Tag: Environmental Justice

Illinois Court Pauses Dakota Access Pipeline Expansion

The Dakota Access, LLC, and Energy Transfer Crude Oil Company, LLC (collectively, “the carriers”), own the Dakota Access Pipeline that runs from North Dakota to southern Illinois.[1] The carriers submitted a plan to the Illinois Commerce Commission (“Commission”) to add additional pumping states in Illinois to accommodate the 2020 approval by North Dakota Regulators expanding the capacity of the pipeline from 570,000 to 1.1 million barrels per day.[2] The Commission granted the carrier’s petition and Save Our Illinois Land (“SOIL”), one of the environmental groups opposed to the petition, filed for a rehearing which the Commission denied.[3]

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Illinois’ Electric Vehicle Bill Could Harm the Communities it Aims to Serve

A new Illinois (IL) bill, the Beneficial Electrification Act, would require the installation of electric vehicle (EV) ready parking spaces at all newly constructed and renovated buildings, both residential and commercial. The bill was approved by the Illinois General Assembly’s House Energy and Environment Committee on January 11, 2022.[1]

State Rep. Robyn Gabel (D-Evanston) introduced the bill which would not require the installation of the actual charging stations, rather, the parking spaces would need to be “EV ready,” meaning the installation of the electrical wiring, circuits, and outlets necessary to support a Level 2 charging station.[2]

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Not Just Keystone XL: The Indigenous Fight for Environmental Justice

Indigenous groups have been the stewards of the American terrain for generations.  Yet, these communities are in a constant battle not only to protect their own sacred land from ecological harm but also to advocate for a stable climate.[1] The continued exploitation of indigenous land by large corporations and the U.S. government is a reminder that colonialism is still alive and well in today’s governance.[2]  The loss of critical habitat for many species that indigenous people rely on leads to not only the loss of necessary resources for survival but also sacred cultural practices. [3] Treaties between the U.S. government and indigenous groups are intended to guarantee continued tribal access to species as their habitats continue to change, however,  these treaties are often not honored by the U.S. government.[4]

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Analyzing Three Major Priorities under New FERC Chair Glick

Soon after taking office, President Biden nominated Richard Glick, a Democratic commissioner on the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC), as the Commission’s new chair.[i] Though the Commission is expected to maintain a Republican majority until Commissioner Neil Chatterjee’s term ends June 30, Glick has begun shifting the priorities of FERC, which regulates the interstate transmission and sale of electricity, natural gas, and oil, to align with President Biden’s ambitious energy and environmental goals.[ii] The following examines Glick’s three main priorities under the new administration, each of which could substantially change the energy regulatory landscape.

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General Iron Faces Challenges as Southside Community Demands Environmental Justice

General Iron has been making headlines for more than a year because of its pollution issues and recent attempt to relocate. RMG, General Iron’s parent company, has closed its long time North Branch-located metal shredding and recycling operation.[1] For many North Side neighbors, the facility’s closure was a win after a years-long battle to close the facility over environmental health and safety concerns from the facility’s operations, such as two explosions over the past five years.[2]

But there has been significant public outcry against General Iron’s plans to relocate to the Southeast side of Chicago at 116th and Burnham Street. Coalitions of Southeast side residents have been protesting for months, advocating for better air quality and preventing the relocation of General Iron to their neighborhood. The Natural Resource Defense Council has drawn national attention to the facility’s explosions, contribution to air pollution, and desire to move to a predominantly Latinx neighborhood.[3]

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Feds Pull Back Construction Permit After Environmental Justice Groups Sue

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (“Corps”) made a last-minute recall of a permit given to Formosa Plastics for the construction of a new petrochemical plant along the Mississippi River in St. James Parish, Louisiana.[1] The Corps explained in a recent court filing that “[d]urging its review of the permit, it has now come to the Corps’ attention that an element of the permit warrants additional evaluation.”[2] The motion came just a day before the court’s deadline for the agency to file its cross-motion for summary judgment.

Environmental advocacy groups and local residents had been pressing the Corps to deny Formosa the permit, arguing construction of the petrochemical plant would exasperate the public health concerns in St. James Parish.[3] The area is predominantly black and low-income; the per capita income is about 40% lower than the national average.[4]

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Proposed Ordinance Seeks to Reform How and Where Industrial Plants in Chicago are Sited

In response to the recent demolition of a coal plant in the Little Village neighborhood,[1] Mayor Lori Lightfoot introduced an ordinance to the Chicago City Council that would make it more difficult for industrial plant developments to site in and around residential areas.

The proposed legislation would require approval of a planned development for any industrial plants within six hundred and sixty feet of residential property.[2] Any industrial plants that engage in manufacturing, waste management or recycling would be subject to more scrutiny under the ordinance, such as by requiring public hearings.[3]

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