Citizens for a Greener Evanston asked candidates for the 18th legislative district of the Illinois House of Representatives to respond to three questions. Their responses are presented below.

Eamon Kelly

Q1. What bills are currently pending in the state legislature that would support significant improvements in energy efficiency in residential and commercial buildings and would increase the production of renewable energy in Illinois in a major way?

A: Several pending and recently defeated bills increase green energy and energy efficiency, and have my support:

  • HB2453 amends the property tax code to provide an alternative valuation for wind and solar energy devices.
  • SB2505 amends the property tax code to allow municipalities to establish green special energy service areas.
  • SB2252, defeated in the House last May, would have created the Green Energy Business Act, was defeated in the House after passing the Senate. This Act would have provided incentives for businesses to “go green” by provided credits and exemptions.
  • HB 4321 amends the Public Utilities Act to require natural gas utilities to meet natural gas savings requirements.
  • SB 0390 allows the Illinois Finance Authority to issue bonds to finance energy efficiency projects.
  • HB 3987 amends the Energy Efficient Commercial Building Act to apply to residential buildings as well.
  • HB 3646 establishes renewable energy production districts.

Q2. How would you as state representative work to provide assistance to Evanston in its efforts to make significant reductions in greenhouse gas emissions in our community?

A: First, I will work with community organizations to develop legislation that increases green energy, requires improved energy efficiency, and provides incentives for reductions in carbon emissions. Second, I will work to take community initiatives, like the Evanston Climate Action Plan and the Green Building Ordinance, statewide. Next, I will work to increase green energy resources in the area and increase financial incentives for green companies to relocate to Illinois. Finally, I will work to improve public transportation – a single commuter switching from an automobile to public transportation cuts a family’s household emissions by 10 percent.

Q3. Indicate how your past work as advocates for various programs bears on the goal of achieving sustainability in Evanston.

A: As Chief of Staff of the State Board of Education, I oversaw improvements to both the quality and affordability of Illinois education. During my tenure, we enhanced graduation standards, increased preschool access for low-income families, and extended health care benefits to retired teachers. While my experience lies in education, the experience of developing, evaluating, and implementing plans on a statewide level is a necessary skill for any systemic improvement – including sustainability.

I am also a committed environmentalist. As an Eagle Scout I learned to appreciate nature and during college I worked as a High Adventure Director, leading young people through the Wisconsin and Michigan wilderness, teaching them to value and protect the environment.

I am looking forward to representing one of the most progressive, environmentally-conscious, and engaged districts in Illinois. With my record of effective reform and the innovative ideas of our local citizens, I believe we can bring sustainability not only to Evanston, but to Illinois.

Edmund Moran

Q1. What bills are currently pending in the state legislature that would support significant improvements in energy efficiency in residential and commercial buildings and would increase the production of renewable energy in Illinois in a major way?

A: To be honest, this is a question that calls for extensive research that I cannot conduct at this juncture. I still work full-time and working and campaigning, with two weeks to go, makes it impossible for me to do the required research. I can tell you that I am committed to working on water quality issues in relation to the lake and the North Shore channel. I also want to work on improving regulations on land, air, and water quality that were adopted under the Illinois Environmental Protection Act.

Q2. How would you as state representative work to provide assistance to Evanston in its efforts to make significant reductions in greenhouse gas emissions in our community?

A: See my answer to Question 3.

Q3. Indicate how your past work as advocates for various programs bears on the goal of achieving sustainability in Evanston.

A: I was a member of the committee that formulated the City’s Multi-Modal Transportation Plan. The plan was forwarded to the City Council which adopted it unanimously. I would work in the legislature to obtain grants for the implementation of that Plan. I also was an Assistant Illinois Attorney General who worked in the Environmental Enforcement Division of the Attorney General’s Office and sued polluters throughout the northern half of Illinois. I have represented the Sierra Club and other environmental organizations that have sued to remediate the effects of coal-fired power generating stations in this area.

I very much appreciate the efforts of Citizens for a Greener Evanston and hope that I will be able to work with you in Springfield to make our hometown and the rest of Illinois greener.

Jeff Smith

Q1. What bills are currently pending in the state legislature that would support significant improvements in energy efficiency in residential and commercial buildings and would increase the production of renewable energy in Illinois in a major way?

A: The 96th General Assembly already passed a significant bill, HB3987, which changed the Energy Efficient Commercial Building Act to the Energy Efficient Building Act, by including residential buildings. HB 3987 requires the adoption of the latest version of the International Code Council’s International Energy Conservation Code. The 96th also passed: SB0390, which allows additional financing for energy efficiency projects; SB1918, which made changes to the utilities law that potentially incentivize efficiency/renewable energy; SB2150, which created the Illinois Power Agency Renewable Energy Resources Fund as a special fund in the State treasury for use by the Illinois Power Agency to procure renewable energy resources; and SB1570, the School Wind and Solar Generation Program.

Still pending with respect to energy efficiency:

HB3815 (Osterman/Franks), the Green Buildings Act, requires that State-funded building construction and major renovations of existing State-owned facilities must meet LEED, Green Globes, or an equivalent rating. Currently in Rules. HB1042 (May)/SB2039 (Steans), the Illinois Energy Efficiency and Conservation Block Grant Act, could streamline the flow of federal dollars to localities. Currently in Assignments. HB4186 (Davis), originally the Green Jobs Training Fund Act, provided for grantmaking to develop, e.g., jobs in energy efficiency and renewable energy industries; has been modified by the Senate to become the 21st Century Workforce Development Fund Act. HB2484, the Student Referendum All-American Energy Act, lets college students vote by referendum to have a student fee that pays for energy efficiency measures. In Rules.

Pending re production of renewable energy:

HB5855 (May) the Illinois Renewable Energy Sources Act, requires utilities to do hookups on request from, e.g., alternative energy generators. Currently in Rules. SB2505 amends the property tax code to allow the creation of green energy SSAs. HB2528 (Holbrook) amends the Electric Service Customer Choice and Rate Relief Law of 1997 in the Public Utilities Act to provide that an alternative retail electric suppliers procure cost-effective renewable energy resources. HB4321 provides that natural gas utilities shall implement cost-effective energy efficiency measures to meet specified cumulative natural gas savings requirements. This bill needs to be scrutinized to make sure that it is more than accounting/semantics. Currently in Rules.

Q2. How would you as state representative work to provide assistance to Evanston in its efforts to make significant reductions in greenhouse gas emissions in our community?

A: Generally, I have pledged to work to

  • Fund public transportation fully and fairly
  • Make food fresher, safer, and more local
  • Invest in wind and other renewable energy
  • Incentivize energy and resource conservation
  • Restore and preserve our watershed
  • Promote bicycling, walking, and car-sharing
  • Commit to high-speed rail in the Midwest

Protect and restore native species

Evanston-specific, I would

  • try to involve state planning and funding towards offshore wind energy production for Evanston
  • work to make sure Evanston gets its share of stimulus-related weatherization dollars and the $101 million allocated to fund projects sponsored by the Illinois State Energy Program (SEP)
  • advocate for (esp. summer) jobs for weatherization, habitat restoration
  • work for funds for pilot programs for, e.g., Eco-Pass, targeting special funds as source
  • work for passage of HB5855 or similar legislation
  • work to improve/pass the above and similar legislation identified
  • promote “green features” disclosure form for real estate sales
  • back legislation supporting municipal initiatives; oppose efforts to limit cities such as Evanston from working towards sustainability
  • transit: work for stable funding (e.g. gasoline tax); repair/renovation of Purple Line underpasses; Fight bus route reduction; addition of Sunday bus routes. Yellow Line addition to south Evanston. Long-term, I would like to see an E-W route originating from Howard, Dempster, or Davis to O’Hare.

Q3. Indicate how your past work as advocates for various programs bears on the goal of achieving sustainability in Evanston.

A: I have attended numerous meetings of CGE and the steering committee of Citizens for a Greener Evanston in order to stay apprised of, and have input into, the goal of sustainability in Evanston, and have worked on the resident outreach committee. I served on the Transportation/Land Use committee of the Evanston Climate Change Action Plan task force, 2007-2008. I researched and presented on carbon footprint of cement production, traffic controls, and urbanization. I have met with city staff on fleet carbon reduction options.

On the Sierra Club (Chicago) Air/Energy Committee, 2007-present, I attended the annual planning session to develop goals for the year, and urged/helped develop the Front Burner group.

I was an early advocate of a green building ordinance for Evanston (recently passed), both at hearings and in print, and privately urged some alderpersons to support it. I worked with Evanston Citizens for Responsible Development and others to incorporate green building into the Evanston Downtown Master Plan.

I have worked with the Citizens’ Lighthouse Community Land Trust (Board of Directors, 2007-present) to explore development of a green-building townhouse affordable-housing development.

I was a participant/speaker on the Evanston Lakefront Plan, 2007, urging a more natural approach to the shoreline, and participated in focus groups as part of the Multi-ModalTransportation Plan process.

I was involved in adoption of a rezoning ordinance for north Evanston that requires, e.g., bicycle racks in all new condo developments, and did extensive research and speaking on transit-oriented density.

Miscellaneous: I photographed, researched, and posted a small web album on native perennials for shady areas in Evanston. I drafted an environmental issues brochure for a Chicago alderman in re-election campaign, 2007. Hosted a house party screening, in my Evanston home, of An Inconvenient Truth, 2006. Have attended (and publicized in Chicago-area websites) GreenFest, and the wind power conference. Research and writing on mass transit funding. Have worked for better municipal understanding of drainage and runoff issues for years in Evanston.

I litigated two federal cases involving environmental issues (Lake Michigan Federation v. Army Corps of Engineers; Friends of the Fox River v. Army Corps of Engineers). I served on the Cook County State’s Attorney’s Environmental Task Force (1985-86) which reviewed, primarily, Illinois Pollution Control Board proceedings. As a Sierra Club Life Member (Executive Committee, Chicago group, 1985) and a member of an occasional volunteer activities with Friends of the Chicago River, Friends of the Parks, and Greenpeace, I am a longtime environmentalist.

I am currently working on research relating to urbanization.

My son is LEED AP accredited J

All of the above relates to the goal of sustainability in Evanston by evidencing that I will bring to the General Assembly far greater experience and interest in the field than the vast majority of elected officials. To the extent that the City of Evanston will be looking to the State for funding or for support for ordinance initiatives, the City and its sustainability advocates will have not only an open ear, but an ally and champion. I am endorsed by the Sierra Club, who has made this a priority race.

Patrick Keenan-Devlin

Q1. What bills are currently pending in the state legislature that would support significant improvements in energy efficiency in residential and commercial buildings and would increase the production of renewable energy in Illinois in a major way?

A: As an experienced advocate in Springfield, I know all too well how challenging it is to advance environmental legislation in the Illinois General Assembly. Special interests and budgetary constraints consistently block efforts to retrofit construction equipment, fund alternative energy initiatives, and protect our state’s waterways. The bills referenced below are a sampling of legislation that I would support as a member of the Illinois House of Representatives. And although the forecast for these bills appears gloomy, given their current committee assignments, legislation never dies in Springfield – a lesson I’ve learned again and again. We need to send a State Representative to the Illinois House, who possesses the energy and commitment to get these bills passed. I’ll be there for the long haul.

HB 3815 Green Buildings Act
Rep. Harry Osterman – Jack D. Franks
In rules committee 4/3/2009
· Requires that state building projects meet LEED requirements.

SB 296 Diesel Emissions Reduction
Sen. Michael Noland – Jacqueline Y. Collins
In Assignments Committee 3/13/2009
· Implements surcharge on sales, lease, and registration of diesel vehicles lacking adequate emissions control.

HB 3862 Electric Excise Tax Credit
Rep. Jack Franks
In Rules Committee 3/13/2009
· Creates a statewide production tax credit of 0.18 cents per kWh for residential renewable energy systems including solar, wind, geothermal, landfill methane gas, fuel cells, and biomass.

HB76 Alternative Energy Tax Credit
Rep. Sandy Cole et al
In Rules Committee 3/13/2009
· Provides for a state tax credit of 20% of cost, $1500 max, for small renewable energy systems

Q2. How would you as state representative work to provide assistance to Evanston in its efforts to make significant reductions in greenhouse gas emissions in our community?

A: As State Representative I will fully and vigorously support the implementation of the Evanston Climate Action Plan (ECAP) with the immediate goal of reducing CO2 emissions 13% by 2012, and continuing to reduce further in the long term.

One exciting aspect of the ECAP is the proposed wind farm off-shore of Evanston. Such an ambitious project will require legislative action and significant support at the state level, and as a State Representative I will be a strong advocate for this project. As a first step, I will work to ensure adequate funding for a feasibility study.

The Evanston wind farm is a long term proposition, so in the interim the City of Evanston, as well as residents, can purchase green electricity from current suppliers. I would support efforts to make this more economically feasible by implementing a lower tax on renewably generated power.

Energy efficiency and conservation efforts represent the best return on investment, and as Illinois faces such budget deficit, this area should be the initial focus. I will support green building legislation, such as HB 3815, which would ensure adequate funding for low-income weatherization programs and incentivize other cost-effective technologies, such as efficient bulbs in streetlights.

Public transportation also has a significant impact on greenhouse gas emissions. I will work with Metra, PACE, and the CTA to increase Evanston’s public transportation options. In addition, I will support the development of the electric vehicle (EV) infrastructure and market.

None of this will happen, though, if Illinois can’t afford it, and if we don’t have well-educated and highly qualified workforce to make it happen. I will fight for a fair budget and fair taxes, which will preserve essential services and fully fund education. I will demand a new way to fund education, which ensures that every child in Illinois can attend schools that are properly equipped, well staffed, and safe.

Q3. Indicate how your past work as advocates for various programs bears on the goal of achieving sustainability in Evanston.

A: Certain lawn-care chemicals make even playing in the park dangerous. As the Legislative Director of Citizen Action/Illinois, I fought for legislation requiring that childcare centers notify parents before applying these toxic substances on their grounds. I was proud when the Illinois State Legislature passed a bill in the spring of 2009 mandating notification. Though this was a good first step, we have more work to do to reduce the use of toxic chemicals in our parks and backyards.

I advocated for passage of legislation, which strengthens the state’s 10-minute diesel vehicle idling limit by increasing the fines. Under the new law, fines for violators will increase from $50 to $90 for first offense and from $150 to $500 for subsequent offenses. In order to provide an incentive to local governments to enforce the law, the legislation allows local governments to keep a portion of the fine. A portion of the fine will also fund anti-idling education efforts by the Illinois EPA.

As a leader in the Illinois Campaign to Clean Up Diesel Pollution, I fought to pass an ordinance in the Cook County Board to require all public county construction projects, costing $2 million or more, to use clean fuel and technology that removes up to 90% of dirty soot from their equipment. Cook County is now the first county in the Midwest to adopt a green construction ordinance.

Robyn Gabel

Q1. What bills are currently pending in the state legislature that would support significant improvements in energy efficiency in residential and commercial buildings and would increase the production of renewable energy in Illinois in a major way?

A: Illinois has already adopted a renewable portfolio standard for the state that will ultimately increase the production of renewable energy in Illinois. This law can be strengthened by new legislation spelling out specific targets and deadlines for increasing the use of solar energy, one of the many types of renewable energy, in Illinois. Likewise, this year the legislature will consider SB2482, which will help property owners and municipalities interested in increasing use of wind and solar energy to pay the expenses of adding solar and wind energy through their property taxes, rather than taking out loans (in the case of individuals) or by creating state funding opportunities (in the case of municipalities). Illinois’ passage last year of the Energy Efficient Building Act likewise provides a good start in state efforts to improve significantly energy efficiency in both residential and commercial buildings. In the coming term, it will be important to monitor the implementation of the new Code and to continue to seek opportunities to improve energy efficiency in Illinois. I will also protect the funds for renewable energy from fund sweeps.

Q2. How would you as state representative work to provide assistance to Evanston in its efforts to make significant reductions in greenhouse gas emissions in our community?

A: As state representative, I will work with local environmental and community organizations, my colleagues in the Illinois legislature, and colleagues in other states to develop a set of best practices for reducing greenhouse gas emissions at the community level, and I will work with Evanston to identify opportunities and priorities from among those best practices. In some cases, changes can best be implemented at the Federal level (as in the case of the EPA’s progress on clean car standards, after many years of state-by-state efforts). In other cases, statewide or local solutions work best. I will be an advocate for actions at all levels of government to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

Q3. Indicate how your past work as advocates for various programs bears on the goal of achieving sustainability in Evanston.

A: The goal of sustainability will be achieved as different initiatives across the state are enacted that push our state and local economies in that direction. That means passing legislation that mandates or rewards sustainable economic behavior such as local organic agriculture, the creation of sustainable industrial parks (where the waste products of one factory are used as inputs of others), the expansion of public transportation, the use of renewable energy, and similar policies that strengthen local sustainability efforts such as those going on here in Evanston: The Talking Farm and Citizens for a Greener Evanston.

This is very similar to the kinds of efforts I have already spearheaded around healthcare for women and children. The legislation was passed state-wide but it benefited individuals and local institutions such as schools, Federally Qualified Health Centers, and small businesses. Moreover, it should be recognized that providing healthcare to all segments of the community, especially preventive care, contributes to the long-term sustainability of a community because protecting our human resources into the future is critical. Many legislators recognize that these kinds of programs are in their constituencies’ interest. I know how to create a coalition of legislators around issues based on these kinds of interests. I know who will be the core of the coalition and how to use the core to draw in others, how to frame legislation so it can get out of committee, how to organize local grassroots efforts to support the legislation and ensure its passage. This is my “sweet spot”.