Saturday, November 29, 2008

Environmental Stewardship Field, Association Category

Emcee: Debra Poneman

Our next inductee is Illinois PIRG represented by State Director Brian Imus.

Illinois PIRG, the Public Interest Research Group, is a citizen funded, non-profit, advocacy organization with a more than 20 year track record of fighting for environment and public health policy.

What’s unique about Illinois PIRG’s contribution to a cleaner, healthier environment is its approach. The organization’s mission is not defined simply as environmental protection. Instead, the organization is driven by a dedication to stand up to powerful special interests and advocate for policy change that improves the lives of all Illinoisans.

As Illinois PIRG’s Director Brian Imus likes to say - there are plenty of well-paid lobbyists at the state capital, at city hall and in Washington DC making sure their client’s interests are represented when environmental and public health policy is considered. Illinois PIRG’s job is to make sure that the voices of Illinoisans are heard, not just those that can afford lobbyists, when policy is being debated.

That means taking on powerful special interests that may have a stake in preventing environmental policy change and to tackle problems affecting people’s lives that aren’t being solved because of government inaction.

That simple mission – while not strictly environmental – has led the organization to play an important role on a whole host of important reforms that have led to cleaner air and water and reduced toxic chemicals use.

Recent examples of Illinois PIRG’s accomplishments are a testament to this mission. Illinois PIRG played a role in helping to pass tough new standards to reduce toxic chemical use in children’s toys. Recognizing transit’s role in reducing emissions of global warming pollution and reducing air pollution, Illinois PIRG helped to win policies that will improve transit use in Northeastern Illinois.

These accomplishments came in part through Illinois PIRG’s brand of combining careful research, public education, grassroots organizing and direct advocacy.

Perhaps greater than policy victories, Illinois PIRG’s greatest contribution to the environmental movement has been the organization’s dedication to building greater civic engagement. Illinois PIRG has done this with a commitment to training and organizing student activists, going door to door to engage the public and investing time in developing a trained and dedicated staff.

For all of these victories and their great dedication to the public interest, we are honored to call up Mr. Brian Imus to accept the award for Illinois PIRG's induction into the Environmental Hall of Fame.