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Henry Henderson, Director, Midwest Program NRDC, Chicago, Illinois

Henry Henderson

I was born in Granite City, Illinois, a steel town where the coke plant sits on property once farmed by my Great-Great Grandfather. Other family members came to work in the steel mill, drawn both by the jobs as a way out of mining coal, and by the strong union culture of the community. Nonetheless, the jobs were hard and the environment polluted. Now, most of those jobs are gone, but the legacy of pollution remains.  I think the experience of growing up in that community has been the basis for my interest in law and the environment: providing a focus and training to address public policies, institutions and priorities that affect the health, safety and sustainability of people and their communities.

Prior to joining NRDC, I served as Assistant Attorney General for the State of Illinois, the founding Commissioner of Environment for the City of Chicago, and as a principal in an environmental and public policy consulting firm. I have also taught environmental law and policy at the University of Chicago and the University of Illinois at Chicago.

Recent Posts

Durbin and Kelly: Petcoke is Everyone's Problem, Not Just Chicago and Detroit

Posted July 24, 2015 by Henry Henderson

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Like every protracted campaign, the battle to defeat the blight of petcoke on Chicago's Southeast Side has had good and bad days. Especially for the neighborhood where the petcoke is dumped. A couple weeks ago, Senator Dick Durbin and...continued

Senator Kirk, the World Is Looking for Climate Action (And We Are Too)

Posted July 14, 2015 by Henry Henderson

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"Too important to ignore." That is the subject line of a constituent email that Senator Mark Kirk put out this week, relating to the problem of climate change. It is good to hear this because NRDC is in the...continued

Senator Kirk: If You Are Not Addressing Climate Change, You Are Not Addressing the Health of the Great Lakes

Posted June 26, 2015 by Henry Henderson

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Climate is the biggest threat to the Great Lakes. As we have noted before, if you're not addressing climate change, you're not addressing the health of the Great Lakes. That is what makes a vote last week from Senator...continued

Chicago River Runs Backwards: A Climate Change Reminder for Senator Kirk

Posted June 16, 2015 by Henry Henderson

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A series of storms swept through Chicago yesterday, with violent monsoons hitting hard during the evening rush hour. By 6:40 p.m., the Chicago River had had enough. It was filled to the brim as the region's dilapidated combined sewer system...continued

Protecting the Small Streams and Wetlands that Make the Great Lakes Great

Posted May 28, 2015 by Henry Henderson

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The majesty and magnitude of the Great Lakes themselves can distract us from the smaller, but equally critical, rivers, streams, wetlands and other water bodies that feed Lakes Huron, Ontario, Michigan, Erie and Superior. Nearly two-thirds of the Great...continued

Polling Shows Illinoisans Ready To Lead On Clean Energy

Posted April 21, 2015 by Henry Henderson

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Hundreds of people are expected to show up at the state capitol in Springfield tomorrow for Earth Day rallies promoting clean energy in Illinois. Judging from the results of polling NRDC conducted in Illinois, the folks speaking out in Springfield...continued

Senator Portman Should Side with Ohioans Rather than Polluters

Posted April 7, 2015 by Henry Henderson

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Climate Change is doing a number on the state of Ohio and the nation at large. We are clearly at the point where talking about the problem is not enough. Action is needed, but some of our decision makers, who...continued

Michigan Clean Energy: Lessons Unlearned in Lansing

Posted March 12, 2015 by Henry Henderson

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Michigan has long seen the value of renewables and energy efficiency to attract investment and buoy its economy--something that continues to pay dividends, as the state was 4th in the nation in adding clean energy jobs last year. A big...continued

Petcoke Pushback: Chicago Denies Enclosure Delay Request

Posted February 17, 2015 by Henry Henderson

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Good on the City of Chicago. They are sticking to their guns on the petcoke issue as witnessed by the decision to deny a request from the petcoke pilers at KCBX to delay covering their mounds of petroleum waste...continued

Pullman National Monument: A Reminder Of The Lessons We Should Be Taking From The Past

Posted February 10, 2015 by Henry Henderson

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Putting a marker on history is more than just saying "this is what happened back then" - it is a reminder of the lessons we should be taking from the past. That is part of what makes the news...continued

An Open Letter to Bruce Rauner: new clean energy policies = new clean energy jobs for Illinois

Posted November 13, 2014 by Henry Henderson

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Bruce Rauner campaigned for Governor under the theme: Bring Back Illinois. He now has the chance to do just that. With this in mind, here is an open letter outlining some important actions in the energy arena he should take...continued

Honoring Our Gorgeous and Efficient Skyline: Retrofit Chicago Commercial Buildings Awards

Posted October 15, 2014 by Henry Henderson

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Tonight the Retrofit Chicago Commercial Buildings Initiative is having its first awards ceremony, honoring one building and three building engineers who have contributed most in the early years of the program to unleash the power of energy efficiency across...continued

Protecting the Southeast Side and All of Chicago

Posted October 3, 2014 by Henry Henderson

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                    Long overdue credit was given last night. At their annual dinner, the Illinois Environmental Council rightly cast a bright spotlight on the work of the Southeast Environmental Task Force...continued

End the Algae Assault: Great Lakes Mayors Should Push for Clean Power Plan and Clean Water Protection Rule

Posted September 22, 2014 by Henry Henderson

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The nation was greeted last month with the distressing news that nearly a half-million Americans were robbed of access to drinking water by toxic algae blooms near Toledo. It is amazing, spooky and utterly unacceptable for the citizens of...continued

Toledo's Troubles: Vivid Example of Why We Need to Act on Climate and Clean Water

Posted August 4, 2014 by Henry Henderson

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The troubles in Toledo this weekend might seem the stuff of science fiction (as an aside, just listen to the stories running on Chicago Public Radio), but the truth is that a major American city, perched along the Great...continued

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Switchboard is the staff blog of the Natural Resources Defense Council, the nation’s most effective environmental group. For more about our work, including in-depth policy documents, action alerts and ways you can contribute, visit NRDC.org.

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