Underwood and Oberweis believe climate change is real, but their solutions differ

  • Jim Oberweis and Lauren Underwood are candidates for the 14th Congressional District seat.

    Jim Oberweis and Lauren Underwood are candidates for the 14th Congressional District seat.

Updated 10/6/2020 5:29 PM

Both candidates for Illinois' 14th Congressional District seat believe mankind is contributing to global climate change -- but their solutions differ.

For incumbent Democrat Lauren Underwood of Naperville, acknowledging what many scientific experts and politicians have been saying for years about humanity's impact on the planet falls in line with her party's view. For Republican challenger Jim Oberweis of Sugar Grove, that stance breaks from many in the GOP.


Underwood and Oberweis talked about climate change and other issues in questionnaires for the Daily Herald and other interviews.

Scientists with NASA and other organizations have observed that Earth's surface temperature is rising more quickly than expected.

As a result, scientists say, significant changes to the environment are occurring. Sea levels are rising, glaciers are shrinking, ice is melting at a faster rate than usual in Greenland and on the polar continents, and increased drought and insect infestations are leading to more wildfires. Flooding and coastal erosion have worsened, too, including in the Chicago area.

Underwood, who is seeking a second term in the Nov. 3 election, blamed climate change on human activity "and our reliance on fossil fuels that emit greenhouse gases."

She cited the extreme weather and "unprecedented" flooding that have affected northern Illinois in recent years as examples of its impact.

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"(It) has caused millions of dollars in damage to businesses, homes, farms and infrastructure," Underwood said.

Underwood said farmers in the 14th District can't afford for the nation to ignore climate change. She said they're why she proposed eventually successful legislation that prevents the U.S. Agriculture Department and other federal agencies from removing information about climate change from their websites and official communications.

"I believe public policy should be driven by science and data," she said.

In the House, Underwood helped secure federal funding to support state and local efforts to plan for public health threats caused by climate change.

Underwood also said she supports a bill introduced in the House last year that would, if made law, establish requirements to reduce greenhouse gas pollution and result in an economy that's free of such emissions or offsets them by 2050.

"Smart investments in clean energy infrastructure will bring high-quality green jobs to our community and will make northern Illinois a leader in this sector," Underwood said.


Oberweis' view on climate change has evolved.

When asked about it during his unsuccessful 2014 run for the U.S. Senate, Oberweis said Chicago's arctic winter temperatures called into question research on global warming. He said more evidence was needed "before we destroy the economy with huge regulations."

In this campaign, however, Oberweis said he believes climate change is real and that humanity contributes to it. He said "common-sense solutions" are needed.

Oberweis called the Green New Deal -- an environmental proposal from Democratic U.S. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York -- "far too radical." He supports transitioning from fossil fuels to renewable energy but noted "it is not something that is going to happen overnight."

"We must work toward these goals with the objective of maintaining accessibility to affordable energy," said Oberweis, a dairy owner who has served in the state Senate since 2013.

Oberweis said technological innovations are bringing down the cost of renewable energy products and making them increasingly competitive.

But the nation isn't yet ready to make the wind and sun the dominant sources of energy, he said.

Nuclear energy should be part of the nation's long-term energy solution, Oberweis added.

The 14th District includes parts of DuPage, Kane, Lake, McHenry, Will, DeKalb and Kendall counties.

• For more election coverage and help filling out your ballot, visit dailyherald.com/election.

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