This is a Moms Clean Air Force exclusive interview with Representative Robyn Gabel of the 18th District in Illinois:
What is unique about protecting your district’s resources?
The 18th District is a dense, vibrant district focused around families, educational institutions and the lake and other natural resources. My district is home to some of the top elementary and high schools in the state, as well as Northwestern University. It also boasts miles of lakefront access and many parks and forest preserves. The 18th district also has some of the most educated and most involved constituents in the state which presents unique and rewarding opportunities for engagement and action.
As a parent are you worried about any specific effects of climate change on your children and the children of your district?
As a parent and a legislator I am very concerned about the impact of climate change on the health, well-being and development of all the children in my district. We are still learning what the long term effects of climate change are, but we know that the increase in asthma rates, allergies, cardiovascular disease and even mental health issues have their roots in climate change.
Why is a bipartisan effort so important to you when working on issues of air quality?
Climate change is not a partisan issue. Statewide problems need statewide solutions and collaboration with all legislators is essential to achieving our goals of a healthier more sustainable state.
Is there anything you’d like to share that is important for Moms Clean Air Force members to know?
We have a responsibility to protect and preserve our natural environment. I believe we need to be focusing on the future by reducing our use of carbon fuels, incentivizing the growth of clean, renewable energy and preserving our limited fresh water. In order to accomplish these goals we must work at the local, state and federal levels of government to enact legislation that protects our environment.
In Springfield, I have worked to protect our natural resources through initiating and sponsoring a variety of legislative proposals.
Promoting Solar Energy: Public Act 98-0672 requires the Illinois Power Agency (IPA) to provide a supplemental procurement process for the purchase of renewable energy credits from new or existing solar energy. The law authorizes the expenditure of up to $30,000,000 from the IPA Renewable Energy Resources Fund for this purpose. Initially, up to 6% was set aside for solar but up to this point only .1% was used. This law will jump start the solar industry in Illinois and create jobs and other economic benefits.
Lake Michigan Wind Energy Act: Public Act 98-0447 is a step forward for renewable energy as it implements findings from the Lake Michigan Offshore Wind Energy Council. The Illinois Department of Natural Resources (IDNR) will prepare a site matrix, identifying and analyzing areas of Lake Michigan that may and may not be suitable for offshore wind development. It also establishes a task force to propose an appropriate Illinois mechanism for purchasing and selling power from offshore wind energy projects.
Addressing Urban Flooding: PublicAct98-0858 advances funding for a study through IDNR to look at the costs of urban flooding, contributing factors that cause it, and ways in which infrastructure and policy changes can reduce the impact. The bill defines “urban flooding” and provides that, by June 30, 2015, the IDNR, in consultation with many organizations, will provide a report to the General Assembly.
Urban/Suburban Composting: PublicAct98-0239willfacilitate urban or suburban farms or community gardens ability to accept off site compost materials without requiring an arduous permit process.
Clean Water: Public Act 98-0782 provides more access to needed funding for clean – water and storm water management projects to help prevent harmful pollutants from getting into our drinking water.
Fracking: I opposed the Illinois Hydraulic Fracturing Regulatory Act, Public Act 98-0022. I supported a moratorium bill that would have given us the opportunity to wait for the impending publication of a federal report on the impact of fracking. I will continue to work with the environmental community to ensure that there are strict regulations and environmental protections going forward to protect our ground water supply.
I am always open to meeting with my constituents and learning from their experiences and expertise. Ideas for many of my best pieces of legislation were developed from constituents who contacted me.
Robyn Gabel has represented the people of the 18th District in the Illinois House of Representatives since 2010. During her time in the Legislature, she has become a leader in protecting and fostering the growth of children and women in Illinois and environmental stewardship. Her current legislative priorities include accessible healthcare, protecting our natural resources, expanding renewable energy, education and economic development.