In Illinois, perhaps one of the biggest pieces of legislation in regards to environmental policy was passed in 1970. The Illinois Environmental Protection Act promised cleaner air, water, and natural resources through different permits, regulations, and inspections (enforced by law enforcement). It has been over 40 years since the act was passed, and accordingly many of the conditions and structures have changed drastically. The 1970s were primarily focused on standardizing water quality in the state, especially since many of Illinois’ cities were industrial and were exposed to higher quantities of lead.
Meanwhile, more current issues have been pertaining to clean energy sources. The southern half of the state is still heavily reliant on coal use, which is a much more harmful pollutant than alternatives being presented. The act has had to adapt and change with the times, adopting measures and having to keep up with the science and technology advancements of the time.
While having acts like this in place is essential, perhaps they have not been enough. Recent research has revealed that many parts of Chicago could still potentially have high quantities of lead poison in their water supply. This is a huge issue in itself if the facts are accurate, but there have been other areas where legislation took too long to act. For instance, in Pilsen and Little Village, children were exposed to lead poisoning from nearby coal plants and became very sick. It took far too long for these plants to close down, as Chicago was the last city in the United States with a major coal plant within it’s city limits.
Illinois environmental laws admittedly have a lot to cover, as the issues we face become more and more drastic. However, the limitations and shortcomings have had negative effects on many citizens of Illinois, specifically in cities and the rural south.