CBA Record November-December 2021
agricultural group you can think of. It’s a program where they identify sources of nitrate-nitrogen and phosphorus and find ways to reduce them. The strategy also involves providing education and funding. The next report will be released this fall and can be found on the Agriculture Depart- ment, EPA, and Illinois Extension websites. What effects of climate change have you seen in Illinois, and what are some mitigation efforts by your agency? One of the first steps the Governor took was to issue an order to join the U.S. climate alliance, which furthers the goals of the Paris Climate Accord. We find ways through permitting and regulatory development to further those goals regard- ing air, land, and water. To improve air quality, the Governor plans for the state to be carbon-emission-free and increase renewable energy. We monitor water for temperature and contaminants. On the land side, we’re focusing on disposal prac- tices and gas sequestration. We’re trying to move Illinois away from contributing more than we absolutely have to. What is your relationship with the regional EPA? We have daily conversations with them
and have a good, strong relationship with Region 5. They have resources that we don’t have. We administer a lot of federal programs, but we don’t take any money from federal funds. We get money through grant funds, permit and applica- tion fees, and a portion of civil penalties. They oversee a lot of our programs. There can be differences in policy options—they implement national policy, and we admin- ister direct work. Whatdoyoufeelyou’veaccomplished in your role so far? There are areas where the federal agency doesn’t have defined procedures or stan- dards. For instance, there was no federal standard for ethylene oxide levels, so we worked with other stakeholders to create Illinois laws to regulate those levels. Same with PFAS—“forever chemicals” that don’t break down over time—the states take it upon themselves. We are in the process of sampling water supplies across the state and then creating drinking water standards based on that. We’ll be ahead of federal government. Also, I’ve been proactive in hiring. Over recent years, we lost over half our staff, but now we’re building that back up so that we are well-equipped to handle our responsi- bilities. I’ve been able to re-invigorate the
focus on enforcement, be aggressive about non-compliance, and give companies incentives to operate in a compliant way. How can CBA members make a difference? Members of the bar can take advantage of resources on our website, and we have about 30 attorneys that can provide assis- tance. Be mindful of climate change, try to be as educated as you can, and partner with those that can advance those goals. Participate—report any problems you see. Also, you can advise business owners on permitting requirements and help ensure that business owners are acting responsibly.
Amy Cook runs Amy Co o k L aw LLC , focusing on serving nonprofits, small busi- nesses and creative pro f e s s i onal s , and is a member of the CBA Record Editorial Board.
Environmental Law Reading Suggestions
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Irreplaceable: The Fight to Save our Wild Places by Julian Hoffman 2019 University of Georgia Press (Non-Fiction)
All over the world, we are destroying irreplaceable habi- tats. From the tiny to the vast, from marshland to mead- ow, places are vanishing alongside the wildlife that makes them home. This book is a powerful testament to people’s resistance to these loses and the vital, sustaining connec- tions between humans and nature. Exploring coral reefs and remote mountains, tropical jungle and ancient wood- land, urban allotments and tallgrass prairies, Irreplaceable is an impassioned account of all that we stand to lose and how each of us can fight to save it.
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