Clean Air

Old, coal-fired power plants are the largest industrial air polluters in the state. Do you support requiring old power plants to conform to current air protection standards in order to clean up Illinois' air quality?

Presently power plants built before 1977 are exempted from air protection standards. The idea behind the exemption was that they would soon be shutting down, so they might as well operate for their few remaining years. Nearly twenty-five years later these plants are still going strong, and polluting more than ten times as much as newer plants. If the older plants are unable to meet standards due to older technology, they should be closed down. All power plants, old and new, should be required to meet the standards for soot and smog-forming pollution. Presently twenty-four Illinois' coal-fired power plants are exempted and they produce a lot of pollution. In 1997 these aging power plants emitted 307,028 tons of smog-forming nitrogen oxides, or the equivalent of 15.7 million cars. That's twice the number of cars as are registered in the state. Additionally, 821,336 tons of soot-forming sulfur dioxide was emitted. Cleaning them up is a must in restoring Illinois' suffering air quality.

Do you support investment in clean, safe, renewable power for the future in an effort to rid the state of its dependence on polluting forms of energy?

As technology for cleaner fuel becomes more available and affordable, it is necessary to replace the older and dirtier energy sources. Summer smog pollution in Illinois is estimated to trigger as many as 310,000 asthma attacks, cause as many as 7,200 emergency room visits and 2,400 hospitalizations per year. Air pollution kills 3,000 people a year in Illinois, 2,000 in the Chicago area alone. Air pollution is especially dangerous to children, the elderly, and those with respiratory problems. It is our responsibility to demand cleaner power to protect the health of all the residents in Illinois.

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Urban Sprawl & Transportation

Do you support spending transportation dollars on improving public transit rather than building more roads in order to minimize pollution and preserve open space?

Public transit cuts down on pollution, reduces traffic and congestion, preserves open space from destruction and allows both elderly and young people, unable to drive, opportunities to be involved in the community. More roads lead to more frequent car trips and further increase people's automobile dependence. In Illinois, growth has spread out into suburbs, requiring that urban and suburban transit systems be linked in order to provide effective and adequate service. The Illinois House of Representatives passed House Resolution 234 in May of 1999 to urge the Regional Transportation Authority (RTA) to plan for an improved, coordinated mass transit system for the entire Chicagoland region. This legislation holds promise for mass transit, but citizen follow-up and involvement are necessary to ensure that critical issues such as air quality and accessibility to lower income areas are appropriately represented.

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What is your proposal for curbing urban sprawl and minimizing the damaging effects of growth in Illinois?

Poorly planned land use and major public expenditures for highways, sewers, and wastewater treatment leads to destruction of valuable wildlife habitat. The costs of growth, though often hidden, cannot be overlooked. From 1970 to 1990 developed land in the Chicago area grew 55 percent, while the area population grew only 4 percent. There is no level of highway construction that can keep pace with this kind of sprawling growth. With good city planning it is possible to revitalize suburban areas so that shopping, work, school and home are all within an accessible distance. Growth changes cities quickly, so it is essential that planning starts now in order to protect Illinois from the harmful effects of sprawl.

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