Energy and Environment
Environmental protection and environmental justice issues are deeply personal to me and the residents of Illinois’ 4th District. I am proud to partner with community members to fight for a clean energy policy that supports investments in renewable energy, promotes energy efficiency, protects the health of Illinoisans and reduces the harmful effects of climate change on our communities, our economy, and our planet.
I consistently opposed approval of the Keystone XL Pipeline and voted against legislation to approve its construction. The pipeline would prolong our nation’s dependency on fossil fuels and threaten the aquifers that provide drinking water and support the livelihoods of millions of Americans. We should not rely on short term economic gain at the cost of our environment. I was pleased that President Obama vetoed the bill and I remain committed to fighting for clean and responsible energy policies that protect our environment and will meet our energy needs in the 21st Century.
I’ve recently cosponsored numerous bills and cosigned various letters in effort to help the environment in many ways. Our dependency on oil cannot be used to justify permanent, irrevocable damage to any vibrant wilderness, including the oceans, on public lands, or in the Arctic.
After the devastating BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, I fought back against the culture of recklessness that resulted in spills and errors at many BP refineries and deep-water drilling rigs. I won adoption of an amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act that required the Secretary of Defense to consider debarring BP from federal defense contracts if they are not found to be a “responsible source” based on a satisfactory record of integrity and business ethics. I have also cosigned a letter written to the Secretary of the Interior Sarah Jewell to highlight the fact that drilling in the Artic poses significant threat to its fragile ecosystem and sets a terrible example for the rest of the globe. Because public lands are important to millions of Americans, I have cosponsored the Protect Public Lands Act, to ban fracking on public lands across the United States.
Protecting our workers is just as important as protecting our environment. I joined over 70 of my colleagues in cosigning a letter addressed to EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy urging her to publish stronger Worker Protection Standards that would protect farmworkers and their families from the health hazards of pesticide exposure. I also partnered my Chicago delegation colleagues Congresswoman Jan Schakowsky and Congressman Mike Quigley in a letter to the EPA to support their consideration of updated ozone pollution protections and urging “the strongest possible standard to protect public health.”
Finally, I believe that polluters have a responsibility to help clean up toxic waste sites, called superfund sites. Superfund sites are a problem in the 4th Congressional District of Illinois and the City of Chicago. The costs of remediation and redevelopment of superfund sites should not be born solely on the shoulders of American taxpayers. I cosponsored the Superfund Reinvestment Act which reauthorizes taxes on polluting industries, providing much needed funding to clean up toxic wastes sites in communities all over the nation.
On June 26, 2009, the House of Representatives voted to pass the American Clean Energy and Security Act. I supported this important legislation that will move America toward a clean energy economy while protecting consumers. This bill creates jobs, work to end our dependence on foreign oil and fossil fuels, and keep costs low for consumers, with only a minimal impact of 22 to 33 cents each month for American households. Additionally, this initiative will help Americans by offering tax credits and rebates to low income families in order to help offset energy-related increases in their electric bill.
The American Clean Energy and Security Act:
- Caps emissions on carbon and other global warming pollutants and establishes a market-based system of tradable permits that gives industry economic incentives to reduce carbon emissions.
- Requires electric utilities to meet 20% of their energy demand through renewable energy sources and efficiency measures by 2020.
- Supports innovation in clean energy by investing $90 billion in renewable energy projects by 2025, and $20 billion in electric and advanced technology vehicles.
- Sets new energy-saving standards for buildings, vehicles, and appliances.
New and significant funds are supporting projects across the country through the American Reinvestment and Recovery Act (ARRA) to help families make their homes more energy efficient, encourage businesses to grow new green jobs, and allow universities and researchers to develop innovative solutions to the energy challenges of the 21st century. In the 4th District, the City of Chicago is targeting ARRA funds to retrofit public and private buildings to be more energy efficient and to transition to "greener" fleets.
A commitment to clean energy innovations and global partnerships to reduce the threat of global warming provide an opportunity for renewed American prosperity and international leadership. I will continue to work with my colleagues in Congress to ensure that America's future energy needs are met and our forests, lakes, and oceans are protected for future generations.
Do you want to reduce your energy costs?
There are a number of resources available to families and businesses who would like to implement energy-saving measures to reduce their home energy costs.
- Simple and inexpensive changes like replacing current bulbs with ENERGY STAR compact fluorescent (CFL) light bulbs can save $30 dollars over the life of the light bulb. CFL bulbs use 75% energy and last 10 times longer than an incandescent light bulb.
- Conserve energy by turning down your thermostat during the middle of the day and while you are sleeping, reducing how often the heat and air run. Each degree lower reduces your furnace's energy consumption by 23%. Try 65-68° F when home during the day, then 55°F at night. Consider purchasing a programmable thermostat.
- Replace your toilet with a low-flow version or place plastic containers filled with water in your toilet tanks to reduce water consumption. (Keep the containers away from the flush mechanism.)
- Change your office printer settings to print double-sided.
- Purchase copy paper with at least 30% recycled content, and at least 60% post-consumer content.
The American Reinvestment and Recovery Act allocated $300 million for consumer rebates on the qualifying ENERGY STAR appliances:
|central air conditioners||Room Air Conditioners||Dishwashers|
|Heat pumps (air source and geo thermal)||Refrigerators/Freezers||Boilers|
|Furnaces (oil and gas)||Clothes Washers||Water Heaters|
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More on Energy and Environment
BLOOMBERG BNA: Advocates Decry Puerto Rico's Toxic Landfills
June 16, 2016 08:25PM ET | Bloomberg BNA
Puerto Rico Landfills
Development: Rep. Gutierrez and environmental advocates hold briefing to shed light on toxic municipal landfills in Puerto Rico.
Finding: Roughly 75 percent of island's landfills are noncompliant with environmental statute, advocates say.
What's Next: Advocates urge EPA to crack down on regulatory violations.