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Great Lakes Article:

May nabs top award for environmental work
Highland Park News
11/06/03

Four Lake County legislators serving in Springfield received 100 percent performance rankings by the Illinois Environmental Council for their work during the spring session at the Environmental Leadership Dinner Oct. 30.

In addition, State Rep. Karen S. May, D-58, of Highland Park, was given the Environmental Leadership Award for her work on wetland preservation. Attorney General Lisa Madigan and George Rabb, director of the Brookfield Zoo and President of the Chicago Zoological Society, also were given Environmental Leadership Awards.

County-based legislators receiving recognition included May, Sen. Susan Garrett, D-29, of Lake Forest, Sen. Terry Link, D-30, of Lake Bluff, and Rep. Kathleen Ryg, D-59, of Vernon Hills.

According to Jonathan Goldman, executive director of the council, the 21 legislators with 100 percent voting records supporting environmental issues are the largest such group in recent years.

The awards were presented at a reception and dinner with Madigan serving as the keynote speaker.

Garrett said Madigan spoke about the measures her office has taken to counteract the erosion of environmental protection under policies of the George W. Bush administration in Washington.

Wetlands protection

May received her award for leadership on measures to protect the environment, especially Illinois wetlands.

The Council's award recognizes work to reduce air pollution, protect open space, encourage recycling, and protections from mercury, lead and pesticides.

"Protecting our environment is one of my top priorities as it directly affects our quality of life," May said in a written statement.

She received special recognition for her Wetlands Protection Act, a bill to reinstate protection for isolated wetlands that was lost under a Supreme Court decision. The decision placed an estimated 152,000 acres at risk of unregulated dredging, draining and excavating.

The bill directs the Illinois Department of Natural Resources to regulate wetlands through a permit system along with the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency. The bill is awaiting Senate action.

"I am confident that this measure will reach the Governor's desk and be signed into law," May said.

Environmental concern

Garrett said the evening was recognition for a group of legislators who work hard to protect the environment. Her own political career, she said, is based on concern for the environment.

"I got into politics because of an environmental issue, so I am very aware of how hard it can be to pass legislation protecting the environment," she said.

The Council monitors votes by legislators because the State of Illinois Constitution charges each resident to maintain a healthy environment for present and future generations. The scorecard allows voters to evaluate how their legislators respond to this public policy requirement.

The IEC promotes environmental laws and policies, serves as a forum, manages a statewide network of activists, and conducts legislative advocacy in Springfield.

"They worked with me on the Clean Water Trust Fund," said Garrett. "They are a very well respected group in the state."

She said they also are a good resource for information and on-the-record testimony about the environment.

The Clean Water Trust Fund has raised money to fund research about the source of E. coli bacteria in Lake Michigan water. High levels force beaches to close because of the health impact. Garrett has assembled a coalition of local, state, county and national groups to investigate the problem.

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