As we reflect on the events of 2021, we feel grateful for—and empowered by—our community and our shared vision to make our world a better place. Clean Power Lake County (CPLC) is proud to highlight some of our recent accomplishments.
- February 7: CPLC co-chair Dulce Ortiz joined the Illinois Environmental Justice Commission as a voting member. The commission advises the Governor and state entities on environmental justice and related community issues.
- February 8: Four members of CPLC’s steering committee joined a one-day hunger strike to protest the move of General Iron Industries’ metal shredding facility from Chicago’s affluent, predominantly white Lincoln Park neighborhood to Chicago’s predominantly Latino Southeast Side.
- April 15: The Illinois Pollution Control Board adopted rules for closing more than 70 coal ash ponds across the state—including two on Waukegan’s lakefront. CPLC members worked hard to make this happen!
- April 18: CPLC demanded that President Joe Biden’s administration address the Environmental Protection Agency’s failure to investigate ethylene oxide (EtO) polluters in Lake County—or to warn residents about the carcinogen.
- May 17: “Transparency is key,” said CPLC co-chair Celeste Flores in a Chicago Tribune front-page story about Medline’s failure to report toxic ethylene oxide emissions to the Environmental Protection Agency.
- May 24: CPLC organized one of several phone banking events supporting the Clean Energy Jobs Act (CEJA).
- June 2: CPLC participated in the Waukegan Pride Drive for the second consecutive year to help celebrate LGBTQ Pride Month.
- June 14: CPLC and allies told the Chicago Tribune that toxic waste left behind by coal-fired power plants could endanger drinking water for years to come.
- June 15: CPLC volunteers journeyed to Springfield to advocate for passage of Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s comprehensive, equitable climate bill.
- June 17: NRG announced plans to close the coal-fired power plant in Waukegan. “Hundreds of volunteers, thousands of hours, helped make this day a reality,” said CPLC co-chair Dulce Ortiz.
- July 31 : CPLC steering committee member Eddie Flores appeared on WTTW – Chicago Tonight Latino Voices to discuss key elements of the Clean Energy Jobs Act.
- August 2: Big win! After meeting with CPLC, the Environmental Protection Agency decided to revise rules for how coal-fired power plants—including the one in Waukegan—can dispose of contaminated wastewater.
- August 7: CPLC partnered with Illinois Sen. Adrianne Johnson to organize a clean-up at North Chicago’s Foss Park.
- September 6: Thanks to our combined efforts, the Illinois House passed the Climate and Equitable Jobs Act, one of the most ambitious climate justice laws in the nation!
- September 15: Gov. J.B. Pritzker signed the Climate and Equitable Jobs Act into law. This was CPLC’s top priority for 2021: CPLC co-chairs Dulce Ortiz and Celeste Flores were thrilled to join fellow members of the Illinois Clean Jobs Coalition for the signing ceremony on Chicago’s lakefront.
- September 16: After several months of advocacy by Sierra Club Illinois, CPLC and other environmental organizations, PACE announced plans to electrify its the Waukegan bus fleet by 2026.
- October 2: CPLC steering committee member Eddie Flores received the Environmental Youth Leadership Award from Brushwood Center at Ryerson Woods.
- December 5: CPLC’s fight for clean air, clean water, and healthy soil in Waukegan was the subject of the front-page story in the Sunday edition of the Chicago Tribune. CPLC co-chair Dulce Ortiz and steering committee members Eddie Flores and Karen Long MacLeod were interviewed.
- December 15-16: CPLC volunteers asked dozens of questions during Midwest Generation’s public meetings on proposed plans to close coal ash ponds on the Waukegan lakefront.
This year, we feel all the more energized to accomplish our mission: ensuring clean air, clean water, and healthy soil for every Lake County community member and achieving the self-determination of those disproportionately impacted by environmental pollution.
Priorities for 2022:
- Continue pursuing a just transition for the Waukegan coal plant. This means ensuring that coal ash is removed so it cannot contaminate Lake Michigan, the source of drinking water for 6 million people in four states. It also means ensuring proper notification and public engagement if and when the company plans any demolition at the site.
- Monitoring efforts to implement the Coal Ash Pollution Prevention Act (signed into law in 2019) to hold coal plant owners accountable for clean-ups.
- Serving in key working groups to ensure effective implementation of the Climate and Equitable Jobs Act (signed into law in 2021).
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