The Department is the County’s “eyes, ears and nose” for the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Illinois Environmental Protection Agencies (IEPA) for air pollution regulations. It is responsible for monitoring air quality and levels of sulfur dioxide, nitrous oxides, ozone, carbon monoxide, and other pollutants throughout Cook County.
Preckwinkle said Stone will also be responsible for expanded internal functions, including the reduction of the County’s environmental footprint in terms of lowering fuel and energy use and waste, conserving water and implementing new “green” practices.
“The County needs to be an environmental policy leader. We are already working on reducing the amount of energy we use but we want to continue to take steps to make Cook County greener. I’ve said I want to make the County the most efficient and effective government entity in the country: The Department of Environmental Control is going to take the lead on implementing best practices and new industry standards to make the County the best in the nation when it comes to environmental practices,” she said.
Stone said her Department is committed to protecting the health and safety of the people of Cook County while making the County a good neighbor when it comes to reducing energy use and waste.
“Our mission is very clear. We will always put the welfare of our residents first and be able to quickly and effectively respond to local citizens and communities in investigating and resolving environmental problems,” she said.
“Under leadership of the Cook County Board President’s Office, I look forward to facilitating partnerships between Departments and Offices within Cook County Government to make sure our own house is in order and that the County is a leader in reducing our environmental “footprint” in terms of lowering fuel and energy use, solid waste reduction, water conservation, and emerging “green” practices.”
Upcoming initiatives include the creation of a “Green County Council” of outside corporate experts, nonprofit technical assistance providers and universities to advise the County and help it incorporate environmentalism into its performance management goals.
On a day-to-day basis, the Department is on the frontline of protecting residents from pollution, Stone said.
The Department provides compliance inspections of stationary sources of air pollution and conducts site inspections at numerous commercial sites. Those commercial sites include businesses that use toxic chemicals like dry cleaners, incinerators and gas stations and other gas dispensing facilities. Violations found during inspections are managed by the Department and the court system and the federal or state EPA.
“We’re the County’s watchdogs when it comes to air pollution, noise pollution and the abatement of toxic materials, such as asbestos. We take these tasks very seriously because we’re responsible for improving the quality of life for the people of Cook County,” Stone said.
Preckwinkle said the Department will also be asked to take a more active approach when it comes to working with the City of Chicago and Cook County’s 127 suburban municipalities.
“There is so much more that we should be doing. Environmental problems – and solutions – do not stop at the boundary of one community, and all levels of government must be part of the solutions. The Department will be a critical link between Cook County and our communities, our neighboring counties and the state and federal government,” she said.
Stone said that means setting new priorities.
“The President wants the County to be a regional leader on environmental issues and we’re going to be more proactive in seeking and obtaining federal grants for environmental initiatives within the County. We’re also going to seek out new partners, including municipalities, non-profit organizations, research institutions, the private sector and others to leverage collective strengths to improve environmental quality and services to residents,” she said.