The Chicago Trump Tower sued for polluting river and violating environmental laws

The district attorney of Illinois Lisa Madigan, pressed charges against Trump tower for having polluted the Chicago river, violating environmental laws.

Donald Trump hasn’t stood out for his environmentally friendly decisions since he was elected president, but it seems that even in the role of entrepreneur the environment isn’t on his companies’ list of priorities. Lisa Madigan, Attorney General of the state of Illinois, has sued the Chicago skyscraper named after the president, the Trump International Hotel & Tower, for having extracted large amounts of water from the city’s river, polluting it and endangering its fish – without reporting on these activities, as required by law.

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Trump International Hotel & Tower uses millions of litres of water from the Chicago River and discharges it at much higher temperatures, endangering fish. This is why the Attorney General of Illinois, Lisa Madigan, has decided to sue the company © Scott Olson/Getty Images

What the Chicago Trump Tower is accused of

The structure was built in 2005 and in time it has become one of the most recognisable buildings of the city’s skyline, especially due to the writing “Trump” in huge letters on its side. Located on the Chicago River‘s shore, close to Lake Michigan, it’s home to a hotel, a congress centre, apartments and not long ago one of the few Michelin starred restaurants in Illinois’ principal city. Madigan’s accusations regard the use and discharge of the river’s waters.

Millions of litres of water used

According to the charges, Trump’s hotel has been exploiting more than the permitted amount of water from the river. This is emitted into the cooling systems of all buildings next to river, but the Trump Tower has used an excessive amount – 75 million litres a day – without reporting this to the competent authorities, as required by federal law. In fact, according to the Clean Water Act, those who use very large amounts of water must document the impact of this activity on fish populations.

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Donald Trump’s skyscraper is located on the Chicago River’s shore © Diego Delso

Furthermore, the skyscraper releases water that is too hot back into the waterway, its temperature 35 degrees Centigrade higher that when it’s withdrawn, and is therefore harmful to the fish that inhabit the river. In the past few years, the river’s flora and fauna have seen a return thanks to Chicago’s environmental policies, enabling citizens to rediscover the city’s nature and biodiversity. Furthermore, according to Madigan’s charges, the building has been operating without a license for water use for over a year.

The Trump Organization’s response

Whilst hotel employees don’t seem too worried about the accusations and have continued to post content on social media, the Trump Organization, a group of approximately 500 companies owned by the head of the White House, has responded to the lawsuit filed by Madigan, a Democrat, accusing her of bias: “We’re disappointed that the Illinois attorney general would choose to file this suit considering such items are generally handled at the administrative level. One can only conclude that this decision was motivated by politics”.

The Chicago tribune underlines the fact that Madigan’s charges came at the behest of a report by the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency (IEPA), which is under the jurisdiction of governor Bruce Rauner, a Republican just like the president. The fine the Chicago Trump Tower will have to pay will go the latter’s office. But the real harm in Trump and his team’s view has probably much more to do about  bad publicity than about finances.

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