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posted: 6/3/2014 5:01 AM

Illinois can lead out on pollution fight

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  • U.S. Rep. Tammy Duckworth

      U.S. Rep. Tammy Duckworth

 
By Tammy Duckworth

As an assistant operations officer for a helicopter task force in Iraq, I saw my fellow Guardsmen and soldiers risk life and limb to maintain diesel fuel supply lines. Energy is one of the most precious battlefield resources, but it is risky and expensive to deliver in combat zones.

As a result, the United States military has played a leading role in developing better, cleaner and more efficient ways to generate and use energy through innovations like homegrown biofuels, mobile solar units and lighter and more powerful batteries.

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I have been a strong supporter of this energy innovation, which isn't just important for today's battlefields -- it is critical to lessening the impacts of climate change. Senior military and national security experts agree that severe weather events and drought-related food shortages caused by climate change will make humanitarian crises, terrorist activity and regional conflicts more frequent and more severe. This poses national security risks and threatens to strain our military resources around the globe.

We have an obligation to our men and women in uniform -- and to future generations -- to do something about the issue of climate change.

On Monday, President Obama announced groundbreaking limits on carbon pollution from electric power plants, a move that will significantly address climate change. I strongly support the president's action because reducing carbon pollution will result in greater national security, cleaner air and healthier communities while strengthening Illinois' economy. Just as military necessity led to energy innovation on the battlefield, these new limits on carbon pollution will provide strong incentives for Illinois businesses to accelerate the development of cleaner, cheaper energy technologies.

Illinois' economy will benefit from the modernization of the power sector. Our state is already a leader in the clean energy sector. A recent study by Clean Energy Trust found there are nearly 100,000 clean energy jobs across Illinois, including jobs in solar, biofuels, efficient heating and cooling, LED lighting, smart meters, advanced batteries and many other technologies.

Illinois has also become the heart of wind industry in North America, with 14 wind energy companies' headquarters or regional offices located throughout the Chicago area. These are competitive, well-paying jobs, and these sectors will continue to thrive under the carbon pollution rules.

These new rules are part of the president's Climate Action Plan and are essential for cleaner air and healthier families. Public health will be increasingly threatened unless air pollution is reduced. In fact, the Supreme Court found in 2007 that the Environmental Protection Agency had the authority and duty to take action against carbon pollution because it endangers human health.

Slowing carbon pollution is a national security, economic and health issue -- and a moral imperative. The president's landmark Climate Action Plan will improve our economy and set a global example for other nations to follow. I look forward to seeing Illinois take a leading role in implementing strong, effective carbon pollution standards.

• U.S. Rep. Tammy Duckworth is a Democrat who represents Illinois' 8th Congressional District. She is a veteran of Operation Iraqi Freedom and former Assistant Secretary of the Department of Veterans Affairs.

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