Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle today announced changes to the Cook County Department of Environmental Control, including renaming the agency and reducing some of its fees.
The department’s name will be the Department of Environment and Sustainability, which better aligns with its ongoing initiatives and broader role. Traditionally, the department was essentially a regulatory agency for suburban Cook County, focusing on environmental inspections and monitoring of County air quality. Under President Preckwinkle’s administration, its responsibilities now include leading on issues such as energy efficiency, solar power and brownfield redevelopment.
In addition to the name change, amendments to the environmental section of the County’s ordinance will lower some fees previously collected by the department.
The Gasoline Vapor Collection and Control fee will be reduced from $200 per year to $100 per year. This will impact gas stations in suburban Cook County. The reduction is proposed in response to new technology developments that make some of the previously required, and inspected, pollution control equipment obsolete.
And the fees for organic composting facilities will be reduced from $1,000 per year to $500 per year. Compost facilities are generally considered an environmentally preferred way to handle organic waste, and also provide employment. Reducing the fee will encourage growth of this industry within Cook County.
“With a broader, more strategic focus, the Cook County Department of Environment and Sustainability is having a greater impact for the residents of Cook County,” Preckwinkle said. “The County has been focused on environmental stewardship since I took office and sustainability is being incorporated into the County’s work on transportation planning, economic development and resiliency and disaster recovery.”
The changes are part of a larger revamp of the department’s governing ordinance that modernizes the language, eliminates obsolete provisions, and reorganizes and shortens some sections. The name change will go into effect Dec. 1, 2017. The fee reductions are effective immediately.
President Preckwinkle has made sustainability and “green” practices a priority in her administration. She created the Green Leadership Team, chaired by her Chief of Staff, which is tasked with working with her office, the Cook County Department of Environment and Sustainability, and other County departments to develop innovative solutions and resources for sustainability programs that foster energy efficiency and decrease pollution.
Additionally, President Preckwinkle named Deborah Stone, the director of what is now known as the Cook County Department of Environmental Control, as the County’s first chief sustainability officer.