Illinois Environmental Justice BILL

Why is this bill important ?

The Environmental Justice Bill would create a fairer and more equitable process for those living in environmental justice communities. It would allow them to have more input on decisions affecting their health and well-being, such as permitting new industries, and ensure that funds from violations are directed to these communities. Additionally, it would provide greater protections against air pollution and allow communities to challenge permits that have been issued. Ultimately, this bill would help protect the health and safety of those living in frontline communities.

What will the EJ Bill do ?

It would create a more robust community participation and oversight process for new industries and existing industries in environmental justice areas. It would also expand the definition of environmental justice communities and direct funds from violations directly to those communities, among other provisions.

     Who is impacted by this bill ?

Our loved ones, neighbors and friends living on the Southeast Side, (South Side, South Suburbs, West, Southwest) and in frontline communities, are most often working class Black, Brown, and Indigenous folks who are most impacted.
It would also have a direct effect on the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency and its responsibilities in determining permits.

     How will the bill work ?

The proposed bill in Illinois introduces several significant provisions aimed at addressing environmental justice concerns in the state. Under this bill, the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and companies operating in environmental justice communities would face new obligations. When a new industry plans to open or an existing industry requests permission to increase emissions, the Illinois EPA would be compelled to consider the cumulative impact of air pollution before issuing new facility permits. Additionally, companies seeking permits would undergo scrutiny of their compliance history.

To enhance community participation, the bill mandates a public meeting prior to the issuance of permits, ensuring that translation services are available for effective communication. Furthermore, the bill requires an independent third-party study to be conducted, specifically exploring the environmental and health effects of the proposal. The bill empowers residents to challenge permits that have already been issued, granting them a means to voice their concerns and hold polluting facilities accountable.

To further discourage pollution in environmental justice communities, the bill introduces a $200,000 fee on polluting facilities applying for permits within these areas. Additionally, the Illinois EPA would be responsible for tracking funds paid for violations in environmental justice communities, directing the money towards beneficial environmental projects within those same communities. Moreover, the bill enables communities to petition for the designation of environmental justice communities, recognizing their unique challenges and the need for targeted interventions. Through these comprehensive measures, the bill aims to promote environmental justice, protect communities, and foster sustainable practices in Illinois.