Sierra Club Questionnaire and My Answers

Environmental Leadership


The Sierra Club is America’s largest and most effective grassroots environmental organization with more than 2.1 million members and supporters nationwide. We work to elect candidates who will provide leadership to confront the root causes of climate disruption and put our nation on a path to a clean energy future, while securing good jobs for America’s workers and a healthy environment with clean air, clean water and wild places for this and future generations.


  1. Describe your leadership on environmental issues over the years.

1) I have been active in the fights for the environment in Southern Illinois, which affects the global environment. We in the Shawnee Green Party have opposed burning toxic dioxin-contaminated soil in Crab Orchard National Wildlife Refuge, strip mine operations, the Prairie State mine mouth operation, logging of the Shawnee National Forest, opening trails to four-wheelers, and we partner with SAFE in opposing the current attempt to frack in Southern Illinois.

My husband and I have also been sustainers of Carbondale Clean and Beautiful, the Nuclear Energy Information Service, Greenpeace, Green Earth, National Association of Railway Passengers, Midwest Highspeed Rail Association, and Food Works.

We support local efforts for sustainable transportation, renewable energy and rebuilding a population dense downtown in Carbondale.


Confronting climate disruption and putting America on a path to a safe and prosperous clean energy future


Now is the time for strong leadership on the fight against climate disruption. The science is irrefutable and the damage to our planet and our economy is already palpably real. We can turn the corner on climate disruption, and put the Nation on a path to meet the emission reductions that science demands, but only if America’s elected leaders take bold action now and stand up for climate science.


In addition to dramatically reducing carbon pollution, we must prepare the country for the impacts of climate change and extreme weather disasters. And we know that the costs of these events can be measured in lost lives and lost livelihoods, lost homes, lost businesses, hundreds of billions of dollars in emergency services and disaster relief. Extreme weather has cost our nation over $136 billion dollars over the last year. That’s a cost $1,160 on every taxpayer in this country while polluters pay nothing to dump billions of tons of carbon pollution into our atmosphere every year. Those who pollute must pay for the cost of their pollution.


2) If elected, what specific actions will you take to address the challenge of climate change and put the country on a path to meet or exceed carbon reductions of 80% by 2050?or


2) I support the Green New Deal, which is a plan to put millions of people to work rebuilding our infrastructure and housing stock to create energy tight houses, sustainable public transportation and renewable energy. The original New Deal led to the planting of 4 billion trees, including our beautiful Shawnee National Forest. I support the sensible solution of planting trees as a method of carbon sequestration, rather than the billion dollar boondoggle which supports burning coal and piping it underground. I also support the planting of riverside vegetation to provide a buffer zone against floods and pollution of our waterways.

I would vote to eliminate the billions of dollars that Congress gives each year to the fossil fuel and nuclear power industries, and, instead support truly renewable energy sources, along with reductions in our energy usage, with conservation and efficiency.

I would support a plan in which 10-year interest free loans would be granted to people installing solar or wind systems, to be paid off with the sell-back of the energy generated.

I support increasing public transportation and the reduction of the need for private cars. I would support increasing the CAFE standards on the vehicles that people do use.


3) Will you support a mechanism to put a price on carbon pollution?


3) Yes. I support James Hansen’s Fee and Dividend approach. This would reward energy conservation, while discouraging the very harmful practice of burning fossil fuels. Poor people, who can’t afford cars, or long distance travel, would benefit from this fee system, instead of paying for others’ use of cars, as they now do. I am opposed to the cap-and-trade system created by the Kyoto Treaty. As we have learned since then, it doesn’t work to reduce emissions. It only further enriches financial speculation.




Holding fossil fuel polluters accountable for their pollution


Our nation’s continued reliance on dirty fossil fuel energy not only contributes to climate disruption but also directly threatens our health and well being. For example, each year coal pollution causes 12,000 emergency room visits and $100 billion in health costs. Half of the families in our country live in places with unsafe air. In the United States 1 out of 10 children suffers from asthma. It is the number-one illness that causes kids to miss school. Pollution from coal-fired power plants, refineries and vehicle tailpipes create smog, which can cause chest pain, coughing, and breathing difficulties. Burning coal creates ash waste ponds that threaten communities across the country. Coal ash contains contaminants like mercury, cadmium and arsenic, which are associated with cancer and various other serious health effects. Recent studies show that coal burning power plants are the number one source of water pollution in America.


Our communities should be safe, healthy places to live and raise children – with clean air and water free from the dangers of toxic pollution. This goal can be achieved by upholding and funding enforcement of environmental laws that require all polluters, including power plants and factories, to meet stringent standards to reduce carbon, soot, smog, sulfur and other air and water pollution.


4) Will you support and fund the Environmental Protection Agency to regulate, monitor, and enforce standards that hold fossil fuel polluters accountable for meeting the requirements of the Clean Air Act, Clean Water Act, and other longstanding and proven safeguards to public health, safety, and the environment – including supporting and defending standards for carbon pollution from new and existing coal fired power plants?


4) Yes.


5) Would you support legislation to protect streams and waterways in Appalachia from coal-mining waste resulting from the practice of mountain-top removal mining?


5) Yes.



Transitioning from Dirty Fuels to a Clean Energy Economy


For the health of the planet, the public and our economy, our nation must move to a clean energy future. In order to keep the United States economically competitive, create jobs, and become less dependent on other nations Congress should advance clean energy policies and investments that will hasten out nation’s transition from an overreliance on fossil fuels to a clean energy economy.


Making the transition from dirty to clean energy requires consistently choosing clean energy over the dirty fuels of the past; favoring low carbon fuels over high carbon fuels; saying no to major new investments and commitments to dirty fossil fuels; making coal, oil and natural gas meet the strictest pollution standards; and ensuring that we all use energy as efficiently as possible.


Today the fossil fuel industry – coal, oil, and natural gas – benefits from numerous direct and indirect subsidies and from loopholes that allow them to avoid complying with laws to protect air and water. Congress needs to stop the subsidies and close the loopholes. It needs to reject an “all of the above” approach to energy development and instead pursue policies and make investments that will unleash America’s clean energy potential.


6) What policies and investments would you support to advance clean energy solutions like wind, solar and efficiency?


I would support, as stated above, no-interest loans for individuals and businesses to switch to renewable energy. I would also support research into renewables and efficiency improvements. Part of the Green New Deal involves refurbishing existing housing so that it is more energy efficient, with insulation, awnings, passive solar, and other improvements. I would require utilities to purchase a rapidly increasing percentage of electricity from renewable producers, at a premium rate.




7) Would you support ending fossil fuel subsidies?


7) Yes, as stated in question 2.


8) Would you support proposals to close loopholes that exempt drilling and fracking operations from basic environmental protections provided by laws such as the Clean Water Act or Safe Drinking Water Act?


8) Yes. We are working on this right now, at the state level, with the proposed IDNR regulations. If elected to Congress, I would vote to eliminate the so-called Halliburton loophole in the Clean Water Act. More importantly, I support a ban on fracking. There should be an absolute standard which we environmentalists should uphold. If something is inherently unsafe, we should oppose it unconditionally.


9) Would you reject proposals to facilitate importing dirty tar sands like the Keystone or Trailbreaker pipeline?


9) Yes.


Protecting our lands water and wildlife from the impacts of fossil fuel development and climate change


American families enjoy a rich natural heritage of parks, monuments, forests, wilderness and wildlife, but this legacy is threatened by climate disruption, and a veritable fossil fuel rush. Our public lands and public waters are public assets meant to provide sustainable benefits to all Americans. Yet today, a rush to mine, drill and frack for coal, oil and gas threatens the natural, recreational, health and cultural values of places from the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, to our public lands and forests across the country and our coasts. Developing these dirty fuels would cause irreparable harm to the environment, damage valuable wildlife habitat, harm indigenous communities, and hurt local economies. Keeping these dirty fuels in the ground will protect wildlife habitat, provide clean water, and reduce climate disrupting pollution. As a nation, we must not release new “carbon bombs” from beneath the ground that greatly accelerate climate disruption.


10) Would you support legislation to designate the coastal plain of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge as wilderness and protect it from oil and gas drilling?


10) Yes.


11) Would you oppose new drilling in areas of the Outer Continental Shelf previously protected by a Congressional moratorium, or other threatened wild lands on shore?


11) Yes.


12) Illinois’ only national forest, the Shawnee National Forest, represents our state’s largest public land holding and a tremendous recreational asset and natural resource. Currently, there are seven areas of the Shawnee recognized as Wilderness areas, forever protecting them from activities like high-volume hydraulic fracturing and preserving them for future generations. Three additional areas on the Shawnee are worthy of wilderness protection, and action by Congress is necessary to do so.


  1. Would you support federal Wilderness designation for Ripple Hollow, Burke Branch, and Camp Hutchins areas in the Shawnee National Forest?

a) Absolutely.


  1. Would you support banning oil and gas exploration on all of the Shawnee National Forest?

b) Yes.



13) The Great Lakes Restoration Initiative is the largest investment in the Great Lakes in two decades. This action plan currently covers fiscal years 2010 through 2014 and addresses five urgent issues: cleaning up toxics and areas of concern, combating invasive species, promoting nearshore health by protecting watersheds from polluted run-off, restoring wetlands and other habitats, and tracking progress and working with strategic partners. President Obama has pledged to continue the Initiative beyond 2014.


Invasive species, like Asian carp, threaten the Great Lakes ecosystem. The Water Resources Development Act of 2007 authorized the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to look at the feasibility of options to prevent the inter-basin transfer of invasive species between the Great Lakes and Mississippi River. If we are going to protect these two great ecosystems we need to adopt a permanent solution that will stop Asian carp and other invasive species.


a) Would you support legislation and annual appropriations of at least $300 million annually to fund the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative beyond 2014?

a) Yes.




b) Would you support directing the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to work with local and state partners to develop a construction design for phase I of activities leading to separation of the Great Lakes and Mississippi River watersheds?  


b) I would not support a massive construction project purported to solve one problem without a comprehensive environmental impact study of what effects this might have on other natural systems. Unintended consequences must be taken into consideration. I would support a program in which fishermen are paid well for any Asian carp which they catch, and a program to encourage consumption of these fish, whether human or for pet food. There are many unemployed people who would be happy to go out and fish, and I would support this plan before a construction plan that involves re-engineering natural watersheds.


Moving beyond oil with green transportation

Throughout the past century, inefficient cars and trucks and sprawling development have burdened the United States with a dangerous dependence on oil and driven up life-threatening pollution. Today, the transportation sector accounts for roughly two-thirds of our oil consumption.

The Sierra Club supports investment in a 21st century transportation system that ends our dependence on oil and cuts pollution by providing Americans with more efficient vehicles and clean, convenient transportation choices such as public transit and safe biking and walking. We advocate for performance-based transportation funding, driven by national goals, including a goal to reduce our oil consumption. We support smart, integrated land use and investing in repairing our existing infrastructure before building new roads.

Congress has the opportunity and challenge to build a transportation system for the 21st century that relies on efficient vehicles, clean fuels, and smart growth that emphasizes clean, convenient, and affordable transportation choices.

14) What policies and investments would you support to create a 21st century transportation system that reduces oil use and cuts pollution?

14) The Green New Deal would directly employ millions of workers in a major public works project based on smart urban planning and redesign, to promote urban residential/commercial infill, dual use buildings, residences near workplaces and schools, use of vertical density, road/light rail/bike path/pedestrian walkway planning that promotes efficient transit rather than surburban cul-de-sacs and sprawl, conservation of resources and energy efficiency.

We would directly employ millions of workers in the restoration, development and improvemnt of clean and efficient public trasportation, including inter-city high speed rail, a linked mass transit system for metropolitian areas, intra-city light rail, rail/bus hybrids, and the expansion of bicycle trails and lanes.

As a Congress member, I would not vote for building projects which involve building on farmland, extending infrastructure which promotes sprawl, or any other make-work project which enriches contractors, destroys open space and wastes resources.

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