Illinois Environmental Legislation 2013
Illinois Environmental Legislation 2013
Recreation Liability Protections Return to Outdoor Recreation and Conservation Organizations after a 7 Year Fight
After 7 years of working to restore recreation liability protections to private landowners (such as our non-profits and land trusts), the Illinois General Assembly is well on its way to passage. SB1042 passed the Illinois House 117-0 and the Illinois Senate 58-0. Much thanks to our wonderful sponsors, Sen. Don Harmon and Rep. Ann Williams as well as Openlands, The Nature Conservancy, Environmental Law and Policy Center and the nearly 90 organizations that have expressed interest and worked hard on this bill over the last 7 years. IDNR is very supportive of the legislation and the Governor is expected to sign the bill.
Additionally, this year the Illinois Department of Natural Resources budget remained level. This is a huge victory for our state parks as the sustainability fee that Partners for Parks and Wildlife worked so hard to obtain last year was protected and the general revenue funds going to IDNR were not diminished.
Comprehensive Fracking Regulations Passed by the Illinois General Assembly.
On Thursday, SB1715 passed the Illinois House 108-9. On Friday, the Senate first consideredSB630, Amendment 1, a moratorium on hydraulic fracturing. This bill went directly to the floor at the request of Senate leadership instead of first being considered by a committee because of the importance of this proposal. However, the motion to adopt the amendment to this shell bill was challenged by another legislator. Typically, amendments are adopted with very little consideration, so this challenge was a rare procedural move by opponents of the moratorium. The motion to adopt the amendment to the bill passed 28-24, which was enough to adopt the amendment and move the bill to third reading. View the vote count from this procedural move here.
Because the procedural motion itself only received 28 votes, the sponsor chose to pull the proposal from the calendar to obtain more support, indicating that a few of the 28 votes on the amendment adoption would be no votes on the moratorium proposal if it were considered. The moratorium proposal itself was not debated nor voted on by the legislature.
Following the procedural motion on SB630, Senator Frerichs called SB1715. Many legislators spoke on the proposal and it passed 52-3-4. The bill will still need to be signed by the Governor, who has expressed support for the proposal.
The passage of SB 1715 provides regulation of high volume horizontal hydraulic fracturing, a practice that has already started and is currently legal in Illinois with virtually no regulation. This bill requires public notice, provides for transparency, and establishes legal standing to challenge fracking operators. Read my recent Crain’s op ed on the fracking issue in Illinois and new information from Ann Alexander at NRDC about this new technology coming to Illinois.
Environmental Organizations Defend Illinois’ Best Energy Efficiency Proposals, Expand On Bill Financing
SB2350 concerning on bill financing of energy efficiency for multi-family housing passed the legislature this year with much work from CNT Energy, the environmental coalition, and housing groups.
Additionally, IEC and its members worked against a proposal that would have weakened the energy efficiency portfolio standards for industrial users through SB1496 Amendment 1. A subject matter hearing was held in House exec on this proposal with significant concerns raised by committee members. IEC and our member organizations hope to work with these users to come up with a workable proposal that increases energy reductions.
Finally, the repeal of the energy efficiency building codes HB1331 has not advanced this session.
RPS Fix Discussions Still Ongoing
While SB103 – a fix to the Illinois renewable energy portfolio standards – has not yet moved forward, significant discussions on this bill are ongoing.
On Memorial Day, an amendment to SB105 that would have changed the installation rules for small distributed solar generation and electric vehicle charging stations was considered by committee but has been tabled. Environmental organizations will be working with the sponsor going forward to make sure that any legislation is friendly to small solar companies and community college training programs.
HB2623 will allow municipalities to require disclosure of the type of fuel used as part of municipal electric aggregation procurements. This gives communities a greater ability to support Illinois renewable energy projects. Read more from the Illinois Sierra Club.
HB2753 concerning Lake Michigan Wind, including a new planning matrix developed by IDNR and additional task force to study the implementation of this technology, passed both chambers with support from the Illinois Sierra Club.
Green Stormwater Infrastructure Gaining Traction
Two bills that will encourage green stormwater infrastructure passed the Illinois General Assembly in 2013. HB1522 began as an initiative of the Center for Neighborhood Technology in 2011. As passed, this bill creates a new financial tool for Peoria and DuPage counties to manage stormwater, including providing incentives for green stormwater infrastructure. SB1869 gives municipalities clear authority to manage green stormwater infrastructure systems. These bills are both on the way to the Governor.
Recap of Other Legislative Initiatives from 2013.
- Composting – Bills that expanded rural on farm composting (HB3319), created a new exemption for urban and suburban on farm composting (HB2335), and piloted new infrastructure for food scrap composting (SB850) all passed the Illinois General Assembly.
- Littering – A bill that would create a minimum fine of $50 for violation of the Illinois’ littering laws passed and is on its way to the Governor. HB3081
- Recycling – SB2226 will increase the recycling of asphalt shingles in Illinois passed both houses.
- Fracking Wastewater on Roads – Defeated in committee HB2264, a bill that would have allowed oil field brine to be used on roads in Illinois.
- Nuclear Power – Worked with the sponsor to table HB3324, a bill that would have provided an exemption to the moratorium for a pilot type of nuclear power reactor.