The Rock River Times’ 2002 Illinois Attorney General Questionnaire

The Rock River Times’ 2002 Illinois Attorney General Questionnaire


Editor’s note: The Rock River Times decided to poll our gubernatorial and attorney general candidates this year on issues that our readers care deeply about: renewable energy, the Rock River and the environment.

We sent the questions below to Libertarian Cal Skinner, Independent Marisellis Brown, Democrat Rod Blagojevich and Republican Jim Ryan.

We also sent a different questionnaire to the candidates for Illinois Attorney General: Democrat Lisa Madigan and Republican Joe Birkett.

Brown, Ryan and Birkett did not respond. Apparently, they don’t feel that the Rock River, the environment and renewable energy are important or pressing issues.

We ran Skinner’s and Blagojevich’s answers last week.

Here’s our questions and Madigan’s answers.

Lisa Madigan’s answers

1. Please summarize your prior record and experience.

I have worked as an attorney, community leader, educator and State Senator. Prior to becoming a lawyer, I worked with police officers and families in Chicago’s neighborhoods to implement community policing programs designed to keep kids away from gangs and crime. From my experiences in South Africa educating young women during apartheid, to working with high-risk youths and police on Chicago’s west side, to representing my clients in court, to being a leading voice on education in the Illinois Senate, I have a proven record of advocating for people. Because of this experience, I received the endorsements of the Fraternal Order of Police and leading citizens groups like the Illinois Sierra Club. I will use my experience to be the people’s lawyer, advocating for and protecting Illinois’ families.

As Attorney General, I have set out an ambitious, common sense agenda to protect Illinois families, including, requiring lifetime supervision for sexual predators, shielding women and children from domestic violence, reducing prescription drug prices through aggressive prosecutions, and protecting seniors from fraud and abuse. I will go after employers that violate workplace safety rules, drug companies that inflate prescription drug prices, polluters that put our natural resources and our health at risk, and HMOs that deny needed care. I will make protecting Illinois families my top priority.

2. The President of the Foundation on Economic Trends, Jeremy Rifkin, envisions the creation of a Worldwide Energy Web in which energy, produced by renewable processes and carried by hydrogen, is decentralized. This means that the end user must be allowed to produce their own power, and sell any that is not consumed to the grid, or purchase any needed power from the grid, peer to peer. As Attorney General, what would you do to promote and support such a vision to make it a reality?

As a State Senator, I supported Net Metering legislation and other bills to support the development of solar and wind energy (as well as other) distributed energy sources in Illinois. Net Metering allows customers to use their utility as a “power bank,” feeding excess power into the grid when they are producing more than they are using, and accessing equal amounts of power back from the grid when they are generating less than they are consuming. All of us would benefit from reduced pollution as a result of such customers’ selection of renewable energy options; unfortunately, the net metering legislation failed to pass.

As Attorney General, I would be the chief legal officer of the state, and I will enforce all the laws, including current and future laws which support distributed generation.

3. The Rock River faces significant pollution and cleanup issues. In this regard, the Rock River is not alone: the Illinois EPA identified 336 pollution-impaired waterways four years ago, but now identifies 414. According to the IEPA, the Rock has unsafe levels of PCBs, mercury, and other pollutants. As Attorney General, would you support legislation to allow the EPA to deny new pollution permits for companies that have previously violated pollution control laws?

The Attorney General must take the lead in protecting Illinois from environmental violations, including environmental crimes, through aggressive enforcement and prosecution of violations. The Attorney General can also play a leading role in improving enforcement efforts by advocating for stronger state legislation to crack down on polluters.

While the vast majority of Illinois businesses are doing their part to obey the environmental laws, corporations that break these laws can put Illinois communities at risk, Cracking down on environmental scofflaws not only protects the health and safety of illinois families, it also protects businesses that play by the rules from less scrupulous competitors seeking an advantage at any cost.

If elected Attorney General, I will advocate for legislation to better protect our environment from illegal pollution. I will call for the passage of a Safe and Clean Communities Act that will strengthen Illinois’ enforcement of existing safeguards against contamination of our air, land, and water. Thus legislation will include provisions to:

Raise the Bar on New Permits to Habitual Polluters.

When the Illinois EPA receives a request for a permit to discharge new pollution into our air, water or land, the agency should be required to review and consider the applicant’s track record of compliance with the environmental laws. While companies making a good faith effort to comply should not be unduly penalized, permit requests from companies with a history of violating the environmental laws in illinois or in other states should receive intense scrutiny, and the law should allow the IEPA to deny permit requests if warranted.

Make Sure

Environmental Violations Don’t Pay

When settling a case against a polluter, the state should make sure that any penalty paid is more than the economic benefit that the polluter realized by cutting corners and violating the environmental laws.

Prevent State Government From Doing Business With Illegal Polluters

The state should not spend taxpayer dollars on contracts with companies that illegally pollute our environment and endanger our health.

These changes will make the safety net that protects our air, water, and land substantially stronger. In addition to prosecuting cases against individual polluters to the full extent of the law, I plan to be a vocal advocate for the public’s interest in a clean and healthy environment.

4. Would you support legislation to require water polluters to pay a fee for their pollution permits, and encourage the legislature to direct those funds to clean up polluted waters like the Rock River?

Yes. In my first year in the Senate, I sponsored legislation to impose NPDES permit fees and sludge generator fees on water polluters because I believe that polluters should pay for permission to discharge toxins into our waterways. Unfortunately, my legislation stalled in the Republican-controlled Senate, and Illinois remains one of a limited number of states that do not impose fees for water pollution permits. As the next Attorney General, I will continue to advocate for the passage of a law imposing fees based on the amount of pollution the applicant seeks to discharge. These fees should be directed to cover the cost of the permit system and to clean up polluted waters throughout Illinois.

5. Attorneys General in several states have begun to take action against Bush Administration proposals to change air pollution laws and regulations (such as the “Clear Skies” program), arguing that if the EPA and other agencies implement the plans, the changes would violate the existing Clean Air Act As Illinois’ Attorney General, would you join with those efforts to stop or slow down the implementation of Bush’s proposed changes? Why or why not?

Yes, if the Bush Administration moves forward with illegal efforts to weaken the Clean Air Act, I will join with other Attorneys General to challenge these actions.

The Clean Air Act is a cornerstone of American environmental and public health protection. I believe that we can and should promote efforts to decrease air pollution and strengthen our economy—especially in areas that have been hard hit by job losses. The greatest barrier to significant progress in cleaning our air and lowering the incidence of illnesses caused by air pollution, like childhood asthma, is unfortunately likely to be the Bush Administration. The Administration recently made it clear that it plans to propose a set of potentially illegal regulatory changes that would roll back the provisions of the Clean Air Act, eliminating incentives for many industries to invest in new technologies to reduce air pollution. In response to the Administration’s statements, other state Attorneys General have stated that they will go to court to challenge any illegal changes put into effect by the Bush Administration. As the Illinois Attorney General, I will carefully review the Administration’s actions and join in efforts by the state Attorneys General to thwart any illegal efforts to chip away at key requirements of the Clean Air Act.

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