Environmental Services Chicago

Great Lakes Health Tops Illinois Environmental Concerns

Environmental Services Chicago

The Great Lakes have rebounded thanks to a federal cleanup. But that could be undone if regulations are lifted, Popular Science reports.

Environmental Services ChicagoEnvironmental Services CHICAGO — The continued health of the Great Lakes isn’t a topic on the Nov. 6 midterm election ballot in Illinois, but winners will have to confront the problem. While environmental concerns haven’t become the voting issues they are in states such as California and Arizona, Illinois candidates will be asked for answers when it comes to addressing those areas. 

“This is the most important election of our lifetime,” Bill Holland, the New Mexico policy director for the League of Conservation voters, told Popular Science, which put together an inventory of the top scientific, environmental and technological challenges by state.

Governors are on the ballot in 36 of 50 states, including Illinois. All 435 seats in the House of Representatives and 35 seats in the 100-member Senate also will be decided. Popular Science said candidates are actively campaigning on some issues, like opioids and fossil fuels, but silent on others. Regardless of the outcomes of the individual races, Congress and state legislatures will have to confront them, magazine said.

 

After a half-century struggle, Illinois had finally begun winning its battle against pollution in the Great Lakes. In fact, the health of the lakes was finally improving thanks to a federally sponsored cleanup, according to Popular Science.

But Great Lakes advocates fear that work could be eroded if clean water regulations are undone. The magazine points to a June executive order by President Donald Trump that stuck down a 2010 order by President Barack Obama.

The original order had helped safeguard and rejuvenate the Great Lakes ecosystems. But under the new edict, gas and oil development would be allowed and could create “the potential for spills that could foul drinking water and harm aquatic life,” the magazine writes.

Interestingly, Peter Roskam and Sean Casten, the 6th District congressional candidates on the November ballot, have both talked about the need for protecting the health of the Great Lakes. But Casten, a clean-energy entrepreneur, has said Roskam, the Republican incumbent, hasn’t done enough in that area.

Water quality is a big issue across the country. States in the Chesapeake Bay watershed have been asked by the EPA to submit specific nitrogen-reduction plans. In Iowa, farm runoff contributes to the massive algae blooms in the Gulf of Mexico — called the “dead zone” — that chokes off oxygen to marine life, threatening that region’s seafood industry. Farm pollution is also a big issue in Arkansas, which has suspended permits for new concentrated animal feeding operations amid fears of water pollution due to the state’s density of CAFOs.

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Portions of this article have been re-posted from Patch.com October 25th, 2018

Author – Joe Vince