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Senators, push for environmental justice with carbon fees on polluters

People of color have struggled for generations against air and water pollution that disproportionately affects their communities.

Flint Ends Its Distribution Of Bottled Water In Wake Of The City’s Contaminated Water Crisis
Flint residents and allies pose for a group photo during a protest at the Michigan State Capitol in 2018.
Photo by Brittany Greeson/Getty Images

Recently, U.S. Sens. Tammy Duckworth, Cory Booker, and Tom Carper wrote an op-ed explaining why they formed the Senate’s first Environmental Justice Caucus. They described how people of color have struggled for generations against air and water pollution that disproportionately affects their communities. They described how those activists have achieved success, encountered failure, and persevered in pushing back against the power structures in our country that espouse a belief in equality, but act in ways that target their bodies, their homes, and their families.

Many times, we separate the struggle over climate change from the struggle for racial justice, but there are so many connections. Climate change, although it operates at a global level, disproportionately affects people with fewer resources — and those whose resources have been most stripped away are people of color, both overseas and here in America. Rising temperatures in summer, polar vortices in winter, more rain and flooding, more powerful hurricanes, the list goes on and on — all have a larger effect on people who have fewer financial resources to shield themselves.

I am writing to ask the senators to connect their caucus to the struggle for climate justice. There are many levers that must be pushed to truly address climate change, but one of those levers is already available in Congress. The bipartisan Energy Innovation and Carbon Dividend Act was introduced to the House and Senate in the last session of Congress, and it has been introduced to the House in this session as well.

This bill would put a price on fossil fuels at their source, and then would distribute the proceeds to American families. The price would rise each year, and would push industry to find reduced-carbon, and finally carbon-neutral, ways of doing business. Research has shown that this policy would reduce carbon emissions 40% in 12 years and 90% by 2050, dramatically slowing climate change. This bill is not the final word on addressing climate justice, but it is a vital initial step. I ask the senators to support companion legislation in the Senate and readers to contact their representatives to advocate for this bill.

Jim Schwartz, Oak Park

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If Conrad Black can get a pardon ...

Note to Patti Blagojevich: Write a flattering book about Trump, and Rod will be pardoned.

Virginia Dare McGraw, Naperville.

Save endangered species

May 17 marks Endangered Species Day. The outlook is currently grave. There are over 1 million animal and plant species that are direly imperiled due to habitat destruction, hunting, poaching, trapping, overfishing and global warming. The responsibility is on humans to save, protect and conserve these species.

When we were granted dominion over the earth, we were supposed to become its benevolent caretakers, not its malevolent destroyers.

Brien Comerford, Glenview