CHICAGO – July 22, 2012. Governor Pat Quinn today signed a new law to further protect the environment by preventing both new landfills from being built and existing landfills from expanding in Cook County. The city of Chicago has maintained a similar ban since 1983 and the new law, which has strong environmental group support, broadens the existing ban to cover the entire county. The law is designed to protect Cook County, which is densely populated, from air and water contaminants.
“In Illinois, we are working to preserve our natural resources for future generations,” Governor Quinn said. “Rather than expanding landfills, we will continue to restore land, build parks and conserve natural areas like the Millennium Reserve.”
House Bill 3881, sponsored by Sen. Don Harmon (D-Oak Park) and Rep. Marcus Evans (D-Chicago), takes the city of Chicago’s current ordinance, which prohibits the construction of any new landfills or the expansion of any existing landfills within city limits, and extends the ban to all of Cook County. The new law is supported by environmental groups including the Sierra Club, Illinois Environmental Council and Land Reclamation and Recycling Association.
“Cook County is simply too densely populated to sustain additional landfill development without compromising the living conditions of our residents,” said Sen. Harmon. “I am pleased that Governor Quinn has signed this law that will limit the growth of landfills in Cook County.”
“This new law is another positive result of the decades of tireless work by residents and supporters of my community to restore and preserve the environmental health of the southeast side,” said Rep. Evans. “In recent years, the state has invested millions of dollars protecting the natural resources of my community and this landfill ban supports the mission of that investment. Important legislation such as this is a momentous step toward ensuring that the region continues to grow and thrive in the future.”
“Today marks the end of the era when we looked to southeast Chicago to dump our waste,” said Jack Darin, Director of the Sierra Club, Illinois Chapter. “Now it’s time to work together to protect and restore the natural beauty of this region, so that kids and visitors can breathe in the great outdoors, rather than the dirty fumes of garbage trucks and dumps.”
The law will prevent the expansion of an existing landfill that would have harmed the Millennium Reserve, a state, federal and local project underway in the Calumet region. The Millennium Reserve is the largest open space project in the country and involves restoring 140,000 acres of land. The law will protect this project and the state’s investment of $17.9 million, which will dramatically increase outdoor recreation opportunities for residents through work to restore historic trails, conserve wetlands and more. The law is effective immediately.