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Global warming is a reality and it is causing worldwide climate change. The resulting climate change will be a disaster for most of us who live on this globe. This global warming is caused, now, primarily by the carbon dioxide (CO2) that is emitted into the atmosphere around the world by burning coal, oil, and gas for energy and heat.
Most climate scientists predict that global warming will cause the world's ice and snow to melt, the seas to rise, oceans to acidify, animals to become extinct, and populations of people, mostly poor people, to have their lives changed by inundations and desertification.
Those same climate scientists insist that the world and the country, must act now to seriously limit the use of coal, oil and gas — fossil fuels — for our energy and heating.
Last month the Illinois General Assembly passed SB3766, which allows the Leucadia company to construct a huge plant in southeast Chicago that would convert Illinois coal to synthetic natural gas, or SNG. This bill would then force Illinois gas distributors to include SNG in the mix of gas sent to Illinois homes and businesses.
We in Oak Park are ever more diligent in regards to the sustainability of the environment. We have created the position of sustainability manager in the village, supported many citizen "green" organizations, and tried in our personal lives to limit our use of energy by recycling and conservation.
However, if this bill is fully implemented, a significant percentage of the gas sent to our homes will come from this new Illinois coal plant. It will send up to 6 million tons of CO2 yearly into the global atmosphere, and, I feel, obviate, all our best efforts at sustainability in Oak Park. SB3766 awaits Governor Quinn's signature to become Illinois law.
At a time when the world desperately needs a way out of its use of fossil fuels, why are we about to create more coal plants?
And why did this bill have overwhelming Democratic support in both houses of the Legislature?
Indeed, this plant may help the Illinois coal industry provide construction jobs and help the state's economy. It will be a modern plant and could contribute to the country's energy independence.
But the predicted effects of global warming will long outlast the Illinois coal industry, the state's current economic problems and our country's dependence on imported fuels. Our actions now in regard to building more coal plants will affect generations to come; that is, they will affect our children and grandchildren.
To continue down this path becomes a moral issue. Do we care about the future?