August 29, 2008

The Ax Falls on the IDNR

Illinois Democrats may be hugging out in Denver, but back home on Thursday 39 IDNR employees were notified that they'll be out of a job November 1st as a result of budget cuts announced by Governor Blagojevich in July.

Eleven state parks and fifteen state historic sites will close. The state parks that will close November 1st are:

* Hennepin Canal Parkway State Park
* Illini State Park near Marseilles
* Wolf Creek State Park
* Castle Rock State Park, Oregon
* Lowden State Park, Oregon
* Hidden Springs State Forest, Strasburg
* Channahon Parkway State Park, Channahon
* Gebhard Woods State Park, Morris
* Kickapoo State Park, Oakwood
* Moraine View State Park, Leroy
* Weldon Springs State Park, Clinton

These layoffs and closings would be totally unnecessary if our leaders in Springfield would get together on a budget solution. There is still time - but the Governor's action Thursday started the clock ticking.

We need the General Assembly and the Governor to act before the end of September to restore the cuts, keep these parks open, and keep those who run them and look out for our natural resources on the job.

August 28, 2008

Denver's Green Streak

I am out in Denver for the convention this week, and am just amazed at the level of discussion around energy and environmental issues. At times it has felt more like a clean energy conference with politics in the background.

This is not just a steady, incremental increase in focus compared to past conventions - energy policy is now squarely at the center of the debate over America's future. The combination of global warming, energy prices, national security concerns, and, increasingly, the potential for green job creation has changed the public debate with lightning speed.

I've been at a whole host of discussions, receptions, panels, etc on aspects of the energy and environmental debate, with corporate leaders, environmental advocates, elected officials, labor leaders, and others. Many politicians are making energy the focus of their speeches (wasn't Gov. Schweizer (MT) great on Tuesday night?), and it is rare that a speech on any topic doesn't include a call to solve global warming and create green jobs.

Don't get me wrong - the status quo is certainly out in force. The coal industry is visible from the moment you step off the plane at the airport to ubiquitous paid people on the street passing out "clean coal" propoganda. The Illinois delegation goodie bag included a foam lump of "coal", a nice souvenir for the kids. However, elected officials here are generally on message that solutions lie in the future, not in the past. Solar, wind, and conservation are the applause-getters in speeches. As Illinoisans, we can all be proud that we have already passed some of the solutions leaders are talking about for America - like our 25% renewable energy requirement by 2025, or our major new energy efficiency programs that ComEd are preparing to roll out in response to 2007's clean energy law.

So tonight, there are lots of reasons to be proud to be from Illinois - let's keep it up!