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Environmental violence and racism reflect the legacy of avoiding, covering up and pitting communities against each other.  As environmental justice initiatives are disproportionately geared towards downtown, our administration will support infrastructure investment in neglected parts of the city. Communities coping with the fall-out from the industrial age have become dumping grounds for dirty industries that are unhealthy and dangerous. We must become a world class city by combatting climate change and creating a viable roadmap to a green economy for all residents.

All of us will put the people first by:

  • Establishing a Department of Environmental Justice
  • Combatting community health deficits as a result of environmental hazards
  • Changing zoning policies to eliminate neighborhood competition for green industrial growth and resources
  • Demonstrating Green New Deal Leadership
  • Creating awareness and training programs for students and community-based organizations
  • Validating Blue New Deal Leadership
  • Developing a waterfront equity and access plan

We will work with communities to establish a Department of Environmental Justice. This agency will identify and formalize a data/screening process to develop a formal list of Chicago’s Environmental Justice communities. We will issue an environmental mandate to all city agencies to work in consultation with communities to identify long standing issues and create an action plan to address them.

Our administration will forge a commitment between the Chicago Department of Public Health and the Cook County Department of Public Health to hire environmental medical personnel that work with communities to mitigate long term health impacts of exposure to lead, manganese, petcoke and other toxic materials. We will implement a staff rotation of registered nurses and other medical professionals to provide city-funded testing for those already impacted.

Our administration will establish special “Environmental Zoning Districts” to enforce a series of zoning parameters including but not limited to: Fugitive dust restrictions; Bans on specific materials within a one-mile radius of residential communities; “Fair Share” restrictions on future development; Mandatory environmental impact statements for future development projects; Site-specific air quality monitoring for businesses zoned for heavy industry; and provisions for violation enforcement.

Chicago must move to the forefront of a green economy which will create good paying jobs and protect our communities. Our administration will support energy-efficient residential and industrial development, while ensuring workforce training, placement and transitional assistance for all prospective workers, low-income communities, and communities of color most affected by historical environmental injustice.

Our administration will develop climate action plans that put equity at the forefront and ignite green opportunities to build the resiliency of communities including civilian leadership development, and financial resources for community organizations. We will establish an Environment and Climate Justice Working Group to include agency representatives, academia, policymakers, labor, and resident stakeholders from impacted communities to develop policies protecting under-resourced populations, including but not limited to: A ban on manganese and petroleum coke in residential areas; a commitment to exceed Chicago’s GHG reduction goal of 80% by 2050; and a feasibility plan to transition to 100% renewable energy.

Water is one of our city’s most precious natural resources. The issue of lead and contaminants in our water is an infrastructure issue that has not been addressed because of the expensive costs of upgrading service lines. Our administration will target resources to those areas of the city where lead levels are highest. Our administration will create a tax rebate/incentive program for homeowners/landlords who decide to take on the costs associated with upgrading lines. We will also create a fund utilizing federal and state resources to support homeowners opting to take on costs associated with upgrading lines but are unable to pay the entire cost upfront.

Our administration will put forth a comprehensive waterfront development plan that prioritizes equity, accessibility and co-benefits including: Remediating a public nature park with waterfront access at South Works, in coordination with southeast side stakeholders; Developing opportunities within Chicago’s working waterfronts, zoned for industrial use, for landings, boat launches, esplanades, green infrastructure and other community benefits; Prioritizing the return of natural ecosystems in underutilized waterfront areas along the Calumet, Des Plaines and Chicago rivers; and exploring the feasibility of a Lake Michigan ferry service for waterfront communities that lack adequate public transportation service to and from downtown and Navy Pier.