US Mayor Article

Daley Unveils Innovative Strategy to Improve Air Quality

By Judy Sheahan
May 29, 2000

Chicago Mayor Richard M. Daley announced a multi-jurisdictional campaign to improve air quality at a May 12 press conference in Chicago. The campaign, the first of its kind in the nation, is a result of a cooperative effort between the Metropolitan Mayors Caucus and the United States and Illinois Environmental Protection Agencies (EPA). Joining Mayor Daley was Northbrook Mayor Mark Damish, U.S. EPA Regional Administrator Francis Lyons, Illinois EPA Director Tom Skinner, and Chicago Environmental Commissioner Bill Abolt.

The program, called "Clean Air Counts", consists of five campaigns including the following: Clean Air Communities, Clean Air Illinois, Clean Air Development, Clean Air Business, Industry and Institutions, and Clean Air Households. Each of these campaigns focuses on specific actions that can be undertaken from various sectors that will result in a measurable improvement in air quality.

"Clean Air Counts calls on the entire region to participate," Mayor Daley told the audience, "it is groundbreaking because the campaign contains actions that clean the air but that have not previously been recognized by existing regulations."

Some of the actions that are being proposed and implemented as part of the campaign include: promoting mass transit use, pedestrian and bicycle travel; reducing diesel emissions and emissions from personal vehicles; targeting fleet vehicles to include purchasing alternative fuel vehicles and building alternative fueling stations; building rooftop gardens; installing efficient lights and boilers; implementing a lawnmower buyback program; considering air quality impacts in siting decisions; and installing solar panels on museums and schools.

"The goal is to get credit for the actions that governments, businesses, and even families can take that improve air quality," Mayor Daley stated. The campaign hopes to be able to measure these credits and use them to assist businesses who would like to expand or locate in the region as well as permanently improving the regionís air quality.

The campaign is a result of a Regional Dialogue on Clean Air and Redevelopment that was convened by the Metropolitan Mayors Caucus and the Illinois and U.S. EPA. Daley, who is a past President of the Conference of Mayors, convened the 270 municipalities that make up the greater Chicagoland Area to form the Metropolitan Mayors Caucus in 1997. The purpose of the caucus was to identify common regional problems as well as potential solutions. The Mayors Caucus determined that their top priorities were to improve air quality and increase economic development. As a result, they formed the Regional Dialogue on Clean Air and Redevelopment that consisted of over 300 individuals representing industry, environmental and civic organizations, labor, government, developers, and academia.

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