Foster, Ventura lock horns over environmental issues

  • Democratic 11th District congressman Bill Foster, left, and his challenger, Rachel Ventura, discussed the Green New Deal among other topics Wednesday at an endorsement interview with the Daily Herald Editorial Board ahead of the March 17 primary election.

      Democratic 11th District congressman Bill Foster, left, and his challenger, Rachel Ventura, discussed the Green New Deal among other topics Wednesday at an endorsement interview with the Daily Herald Editorial Board ahead of the March 17 primary election. Jeff Knox | Staff Photographer

 
 
Posted1/24/2020 5:25 AM

A race pitting a veteran scientist against a mathematician highlights stark differences in how each would tackle global warming.

Centrist four-term lawmaker U.S. Rep. Bill Foster and progressive Democrat Rachel Ventura are vying for a nod in the 11th Congressional District Democratic primary on March 17.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

The duo butted heads over the Green New Deal and other environmental issues Wednesday during a Daily Herald Editorial Board interview.

Ventura, 38, a mathematician and lifelong environmentalist from Joliet, said several environmental groups have met with Foster on the Green New Deal and criticized him for refusing to sign it.

The nonbinding congressional resolution -- introduced by two Democrats -- outlines a plan for tackling climate change. Its goals are to wean the United States from fossil fuels, curb greenhouse gas emissions and create new jobs in clean-energy industries.

"I think that the Green New Deal is not achievable," Foster, 64, a former particle physicist from Naperville. "I don't see many Republican co-sponsors of it. It's very prescriptive. It is not clear in many ways."

Foster supports investing in research and development to lower new technology costs so globally more nations can "afford to decarbonize." He is a proponent of developing grid-level energy storage -- at the base of wind farms or at neighborhood substations -- and incorporating more renewable energy into electric grids.

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Ventura argued the measure wouldn't result in net-zero greenhouse gas emissions because it doesn't emphasize shifting to renewable energy.

"It's saying that, as long as the carbon you put in can somehow be taken out and there's a zero at the end of the day, then we're good to go," she said. "It's a fossil fuel bill."

Ventura said supply and demand ultimately will help lower technology costs and called for federal government investment to incentivize states, counties and cities to roll out sustainability plans.

She touted her environmental record as a Will County Board member in getting the Greenest Region Compact passed -- a framework much like the Green New Deal that sets sustainability goals for the future.

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