WBEZ | Illinois Senator Dick Durbin http://www.wbez.org/tags/illinois-senator-dick-durbin Latest from WBEZ Chicago Public Radio en Where was Senator Dick Durbin at 25? http://www.wbez.org/series/year-25/where-was-senator-dick-durbin-25-107104 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//main-images/durbin mid 30s (1).jpg" alt="" /><p><p>At 68 years old, Illinois US Senator Dick Durbin is one of the most powerful Democrats on Capitol Hill. First elected to the Senate in 1996, Durbin now serves as the Assistant Majority Leader, the second highest ranking position in the Senate.</p><p>His memories of being 25, however, might be classified as his more humble beginnings.</p><p>Durbin was a young father and husband&mdash;he had one young daughter, with another baby on the way. He was graduating from Georgetown Law School and had just accepted a job offer in then Lt. Governor Paul Simon&rsquo;s office in Springfield.</p><p>And, as he&rsquo;ll tell you himself, he had hardly any money to his name.</p><p>&ldquo;I skipped my graduation ceremony,&rdquo; Durbin recalls. &ldquo;I needed to get on to payroll and get a paycheck so fast that I just skipped it and said send me the diploma in the mail.&rdquo;</p><p>So, he packed up a U-Haul truck with his few belongings and his Newfoundland dog (the dog&#39;s full name, for the record, was Johann Sebastian Black. Durbin says they called him Bassy, for short. He didn&rsquo;t explain further.) and headed across the country to Springfield. His brother followed the U-Haul in Durbin&rsquo;s old Volkswagon.</p><p>Durbin says he spent his last dime putting his wife and baby on a plane, so he spent the nights of this road trip in the back of the U-Haul with his brother and Bassy.</p><p>He thinks even the people who know him well now would be pretty surprised to hear how poor he was when he was 25.</p><p><em>Lauren Chooljian is a WBEZ&rsquo;s morning producer and reporter. Follow her <a href="http://twitter.com/laurenchooljian" target="_blank">@laurenchooljian</a>.</em></p></p> Thu, 09 May 2013 14:46:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/series/year-25/where-was-senator-dick-durbin-25-107104 Durbin fired up over coal-fired ferry http://www.wbez.org/news/durbin-fired-over-coal-fired-ferry-106276 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//main-images/SS_Badger_and_SS_Spartan_Wikimedia Commons_by Zizmonz.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>Illinois U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin is crying foul over a proposal by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency that would allow a famous coal-fired ferry to keep running.</p><p>The 60-year-old S.S. Badger takes tourists back and forth across Lake Michigan a few hours north of Chicago. It&rsquo;s also the only remaining ferry in the country that runs on coal.</p><p>&ldquo;Every time that filthy scow goes across Lake Michigan, it dumps two tons of coal ash into our lake,&rdquo; said Durbin Monday.</p><p>The EPA order, which must be approved by a court in Grand Rapids, would require the Badger to stop putting ash in the lake by the end of 2014. The EPA issued the consent decree in lieu of responding to a 2012 permit renewal request by the S.S. Badger, and the decree would charge the Lake Michigan Carferry Service $25,000 for violation of clean water standards in 2012.</p><p>&ldquo;This consent decree offers the fastest and most certain path available to EPA to stop the discharge of coal ash from the Badger into Lake Michigan,&rdquo; said EPA Region 5 Administrator Susan Hedman. &ldquo;The enforcement agreement reduces the discharge of coal ash more quickly and with greater oversight than would occur during the appeal of a decision to issue or deny a permit &ndash; a process that often takes several years.&quot;</p><p>But Senator Durbin says the ship&rsquo;s owners should have already fixed the problem.</p><p>&ldquo;For ten years they&rsquo;ve promised to clean it up, put in a diesel engine at least,&rdquo; he said. &ldquo;I am fed up with it.&quot;</p><p>The owners of the Badger declined to comment.</p><p>A press release says the ship will continue burning coal, but dispose of the ash on land through a &ldquo;sophisticated ash retention system,&rdquo; the details of which remain unknown.</p><p><em>&mdash;Lewis Wallace is a WBEZ Pritzker Fellow. Follow him <a href="http://twitter.com/lewispants">@lewispants</a>.</em></p></p> Mon, 25 Mar 2013 17:41:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/durbin-fired-over-coal-fired-ferry-106276 S.S. Badger’s days could be numbered http://www.wbez.org/news/ss-badger%E2%80%99s-days-could-be-numbered-104245 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//main-images/RS6798_Badger_underway (1)-scr.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>A car ferry that has traversed Lake Michigan for nearly 60 years could soon be put out of commission.</p><p>The S.S. Badger carries cars and trucks between Manitowoc, Wisconsin and Ludington, Michigan, saving drivers a long commute through Chicago. By the company&#39;s numbers, 45,000 people took trips on the ship in 2011.</p><p>It&rsquo;s also a registered historic site and the nation&rsquo;s only remaining coal-powered ferry.</p><p>But its permit from the Environmental Protection Agency is about to expire.</p><p>&ldquo;It&rsquo;s a dirty ferry that dumps tons of coal ash in Lake Michigan every year,&rdquo; said Illinois Senator Dick Durbin.</p><p>The Democrat went on the attack when congressmen from Michigan and Wisconsin tried to slip an earmark into the House Coast Guard Reauthorization Act that would have exempted the Badger from regulation because of its historic status.</p><p>The amendment to the Coast Guard bill, introduced by Rep. Bill Huizenga (R-Mich.), made no mention of the S.S. Badger, but asked for special regulatory status for ships that are historic sites or have applied to be historic sites. In practice, there&rsquo;s only one ship that would have been exempted from environmental regulation by that clause, and it&rsquo;s the S.S. Badger.</p><p>&ldquo;The S.S. Badger had better decide to change or find another business,&rdquo; said Durbin, who accused Huizenga and Rep. Tom Petri (R-Wis.) of trying to sneak through an earmark.</p><p>A new version of the Coast Guard Reauthorization Act passed in the House on Wednesday without the exemption.</p><p>Now the S.S. Badger&rsquo;s future is in the hands of the EPA, which received <a href="http://www.epa.gov/r5water/npdestek/badger//" target="_blank">an application for a new permit</a> from the Badger earlier this year.</p><p>The EPA website says the Badger&rsquo;s last permit application in 2008 included an agreement that the ship would seek to eliminate coal ash emission by Dec. 19, 2012, when the permit expires. Because the Badger has failed to make the required upgrades, it is now asking for a new permit that would give it more time.</p><p>Jennifer Feyerherm of Sierra Club&#39;s Beyond Coal Campaign said the S.S. Badger has been exempted from regulations in the Clean Water and Clean Air Acts for years.</p><p>&quot;Lake Michigan itself is the source of drinking water for 10 million people. So dumping a toxic hazardous substance into the lake is just generally a bad idea,&quot; Feyerherm said. &quot;We don&#39;t let this kind of dumping happen anywhere else. That toxic coal ash is full of heavy metals like mercury and lead and arsenic.&quot;</p><p>In order to eliminate coal, the ship could convert to running on natural gas. It hasn&rsquo;t done that yet.</p><p>Representatives of the S.S. Badger declined to comment pending a decision by the EPA.</p></p> Thu, 06 Dec 2012 18:13:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/news/ss-badger%E2%80%99s-days-could-be-numbered-104245 Sen. Durbin calls for railroad checks http://www.wbez.org/news/sen-durbin-calls-railroad-checks-100726 <p><p>Illinois U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin says he wants the federal government to spot-check railroad infrastructure in light of the train accident in the northern suburbs last week that killed two people.&nbsp;The Union Pacific train that derailed caused a 28-car pileup, which then caused the bridge it was on to collapse.</p><div>A spokesman from Union Pacific Railroad said a similar train derailment happened in the same area in 2009.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Sen. Durbin said Monday he wants the Federal Railroad Administration to check in on parts of the railway that might be problematic &mdash; whether it&#39;s because of bad weather or a change in traffic.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>&quot;I know that&#39;s a big ask because at the federal level we have restriction of funds. But this tragic accident is a reminder of the vulnerability we have when infrastructure fails,&quot; Durbin said.&nbsp;</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Durbin said railroad accidents are the responsibility of the railroad, not the state or federal government. &nbsp;But since railways cross many states, and deal with interstate commerce, he wants the FRA to step up.&nbsp;Union Pacific spokesman Mark Davis said they wouldn&#39;t mind the additional checks.&nbsp;</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>According to the Associated Press, the victims in last week&#39;s accident were 69-year-old Burton Lindner and 70-year-old Zorine Lindner, a couple from Glenview. Their son has filed a lawsuit against Union Pacific Railroad.</div></p> Mon, 09 Jul 2012 14:56:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/sen-durbin-calls-railroad-checks-100726 FEMA denies aid for storm-ravaged southern Illinois http://www.wbez.org/story/fema-denies-aid-storm-ravaged-southern-illinois-97206 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//story/photo/2012-March/2012-03-12/AP120229148693.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>Illinois' senators and Gov. Pat Quinn are denouncing a decision by the Federal Emergency Management Agency to deny disaster aid to southern Illinois counties ravaged by tornadoes.</p><p>A powerful Feb. 29 tornado left seven people dead in the&nbsp;southern Illinois community of Harrisburg, and hundreds of homes destroyed across the region. Quinn's office had&nbsp;sought a major disaster declaration for the state and assistance&nbsp;for several southern counties. In denying the request, FEMA said&nbsp;the damage was not "beyond the capabilities of the State, affected&nbsp;local governments and voluntary agencies."</p><p>Gov. Quinn released a statement Sunday in response to FEMA's decision, saying he was "extremely disappointed."</p><p>"After personally surveying the damage and talking to many residents who lost their homes, I firmly believe federal assistance is crucial to help them begin the recovery process," the statement said. The governor's office has 30 days to submit an appeal to FEMA.</p><p>Sen. Dick Durbin told Illinois Public Radio&nbsp;the lack of federal funds will make it tough on local government, businesses and individuals affected by the storms.</p><p>"Without the federal designation, there are limited opportunities for federal help. And take a look at what's happening here with our own state treasury. There's a limited opportunity there to compensate for these losses," he said. "I have just never seen worse devastation, and I find it hard to imagine that it didn't qualify."</p><p>Sens. Durbin and Mark Kirk said Sunday they have&nbsp;requested a meeting with FEMA leadership and would seek to overturn&nbsp;the ruling.</p></p> Mon, 12 Mar 2012 10:36:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/story/fema-denies-aid-storm-ravaged-southern-illinois-97206