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We can all push Congress harder to fight climate change

The only solution is a national charge on carbon emissions, paid by the companies responsible.

National legislation still is needed to take a big enough bite out of climate-wrecking greenhouse gas emissions, writes a Sun-Times reader.
BLOOMBERG NEWS

As a person deeply concerned about climate change, I was pleased to read the Sun-Times editorial urging Chicago-area leaders to take sorely needed action (“Earth gets a boost from suburban Chicago mayors”). We should applaud these efforts.

But I have to disagree with the observation that Congress is “stalled” when it comes to taking action climate action, which would seem to imply that we should focus only on local policies. National legislation still is needed to take a big enough bite out of climate-wrecking greenhouse gas emissions. The U.S. House and Senate are working on budget reconciliation legislation that will include climate provisions.

As the renowned climate scientist James Hansen puts it, “As long as fossil fuels appear to be the cheapest energy, someone somewhere will burn them.” The only cure is a national price on carbon, paid by the companies that extract it from the Earth. To avoid slamming low- and middle-class families with higher energy prices, revenue from the tax should be distributed equitably to all American households.

SEND LETTERS TO: letters@suntimes.com. Please include your neighborhood or hometown and a phone number for verification purposes. Letters should be approximately 350 words or less.

Several bills already have been introduced in Congress to do just that, including three co-sponsored by members of the Illinois delegation, specifically Sen. Dick Durbin, Rep. Jesus García, Rep. Robin Kelly, Rep. Marie Newman and Rep. Jan Schakowsky.

It’s true that Congress can move at a snail’s pace while climate change is wrecking lives and costing the economy billions of dollars. But politicians act more expeditiously when convinced that their voters care. So I would urge Sun-Times readers to call or write their lawmakers and ask them to make sure a price on carbon is included in the upcoming reconciliation bill. To get started, go to https://cclusa.org/senate.

This could be the most important action you can take to stop climate change.

Rick Knight, Brookfield

Fight GOP voter suppression

The Republican Party has attempted to suppress the vote for decades, often quite successfully. It has always been a direct attack on our democracy, even as it happens in broad daylight.

I wrote a letter to the editor back in March in which I noted that the GOP had introduced 165 voter suppression bills in 33 states so far this year. Since then, that number has increased to 404 voter suppression bills in 48 states. In 18 of those states, 30 such bill have been enacted.

The most dangerous of the bills would enable a state governor or state legislature to overturn the results of an election by overriding the decisions of local election officials. Republicans are giving themselves the power to overturn any elections that don’t go their way, ignoring the will of the voters. This is how democracy dies.

We must do all we can to expand voting access, allowing all citizens a voice in our democracy. Please contact your U.S. senators and urge them to support HR1/S1, the For the People Act, which would override many state voter suppression laws by establishing federal guidelines. Our democracy is at stake.

Bob Chimis, Elmwood Park