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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

Flint Still Flubbed - More Answers, Accountability and Action Needed in Michigan

Posted January 7, 2016 by Henry Henderson

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I am thrilled to host another guest post from Anjali Waikar, staff attorney for NRDC's Environmental Justice Program: City and state officials involved in Flint's lead-in-drinking water crisis are finally acknowledging they're in hot water. Governor Snyder declared a...continued

It's Prime Time for Ohio to Embrace Better Wind Energy Policies

Posted December 16, 2015 by Henry Henderson

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If your state is really good at something, wouldn't it make sense to do everything in your power to capitalize on that success? Despite being a national leader in creating wind-related manufacturing products like turbines and blades, Ohio created...continued

EPA Flakes on Flint [Guest Post by Anjali Waikar]

Posted December 16, 2015 by Henry Henderson

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I am thrilled to host this guest post from Anjali Waikar, staff attorney for NRDC's Environmental Justice Program: If you haven't heard by now, there is an existing public health crisis in Flint, Michigan, in which an entire city...continued

Senator Kirk Bucks Party Line and Votes to Support Clean Power Plan

Posted November 24, 2015 by Henry Henderson

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The war against clean energy and effective climate action may have several fewer soldiers manning the barricades to foil the public interest. And that is good, as we consider how the opponents of the Clean Power Plan, led by Senator...continued

Fighting for Carbon Cuts in Court: Illinois and Chicago step up to defend Clean Power Plan

Posted November 4, 2015 by Henry Henderson

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Focused commitment to address climate change is a challenge and an opportunity for the people of Illinois. Failure to make the necessary commitments is an unambiguous danger to our property, our health and safety and quality of life. And it...continued

Senator Kirk: If climate is too big to ignore around the world, it is too big to ignore here too

Posted October 26, 2015 by Henry Henderson

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In July, Illinois Senator Mark Kirk sent out a constituent email noting that climate change is "too big to ignore" while touting a vote to support international efforts to raise awareness and cut greenhouse gas emissions. As I noted at...continued

Ballast Water Battle in DC and Federal Court

Posted October 15, 2015 by Henry Henderson

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The battle against invasive species has been going on in the Great Lakes for decades. Zebra and quagga mussels. Round gobies. The VHS virus, often charmingly referred to as "fish ebola." These and the other tiny critters, plants and...continued

Poisoning People, the Future and the Public Interest in Flint, Michigan

Posted October 6, 2015 by Henry Henderson

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Lead is a devastating toxin. It ravages the brain. Robs children of IQ points and brain function. And deprives our society of vast potential. It has cast a huge, destructive shadow across human civilization. That's why Americans eliminated it...continued

Senator Kirk: Polluting water bodies connected to the Great Lakes = Polluting the Great Lakes

Posted September 16, 2015 by Henry Henderson

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It has been very interesting watching the way Senator Mark Kirk has been cloaking himself in the mantel of Great Lakes champion, while taking actions in DC that clearly would negatively impact those water bodies. Just look at his...continued

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

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