“This is definitely the biggest day for climate action in 10 years,” said Jennifer Walling, executive director for the Illinois Environmental Council.
By CST Editorial Board | Jan 27, 2021
“This is definitely the biggest day for climate action in 10 years,” Jennifer Walling, executive director for the Illinois Environmental Council, told us on Wednesday.
After four years of the Trump administration’s nonstop assaults on the environment, Biden was quick to set a new direction, basing environmental policies on science and putting the environment at the forefront of his goals. Chicago and Illinois would be wise to get on board and help push this agenda as far as possible. The federal government can’t do it alone.
Earlier this month, Chicago became the biggest city to sign on to the “30 by 30” concept of conserving at least 30% of the nation’s land and oceans by 2030, a provision included in Biden’s executive orders. But in Illinois, only 4.1% of land is protected. More land needs to be conserved, and the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency, which has been hobbled by budget cuts in recent years, needs to step up enforcement of environmental protection rules.
Chicago and Illinois also should follow Biden’s lead of making the tackling of climate change part of the job for every governmental agency. For example, the city and state transportation departments should take into account the impact on climate change each time they weigh each new project. And the Legislature should enact the long-delayed Clean Energy Jobs Act, which would expand renewable energy, boost energy conservation, put more electric vehicles on the roads, provide support for displaced fossil fuel workers and their communities and steer jobs to economically challenged communities.
That will require a change of priorities for a state that just let its solar installation industry go over “the solar cliff” — meaning solar companies have started packing up and leaving the state. State incentives for solar installations ran out last month, ending Illinois’ solar boom.