s largest polluters – factory farms, also known concentrated animal feeding operations (CAFOs).
The State of Illinois has been at risk of losing its authority to administer the Clean Water Act for failure to adequately regulate CAFOs. Last year the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency (IEPA) proposed a set of draft regulations to the Board due in part to pressure from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to make necessary changes to existing CAFO rules.
According to Dr. Kendall Thu of Northern Illinois University, a leading expert on the environmental and community impacts of CAFOs, Illinois water quality reports confirm that animal feeding operations are one of the top ten contributors of pollution in the state -- a statistic that is likely underestimate since not all waterways are assessed and all CAFOs have not been accounted for. CAFO-related waste spills and fish kills are a common occurrence in Illinois. Since 2000, IEPA reports document 34 fish kills attributed to livestock waste releases in the state.
“We are moving closer each day to a hard-fought and overdue win for the environment and public health in Illinois,” said Danielle Diamond, Executive Director of Socially Responsible Agriculture Project and an attorney for the Illinois Citizens for Clean Air & Water. “For years the state has had its opportunity to handle the CAFO pollution problem openly and responsibly, but chose to back factory farms over the public interest. Today signals a change in that behavior.”
Last year, community and environmental stakeholders, including members of the Illinois Citizens for Clean Air & Water (ICCAW), targeted a series of hearings across the state to call for tougher pollution controls for CAFOs. Among the key improvements called for was a registration program for all unpermitted large factory farm operations.
The proposed accounting system would enable regulators to track where industrial-scale livestock operations are located in Illinois and determine their roles and cleanup responsibilities in hazardous and illegal pollution events.
“Although the Illinois EPA has been charged with the responsibility to regulate CAFOs since the late 1970’s, to date the agency still does not have an accurate accounting of the hundreds of factory farms in
the state or even know the actual whereabouts of many,” said Diamond. “How can an agency regulate polluters if it doesn’t even know where they are?”
Concerns over the adequacy of the IEPA-proposed regulations led citizens and environmental groups to propose their own set of improved draft regulations to the Board, as did livestock industry groups who pushed for lesser regulations. Included among the appealed-for improvements was a requirement that all Illinois CAFOs be held to the same pollution and waste management standards, regardless of their permit status.
In a disappointing move, the Board omitted this key rule change, following the IEPA’s milder recommendation to only strengthen pollution control requirements for permitted facilities. Since very few CAFOs in Illinois are currently required to have permits, the vast majority of factory farms will be held to a lesser standard under the new rules.
“We welcome the regulation changes that the Pollution Control Board has recommended, but they need to seriously rethink not holding all factory farms to the same standards,” said Karen Hudson, a farmer and co-founder of ICCAW. “Scientists at Johns Hopkins University's Bloomberg School of Public Health confirm that people living near factory farms and areas where manure is disposed run a higher risk of dangerous and potentially life-threatening methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) infection. Nothing less than our community health is on the line.”
The Board has initiated a 45-day public comment period to gather additional information and public comment before finalizing the regulations. Those wanting to participate can contact ICCAW or go the Board’s website to view comments and order for instructions on how to submit comments at IPBC - In the Matter of: Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations (CAFOs).
### About Socially Responsible Agricultural Project (SRAP):
Socially Responsible Agricultural Project provides free, professional assistance to communities working to protect themselves from factory farms and their impact on local communities and populations, and to those who are trying to reclaim agriculture by producing and marketing sustainable agricultural goods.More information can be found at www.sraproject.org.
About Illinois Citizens for Clean Air and Water (ICCAW): Illinois Citizens for Clean Air and Water, a state-wide coalition of family farmers and community groups advocating for sound policies and practices that protect the environment, human health, and rural quality of life from the impacts of large-scale, industrialized livestock production facilities in Illinois. For more information about ICCAW, please go to www.iccaw.org -30-
PEORIA, IL -- Just when you thought environmental problems couldn't get any worse, now this: The US Coast Guard proposes allowing barge operators to transport radioactive water on the nation's waterways!
See the story here. There's a link where you can comment, but doing that is incredibly complicated. (No wonder the Affordable Care Act website is screwed up. So is this one.) Instead we need an internet petition, and here it is.)
Want to drink radioactive water? The Illinois River supplies drinking water to cities along its banks, including Peoria and Pekin.
This is simply unbelievable!
-- Elaine Hopkins
PEORIA, IL - The League of Women Voters of Greater Peoria is presenting a panel discussion on genetically modified food. Here's a news release on the event, followed by a link to a terrific piece on the subject by reporter Clare Howard, published in the Community Word:
Before you buy that Thanksgiving turkey and fixin's, come to the League of Women Voters of Greater Peoria's public meeting on the merits and impact of the GMO (Genetically Modified Organism) Labeling Bill on Nov 9, 2013.
State Senator Dave Koehler will present his bill - the Genetically Engineered Food Labeling Act (SB 1666) - that would require foods sold in Illinois that are made with genetically modified organisms be labeled as such.
The event will feature four panelists - two in opposition and two in support of the bill. The discussion will following standard League format where each panelist gets a 5 minute opening statement, audience questions with timed answers, and closing statements.
The League of Women Voters of Greater Peoria has no position on this issue. This is an informational meeting and everyone is encouraged to attend and participate.
Panelists in support:
--- David Bishop – organic farmer, president of the governing board of Illinois Organic Growers Association
--- Jessica Fujan – Midwest organizer, Food & Water Watch
Panelists in opposition:
--- Leon Corzine – farmer, member of the Advisory Committee on Biotechnology and 21st Century Agriculture with the United States Department of Agriculture
--- Stephen Moose – professor, Department of Crop Sciences, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Here's the link to the Community Word story by Clare Howard. It's a must read.
-- Elaine Hopkins
From a news release:
Community Members Most Impacted by Midwest Generation Coal Plant Pollution Call on NRG Energy to Establish Responsible Plans and Retirement Dates
WAUKEGAN and PEORIA, Ill. Oct. 21, 2013—NRG Energy Inc., a New Jersey-based power producer, last Friday announced plans to purchase Edison Mission Energy, which includes Midwest Generation and its five coal-fired power plants in Illinois.
The Illinois coal plants included in the sale are Midwest Generation’s Powerton in Pekin, IL, Joliet 9, Joliet 29, Waukegan and Will County Romeoville coal-fired power plants in central and northern Illinois. The coal plants currently lack modern pollution controls, and are responsible for a combined 3,460 asthma attacks, 321 heart attacks and 206 deaths every year, according the Clean Air Task Force.
“NRG Energy is now going to be the owner of some of the dirtiest coal plants in Illinois that are repeated violators of clean air and clean water standards in Illinois,” said Tracy Fox, Peoria resident just downwind of the Powerton coal plant and member of the Central Illinois Healthy Community Alliance. “This pollution costs our communities millions of dollars in health costs and we are very disappointed that NRG apparently plans to continue operating both the Powerton and Joliet stations.”
Midwest Generation and its California parent company, Edison Mission Energy, filed for bankruptcy in late 2012. These plants had reported financial losses for years, and energy market analysts have long identified some of their plants, particularly the one in Waukegan, as possible candidates for retirement. Earlier in the year the Sierra Club contracted with Synapse Energy Economic and released the report “Midwest Generation’s Coal Plants: Too Expensive to Compete,” which highlighted the deteriorating financial condition of the company given the challenging market circumstances and looming costs of pollution controls.
"Regardless of ownership, the time is long overdue for this antiquated and environmentally harmful power plant to close—for the good of our lake, our air and our children,” said Preston Kendall, President of Cristo Rey St. Martin College Prep in Waukegan. “It's hard to imagine this plant still running if it were located in some of the other communities in Lake County; the residents of Highland Park or Lake Forest wouldn't stand for it and neither should Waukegan. I encourage elected officials in Waukegan to work with NRG Energy and community stakeholders to establish a clear phase-out date for the plant and to identify better, cleaner opportunities for the site.”
For the past several months, the Clean Power Lake County Coalition had brought attention to the air and water concerns at the plant as well as the uncertain financial condition of the company. “We’ve repeatedly called on the company and elected officials to establish a long-term plan for this plant and this sale proves that Midwest Generation had no intention of staying in our community,” said Jennifer Witherspoon, Waukegan resident and President of the NAACP Lake County Branch. “As we saw in NRG Energy’s press release, it has said nothing about its plans for the Waukegan plant and it’s important that NRG work with our community to figure out a reasonable phase-out date and transition plan for the site and the workers,” she added.
The community organization CARE in Will County (Citizens Against Ruining the Environment) has worked for almost two decades to bring attention to the pollution issues at both the Midwest Generation Romeoville and Joliet stations. “We are upset that another out-of-state company is coming in run these dangerous emitters of air and water pollution,” said Ellen Rendulich, Lockport resident and Director of CARE. “NRG Energy needs to know that community members are not going to allow these plants to continue to pollute our communities unchecked. We would like the company to establish a clear plan for their plants that will allow just transitions for the workers and include retirement dates so that we can chart a cleaner, healthier future for our families.”
Midwest Generation’s coal plants have faced numerous lawsuits for both clean air and clean water violations. A lawsuit for numerous violations of the Clean Air Act against all of MWG’s coal plants is still currently being pursued by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the state of Illinois and the community organization CARE. Additionally, the Sierra Club, the Environmental Law & Policy Center, CARE and Prairie Rivers Network filed a lawsuit in 2012 for groundwater violations at each of the plants. Before EME filed bankruptcy in 2012, the Sierra Club also filed a lawsuit for repeated sulfur dioxide violations at each of the coal plants. Last week the Sierra Club filed a motion in EME’s bankruptcy case to allow its lawsuit for sulfur dioxide violations at each of the plants to proceed before the Illinois Pollution Control Board.
Midwest Generation is also the owner of the Fisk and Crawford generating stations in Chicago, which closed in 2011 after years of pressure from community residents, public health organizations, and the Mayor of Chicago.
The Clean Power Lake County Coalition aims to bring the Lake County community together to build a just future of clean air, clean water and a revitalized lakefront in Lake County. The coalition consists of the NAACP’s Lake County Branch, Cristo Rey St. Martin College Prep, Christ Episcopal Church of Waukegan, Faith in Place, the Exchange Club of North Chicago, Respiratory Health Association, League of Women Voters of Lake County, the Environmental Law & Policy Center and the Sierra Club.
Illinois Healthy Community Alliance (CIHCA) is a coalition of individuals
and organizations committed to creating a sustainable and healthy community for
Central Illinois. CIHCA is concerned about the
decades of air and water pollution created by the Edwards coal plant south of
Bartonville. CIHCA is working to retire the Edwards plant and transition
Central Illinois to a cleaner energy economy by reducing energy use, and moving
to renewables such as wind and solar.
Citizens Against Ruining the Environment (CARE) is an all-volunteer, non-profit organization, founded in 1995 that works to protect the health and safety of the Will County community and the environment.
PEORIA -- Another nail in the coffin of the Edwards Power plant. From a news release:
October 3, 2013
Court-Ordered Coal Ash Protections to Benefit Illinois Communities
Federal Court Orders EPA to Move Forward on Coal Ash Rules
Washington, D.C. – A federal judge agreed with environmental and public health groups that the Environmental Protection Agency needs to set federal regulations for the safe and proper disposal of toxic coal ash. A copy of the judge’s order can be found here: http://earthjustice.org/sites/default/files/files/RCRA_NOI_Order.pdf
The groups filed the lawsuit in April 2012 challenging the EPA’s lack of federal regulations for America’s second largest industrial waste stream. This is critical for Illinois because while our state generates 4.4 million tons of coal ash every year, and imports coal ash for disposal from at least 6 states, this harmful waste product is handled according to outdated and ineffective state rules that were written over three decades ago.
“In most states — at ponds, landfills, and mine pits where coal ash gets dumped — a slow seepage of the ash’s metals has poisoned water supplies, damaged ecosystems, and jeopardized citizens’ health. Unfortunately, the Illinois communities of Marion, Joliet, Venice, Oakwood, Havana, Alton, Powerton, Hennepin, Hutsonville, Canton, Wood River, and Coffeen now know this. We are long overdue for an update. It is well past time the EPA acts on promises made years ago to protect the nation from coal ash contamination and life-threatening coal ash ponds,” says Traci Barkley, Water Resource Scientist for Prairie Rivers Network.
The order of the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia offered little details about the timing or substance of the EPA’s rulemaking but said it will issue a Memorandum Opinion within the next 30 days with more specifics. For now, the decision marks the first step towards federally enforceable safeguards, monitoring, and protections against coal ash. In its order, the court did deny one of the environmentalists claims regarding testing procedures for coal ash contamination, but more details are needed before the groups are fully able to understand the implications.
Coal ash has already contaminated more than 200 rivers, lakes, streams and aquifers with toxic pollutants like arsenic, lead, selenium and mercury. In 2008, a spill at the TVA Kingston Fossil Plant in Harriman, Tennessee, dumped one billion gallons of coal ash over 300 acres, destroying homes and poisoning rivers. That spill led to the EPA proposing in May 2010 the first federal regulations for coal ash disposal. The agency never finalized that rulemaking, leaving open the opportunity for the power generating industry and some members of Congress to push for legislation that would prevent the EPA from ever setting federal regulations.
The following statement is from the groups that filed the lawsuit: Appalachian Voices (NC); Chesapeake Climate Action Network (MD); Environmental Integrity Project (DC); Earthjustice (DC); French Broad Riverkeeper (NC); Kentuckians for the Commonwealth (KY); Moapa Band of Paiutes (NV); Montana Environmental Information Center (MT); Prairie Rivers Network (IL); Sierra Club (DC); and Southern Alliance for Clean Energy (eight southeast states):
“The impacts of coal ash pollution are being felt across the country. Our groups represent millions of Americans who want clean water, clean air and healthy living. We turned to the courts to force the EPA to set long overdue protections from this toxic menace. This decision marks the first step towards federally enforceable safeguards from coal ash. For decades, coal ash has been dumped into unlined and unmonitored pits, poisoning water supplies and the communities that rely on them. No one should have to live in fear of the coal ash dump in their backyard, and we hope the EPA will finally adopt regulations that protect all nearby communities.”
For information about coal ash in North Carolina, Maryland, Kentucky, Montana, Nevada, Illinois, Tennessee or other southern states, as well as the implications this decision will have locally, please contact the following representatives:
For information about the lawsuit, federal legislation, or the status of the pending EPA regulation, please contact the following representatives:
UPDATE 10/1/13 -- Here's a good story on the local algae bloom by reporter Clare Howard in the Community Word.
PEORIA -- Here's an interesting news release on algae blooms which are in the Illinois River as well as the Mississippi:
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Josh Mogerman, NRDC, 312-651-7909 or jmogerman@NRDC.org
Kim Knowles, Prairie Rivers Network, (217) 344-2371 x209 or email@example.com
Court Ruling Forces EPA Action on Mississippi River Pollution
Action would also fight harmful algal blooms in Illinois lakes and rivers
(September 23, 2013) - The U.S. District Court in Eastern Louisiana ordered the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency on Friday to decide within 180 days whether it will require new limits on the nutrient pollution that is causing the growth of dangerous algae in the waters of Illinois and the Mississippi River basin. Attorneys at the Natural Resources Defense Council led the suit, filed on behalf of Prairie Rivers Network and other members of the Mississippi River Collaborative. Too much nitrogen and phosphorus is causing the Gulf of Mexico Dead Zone, toxic algae blooms and is polluting drinking water.
“For too long, EPA has stood on the sidelines while our nation’s waters slowly choke on algae,” said NRDC Senior Attorney Ann Alexander. “They have acknowledged the problem for years, but could not muster the gumption to address it. The court is telling the Agency that it is time to stop hiding from the issue and make a decision already.
Nitrogen and phosphorus from farms, sewage plants, and urban stormwater systems fuel the growth of algae in many waterways in Illinois and around the country. Algae can rob water of the oxygen that fish and other aquatic animals need to live. One of the most devastating consequences of this pollution has been the dead zone in the Gulf of Mexico – an area the size of Connecticut where the oxygen is so low, nothing can live there.
The lawsuit, filed a year and a half ago, challenged EPA’s denial of the Mississippi River Collaborative’s 2008 petition asking EPA to establish numeric limits on how much of this pollution can be dumped in our waters. The suit charged the EPA with failing to lawfully answer the question before it, that is, whether numeric pollution limits are needed to clean up these waters and to comply with the federal Clean Water Act The court found that EPA’s refusal to answer the “necessity” question was indeed unlawful.
While the decision does not tell the EPA what its answer must be, EPA must declare, within 180 days, whether numeric nitrogen and phosphorus pollution limits are needed, or not.
“After years of urging, negotiating, petitioning and finally suing, this victory should at last get US EPA to the table to begin the hard but necessary work of writing pollution limits for Illinois’ waters,” said Kim Knowles, Staff Attorney for Prairie Rivers Network.
Plaintiffs in the suit included Gulf Restoration Network, Prairie Rivers Network, Waterkeeper Alliance, Environmental Law and Policy Center, Iowa Environmental Council, Missouri Coalition for the Environment, Kentucky Waterways Alliance, Tennessee Clean Water Network, Minnesota Center for Environmental Advocacy, Sierra Club, and NRDC.
Following are comments from groups involved in the suit:
Susan Heathcote, water program director of the Iowa Environmental Council in Des Moines, Iowa, said, “Lake recreation is a big business in Iowa—generating $1.2 billion in annual spending and supporting 14,000 jobs. Yet Iowa’s lakes have among the highest nitrogen and phosphorus levels in the world, and consequences of this problem, including algae blooms and poor water clarity, have already landed 79 of the state’s top recreational lakes on Iowa’s impaired waters list. In addition, harmful algae blooms led to two dozen advisories against swimming at Iowa’s state park beaches this summer due to high toxin levels that threaten the health of people and pets.”
“It should be apparent that pollution limits are essential to controlling pollution” said Kelly Foster, Senior Attorney for Waterkeeper Alliance, “With this decision, we are hopeful that EPA will finally do what it has long known is necessary to address the Gulf Dead Zone and the staggering number of other fisheries, water supplies and recreational waters decimated by nitrogen and phosphorus pollution across the nation.”
"EPA must address the nutrient issue, and we appreciate the court's ruling to that affect," said Judy Petersen, Executive Director at Kentucky Waterways Alliance. "The Army Corps of Engineers monitored Kentucky's recreational lakes for Harmful Algae Blooms for the first time this past summer and recorded excessive numbers throughout much of the summer at several lakes. Nutrient pollution is clearly just as much of a problem in Kentucky as it is in other Mississippi River Basin states and down in the Gulf, and EPA must address it."
Kris Sigford, Water Quality Director at Minnesota Center for the Environment notes, "We are gratified that EPA cannot duck this important decision, and hope that EPA takes quick and decisive action to control widespread nitrogen and phosphorus pollution in the Mississippi River. In Minnesota, over one-quarter of our streams and rivers are polluted by nitrogen in excess of safe drinking water standards, and the trend is increasing rapidly."
Bradley Klein, attorney for the Environmental Law & Policy Center added, “This isn't just about the Dead Zone in the Gulf of Mexico. Algae blooms threaten the Great Lakes--and smaller waterways across the nation are being impacted by this huge problem. Hopefully EPA will move in the right direction on this because until we deal with the sources, which are sometimes thousands of miles away, we cannot get to the problem."
PEORIA -- Here's a fascinating news release about the link between the MRSA infection and factory farms. These farms are cruel to animals, and now we know they propose a health risk. It's another reason not to eat factory produced meat.
DANVILLE, Pa - Researchers from Geisinger’s Henry Hood Center for Health Research and Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health have for the first time found an association between living in proximity to high-density livestock production and community-acquired infections with methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus, commonly known as MRSA.
analysis concluded that approximately 11 percent of community-acquired
MRSA and soft tissue infections in the study population could be
attributed to crop fields fertilized with swine manure. The study is the
first to examine the association between high-density livestock
operations and manure-applied crop fields and MRSA infections in the
According to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, nearly 80 percent of antibiotics in the United States are sold for use in livestock feeds. The manure produced by these livestock and applied to crop fields contains antibiotic-resistant bacteria, resistance genes, and about 75 percent of the antibiotics consumed by the animals.
For the study, researchers utilized Geisinger’s sophisticated electronic health record system to identify patients with MRSA infections and skin and soft tissue infections. The two groups were compared to patients who never had a MRSA infection. Patients received an exposure score based on their distance from the production, the number of animals at livestock operations, the amount of manure spread on crop fields, and the size of the field. The researchers noted that between 2005 and 2010 there were about 3,000 patients with MRSA and 50,000 with skin and soft tissue infections who were diagnosed and treated in the Geisinger Health System.
Of these cases, 1,539 cases of community-associated MRSA and 1,335 cases of health-care-associated MRSA met the study requirements. The researchers found a significant association between community-associated MRSA and application of swine manure to crop fields. A similar but weaker association was found between swine operations and community-associated MRSA. No association was found between dairy farms and MRSA infections.
“The study shows the utility of electronic health records for demonstrating the unrecognized public health consequences of operations with environmental impacts,” said Brian Schwartz, M.D., MS, senior author and environmental epidemiologist who splits his time between Geisinger Health System and Bloomberg School’s Department of Environmental Health Sciences.
Funding for the research was provided by the New York University-Geisinger Seed Grant Program, the Johns Hopkins Center for a Livable Future, the Johns Hopkins Sommer Scholarship and the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences Training Grant ES07141.
PEORIA --The corporation that plans to take over Ameren/Cilco's power plants has found itself in the cross hairs of a powerful environmental group. While flocks of geese circled high over the city, about a dozen activists gathered on Sept. 16 to announce their latest tactic against Dynegy.
Members of this group stopped the expansion of the PDC hazardous waste landfill in Peoria some years ago. Now they're out to get rid of a polluting power plant near Bartonville, the Edwards plant.
Dr. John McLean, a retired Peoria neurologist, speaks at the Sept. 16 new conference. The stack of petitions wrapped in blue will be delivered to the Illinois Pollution Control Board on Sept. 17.
Their news release recaps what was said at the press conference on Sept. 16: