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The Daily Northwestern

Northwestern University and Evanston's Only Daily News Source Since 1881

The Daily Northwestern

Northwestern University and Evanston's Only Daily News Source Since 1881

The Daily Northwestern

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State Rep. Robyn Gabel discusses upcoming state environmental bills, celebrates sustainability progress

Hannah Webster/The Daily Northwestern
Robyn Gabel addresses community members at a discussion hosted by Evanston Public Library and League of Women Voters of Evanston.

Illinois House Majority Leader Robyn Gabel (D-Evanston) led a community discussion Wednesday on the status of state environmental bills at the Evanston Public Library.

The Climate and Equitable Jobs Act, which Gabel co-sponsored in 2021, sets a state goal of 100% clean energy by 2050. In 2022, renewable energy made up 14% of Illinois’ energy generation.

Several environmental proposal bills are also making progress in the House, Gabel said. Among them is Rep. Anna Moeller’s (D-Elgin) bill to protect wetlands. Since the U.S. Supreme Court limited the federal government’s ability to protect wetlands in Sackett v. Environmental Protection Agency last May, the Illinois Environmental Council made state wetland protections a top priority.

Moeller’s bill ensures Illinois wetlands remain protected, but under state policy rather than the federal Clean Water Act. The bill advanced out of committee on March 13.

Gabel said lawmakers have also been working toward a statewide ban on plastic bags.

“We’re thinking that may be able to pass either this year or in lame duck, the session between the old legislature and the new one,” Gabel said. 

EPL hosted the event in collaboration with the League of Women Voters of Evanston. League and community members attended to learn about environmental issues.

Among them was Peter Gann. With his wife and daughter in the environmental industry, Gann said sustainability is a “big topic in (his) house.” He said the issue he worries about the most is the availability of charging ports for electric vehicles. 

“I’m very concerned about the rollout of charging stations to support the expansion of plug-in hybrid use,” he said. “There’s no evidence of that happening here in Evanston, and I think that we’re seeing a slowdown in the uptake of EVs, which is disturbing.”

Kathy Hayes, who lives in the 9th Ward, said she attended the event to learn more about how to preserve the environment for herself, her family and her community.

“Whatever affects these other wards that are heavily African American is also going to affect the rest of the city.” 

In particular, Hayes said she was drawn to learn more about the issues due to pollution in the 2nd and 5th wards. 

Gabel said bills related to pesticides, carbon capture and local food infrastructure are also making progress in committee. There were few legislators supporting climate action during her first term, making it “just about impossible” to pass bills, she added.  

“Things are very, very different now,” Gabel said. “We have a number of legislators who are environmental legislators. The green caucus is practically 60 people. We probably have enough votes ourselves just to pass something.” 

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Twitter: @hannahe_webster

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