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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

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

Nasty: Another Chicago River Re-Reversal Highlights Need for Climate Action

Posted July 1, 2014 by Henry Henderson

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Last night massive violent storms rumbled through Chicago dumping billions of gallons of stormwater on the region. That water overwhelmed stormwater systems, which dumped the slurry of runoff, contaminated rainwater and sewage into the Chicago River and its associated...continued

Illinois Beaches: Learning lessons to clean the Fresh Coast

Posted June 30, 2014 by Henry Henderson

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A day at the beach is a situation when many people become painfully aware of being directly confronted by water pollution: sadly, it is due to discomforting results of interaction with contaminated water. Kids with tummy aches. Or parents...continued

EPA Carbon Standards and Iowa: Breezing Past Proposed Goals

Posted June 6, 2014 by Henry Henderson

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This post is co-presented with NRDC MAP Energy Policy Fellow and native Iowan Katharine McCormick. The Des Moines Register’s editorial board applauded the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) for proposing the first standards for carbon pollution from existing power plants....continued

Illinois Infrastructure: Getting Our Water Systems Up to Snuff Amidst the Climate Crush

Posted May 9, 2014 by Henry Henderson

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Water. In Illinois we have whipsawed back and forth between having too much of it and not enough in recent years. From a flooded and re-reversed Chicago River to the mighty Mississippi being reduced to levels so low it...continued

Chicago Petcoke: Alderman's shameful switcheroo undercuts his neighbors, the Mayor and the entire City

Posted April 2, 2014 by Henry Henderson

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Yesterday, a hearing on Chicago’s proposed ordinance to ban new and expanded petroleum coke operations gave us a good example of why this town often deserves its international reputation for political shenanigans. The City Council's Zoning Committee had set...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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