SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (WICS/WRSP) — The EPA Environmental Justice bill is aiming to update the agency's permitting process for polluting facilities across the state.
Lawmakers that are pushing for this bill say it'll give people more of a say on how facilities are handling pollution in their communities.
However, lawmakers that voted against the bill said the new updates could put harsh restrictions on smaller businesses.
Ariel Hampton with the Illinois Environmental Council said this legislation would hold facilities more accountable.
"Those who are responsible for the permitting process are able to consider the cumulative impacts of the pollution and not the facilities impact in isolation," Hampton said.
It would also let impacted communities have a say in that process, which is something both sides think is needed.
"The concept of this bill has broad support, looking at communities that have been impacted over the years," Rep. Tim Butler, R-Springfield, said.
The bill also increases the permit application fee to $200,000, which Rep. Butler said would put a strain on some businesses.
"If you're a smaller manufacturing business you can't afford those permits like that," Rep. Butler said. "These are often times smaller companies who would want to go into areas like this because they'd want to reinvest into their communities."
It's a cost that advocates for the bill say is a small price to pay.
"When you look at the impact to people's health, to their neighborhoods and things of that nature," Hampton said. "That's the real cost of industry."
Lawmakers like Rep. Butler hope to come to an agreement on the legislation so both communities and businesses can benefit.
The bill passed in the House and is now awaiting a vote in the Senate.
The Illinois Environmental Protection Agency sent us this statement in regards to HB 4093.
The Illinois EPA is committed to environmental equity in the administration of our programs. The agency has been in ongoing conversations with the sponsors and stakeholders on legislation related to environmental justice and regulated entities, including HB 4093. We look forward to continued efforts with all interested parties with the goal of reaching agreement on this legislation.