Our Pledge To You

Letters to the Editor

Illinois clean energy would get a boost from carbon emissions tax

The Trump administration moved to dismantle another major piece of President Barack Obama's environmental legacy on Tuesday, proposing to dramatically scale back restrictions on climate-changing emissions from coal-fired power plants.

Fossil fuel emissions would be taxed under carbon fee plans. | AP Photo/J. David Ake

Thanks for your editorial, “Illinois could be a leader in clean energy. Let’s not screw it up,” describing how PJM, a wholesale energy market that includes Illinois and several other states, proposes to remove renewable and nuclear energy from peak load capacity. This move would favor and encourage fossil fuel usage, to the detriment of the cleaner energy our state is trying to develop.

It seems like there could be a simple solution: How about making fossil fuels more expensive? That’s exactly what current bipartisan and revenue-neutral legislation sitting in Congress proposes to do. The Energy Innovation and Carbon Dividend Act puts an annually increasing “fee” on energy companies for their fossil fuel emissions, then distributes it to all Americans in the form of a monthly dividend check. This levels the playing field for clean energy development and begins to reflect the social costs that are not included in fossil fuel prices today.

Illinois’ forward thinking on clean energy development and our strong position on non-emitting nuclear energy puts us in a strong position to reap benefits from this legislation. Significant job and economic growth would be an additional benefit, as it would be for the whole country. Let’s urge our congress members to support this legislation as an additional safeguard to “not screw it up.”

Andrew Panelli, Homer Glen

Taxpayers deserve to know details on Lincoln Yards TIF

Chicago is set to award Sterling Bay some $900 million in tax increment financing dollars to build the public infrastructure necessary to support Lincoln Yards. Any increase in property tax revenue generated by their mega-development will be used to pay themselves back for years. But shouldn’t City Hall take a closer look at how that property was originally assessed before freezing the tax rate? In other words, what is the base amount of taxation Sterling Bay will pay itself with until the TIF expires?

Well, for several properties included at Lincoln Yards, that base amount was partly influenced by Ald. Ed Burke and his property tax law firm. Sterling Bay fired Burke’s firm after it was reported they’d retained his services — but what work for Sterling Bay had Burke already done? We already know Burke has been indicted on extortion charges, but we still don’t know how his influence might have been used on behalf of Sterling Bay to lower their property taxes — the property taxes that will now be frozen for 23 years by the Cortland/Chicago River TIF.

Don’t the taxpayers of Chicago — the ones who can’t afford to hire firms such as Burke’s — deserve some answers as they pay to make up for the lost revenue for 23 years?

Ed Gray, Logan Square