Clean water groups, small business owners, community leaders celebrate Clean Water Act

From Environment Illinois

CHICAGO — In the spirit of the fall season and the close of the public comment period for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s rule to restore Clean Water Act protections, community members filled Revolution Brewing’s tap room to celebrate Illinois’ iconic waterways.

The event, a joint effort by Environment Illinois, NRDC, Sierra Club, Prairie Rivers Network, Illinois Stewardship Alliance, and the American Sustainable Business Council, called together advocates, political leaders, business owners, and community members to discuss the importance of clean water and revere in the recent success supporting EPA’s decision to close loopholes in the Clean Water Act.

In March, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency proposed a rule that would extend protections to over half of Illinois’ streams and millions of acres of wetlands nationwide. To ensure that EPA follows through with this rule, Environment Illinois and other environmental groups across the state have been mobilizing Illinoisans to take action and support their waterways.

A coalition of groups in support of the EPA’s rule generated more than 800,000 public comments nationwide, over 32,000 of which came from Illinois residents. Public comments in support of the EPA’s rule were accepted until Friday, Nov. 14. And now, with a new Senate vowing to challenge EPA authority and the proposed rule to restore the Clean Water Act, clean water groups and activists are promising to continue their fight and urge Illinois Senators Dick Durbin and Mark Kirk to publicly support the rule.

This event shows the enormous support among a diverse crowd of clean water advocates, business owners, government officials, and Illinois residents for clean water,” said Wouter Hammink, campaign organizer with Environment Illinois. “Whether it’s for brewing, swimming, or drinking, our Senators should be doing everything they can to protect Lake Michigan.”

The celebratory gathering at Revolution Brewing on Tuesday, joined by representatives from Revolution and Patagonia, is a clear message to the opposition. “This new EPA rule helps everyone by clarifying what’s covered and what isn’t,” said Hillary Goodman from Patagonia.

Revolution Brewing is a perfect example of the importance of protecting Illinois’ waterways. Craft breweries contribute to the Land of Lincoln’s annual revenue, including that which comes from tourism. Water is a vital ingredient in the beer-making process, and if all of Illinois’ waterways are not guaranteed protections under the Clean Water Act, then growing businesses like Revolution are not protected either.

Revolution’s owner Josh Deth summed up the evening, “It’s not just about the beer, it’s about our everyday lives.”

Environment Illinois is a statewide, citizen-funded, environmental advocacy organization, working to protect the places we love, advance the environmental values we share, and win real results for the environment.

Posted Nov. 25, 2014

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