From Illinois Public Radio - News -

Democrats, Academics Endorse Agenda On Climate Change

A group of central Illinois Democrats, as well as some in agriculture and academics. are trying to rally around President Obama's action last month on climate change.

The President is starting up power plant carbon pollution limits among other initiatives, and some at a news conference in Bloomington Monday want Congress to get in on the action.

Bloomington Mayor Tari Renner said it's way past time for Washington to address climate change.

"We don't have anyone to send unfunded mandates to, we have to make stuff happen," he said.  "So, what we're asking Congress to do is revolutionary. Check your egos at the door and do your job."

Champaign State Senator Mike Frerichs said Central Illinois and McLean County in particular, should be extra mindful of how climate change impacts two key business sectors, agriculture and insurance.

Frerichs said 'it's clear' manmade actions are raising carbon amounts in the atmosphere, causing changes to the environment.  He cited his family in farm in Gifford, where his uncle still raises livestock.

"Last year, with the drought, we had to import feed," he said.  "And that increases costs to farmers in the state, and increases prices for food and commodities." 

Frerichs noticed problems in other parts of the state (along the Illinois and Mississippi Rivers), had trouble with flooding and barge traffic, and missing the window for planting as a result.  He said recent wild swings in weather patterns have made it hard for farmers, and insurance companies wind up paying high claim amounts.

The only farmer in attendance at the news conference was University of Illinois research engineer Eric Thorsland, a Democrat who chairs the Champaign County Zoning Board of Appeals.

Renner said there is now broad support among conservatives to do something about climate change, and cites remarks made by United Kingdom Conservative Party Foreign Secretary William Hague.