I believe that protecting and preserving our environment is essential to our health and long-term economic prosperity. Our federal government is now an aggressive threat to that objective, putting our climate, air, water, and land at great risk. The Trump Administration is scaling back environmental protections, withdrawing from global efforts to protect the environment, and serving special interests who seek to harm our environment for their personal gain. As Attorney General, I will use every tool and resource of the office to protect this fundamental pillar of our society.
Illinois needs an Attorney General that will aggressively fight the Trump Administration’s disastrous environmental policies. One of my first priorities as Attorney General will be to create an Environmental Policy and Enforcement Task Force, with members of the Attorney General’s Office and environmental experts. This Task Force will assist the Environmental Crimes Division and Environmental Enforcement Division by evaluating recent efforts to protect the environment at the state-level, recommending priorities for investigation and enforcement, and suggesting potential legislative enhancements to protect the environment in Illinois.
With this Task Force, I will also evaluate opportunities to appoint special assistants to help investigate and enforce our environmental laws. For example, while I am personally opposed to fracking, Illinois legalized this dangerous and unproven process for extracting natural gas with some of the toughest regulations in the country. The regulations are so tough, in fact, that the state has yet to issue a successful permit. I’ll make sure that any future work to secure a permit will maintain strict adherence to these regulations. Protecting the environment is a priority for many and should be a priority for us all. I will leverage the expertise and passion of those willing and able to provide pro bono services for the benefit of our environment.
As Attorney General, I will investigate pollution that puts our clean water at risk, and pursue civil and criminal relief when appropriate. Clean water is fundamental to our society and our health, but companies are putting it at great risk. There are recent reports of companies disposing toxic waste in Lake Michigan and toxic chemicals that leach into our ground water and aquifers, yet the federal government hasn’t acted. Enforcement efforts are left to the states, municipalities, and private litigants. As Attorney General, I will aggressively defend clean water and pursue all appropriate enforcement actions in state and federal court.
I will also be a forceful advocate for fairness and equality in our water policies. There are reports that the poorest communities in Illinois pay as much as six times more for their water than the most affluent communities, and minorities routinely pay more for water than their neighbors in predominantly white communities. These reports also indicate that the infrastructure in some of these poor and minority communities are failing – leading to significant water loss. As Attorney General, I will fight to ensure that clean water is available – and available equitably – to everyone in our state.
As Attorney General, I also intend to stand up to special interests harming our environment, including the coal industry and agribusiness. I will evaluate and investigate the coal industry in Illinois to ensure complies with appropriate standards, and will pursue additional legislative and regulatory directives to protect our environment. Illinois coal operations, like Prairie State, remain a significant source of carbon pollution and pose a serious health threat. The Trump Administration has pandered to the coal lobby and reversed efforts to bring the energy industry further into the 21 st century. These policies create real risk to our climate and our long-term health.
In addition to the risk to our health, opportunities to bring new industry to Illinois and its workers are missed. I support the Future Energy Jobs Act, along with a plan that includes retirement dates for coal operations, clear transition plans for the companies and their workers, remediation plans for our land and water, and new energy initiatives and training. I will work tirelessly to protect our environment and our workers from the disastrous policies that take the coal and energy industry back decades.
I will also advocate for legislative improvements to Illinois’ enforcement and oversight regime. Under current law, before the Attorney General can act, our legislature has tied the hands of our state regulators and directed disputes to an arbitration process. The Attorney General’s Office should be a powerful weapon against polluters and special interests, and I will work to make sure that all polluters answer for the damage they have caused.
I care deeply about the environment. As a private citizen, I have worked with the Sierra Club and the Illinois Environmental Council to help protect our environment. As Attorney General, I will make the environment one of our top priorities, and will fight the disastrous policies of the Trump Administration.