Happy New Year
As we look forward to a new year of protecting Illinois’ rivers and streams, we want to take time to thank our members for their support over the past year. Here are a few accomplishments from 2015 that were made possible because of our generous and committed members.
Defending the clean water act
The U.S. EPA finalized the long-awaited Clean Water Rule, which protects the nation’s smallest, most vulnerable streams and wetlands that give life to our larger river systems. We worked with many groups across the country to support EPA’s efforts to clarify clean water protections.
We helped garner and amplify important voices like small businesses and farmers in support of the Clean Water Rule through our widely popular social media campaign: #4cleanwater. Our “Clean Water is Good for Business” video was featured on the U.S. EPA’s website, and we received national recognition for our campaign leadership and creative video and social media work.
Because a federal court has placed a temporary hold on the rule, we continue to work hard to see that the rule is upheld.
Reducing Nitrogen & Phosphorus Pollution
Illinois finalized its plan for reducing the nitrogen and phosphorous pollution that clogs our waters with noxious algae, depletes oxygen, and contributes to the Gulf of Mexico dead zone. Prairie Rivers Network sits on the state’s policy committee to address nutrients and will work for aggressive reduction of this harmful pollution.
Prairie Rivers Network is co-leading a campaign to stop a highly destructive Army Corps project that would devastate fish and wildlife on the Middle Mississippi River and put Illinois river towns at great risk of flooding. The New Madrid levee would destroy more than 50,000 acres of wetlands that provide vital spawning and breeding habitat for fish and wildlife. The campaign has gained support of key leaders like Senator Dick Durbin, and state floodplain experts.
Reducing THE THREAT OF Invasive Species
As part of an advisory group to Congress on Asian carp and other invasive species moving between the Great Lakes and Mississippi River, we are advocating for revitalization of the Chicago River as a necessary component of any invasive species solutions. We developed consensus recommendations for Congress to fund robust and aggressive programs to protect against Asian carp now, while we work on long-term solutions for dozens of other invasive species.
Protecting Wildlife Habitat
We successfully coordinated the Middle Illinois River Conservation Collaborative — bringing together conservation entities to acquire, restore, and protect floodplain habitats along the Illinois River. This effort led to the addition of 283 acres to The Wetlands Initiative’s Dixon Waterfowl Refuge, an acquisition that will restore upland habitats, protect a rare seep, and reduce agricultural pollution on the site.
FIGHTING bad river Management
Navigation practices and outdated infrastructure continue to degrade the health of our largest rivers. With a coalition of regional and national partners, we are advocating for small-scale, non-structural alternatives for navigation as preferable to new locks and dams.
We object to costly and destructive navigation projects while promoting the importance of wetlands and green infrastructure for environmental protection and flood risk reduction.
ACHIEVING STRONGER FEDERAL REGULATION OF COAL ASH
This April, the U.S. EPA finalized the first-ever regulations for the storage and disposal of toxic coal ash. Years of advocacy—including testifying, organizing, commenting, and, ultimately, bringing a lawsuit—finally forced the U.S. EPA to regulate coal ash dumping and closure requirements for these dumps.
WORKING FOR STRONGER ILLINOIS REGULATIONS OF COAL ASH
We are working to achieve strong state rules regarding the closure of coal ash dumps in Illinois. Strong state rules are needed to close several gaps left by the federal coal ash rules, and ensure that responsible clean-up and monitoring is required at all of the state’s polluting coal ash dumps.
Expanding Citizen Participation
Responding to calls for fairness and transparency, Illinois DNR is advancing proposed rules that will improve the ability of citizens to participate in coal mining permitting. Expect improved public access to important permit documents, earlier notice of mining plans, and an end to IDNR’s adversarial positions during permit hearings.
thwarting the Bulldog Mine
The proposed Bulldog coal mine in east-central Illinois originally planned to begin mining in January 2014. We worked with residents and advocates to highlight discrepancies and flaws in the mine’s permit applications, which prompted serious review and extensive questioning of the permits. As it stands, the Bulldog mine has not secured either of the permits it needs to begin mining.