SPRINGFIELD — A bill requiring so-called concentrated animal feeding operations (CAFOs) to pay permit fees was approved by the Illinois Senate Tuesday and sent to Gov. Pat Quinn for his signature.
The measure (HB 5642), sponsored by Sen. Mike Frerichs, D-Champaign, was approved 42-15. Among area senators, only Frerichs supported the bill. Republican Sens. Bill Brady of Bloomington, Shane Cultra of Onarga and Dale Righter of Mattoon all voted against it.
The bill was supported by a number of groups including the Illinois Farm Bureau, Illinois Pork Producers Association, Illinois Beef Association, Sierra Club, Illinois Environmental Council and Prairie Rivers Network.
Frerichs said he sponsored the bill at the request of the Champaign-based Prairie Rivers Network.
It's unclear how much money the permit fees will raise, Frerichs said. But all of the money will go to ensure compliance with the federal Clean Water Act.
"It's a nice way of making sure the department as the resources to keep our waters and our rivers safe and clean while working with the industry," Frerichs said.
Only 30 CAFOs in Illinois have registered for pollution permits, he said. But it's estimated there are around 500 operations that will require them. The estimate by the state EPA is based on a 2001 farm survey.
The annual fees range from $150 for a small CAFO to $750 for a large one.
The Prairie Rivers Network found in 2010 that CAFOs were exempt from paying fees to discharge pollution, while other industrial polluters pay an annual fee for National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System permits.
According to the Prairie Rivers Network, the state EPA funded its CAFO regulatory program with money from the other permittees.
"As a firm believer in the polluter pays principle, I am thrilled to see our hard work pay off with the passage of this very fair bill," said Stacy James, a water resources scientist at Prairie Rivers Network.