Energy and the Environment

Illinois has an abundance of resources including coal, agriculture, prairie, lakes, and rivers. These resources keep our economy moving. They give water to sustain us, provide recreation, and tell the story of our history. While abundant, these resources are not unlimited. Fortunately, Illinois is also home to cutting-edge technology to efficiently use and preserve these resources. From clean coal technology to biofuels to our national laboratories at Argonne and Fermi, our world-class research is paving a path for sustainability for the entire nation. Clean, renewable energy supports jobs for Illinoisans in a growing industry.

We depend on clean water and a vibrant ecosystem for our health, recreation, and economy. The Great Lakes are the largest fresh water supply in the nation, containing about 20 percent of all the fresh water in the world. The Lakes serve as the source of drinking water for nearly 40 million people throughout the region and support a wide range of recreational and commercial pursuits. I am committed to preserving wilderness areas in Illinois and across the country for future generations to enjoy.

One of the most significant environmental and economic crises our world faces is human-caused climate change. Altering the climate affects countless natural processes globally, as well as in Illinois, including water availability for farms and fisheries, formation and dispersion of air pollutants, and the spread of disease and invasive species.  We are already witnessing some effects of a changing climate—extreme weather events, chronic floods and droughts, deadly wildfires, and rising sea levels. Illinois is ten percent wetter than one century ago, with more rainfall events that exceed two inches, greater humidity, milder winters, and warmer early springs. Scientists predict that these changes will occur more frequently in the future with negative repercussions for our economy and national security, in addition to our environment. The time for debate has ended, the time to act is now. That’s why Senator Durbin supports enacting commonsense federal laws that would carefully and dramatically slow the rate of carbon emissions and prepare and protect against the consequences of climate change, so that the repercussions for our economy, national security, and the global environment can be addressed before it’s too late.

Illinois is home to two of the nation’s most valued national research institutions—Argonne and Fermi National Laboratories—and they are critical to U.S. economic growth and global competitiveness.  As a member of the Senate Appropriations Committee, Senator Durbin has worked to secure robust funding for researchers at Argonne, Fermi, and Illinois’ universities so that they can continue to conduct ground-breaking scientific advancements in fuel efficiency, high energy physics, drug discovery, nuclear energy, and climate change. 

The Great Lakes contain approximately 20 percent of all the fresh water in the world and are the largest supply of fresh water in the United States. The Lakes serve as the source of drinking water for nearly 40 million people throughout the region and support a wide range of recreational and commercial pursuits. Senator Durbin is dedicated to protecting Lake Michigan by fighting invasive species and reducing pollution. He has consistently fought industry efforts to discharge increased pollutants into our waters and worked with federal and state authorities to ensure that our drinking water standards protect public health. Senator Durbin will continue to work to restore, preserve, and protect the Great Lakes—one of our country's greatest natural resources.