Sixth District Congressional candidate Sean Casten (D-Downers Grove) today blasted President Trump and Rep. Peter Roskam (R-Wheaton) for backing inefficient fossil fuel polluters over cleaner alternatives that could create millions of good-paying American jobs.
Casten's remarks are in response to news reports earlier this month that Trump has ordered his energy secretary, former-Texas governor Rick Perry, to force utilities to buy more power from coal- and nuclear-driven power plants -- even as the market for renewable energy sources like wind and solar has become more competitive.
"I am a scientist and a clean energy entrepreneur," Casten said. "My experience has shown me that you don't have to choose between protecting the planet and creating good jobs. For the Trump Administration to tilt the playing-field toward fossil fuels is incredibly ignorant and short-sighted."
Casten noted that U.S. jobs in wind and solar energy already surpass jobs related to coal and that nations like China are making huge investments in the renewable energy sector. According to a 2017 Department of Energy report, the clean energy and sustainability industries directly employed 3.4 million Americans, 400,000 more than the entire fossil fuel industry.
Roskam has referred to global warming as "junk science" while taking more than $600,000 in campaign contributions from the oil and coal industries. During Trump's presidency, Roskam has cast votes against renewing tax credits for those choosing to install solar panels on their homes, purchase electric cars, or use biodiesel; for repealing a rule requiring that energy companies reduce waste and emissions (Source: H.J. Res 36); and for repealing a rule that required energy companies to disclose payments to foreign governments (H.J. Res 41).
"President Trump and Congressman Roskam are more interested in maintaining the energy sources and technologies of the past than creating the energy jobs of the future," Casten said. "The only explanation is that they're putting politics and campaign cash ahead of a smart energy and jobs policy."
In addition to being increasingly uncompetitive in the market, coal mining, coal-burning power plants, and toxic coal ash ponds threaten American health, having been linked to increases in asthma, cardiovascular disease, and developmental disorders in children. Renewable energy is a cleaner, healthier solution to America's growing energy production needs.
Rather than disregarding the reality of climate change and subsidizing those who burn fossil fuel with no concern about the danger to our planet, Casten will seek to protect Illinois' economy and the environment by supporting investment in clean energy and sustainability goals.
"Instead of artificially propping up any specific industry or fuel type, we should be creating millions more jobs by removing the regulatory barriers to energy efficiency and investing in next generation technologies," he said.
By 2019, the clean energy industry is projected to bring in nearly $800 billion in revenue globally. Continuing to invest in energy efficiency, waste heat recovery, cogeneration, renewable energy technology and deployment will not only make America's electric grid safer and cleaner, but also protect American jobs and position the United States as a leader in the field.
In recent years, Illinois' renewable energy sources have continued to grow to seven percent of the state's total energy production. Additionally, Illinois' industrial base also makes it a prime target for energy conservation and cogeneration, both of which are often hamstrung by antiquated regulations. This presents a wealth of untapped opportunity for both investment and economic growth.
"Looking at his record on energy issues, you'd think Roskam represented Texas or West Virginia -- not a district in Illinois that stands to benefit from greater investments in efficiency, cogeneration, solar, wind and other job-creating opportunities," Casten said.