Chicago, here’s a chance for more federal money to jumpstart clean energy projects

City leaders should apply for a share of billions in federal money through the Greenhouse Gas Reduction Fund, a portion of which must be used in disadvantaged communities.

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Dozens gather for a protest against alleged toxic pollution blowing from Sims Metal Management in the 2500 block of South Paulina Street in Pilsen on the Lower West Side, Monday afternoon, Jan. 17, 2022.

Dozens gather for a protest against alleged toxic pollution blowing from Sims Metal Management in Pilsen on the Lower West Side, Jan. 17, 2022.

Ashlee Rezin/Sun-Times

The U.S. is about to get its first national accelerator for green banks, which are institutions that use innovative financing to accelerate the transition to clean energy. It is time for our city officials to claim these funds for Chicago. The Inflation Reduction Act unlocked a nearly $370 billion budget allocated to a range of programs that address the climate crisis.

One of these programs is the Greenhouse Gas Reduction Fund, a $27 billion accelerator for financing projects that will reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Importantly, a percentage of the funds must be used to benefit disadvantaged communities. However, in order to receive these funds, our local officials must apply through the EPA.

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During his campaign, Mayor-elect Brandon Johnson vowed to bring back Chicago’s Department of the Environment. Let’s see the department come back even better than before by funding climate justice initiatives that prioritize the Chicago communities most impacted by pollution.

Additionally, the 2022 Chicago Climate Access Plan called for reducing greenhouse gas emissions by at least 80% from 2005 levels by 2050. Financing, like what the Inflation Reduction Act has made available, is essential to rapid deployment of clean energy.

Please join me in urging Johnson and the City Council to apply for the Greenhouse Gas Reduction Fund and become a nationwide leader in climate solutions for all communities.

Elissa Rothman, Ravenswood

Sen. Durbin can remedy logjam on federal judges

Giving home-state senators the opportunity to opine on federal judge and prosecutor nominees is longstanding Senate practice. However, Republican senators are using this tradition to put the kibosh on President Joe Biden’s nominees, holding positions unfilled.

It is Sen. Dick Durbin, chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, who has granted senators individual power to sink a nomination instead of just submitting an opinion. In recent history, they didn’t have that power.

As the backlog of unfilled positions in certain parts of the country grows, Durbin should bow to reality and end this practice. Red states need judges, too.

Michael Glass, Glen Ellyn

NASCAR is so last-century

The city needs to join the 21st century by distancing itself from NASCAR and everything related to it.

NASCAR became a force mid-century, a success made possible only by the exploitation of fossil fuel resources. This offered energy in an easily portable form, but today causes major concerns about pollution and the long-term impact on the environment.

Further, until recently NASCAR turned a blind eye to spectators waving the Confederate flag at events. The organization only bothered banning the flag in 2020 — too little, too late.

So 20th century!

Jim Murray, Loop

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