IEC press conference

SPRINGFIELD – State Senator Scott Bennett (D-Champaign) joined legislators, environmental groups and community leaders from across Illinois Tuesday to call on the General Assembly to be proactive about the hazardous coal ash pollution threatening Illinois lakes, rivers and streams.

“Coal ash pollution is not a partisan issue,” Bennet said. “There are coal ash pits in essentially every legislative district, so it’s important to recognize that it’s not a problem for one part of the state or one political party. It’s a problem for the state of Illinois.”

Bennett championed the Coal Ash Pollution Prevention Act to address this issue. Senate Bill 9 would direct the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency to begin a rule-making process to require power plant operators to safely dispose of coal ash or ensure that pits are properly enclosed, impose fees on coal ash pits to pay the costs of hiring IEPA staff to oversee enforcement, and require power plant operators to set aside money to pay for cleaning up pits in the event a plant is shut down or a company goes bankrupt.

Portions of Bennett’s district include Vermillion County, where coal ash ponds from the retired Vermilion Power Station threaten to contaminate groundwater and the nearby Middle Fork of the Vermillion River. The IEPA has issued two violation notices to Dynegy Midwest Generation for pollution of groundwater and surface water from its three coal ash ponds near the plant.

Bennett said action is needed now because a United States EPA rule gives Illinois power companies until October 31, 2020, to close ash disposal areas that fail groundwater protection requirements, and the proposed measure would provide a framework for safe clean-up and closure. 

“Historically, Illinois is addicted to crisis. It cares after the problem occurs but it doesn’t do anything to get in front of the problem and avoid it,” Bennett said. “It is time to change that trend with bills like Senate Bill 9. This is a good, proactive legislation that provides us with the protections, regulations and financial assurances that we need to prevent more coal ash crises in Illinois.”

police memorial

URBANA – State Senator Scott Bennett paid tribute to fallen police officers during the annual Law Enforcement memorial service in Urbana, a ceremony to honor law enforcement officers who have died in the line of duty. 

“Today I was honored to commemorate the selfless public servants who wear the badge and pay my respects to those who lost their lives,” Bennett (D-Champaign) said. “Our state’s law enforcement serve with courage, dedication and strength. They help enforce our laws, safeguard our property and protect our communities—all at the risk of personal peril. It’s important to take a moment to remember the cost of providing this comfort.”

Survivors and friends of the fallen officers joined their law enforcement colleagues and state officials for the services, which included honor guards, a rifle squad, and pipes and drums squads.

Bennett delivered the keynote speech during the ceremony and voiced his support for the law enforcement community and gave his sincere condolences to the families and friends of the fallen Chicago Police Department officers and Illinois State Troopers that have passed away this year.

Champaign’s ceremony also commemorated the city’s five police officers who have died in the line of duty in Champaign County since 1913.

“Law enforcement officers risk their lives every single day to help keep us and our families’ safe, and any loss of an officer deeply affects entire communities,” Bennett said. “I greatly admire the men and women who remain steadfast in the dangers of their noble profession. We honor the service and sacrifice of our state’s fallen law enforcement officers, not only for the sake of those e that have departed, but as a reminder to all of us that remain.”

Read Senator Bennett's full remarks here:

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 buy illinois

SPRINGFIELD – A bill sponsored by State Senator Scott Bennett (D-Champaign) would require State agencies to purchase products that are made in Illinois. 

“This is a great step forward and demonstrates our commitment to supporting Illinois businesses, driving job creation and ensuring our tax dollars stay here in Illinois and in America,” Bennett said. “I will continue my efforts to support our local businesses, manufacturers and contractors as we work together to level the playing field with foreign competitors.”

The legislation would require State agencies to buy Illinois manufactured products when available. If Illinois made products are not available, they will then buy products made in the United States.

House Bill 357 passed the Senate State Government Committee and will go before the full Senate for further consideration.

Eisenhauer Capital Hearing

SPRINGFIELD – State Senator Scott Bennett (D-Champaign) was joined by Village Administrator Scott Eisenhauer in Springfield this week to testify about the infrastructure needs in Rantoul.

Eisenhauer spoke at the final meeting of the Joint Subcommittee on Capital in Springfield, which has been touring the state to hear input on a future capital development bill in Illinois.

“As we consider the best path toward improving our state’s infrastructure, it’s important to hear from local leaders like Administrator Eisenhauer about what communities like Rantoul need,” Bennett said. “We want to make sure that we are investing in our districts.”  

It has been more than 10 years since Illinois last passed a capital construction plan, and many roads, bridges and other infrastructure require immediate attention. In grading the state in 2018, the American Society of Civil Engineers gave Illinois a C, determining that the state’s transportation infrastructure shows signs of deterioration and faces increasing vulnerability to risk.

Eisenhauer discussed the need of support and funding for the Smart Transportation Infrastructure Initiative (STII) based in Rantoul, a public-private partnership that includes state and federal government, industry, and a consortium of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, the University of Illinois-Chicago, Northwestern University. STII’s goal is to develop the research needed for next-generation transportation technologies. Currently, STII is focused on building the Illinois Automated and Connected Track, a research facility in Rantoul that would conduct testing on self-driving vehicles.

Eisenhauer told the Committee that an infusion of funds toward this project would not only create construction jobs but would also benefit P-12 and higher education and open the doors for private-public partnerships in the community.

 “Infrastructure is needed to support the kind of economic growth that we anticipate seeing following the construction of these new projects,” Eisenhauer said. “None of this can happen without your strong support of economic growth in our state and implementation of a capital bill.”


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