February 26, 2009

Quinn Reopens Parks

Spring is just around the corner, and now Illinois residents and visitors can count on being able to experience the great outdoors in all of Illinois' state parks. Today Illinois Governor Pat Quinn made good on a pledge to reopen seven state parks that were closed November 30th, 2008 under Rod Blagojevich.

“This is a great day for the people of Illinois. State parks protect some of our most precious habitat and provide opportunities for families to find outdoor recreation close to home. These are the people’s parks and the people have the right to enjoy them in good and bad economic times,” said Governor Quinn. “The value of these open spaces is immeasurable to children, families and local communities that depend on these parks for crucial economic stability.”

Governor Quinn is off to a strong start rebuilding the agency we count on to protect our water supply, our wildlife, and our state parks. He has already appointed a dedicated conservationist in Marc Miller to lead the IDNR, and now has reversed the most recent cuts made by Rod Blagojevich. We know that it will take time to rebuild the IDNR to its past strength, but clearly Governor Quinn has made it a priority to do so. Sierra Club is ready to work with Gov. Quinn, Director Miller, and all of IDNR's diverse constituencies to restore the IDNR's capacity to protect Illinois' special places, safeguard our water supplies, and provide safe, quality outdoor recreation opportunities.

The seven parks affected by today's announcement are: Castle Rock State Park and Lowden State Park in Oregon, Illini State Park in Marseilles, Hidden Springs State Forest in Strasburg, Moraine View State Park in Leroy, Weldon Springs State Park in Clinton, and Wolf Creek State Park in Windsor.

February 18, 2009

Employee Free Choice & The Environment

Last night I had the honor of sharing the stage with some of Chicago and America's strongest champions for working families - Congressman Danny Davis, national AFL-CIO President John Sweeney, Laborers' International Union of North America President Terence O'Sullivan, Anna Burger, who heads the Change to Win labor coalition, and Dennis Gannon, head of the Chicago Federation of Labor. We came together, with other faith and public interest leaders, to rally support for the Employee Free Choice Act.

Sierra Club strongly supports the Employee Free Choice Act and we are proud to stand strong with our brothers and sisters in organized labor and work to get the Employee Free Choice Act to President Obama’s desk.

Now some might ask - what does the right to organize have to do with clean air and clean water?

We know that workers are our first line of defense against toxic pollution, chemical spills, and other accidents that can devastate communities.

We know that union workers are more qualified and better trained to deal the health and safety risks of hazardous chemicals.

We know that union workers have greater protections if they blow the whistle on hazards and accidents in the workplace. Union workers have support and protection, and won’t fear for their job if they call attention to a dangerous problem.

We want to work together with our allies in labor to create good, high paying jobs in the new clean energy economy. But we also need to make sure those green jobs are good jobs. Protecting workers’ most basic rights, including the right to choose how and when to form a union, is an essential part of building a clean energy economy that lifts up all workers and saves the planet for future generations.

That’s why Sierra Club calls on Senator Burris, and all of our members of Congress to do the right thing for workers and the environment, and pass the Employee Free Choice Act NOW!

February 05, 2009

A New Day at IDNR

It was great to see Illinois Governor Pat Quinn take early and decisive action today to begin to rebuild the Illinois Department of Natural Resources by appointing an outstanding new Director, Marc Miller. Everyone who loves the Illinois outdoors can take heart today that Gov. Quinn recognizes the critical importance of the work done by DNR, and will work to restore the former strength of the Department.

Governor Quinn's appointment of Marc Miller to head the Illinois Department of Natural Resources is very strong first step to rebuilding Illinois' ability to protect Illinois' wildlife, water, and special places, and to offer high quality outdoor recreation experiences to Illinois residents and visitors. The IDNR has suffered greatly from budget cuts, layoffs, loss of talented career staff, political hiring and firing, and low staff morale.

Marc Miller is just the man for the big job of restoring the IDNR's integrity and ability to protect Illinois' great outdoors. Miller is a natural resource professional, an avid Illinois outdoorsman, and he has dedicated his career to protecting Illinois' rivers, lakes, streams, and other special places for current and future generations. He can unite the many constituents of the IDNR - hunters, hikers, anglers, birdwatchers and all of us who hope to pass on Illinois' natural heritage to future generations - to advocate for for adequate funding for the Department in these very troubled financial times.

By making the IDNR Director his first Agency appointment, in his first week as Governor, Quinn is sending a powerful signal that the mission of the DNR to protect our natural resources is critical to our well-being and our economy. Especially in the state's current fiscal crisis, we know that rebuilding the IDNR will take time, but today Pat Quinn made clear it is a priority. Sierra Club is ready to work with Gov. Quinn, Director Miller, and all of IDNR's diverse constituencies to restore the IDNR's capacity to protect Illinois' special places, safeguard our water supplies, and provide safe, quality outdoor recreation opportunities.