Krishnamoorthi, challengers debate responses to climate change

  • The candidates in the March 17 Democratic primary for the 8th Congressional District seat -- from left, Inam Hussain, William Olson and incumbent Raja Krishnamoorthi -- are introduced to the audience by moderator Katherine Sawyer at a League of Women Voters of the Palatine Area forum Saturday at the Schaumburg Township District Library in Schaumburg.

      The candidates in the March 17 Democratic primary for the 8th Congressional District seat -- from left, Inam Hussain, William Olson and incumbent Raja Krishnamoorthi -- are introduced to the audience by moderator Katherine Sawyer at a League of Women Voters of the Palatine Area forum Saturday at the Schaumburg Township District Library in Schaumburg. Eric Peterson | Staff Photographer

 
 
Updated 2/29/2020 6:21 PM

U.S. Rep. Raja Krishnamoorthi of Schaumburg and his two challengers for the Democratic nomination for the 8th Congressional District seat compared their approaches to the issue of climate change and global warming Saturday.

The topic was one of many he, Dr. Inam Hussain of Libertyville and William Olson of Schaumburg debated during an hourlong forum conducted by the League of Women Voters of the Palatine Area at the Schaumburg Township District Library in Schaumburg.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

A video of the entire forum will be posted soon at the League chapter's website at lwvpalatinearea.org.

An audience member asked particularly whether the candidates would favor a government-imposed fee or "cap-and-trade" system to encourage businesses to reduce their carbon emissions.

The latter approach sets a cap on companies' emissions but allows one to buy a higher limit from another's share.

Krishnamoorthi said the topic is one of the most important of current times and that he is a co-sponsor of a U.S. House bill that would return the nation to the Paris Climate Change Accords.

"This is vital in controlling carbon emissions," Krishnamoorthi added. "In my prior life as a small business person, we did important research in solar technology. And this is also vital -- the expansion of clean, renewable energy to combat climate change."

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He said he cofounded the bipartisan solar caucus in Congress and that he was open to looking at either carbon fees or cap-and-trade as an additional effort to combating climate change.

Olson had a somewhat different outlook.

"There is in our discourse an hysteria about climate, which Mr. Krishnamoorthi repeats, where greenhouse emissions meet end-of-days mythmaking," Olson said. "I find the arguments uncompelling, that a rising average temperature will comprise a loop of feedback whereby the rate of warming will increase without return and cause a relatively rapid incineration of our planet."

But Olson also characterized pollution of all kinds as "a scourge to human habitation" and said he'd written a bill that would financially reward investments in renewable energies and environmental remediation as described in the Green New Deal resolutions that he would support.

Hussain recognized less nuance on the subject.

"First of all we have to recognize that climate change and global warming is a real thing," he said. "It is the state of crisis we are ignoring, and the carbon emission with fossil fuels -- that has to be limited."

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

Hussain said the U.S. was going in the right direction until 2016 and its subsequent withdrawal from the Paris Agreement. He, too, expressed support for the Green New Deal as a step toward reducing fossil fuel use and incorporating more renewable energy sources into the nation's infrastructure.

No Republican candidates filed for the March 17 primary.

The 8th District is roughly centered in Schaumburg and includes areas of northwest Cook, northeast DuPage and northeast Kane counties.

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