It’s been quite a week for environmental issues in Springfield, with many bills moving out of committee. The Senate committee deadline is this Friday, but many bills will receive extensions. The House committee deadline is Friday, March 31. Many of our most important priorities are moving forward. Read more to learn about these important policies! And join us on Thursday, April 6th for Environmental Lobby Day to keep these proposals moving forward.

Read more about the progress made last week below:

Natural Areas Stewardship Act – HB3458 – Representative Tom Bennett
We are very pleased to have reached agreement with the Illinois Department of Natural Resources and other stakeholders on HB3458, the Natural Areas Stewardship Act.  This bill would allow IDNR to create a grant program from the Natural Areas Acquisition Fund to land trusts for land stewardship.  Keeping conservation lands free of invasive weeds, prescribed burns, fencing, and other important stewardship actions would all be funded to stop degradation of these important properties.  We will provide opportunities to take action on this important bill soon.

Coal tar ban – HB2958 – Representative Laura Fine
On Monday, the Consumer Protection Committee held a hearing about HB2958, a bill that would ban coal tar sealant from use in Illinois. Minnesota has already banned this carcinogenic product and several municipalities in Illinois have as well. Unfortunately, this bill was not called for a vote. There are two more weeks before deadline where the bill can be called in committee.

Recycling Contamination Education – HB3014 – Representative Anthony DeLuca
Contamination of curbside recyclables with materials that shouldn’t be in a curbside pickup container raises the cost and energy used for recycling. This bill is an educational bill to inform the public that plastic bags, wrap and film, Styrofoam, syringes, hazardous waste, food scrap and yard waste do not belong in recycling bins in Illinois.

Industrial Hemp Act – SB1294 – Senator Toi Hutchinson
Industrial hemp is illegal to grow in Illinois, except as a university research project. This bill would allow farmers to grow the product.  There are 135 farmers registered to grow industrial hemp in Kentucky. Hemp requires fewer pesticides and resources than other agricultural crops. We support because of the sustainable agriculture opportunities available to farmers through this program. Illinois Stewardship Alliance is leading efforts on this bill.

Cooking Oil Recycling – SB1420 – Senator Chris Nybo
In 2015, the Dead Animal Disposal Act was amended to include cooking oil and grease. Unfortunately, it requires registration and permit fees from non-profits that collect cooking oil from the public for recycling.

We opposed the opening of a bobcat hunting season in Illinois because of the lack of appropriate population studies statewide.  This bill would ban trapping of bobcats and ban the sale of their pelts. This bill moved through Senate Commerce Committee 8-4.

This bill would require a thorough wildlife management plan for any animal taken off the endangered or threatened species list prior to opening a hunting season for that animal. We felt that a full wildlife management plan was not completed prior to the opening of the bobcat hunting season. Goals for population growth, hunting data, and scientific review are all critical components required in this plan.  This bill passed committee 6-2.

SB1985 – Lead Ammunition – Senator Don Harmon
While the federal government has reversed its lead shot ban for federal natural areas, we were pleased to pass a bill that would ban lead ammunition in state parks and natural areas.

Lead-based ammunition is likely the greatest source of lead knowingly discharged into the environment in the United States. Despite being one of the most well-studied toxins known to affect humans and other animals, and the huge efforts that are taken to reduce exposure in our homes and water, the release of toxic lead into the environment in the form of lead-based ammunition is largely unregulated.

The discharge and accumulation of spent lead-based ammunition in the environment poses significant health risks to humans and wildlife. Lead-based ammunition is known to pose risks of elevated lead exposure to gun users; be ingested by scavenging animals such as eagles, ravens and turkeys; and even be incorporated into processed meat for human consumption. It’s estimated that lead-based ammunition adds 3,000 tons of lead into the outdoors every year, and that as many as 20 million birds die annually from lead poisoning.

This bill passed committee 5-3.

SB1987 – Pesticide Notification – Senator Don Harmon
This bill makes changes to Illinois’ pesticide notification law, making it easier for neighbors to know when a property has been treated. This bill would change and increase signage requirements and give neighbors new rights to receive notice if their neighbors lawn is being sprayed. This bill passed committee 12-0.

In 1972, Illinois’ first Endangered Species Protection Act passed, creating the Endangered Species Protection Board (ESPB). The ESPB set in place a structure that prioritized science and kept the board independent from the Illinois Department of Natural Resources.

The budget of the ESPB was zeroed out by IDNR at the end of 2015 and the director was fired.

While ESPB is being staffed by other agency personnel, it is critical that the board be able to make independent decisions and request independent scientific review from IDNR. This bill gives the board the authority to hire its own director.

Without appropriate oversight, protection of the 480 animals on the endangered and threatened species list – and those that might be added in the future – are at risk. The bill passed committee 7-1-1.
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