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Dem candidates make big promises on the environment

Wednesday, Oct 18, 2017

* The Sierra Club’s gubernatorial candidates forum didn’t get a lot of media coverage, so here’s a press release from the group summing up the event…

Sierra Club held its first ever Illinois Gubernatorial Candidate Forum Saturday, October 14th at the University of Illinois at Chicago, and a crowd of over 500 witnessed a spirited exchange between candidates who are rivals for the Democratic nomination, but in broad agreement that Illinois should do much more to lead on the environment.

“It is crystal clear, given the rollbacks, the cuts, the denial of science, and attempts to divide our communities that are coming at all of us from the Trump administration, that Illinois must step up to lead,” said Sierra Club, Illinois Chapter Director Jack Darin. “Illinois must lead if we are to make progress against threats like climate change and toxins in our drinking water, and even to protect the tremendous progress we have made together as a society.”

Trump’s moves against climate action, and steps by Governor Rauner’s Illinois EPA to weaken clean air standards for coal plants drew strong rebukes and commitments to move Illinois in an entirely different direction.

Candidates Tio Hardiman, Chris Kennedy, J.B. Pritzker, and State Senator Daniel Biss made bold pledges for the future, including:

    -Setting a goal of 100% clean renewable energy for Illinois, and joining the U.S. Climate Alliance of leading states,
    -New investment to remove lead service lines and reduce nutrient pollution,
    -Rebuilding the Illinois Department of Natural Resources after years of decline,
    -Promoting environmental justice for communities of color and disadvantaged communities, including state help for a just transition to a clean energy economy.

Governor Rauner did not respond to an invitation to participate.

* From a blog post

State Senator Daniel Biss said “I strongly support a firm commitment to move Illinois to 100% clean energy mix, and was the first candidate to do so.” Tio Hardiman agreed, saying “I plan to be a champion for renewable energy, and as a community organizer will build a movement for this goal.” Chris Kennedy pledged to begin with state properties, saying “we can make the State of Illinois commit to using 100% renewable energy for its buildings, and put the entire state on that same trajectory as well.” J.B. Pritzker said “we need to move this state to 100% renewables, and we must invest in clean energy and battery technology, as I have as an individual, in order to get to that goal,” before apologizing for leaving the event early to attend an event downstate, and introducing State Senator Heather Steans as his surrogate for the remainder of the forum.

The health of Illinois’ water supply was top of mind, with candidates sharing plans for protecting drinking water and Illinois’ rivers and lakes. Kennedy pledged to involve the public in the fight for clean water by informing residents about their water quality to inspire them to action.

Biss said that truly universal access to clean water would come at a cost, but that is clearly worth it to stop poisoning our children and put people to work on water projects in communities that need it most. Steans said Pritzker plans to replace 100% of lead service lines in Illinois, expand existing nutrient control programs, and develop a state water use plan to ensure sustainability of community supplies.

Biss and Kennedy each expressed opposition to the proposed Route 53 extension in Lake County. Kennedy also described the proposed Illiana expressway as “like one of those zombies in one of those movies – it’s time to put a stake in the heart of that thing and move on.” Biss said “investing in mass transit and sustainable transportation is an important part of acting on climate change and reducing carbon emissions. We have to have a holistic view of what transit means across the state – trains, buses, and access to economic opportunity.” Steans did not take a position on specific projects, but said that Pritzker would understand that we cannot look at road projects based on political considerations, but on technical merit. Hardiman also declined to take a position on specific projects, while noting his support for mass transit.

Each of the candidates lamented the long decline in staffing and budget at the Illinois Department of Natural Resources, and shared their personal connections to Illinois’ outdoors.


- Posted by Rich Miller        

  1. - wordslinger - Wednesday, Oct 18, 17 @ 10:16 am:

    What does “setting a goal of 100% clean, renewable energy” mean, if anything, from a gubernatorial candidate?

    More nukes or nuke bailouts? Repeal of the bipartisan fracking law? Stricter state auto emission standards, a la
    California? Certainly coal-burning plant bailouts can’t be in the mix?

    I’m all for the inevitable path to renewables, just not flip, empty promises. Natural gas has to be in the mix for the transition to cleaner energy and there’s an ocean of it underground here.

    Sooner than later, advances in best practices and technology will intersect with price and extracting oil and gas via fracking will become profitable in Illinois. Liquefied natural gas for export to Europe could be a huge growth industry in the near future.

    Downstate could use a growth industry. It would be swell if the state would participate in laying the groundwork for it, rather than just handing out tax breaks to gummy bear makers.

    Rebuilding DNR and reversing the state’s horrible neglect of state parks and historic sites would be good baby steps for the next governor. If he can pull that off, maybe he can proceed to that 100% goal.

  2. - lake county democrat - Wednesday, Oct 18, 17 @ 10:17 am:

    It is true that to move to “clean” energy we need better battery technology. But it’s lunacy to say that Illinois is going to achieve that on its own for the purpose of this state moving to clean energy. Investing in research is good for other reasons, but with respect to the environment, this is a federal/world issue. Absent new technologies, by far the biggest step you can take is nuclear, because folks aren’t giving up their air conditioners for the sake of climate control.

    More important here is the focus on lead - Illinois has some decent laws that add to federal requirements, but they could be tightened up.

  3. - Robert the 1st - Wednesday, Oct 18, 17 @ 10:28 am:

    North Korea has a very small carbon footprint. Look at satellite photos taken at night. IL Democrats seem to being using that country as the model they want moving forward when it comes to regulations, labor, and energy policy.

  4. - Juvenal - Wednesday, Oct 18, 17 @ 10:30 am:

    Bruce Rauner touted his credentials as a conservationist four years ago. It’s an important part of his character narrative “lernin to hunt with my immigrant grandpa” and his electoral strategy, and now perhaps one of his biggest weaknesses.

    Lake County is a very important swing region of the state. Environment and natural resources is a top issue there. Rauner blew it badly on the flooding - so badly he may never recover. But if he is going to have a shot he has to put a lot of daylight between himself and trump on the environment. So far he isn’t doing a good job of that.

    If Pritzker wins, he will have the funds to press the issue, and that could even shift the legislative landscape a tad.

  5. - wordslinger - Wednesday, Oct 18, 17 @ 10:43 am:

    yeah, just like North Korea, Bobby.
    Thanks for the informed, insightful contribution.

    Graham crackers and Yoo-hoo before nap time today?

  6. - VanillaMan - Wednesday, Oct 18, 17 @ 10:54 am:

    Can the politicrap, Bobby.
    Your hurting the good guys with your gibberish.

  7. - City Zen - Wednesday, Oct 18, 17 @ 11:03 am:

    “Biss and Kennedy each expressed opposition to the proposed Route 53 extension in Lake County.”

    So they’re against the will of the people? 75% of Lake County residents were in favor of this project.

  8. - Robert the 1st - Wednesday, Oct 18, 17 @ 11:16 am:

    Looking back, that was a rather Trollish comment on my part. Given our current issues “100% clean renewable energy for Illinois” is as dumb as my comment.

    V- *you’re*

  9. - VanillaMan - Wednesday, Oct 18, 17 @ 11:19 am:

    I’m voting for the candidate who doesn’t just promise. How about just getting supporters together and picking up litter? Silly boutique environmentalism is nothing but promises.

    We need actions, not nonsense.

  10. - VanillaMan - Wednesday, Oct 18, 17 @ 11:21 am:

    Your right Bobby.
    Pretty trollish.

  11. - Robert the 1st - Wednesday, Oct 18, 17 @ 11:27 am:

    I can admit it.

    Again *you’re*

  12. - Six Degrees of Separation - Wednesday, Oct 18, 17 @ 11:45 am:

    City Zen, I agree that the IL 53 project would be popular and well-used if it was built. If the citizens of Lake County had to pay for a good portion of it PLUS pay a toll, I’m not sure they would be so supportive. It should be noted that those “mass transit” projects that are often touted as highway replacements would cost a fortune too, in an era where Metra is falling further and further behind despite 4 straight years of fare increases.

  13. - Going nuclear - Wednesday, Oct 18, 17 @ 11:47 am:

    = Given our current issues “100% clean renewable energy for Illinois” is as dumb as my comment. =

    Not so dumb, but certainly ambitious. By the way, more than 95 companies have made a commitment to go 100% renewable, including Walmart, Bank of America, GM, Johnson & Johnson, Kellogg’s, Mars, Ebay and Steelcase. I would venture that the carbon footprint of these companies would exceed that of a small country like say North Korea.

  14. - VanillaMan - Wednesday, Oct 18, 17 @ 11:47 am:

    Your so clever, huh?

  15. - People and Planet - Wednesday, Oct 18, 17 @ 11:53 am:

    Glad to hear that those who want to lead our state are ready to lead on the environment. As Bruce R is doubling down following DTrump towards dirty energy corporate polluters, voters want climate action, and they’re looking for someone to pick up the slack left by the White House.

  16. - VanillaMan - Wednesday, Oct 18, 17 @ 11:58 am:

    ==Given our current issues “100% clean renewable energy for Illinois” is as dumb as my comment.==

    Given our current issues.
    As well as proven unrealistic - given our current technologies. Texas is far ahead of us on this and they’ve proven that under our current technologies - it cannot be done. Given our costs, Germany already proved that pursuing that goal is unrealitic. Both Texas and Germany has spent multiple billions believing that the goal was reachable. Currently it is not and a waste of billions.

    But these candidates don’t really care. They’re not even doing what any Scout organization does on a regular basis - fight pollution using trah bags and gloves. None of these candidates takes action.

    They are just talking about saving the environment between private jet trips to the next campaign stop.

  17. - Responsa - Wednesday, Oct 18, 17 @ 12:33 pm:

    Concentrate on what is doable within the office you are running for and on the things the electorate of your state most needs and cares about is my advice to all statewide candidates. And stop–just stop– with all the tired buzz words, unachievable environmental blabber and full on hypocrisy please. The majority of the public notices and is sneering at you when you cluelessly say these things.

  18. - Biker - Wednesday, Oct 18, 17 @ 2:49 pm:

    Solar PV is going to hit hard in Illinois. It is going to be a job creation machine. So glad to hear all of these candidates get it.

  19. - will county voter - Wednesday, Oct 18, 17 @ 5:52 pm:

    I smell diesel exhaust on my drive home from work through Joliet. The the transition to solar and electric vehicles cannot come soon enough for me.

  20. - DH_Cohen - Thursday, Oct 19, 17 @ 12:05 pm:

    I’m glad to hear all the gubernatorial candidates want to demonstrate bold leadership on climate action. The only way we’re going to cut down on carbon pollution and shift the energy power structure in this country is with elected leaders making big commitments.

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