DES MOINES – Gov. Pat Quinn Wednesday was joined by local, state and federal officials for the Task Force on Climate Preparedness and Resilience, part of President Barack Obama’s federal efforts to address disasters caused by climate change.
This is the third of four meetings the group will hold before recommending ways the nation can be better prepared to meet weather-related events. Today’s meeting is part of Quinn’s agenda to protect the state’s natural resources and ensure a clean and healthy environment for future generations.
“Illinois has faced a record number of natural disasters in recent years, and I want to make sure our state is always prepared and equipped to do what is necessary to keep the public safe during weather emergencies,” Quinn said. “I look forward to continuing to work with President Obama to keep our state and nation at the forefront of the battle to stop the damaging effects of climate change.”
The Des Moines event includes discussions about preparing urban, natural and agricultural areas for flooding, drought and other weather-related disasters. After four such meetings around the country, the group will recommend to President Obama ways to address disaster response and climate change.
The Illinois General Assembly recently passed an expansion of the Clean Water Initiative to include stormwater and green infrastructure projects, a key part of Quinn’s agenda. This $2 billion low-interest revolving loan program will help communities throughout Illinois be better prepared for heavy rains caused by climate change.
In the last five years, Illinois has been through 11 natural disasters, including a record drought in 2012; deadly tornadoes in 2012 and 2013; historic winter storms earlier this year; and floods, including the spring 2013 flooding in 49 counties that broke all-time records on four major river systems. Each of these disasters saw the mobilization of state resources at Quinn’s direction to clean up, repair damage, speed recovery and reduce the impact of future disasters. Quinn announced a $45 million state relief package to help local governments recover from the deadly November tornadoes after FEMA denied federal disaster assistance for local governments. The governor secured more than $23.5 million in other forms of federal aid to assist with tornado recovery in the affected Illinois communities.
A new report found Illinois leads the nation in the number of communities using renewable electricity. In February, the U.S. Green Building Council ranked Illinois No. 1 among all 50 states in the sustainable building design movement with more than 29 million square feet of certified green buildings, or 2.29 square feet for every resident.
The governor transformed the 159-year old Illinois Executive Mansion, visited by Abraham Lincoln and six other presidents, into a model of sustainable living. The mansion features its own vegetable garden, rain barrels, a compost pile and solar panels. The recent addition of a chicken coop helps composting efforts and has the added benefit of producing fresh eggs for use in the mansion’s kitchen.
In 2011, the Illinois Executive Mansion became the first in the nation to install a charging station for electric vehicles. In 2012, LED lighting was installed throughout the Executive Mansion. The new system consumes 90 percent less energy, lasts for 10 years and poses less of a threat to historic artifacts. Additionally, digital water meters were installed to better monitor usage, and aging air conditioners were replaced with an energy-efficient system.