Democratic AG candidates all want to put Peoples Gas on trial

Democratic AG candidates all want to put Peoples Gas on trial

URBANA — All six Democratic candidates for attorney general taking part in a Thursday night forum in Urbana agreed that the state needs to prosecute Peoples Gas over an underground natural gas leak affecting water wells north of Mahomet.

"I think Peoples Gas needs to be brought to justice," said former Gov. Pat Quinn. "The attorney general is the number one environmental advocate in our state, especially given the inaction of the Environmental Protection Agency and their failure to do their job. When I was governor, we had an Environmental Protection Agency that was much stronger. We went after those who were seeking to pollute the Mahomet Aquifer."

Quinn said he did not take any campaign contributions from the company.

"If you are taking money from Peoples Gas, you aren't on the people's side. We need an attorney general who fights every day for clean water."

"When you talk about specific instances like what is happening here, I believe in fact the attorney general should take action," said former federal prosecutor Sharon Fairley. "When you have a polluter who has done harm to our community, you seek full remediation, you make sure they put in whatever preventive measures that need to happen to make sure it doesn't happen again and you put in penalties that are not just perceived as the cost of doing business."

"The attorney general must be involved in that issue," said state Rep. Scott Drury of Highwood. "It is imperative for the attorney general to stand up for citizens of the state of Illinois and say, when your water can be lit on fire, then that's absolutely unacceptable. We need people who are going to fight for the environment every day."

Chicago attorney Aaron Goldstein said the attorney general's office needs to be proactive rather than wait for referrals from the Illinois EPA.

"There is nothing preventing the attorney general from taking action on their own," Goldstein said. "It takes too long to wait for referrals. You can go in there and get injunctive relief."

"The Mahomet Aquifer situation is symptomatic of a broader range of issues," said Highland Park Mayor Nancy Rotering. "More than ever we need to be the watchdog, and that is something the attorney general needs to do. It shouldn't have to come just through the EPA. They don't have the resources. They don't have the manpower. We need to be able to be the watchdogs and defenders of the environment."

"Someone violated laws and harmed our environment. Yes, of course, we need to pursue that," said Jesse Ruiz, attorney for the Illinois Legislative Latino Caucus Foundation and president of the Chicago Park District's board of commissioners. "The president's budget has further decimated the U.S. EPA. No one is minding the store in terms of our environment. The attorney general needs to step up those efforts and be very vigilant."

The candidates participated in a forum at the Independent Media Center sponsored by The People's Agenda. Niala Boodhoo of Illinois Public Media served as the moderator.

Each participating candidate said they were not afraid to stand up to Gov. Bruce Rauner and President Donald Trump.

"The night the Illinois Marriage Equality Bill passed the Illinois House and came to my desk, Bruce Rauner was urging me to veto the bill," Quinn said. "I did not pay any attention to him. I signed that bill, and I think it's an example of how the law can change the culture. I think the attorney general has a key role in doing that."

Quinn said the attorney general is the last line of defense for the right to speech, religion, press and assembly.

"All the things that are vital to our democracy are put in danger by Donald Trump," Quinn said.

"It is ironic that our American dream is under attack by our own president and our own governor," Ruiz said. "As somebody who is the son of a Mexican immigrant who came here as a migrant farmer, I got to go to the University of Chicago Law School and learn from Barack Obama and Elena Kagan. I take access to the American dream very seriously. I'll swear to uphold the Constitution of the United States and State of Illinois and, if there are any affronts on our rights, be it by our president, governor or any other entity, I will stand up and fight for our rights."

"We are under attack by a governor and president who violate the Constitution every single day," Goldstein said. "We need someone with courage and we need someone with the experience to try a case. No assistant attorney general under me will be scared to try a case. When I was an undergrad here at the UI, we had this little mascot thing, and I was very proud to do everything I could to get rid of that racist mascot."

"The fundamental rights of our democracy are under attack by these two," Rotering said. "Bruce Rauner, environmental protection rolled back. Donald Trump, environmental protection rolled back. Bruce Rauner, standing up for working families, rolling back their protections. Donald Trump, travel bans, ridiculous. Even access to contraceptives is under attack by this president. I've been on the board of Planned Parenthood for awhile, and I'll stand up for a woman's right to choose. I'll stand up for LGBTQ rights."

"As a woman of color who spent the last 30-plus years in male-dominated environments, I have stood up to bullies, I stood up to bigots and I stood up to misogynists," Fairley said. "We need someone who has the courage and tenacity but also the independence to turn to Gov. Rauner and say no. I will not take your position. As a matter of fact, I will take the opposite position."

"Of course I'll stand up to Donald Trump," Drury said. "I've stood up to the most powerful person in the state of Illinois, Mike Madigan. Donald Trump is nothing compared to that guy."

Two other Democratic candidates, state Sen. Kwame Raoul of Chicago and Chicago attorney Renato Mariotti, declined to take part in the forum.

Sections (2):News, Local
Tags (1):election 2018

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BruckJr wrote on February 16, 2018 at 9:02 am

The People's Agenda?  Isn't that Carol Ammons' group?