Green Growth Platform Questions for Chicago’s Next Mayor

Where does each of the Mayoral candidates stand on continuing Mayor Daley’s leadership and aspiration that Chicago be the “greenest city in the nation?” How can Chicago best keep growing its leading green performance? Chicago’s leading environmental and conservation organizations have come together to ask each of the candidates to answer the following questions about key ways to improve our City’s environment and quality of life while creating jobs and growing our green economy at the same time.
All of the Mayoral candidates are requested to respond to these questions by no later than January 12, 2011 at 5:00 pm. The responses will be distributed to the sponsoring organizations’ members, supporters and networks and to the voting public.

Chicago’s Climate Change Solutions and Clean Energy Future

1. Fisk and Crawford Coal Plants — Clean Up or Shut Down:

Will you strongly advocate for the Chicago Clean Power Ordinance and take other actions to require the clean up of all
pollutants or the shut down of the highly-polluting Fisk and Crawford coal plants by 2015?

___ Yes ___ No

The Fisk coal plant in Pilsen and the Crawford coal plant in Little Village were built about 50 years ago and have not been retrofitted with needed modern pollution control equipment. They are highly-polluting coal plants and are located near millions of people. Studies by researchers at the Harvard School of Public Health and the National Research Council show that these coal plants are harming people’s health and imposing hundreds of millions of dollars of health damage costs. They should be replaced with cleaner energy.

2. Climate Change Solutions:

Do you support the Chicago Climate Action Plan goal to reduce greenhouse gas pollution by 25% by 2020 and commit to take the necessary actions to achieve these results?

___ Yes ___ No

The Chicago Climate Action Plan has received national and international recognition as a forward-thinking approach for the City to play a leadership role in helping to solve climate change problems in ways that make sense for job creation and growing the City’s economy.

3. Improve Energy Efficiency:

Do you support investment in auditing and retrofitting all City-owned and City-leased buildings in the next five years with energy efficiency measures that have paybacks of about ten years or less?

___ Yes ___ No

Energy efficiency is the best, fastest and cheapest way to help reduce pollution and meet our energy needs. Improving the energy efficiency of City-owned and leased buildings is a win-win-win-win: It saves money on utility bills, creates new skilled and semi-skilled jobs, improves the environment and human health by avoiding pollution, and stems the energy dollar outflow from the Chicago economy.
4. Advance Renewable Energy to Power Homes and Businesses:

Do you support requiring all newly constructed and substantially-rehabilitated buildings in Chicago to include wiring to accommodate an on-site renewable energy generation system, starting in 2014?

___ Yes ___ No

Chicagoans strongly support making it easier and less expensive to add more distributed renewable energy generation systems for homes and businesses in order to expand our green energy portfolio. Hard-wiring buildings for solar panels and other renewable energy equipment during construction is more cost-effective and can save thousands of dollars in installation costs compared to retrofitting later. This is a key strategy for Chicagoans to create more green energy.

5. Purchase More Renewable Energy:

Will you commit the City of Chicago and its affiliated agencies to purchasing at least 20% of their electricity supply from locally or in-state generated renewable energy resources by 2014?

___ Yes ___ No

The City has long committed to “practice what it preaches” when it comes to increasing renewable energy as part of its overall electricity supply. This green purchasing can help to drive the market for new renewable energy projects that will create jobs, spur economic growth and reduce pollution.

6. Cleaner Construction:

Will you support an ordinance that would require cleaner diesel fuel and equipment to be used on City-funded construction projects?

___ Yes ___ No

Using lower-sulfur, cleaner diesel fuel and newer or retrofitted equipment that emits up to 90% less soot will reduce pollution from construction projects and thereby improve public health and our environment.

Improve Recycling in Chicago

7. Better Solid Waste Recycling Programs:

Will you ensure that Chicago’s current solid waste recycling ordinance is enforced and that source-separated recycling is available to all homes and businesses by 2014?

___ Yes ___ No

Studies have found that 80% or more of the solid waste stream in Chicago can be recycled.Chicagoans strongly support more recycling and enabling a sensible way for people to personally engage and participate in solutions. Enforcing the current recycling ordinance and extending the source-separation program to all wards is timely and desirable.

Clean Water Progress for Chicago

8. Conserve Water:

Will you change Chicago’s MeterSave program from a voluntary installation system to a mandatory one with a goal of reaching 50% of single-family homes and two-flats during your first term?

___ Yes ___ No

We can save 30 million gallons of fresh water a day by installing water meters in Chicago single-family homes and two-flats.

9. Better Stormwater Management – Less Flooding:

Will you commit to requiring all City building, street, alley, sidewalk and parking lot projects to adhere to the City’s own stormwater ordinance in order to significantly reduce stormwater runoff, localized flooding and basement backups?

___ Yes ___ No

The City of Chicago has an innovative stormwater ordinance that reduces flooding, recharges groundwater and minimizes sewer overflows and beach closings. However, the ordinance does not apply to City properties and projects. By using these innovative practices on its own properties, the City can lead by example, help mitigate our stormwater problems and educate property owners.


10. Disinfect the Chicago River:

Will you publicly support disinfecting the sewage effluent that is pumped into the Chicago-area waterways?

___ Yes ___ No


The City of Chicago has invested over $100 million in the last 10 years to transform the Chicago River to a place alive with activities for people and alive with wildlife. However, Chicago is one of the few remaining major cities in the U.S. that has non-disinfected sewage effluent flowing through our neighborhoods. The next Mayor should help to change this.

11. Keep Invasive Species Out of Lake Michigan:

Will you advocate for an accelerated timeline for the U.S. Army Corps’ Great Lakes-Mississippi River Interbasin Study that is examining watershed separation to permanently solve our invasive species problem?

___ Yes ___ No

Aquatic invasive species are an enormous threat to our river and lake ecosystems and cost the Great Lakes an estimated $200 million annually. Recently, the presence of Asian carp in the Chicago Waterway System has created a regional demand to separate the Great Lakes and the Mississippi River watersheds to prevent the spreading of invasive species while creating opportunities for new economic development.

Better Transportation and Mobility for Chicagoans

12. Increase Funding for CTA:

Will you be a vocal advocate for increased capital and operating funds for the Chicago Transit Authority from all levels of government in order to maintain transit operations and provide for necessary service expansions?

___ Yes ___ No

No good public transit, no green city. The CTA’s five-year capital needs are $9.4 billion, butonly $2.6 billion are funded; in 2011 the CTA had to plug a $196.2 million operating hole with supplemental grants from the state and borrowing from capital reserves. These actions are unsustainable. Chicago’s next mayor must recognize the critical role the CTA plays in the lives of Chicagoans and must work with State and Federal leaders to identify sustainable revenue sources for both operating funds to ensure that service is not cut, and capital funds so that Bus Rapid Transit expansions and Red and Green Line extensions can be realized.
13. Cleaner CTA Buses:

Will you support ensuring that 100% of CTA’s diesel bus fleet is equipped with modern pollution controls within three years?

___ Yes ___ No

Cleaning up CTA buses can improve health and quality of life for all Chicagoans and especially for frequent bus passengers.


14. Accelerate High-Speed Rail Development:

Will you be a strong advocate for the federal government’s increased investment in the Chicago-hubbed Midwest high-speed rail network and work to ensure that Chicago’s high-speed train station is designed to catalyze economic
development and connect well with CTA, Metra and other transportation modes?

___ Yes ___ No

Modern, fast, comfortable and convenient intercity trains will improve mobility, reduce pollution, create jobs and spur economic growth. Chicago is the natural hub of the Midwest high-speed rail network and can achieve complementary economic development, employment and environmental quality benefits. The downtown Chicago train station will serve the region and pull jobs, people and businesses into the urban center.
15. Support Bicyclists and Pedestrians:

Will you commit to implementing strategies outlined in the 2015 Bike Plan, Chicago’s Pedestrian Plan and Chicago’s Complete Streets Policy to increase bicycle use and promote safe walkways?

___ Yes ___ No


More Chicagoans are biking and walking to work and in their neighborhoods for better health and enjoyment, as well as a low-cost means of transportation. The City’s policies and plans can improve these opportunities and increase mobility for many people.

16. Relieve Congestion and Encourage Car Sharing and Electric Vehicles:

Will you support the adoption of policies to promote car sharing and electric vehicles, which can relieve
congestion and reduce air pollution?

___ Yes ___ No

Let’s build out public charging stations and make at-home, night-time charging cheap and easy. Additional actions include updating zoning requirements and streamlining permitting processes for electric vehicle charging stations and related renewable energy installations.

Parks, Open Space and Public Land

17. Neighborhood Parks:

Do you commit to adding neighborhood public park space in communities that have less than 2 acres of parks per 1,000 residents?

___ Yes ___ No

55 of Chicago’s 77 community areas do not have a minimum of 2 acres of parks per 1,000 people, compared to the national standard of 10 acres for every 1,000 residents.
18. Preserving the Lake Calumet Region:

Are you committed to transferring the approximately 1,500 acres of City- or Port District-owned land in the Calumet region to the Chicago Park District and/or Forest Preserve District as identified in the City’s Calumet Open Space Reserve Plan?

___ Yes ___ No

Chicago’s Calumet area on the southeast side has long been a dumping ground for waste, toxic materials and industrial pollution with thousands of acres isolated from use by the community; however, there is much opportunity to transform the area for open space, natural habitat and park use.


19. Completing the Lakefront Parks:

Do you commit to completing the south lakefront park system from 71st Street to the Indiana border by 2015?

___ Yes ___ No

Chicago’s lakefront park system was built and paid for by previous generations. It is 85% complete, with 4 miles (2 on the south and 2 on the north) remaining to be completed.

20. Local Food:

Will you support coordinated and flexible city policies and zoning ordinances that will remove barriers and provide incentives for growing, producing and selling locally grown foods in Chicago neighborhoods?

___ Yes ___ No

Locally grown foods provide healthy produce, advance ecologically sustainable and vigorous neighborhood food economies, and reduce our carbon footprint.

Download a PDF of this questionnaire here.