Decades have passed since the enactment of many of our nation's important environmental laws. And although many of those laws were whittled away for a few years, we see a renewed effort to strengthen those laws, and we renew our efforts to fight climate change and provide a safe environment for all to live. Last Thursday, I had the privilege to participate on a environmental panel discussion led by our U.S. Senator Tammy Duckworth, along with staff from the offices of Senator Feigenholtz & Representative Ann Williams, both who were in Springfield working on the Clean Energy Jobs Act (CEJA) legislation among other issues, as well as Commissioner Degnen and Alderman Nugent (39). The discussion is available here, and entailed a talk about work we are doing individually but also how we are working together at different levels of government to tackle environmental issues. While the COVID pandemic has slowed down some work, it has opened other doors for us to work together on environmental concerns for our constituents here and across the states. Last year, alongside several environmental agencies like the Illinois Environmental Council, Alliance for Great Lake, the Recycling Coalition and students from CPS (especially William H. Ray Elementary), I drafted the Plastic-Free Water Ordinance, which would ban single-use plastics in Chicago. While the ability to get that done during the pandemic is difficult at the local level, we have seen a new effort nationally to recognize the plastics problem and have some federal help on the way from our Congress. For years we have seen communities of color, low-income communities throughout the country bear the burden of climate change and pollution. It was good to hear about work being done by the U.S. Senate with the Environmental Justice for All Act, and with the Biden Administration through the work of Interior Secretary Haaland reasserting federal guidance on environmental laws, while providing funding resources to deal with existing or potential concerns. Alderman Nugent also brought up our desire to reinstate the City of Chicago Dept. of Environment to strengthen our commitment to cleaning up Chicago. In Council we are working on several initiatives relate to clean water, an urban tree advisory board with Openlands, a Styrofoam ban, infrastructure for a cleaner earth, a new recycling contract thanks to the efforts of groups like the CRC, and more.
Earth Day is Every Day- Join your friends this weekend for a cleanup in your neighborhood, or look out for your local neighborhood group action, or when you visit the park check out your park advisory council efforts to see how you can help. Other ideas include joining Openlands for a youth planting event, or Friends of the Chicago River to continue the long term cleaning of the Chicago River- Chicago River Day is May 8th and is another day to volunteer on the river and improve our river ecosystem.
In order to help our local restaurants and workers, as well as consumers, I have introduced an extension of the food delivery cap passed by council during the pandemic. The original ordinance will be expiring and restaurants need help. You may recall that 3rd party delivery fees were gouging consumers and damaging the reputation and bottom line of local restaurants as well, adding upwards of 30% fees to every bill. The cap of 15% helped despite gig groups like Door Dash imposing a $1.50 “Chicago Fee” on every consumer's order in the middle of the pandemic.
Finally, check your area on the sweeping map below to be prepared to move when the city sweepers hit the streets.
Alderman Scott Waguespack