News - Kane County

Batavia Environmental Commission looking ahead to develop city’s climate action plan

The Batavia Environmental Commission has begun working on a climate action plan for the city as part of a large climate plan from the Metropolitan Mayor’s Caucus.

“The Regional Climate Plan was actually something put out by the Metropolitan Mayor’s Caucus last fall,” said Carolyn Burnham, a current member and former chair of the Batavia Environmental Commission. “It’s a blueprint for mitigation and adaptation strategies for communities to take in the Chicago region to help with climate change.”

According to the Metropolitan Mayors Caucus website, work on the 2021 Regional Climate Plan began in 2019, with the Chicago area being one of four regions in the U.S. chosen to begin environmental planning using its guidelines at the local level.

Optimizing building energy, clean energy policies and decarbonized transportation are some of the actions Batavia can take to reduce its footprint, Burnham said.

“Everyone on this committee is going through the plan independently, and we’re going to meet again and talk about possible mitigation strategies,” she said.

Burnham said that the plan tasks each participating town with generating their own climate action plans.

“Batavia signed on to be a part of that last fall right away,” Burnham said. “[The Batavia Environmental Commission] has members that are part of a subcommittee that are working on that, which just started meeting a couple of weeks ago.”

Burnham said that the commission looks to have a plan recommendation for the city by October.

“There’s a lot of things that we can tackle in this plan,” she said. “The big one that everyone knows about is our reliance on Prairie State for our electricity.”

The city is part owner of the coal-fired electric plant, located in downstate Illinois.

Burnham said that plan will eventually be presented to the City Council, who will then create legislation based on its guidelines.

Apart from the climate action plan, the Batavia Environmental Commission has conducted other environmental projects within the city.

“Right now we have a member, Alex Zelles, who just worked with the Small Mouth Bass Alliance to plant water billows in the Fox River, and that is to help the fish population,“ Burham said. “We’re also engaged in something called the ‘Big Trees,’ where we’re encouraging people around Batavia to nominate the biggest trees in Batavia.”

Burnham said that the city also approved the commission to build an ordinance for a single use bag fee with the city.

“Being an environmental commission, there’s almost a limitless number of things that you can do,” Burnham said. “It’s going to be a long-haul operation to keep these things moving forward.”

Batavia Mayor Jeff Schielke said that the city will collaborate closely with the commission later in the process.

“As they get further down the road on it I think there’s going to be a lot of need to maybe adjust some of the ideas a little bit,” he said. “This group has always been thoughtful and insightful.”

Information on Batavia Environmental Commission programs and volunteer opportunities can be found at bataviaec.org.