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Environment
Quick Hit
by Public News Service
3:58pm
Wed Apr 9

Environmental Impact Continues Four Years After BP Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill

Nearly four years after the Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, a new study says the disaster is far from over.

Much research remains to be done, said Dr. Doug Inkley, senior scientist for the National Wildlife Federation, but the science shows that wildlife still are feeling the impacts and the oil is not gone.

"There is oil on the bottom of the gulf, oil is washing up on the beaches and oil's still in the marshes," Inkley said. "I'm really not surprised by this, to tell you the truth. In Prince William Sound in Alaska, 25 years after the wreck of the Exxon Valdez, there are still some species that have not fully recovered — two-and-a-half decades later." Read more »

Quick Hit
by Ellyn Fortino
4:39pm
Tue Apr 1

Revised Chicago Petcoke Ordinance 'Opens The Door' For More Dirty Facilities, Environmentalists Say

Environmentalists and Southeast Side Chicagoans are furious over recent changes made to Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s proposed ordinance to crack down on petcoke, claiming the revisions have weakened the legislation.

The mayor’s measure, initially introduced at March’s city council meeting, originally sought to ban new petcoke facilities from opening in the city and prohibit existing sites from expanding. But at the council’s zoning committee meeting Tuesday, the public learned the pending petcoke ordinance, co-sponsored by Alds. Ed Burke (14th) and John Pope (10th), has since been revised.

“That blindsided us,” Peggy Salazar of the Southeast Environmental Task Force told Progress Illinois after the nearly two-hour committee hearing. “How can they provide us with information, an ordinance to review and evaluate … then when we get here to testify and speak [on] the ordinance, they give us something totally different than what we did all that work on? How can they do that? How is that allowed?”

The council’s Committee on Zoning, Landmarks and Building Standards agreed to defer consideration of the measure until its April 24 meeting to allow the public more time to review the substitute ordinance.

“I think there may be a few more items we can add,” Pope said before asking the committee to defer the vote. Read more »

Quick Hit
by Ellyn Fortino
5:57pm
Thu Mar 27

Illinois Lawmakers Wage Fight Against Water-Polluting Agents In Cosmetic Products; BP Oil Spill Clean Up Continues (UPDATED)

An extremely small plastic pollutant poses a big threat to the health of the Great Lakes and the state's environment. And some Illinois lawmakers are looking to take action against the problem.

At issue are the super-tiny plastic beads used in hundreds of personal cosmetic products like facial wash, body scrubs and even toothpaste. According to scientists, tens of millions of these little plastic particles have made their way into the Great Lakes.

The cosmetic microbeads, which are less than 5 millimeters in size and commonly used to help with exfoliation, often get washed down household drains. Because the plastic beads are so small, they are not captured during the water treatment process, allowing them to get into waterways.

"There's no way to recover those materials once they're out in open waters," said Olga Lyandres, research manager at the Alliance for the Great Lakes. "Once they enter the environment, they stay there." Read more »

Quick Hit
by
3:32pm
Wed Mar 26

OP-ED: BP's Lake Michigan Oil Spill: More Mess And Less Transparency From The Refinery Chicagoans Love To Hate

The following is written by Henry Henderson, director of the Midwest Program for the Natural Resources Defense Council.

Ask any Chicagoan and they’ll tell you that Lake Michigan is a big part of what makes this town great. So, perhaps this is what makes BP’s nearby refinery in Whiting, IN so reviled.

The week of the Exxon Valdez disaster anniversary and a week after the Council of Canadians released a report highlighting the threat that tar sands oil imposes on the Great Lakes, BP did what it always does: crapped up Lake Michigan.

Yesterday, an undetermined amount of oil made its way into the refinery’s water treatment unit and was dumped into the Lake, mucking a half mile of shoreline with waxy residue.

That’s the same water treatment unit that was venting the carcinogen benzene directly into the air… Which is just one of many controversies that have emanated from this gargantuan facility perched just a few miles down the Lakeshore from Chicago, in the midst of densely populated Northwest Indiana. Read more »

Quick Hit
by Ellyn Fortino
4:34pm
Tue Mar 25

Debate Over Chicago's Proposed Plastic Bag Ban Heats Up

Chicagoans are up in arms over a proposal to crackdown on plastic carryout bags in the city.

The Chicago City Council's Committee on Health and Environmental Protection held a two-hour subject matter hearing on Ald. Joe Moreno's (1st) long-stalled plastic bag reduction ordinance Tuesday and debate over the proposal was fierce.

Moreno's ban-the-bag measure, which failed to move forward last year, originally looked to outlaw plastic bags in stores with more than 5,000 square-feet of retail space. But the new ordinance, introduced in the city council earlier this month, would apply to retailers of all sizes. Adding small stores to the mix was seen as a way to garner more support for the measure. 

Ald. George Cardenas (12th), who co-sponsored the new ordinance and chairs the environmental committee, said the proposal, which will likely see some additional tweaks, is slated for a committee vote on April 15.

"I think we're on the right side of being pro-environment," Cardenas told reporters. "I think we have to be on the right side of pro-business, and that's a balancing act."  Read more »