SPRINGFIELD, IL – As part of my on-going effort to help protect the Mahomet Aquifer, which serves as the drinking water supply for 500,000 central Illinoisans, I am taking the Environmental Protection Agency to task.
Last week, the EPA testified at their annual Senate appropriations hearing. During that time it became increasingly clear that our state’s environmental agency is incapable of protecting the residents who consume water from the Mahomet Aquifer.
My harsh criticisms are well-founded given that agency officials testified at a hearing last summer in Monticello, that the EPA was unable to properly test water samples taken from monitoring wells located on the watershed. This is especially troubling because the Clinton landfill, which rests atop the aquifer, is requesting federal EPA permission to store toxic PCB’s at the site.
It was abundantly clear from last summer’s hearing that the EPA doesn’t devote any resources to independent sample collection, testing, or analysis. Therefore, at last week’s budget hearing, I grilled the department on allocating more resources to these efforts.
Senator Mike Frerichs (D-Champaign) and I have scheduled a meeting with the Director of IEPA for next week to press the point. As the ranking members of the appropriations committee that handles the IEPA’s budget, we are going to make it clear that the department needs to get in gear and beef up oversight. Frankly, I find the lack of oversight beyond appalling – it is outright scary.
I am currently working with several stakeholders that care about the Mahomet Aquifer on various protective measures and I will stress that our efforts must be agreed upon by the local Mahomet Aquifer protection groups.
Drug offenders paying for law enforcement
County and municipal law enforcement agencies will be able to keep the proceeds from drug-related fines closer to their home jurisdictions and out of the hands of state bureaucrats, thanks to legislation which passed the Illinois Senate on April 11.
Current law required the Illinois State Police (ISP) to disperse fines paid by drug offenders upon the conclusion of their drug or meth court cases over to local drug task forces. However, ISP was refusing to do so. These funds were intended for local law enforcement and not meant to be held up. I would like to thank Douglas County Sheriff Charlie McGrew and Moultrie County Sheriff Jeff Thomas for bringing this problem to my attention. Our communities are better places thanks to the hard work of multijurisdictional agencies like the Eastern Illinois Drug Task Force.
Douglas County Sheriff Charlie McGrew said that local jurisdictions are doing the hard work and not being rewarded with the proper financial support. “Law enforcement officers all know that drug cases are some of the toughest cases to prove and win convictions on, but after we are fortunate enough to have justice done, local authorities should be able to recoup some of those investigative costs,” he said.
Task forces are already struggling due to federal funding cuts. This fee originally was intended to make drug dealers pay for local drug investigation costs and help recoup some of the expenses for the taxpayers.
Senate Bill 1862 will remove the authority to disperse these drug case funds from the ISP and instead require the Illinois Criminal Justice Information Authority to make disbursements to local law enforcement departments.