Timeline of Important Illinois Environmental Initiatives

1970 – Illinois passes its new constitution.  “Each person has the right to a healthful environment,” according to Article XI – Environment.

1970 – The state of Illinois was the first in the country to pass a comprehensive Environmental Protection Act.  Signed into law by Governor Richard Ogilvie, the act set up three agencies – The Illinois Pollution Control Board, the Institute for Environmental Quality (now part of the Department of Natural Resources) and the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency.  These three branches were charged with regulations, research, and enforcement, respectively.

1972 – Federal Clean Water Act creates the National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permit program.

1976 – General Assembly votes against a plan to dam the Middle Fork River, halting a proposal to flood a river and surrounding lands with “Outstanding scenic, recreational, ecological and historical characteristics” according to IDNR.

1977 – The “bottle bill” gets out of committee, the high water mark for the struggle to require a deposit on disposable bottles in Illinois.

1986 – Gov. Thompson established the Solid Waste Management Fund, which establishes waste reduction as a primary goal of the state, stimulation recycling and discouraging landfills.

1988- Solid Waste Planning and Recycling Act is passed, promoting recycling, long-range local planning and model programs within government agencies.

1989 – The General Assembly dedicates half of the state’s annual receipts from the Real Estate Transfer Tax to two programs, the Open Space Land Acquisition & Development of fund (OSLAD) and the Natural areas Acquisition Fund (NAAF)  ensuring million of dollars are available each year to protect open space throughout the state.

1991- Gov Edgar extends a moratorium on issuing permits for developing new hazardous waste incinerators.

1996 – The Retail Rate Law, which subsidized building “waste-to- energy” incinerators, is repealed, saving the state billions on dollars and removing the incentive to put the facilities in low-income communities.

1997 – The Livestock Management Facilities Act requires notification when new ”Factory Farms” are built, paving the way for stricter rules in 1999 concerning storage facilities sitting, phosphorus limits and reporting spills.

1999 – The state passes laws requiring public schools to notify parents when pesticides are applied and to use Integrated Pest Management.

2004 – Partners for Parks and Wildlife defeat a proposal to redirect dedicated funding for preserving natural resources and parkland in Illinois.  The OSLAD and NAAF funds saving 56 million in funding.  A similar battle the next year raises the total protected from conservation to 74 million.

2007 – Renewable Portfolio Standards are signed into law, requiring Illinois utilities to supply 25% of their power from renewable sources by 2025.  Energy Efficiency Portfolio Standards also passed that year require utility companies to reduce their overall electric usage by 2% by 2015.

2008 – Electronic waste recycling bill is signed into law, requiring electronics manufacturers to collect and recycle or reuse electronic waste.

2009 – Energy efficiency standards for natural gas companies pass the legislature.

2009 – Commercial food scrap composting permit requirements are changed, bringing the first food scrap composting facilities to Illinois.

2009 – Green Infrastructure for Clean Water Act is enacted into law, providing a basis for the usage of green stormwater infrastructure throughout Illinois.

2010 – Mercury Thermostat Collection legislation requires manufacturers to collect and properly dispose of thermostats containing mercury.

2012 – License plate fees and other fees are increased to provide Illinois Department of Natural Resources with $30-$33 million per year, bringing IDNR almost back to its fundinCg levels from 8 years ago.

2012 – Legislation is passed that requires Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations to pay a fee for an NPDES permit, funding the CAFO enforcement program through IEPA.


Partners for Parks and Wildlife

Partners for Parks and Wildlife (PPW) is a grassroots coalition that is dedicated to secure and increase funding for open space and park acquisition, natural area preservation, wildlife habitat protection and recreational opportunities in Illinois.

Learn More About Climate Change

The U.S. EPA’s website on climate change was once a great resource for basic scientific information on the topic and we look forward to the day that it is again. Until then, the City of Chicago is making sure its citizens have access to research and information.


One of the simplest ways to donate to the IEC is by contributing through EarthShare in your workplace charity campaign .