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Meleah Geertsma, Senior Attorney, Midwest Program, Chicago, IL

Meleah Geertsma
For me, environmental issues are about human health and justice. I grew up the daughter of a pediatrician at an inner-city hospital and a hospital chaplain, watching my parents do their best as providers while struggling with the broader context that made their patients sick. So I decided to focus on the ultimate in primary care: preventing pollution at its source. After working on control of greenhouse gases in D.C. with NRDC's Climate and Clean Air Program, I moved back to Chicago to join our Midwest office, expanding into water in addition to air. When I’m not reading regulations or writing briefs, I can usually be found cycling around the city or countryside on one of my four bikes.

Recent Posts

On a Climate Roll: EPA Starts to Tackle Methane, Following Historic Carbon Pollution Standards

Posted August 20, 2015 by Meleah Geertsma

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Earlier this month, the U.S. EPA took the historic step of setting the first-ever standards for carbon dioxide pollution from power plants, our nation's largest source of climate pollution. This week, the agency took another step forward by starting...continued

Nothing Says Love Like Petroleum Coke Dust

Posted March 11, 2015 by Meleah Geertsma

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Photo of iced over sprayer at KCBX's South site Earlier this week, I summarized the recent flurry of activity around petroleum coke in Chicago. Now there's another sort of flurry to report - problematic levels of coarse particulate matter...continued

Chicago Dust Report: Making Sense of February's Petroleum Coke Announcements

Posted March 9, 2015 by Meleah Geertsma

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In the latest chapter of Chicago's tussle with petroleum coke, February saw a flurry of announcements about the future of this dirty refining waste on the Southeast side: - On February 13, the City denied a variance request from...continued

Mining and Water Don't Mix: Acid Mine Drainage Threatens Lake Superior and Boundary Waters

Posted May 30, 2014 by Meleah Geertsma

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  Think colossal industrial development in the Midwest - do the sparkling waters and gorgeous shoreline of Lake Superior, or pristine wilderness of the Boundary Waters, come to mind? If not, they should, given the new generation of massive metallic...continued

Setting the Record Straight on the Health Impacts of Petroleum Coke

Posted February 28, 2014 by Meleah Geertsma

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Recently, the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality (MDEQ) drew attention by issuing a toxicity assessment of petroleum coke dust, in conjunction with its permitting of a coke storage facility in Detroit. At least one news article mistakenly labeled the report...continued

Attorney general and house majority leader take strong step against Petcoke and for Illinois communities

Posted February 19, 2014 by Meleah Geertsma

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Yesterday Attorney General Lisa Madigan announced legislation aimed at preventing harmful petroleum coke from blowing into neighborhoods and impacting schools, hospitals, and other places where people gather. The bill, a joint proposal between Madigan’s office and Majority Leader Barbara Flynn Currie...continued

Petroleum Coke: the Pollution Doesn't Stop at the Refinery

Posted October 18, 2013 by Meleah Geertsma

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Watching the petcoke mountains spring up along the Calumet River in Chicago, I find myself marveling at the polluting reach of the tar sands industry. Increased production of the most carbon-intensive petroleum on the planet is having profound impacts...continued

Ohio Communities Stand Up to Protect Themselves from the Hazards of Hydraulic Fracturing

Posted September 10, 2013 by Meleah Geertsma

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  Imagine you live in a small city or town, one that prides itself on its welcoming neighborhoods and community values, and that draws residents as a great place to raise a family. Over the years, your hometown or city...continued

Midwest Governors on Separation of Watersheds: A Closer Look at What's at Stake

Posted June 11, 2013 by Meleah Geertsma

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Two important messages on aquatic invasive species came out of the recent 2013 Leadership Summit, where the Great Lakes Governors and the Premiers of Ontario and Quebec gathered to discuss a new collaborative agenda for the region. The messages...continued

Carp Committee Releases 2013 Monitoring and Response Plan, While Carp Continue to Advance Towards Lake Michigan

Posted May 9, 2013 by Meleah Geertsma

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Today the Asian Carp Regional Coordinating Committee (ACRCC), a collaboration among federal, state and local agencies and other stakeholders focused on addressing the threat of Asian carp to the Great Lakes, released its 2013 Monitoring and Response Plan for...continued

EPA Report Confirms Oil and Gas Sector is Among Nation's Worst Climate Polluters

Posted April 30, 2013 by Meleah Geertsma

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  A new report issued by EPA in late April – an update to the national emissions inventory for greenhouse gases – continues to highlight the oil and gas sector’s role as the country’s top industrial source of methane...continued

Solving the Carp Crisis: Moving from Courts to Collaboration

Posted December 14, 2012 by Meleah Geertsma

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  Back in 2010, a group of Great Lakes states led by Michigan sued the Army Corps of Engineers (“Corps”) and Metropolitan Water Reclamation District of Greater Chicago to permanently close the locks of the Chicago Area Waterways System in...continued

Protecting Michigan Citizens and Communities from the Hazards of Fracking

Posted November 29, 2012 by Meleah Geertsma

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We are glad to see that Governor Snyder, in his recent message Ensuring our Future: Energy and the Environment, acknowledges the significant public concerns around the impacts of hydraulic fracturing (or “fracking”) for natural gas and oil on the environment...continued

Corps to Cut Back Substance, Public Participation in Asian Carp Study

Posted November 16, 2012 by Meleah Geertsma

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What’s the latest news in the fight to keep Asian carp out of the Great Lakes? This week in Chicago, the Army Corps of Engineers held the first of several “charrettes” to inform its work on the aquatic nuisance species...continued

Writing on the Wall: Illinois EPA Throws in Cards, Plans Re-do for Coal Gasification Power Plant

Posted July 9, 2012 by Meleah Geertsma

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Sometimes it is important to beat a supposedly dead horse, especially when that horse can make bad legal precedent.  News out of the Illinois EPA (“IEPA”) – acknowledging its issuance of a flawed air permit to a huge proposed coal gasification...continued

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