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Green issues a focus in 6th District
By Marni Pyke | Daily Herald Staff

Peter Roskam


Jill Morgenthaler


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Published: 10/30/2008 12:01 AM

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The race between Democrat Jill Morgenthaler and Republican U.S. Rep. Peter Roskam has been a volatile one, with little love lost between the two candidates.

But when it comes to independence from foreign oil, the two 6th District rivals share some common ground on promoting alternative energy sources.

Roskam, a Wheaton attorney, this summer co-sponsored the Energy VISION Act, which was referred to a House subcommittee. The plan seeks independence from foreign oil in 15 years by encouraging innovations such as solar and wind power, offering tax credits for making homes more energy-efficient and for buying fuel-efficient vehicles, and by encouraging domestic oil production.

A multifaceted approach could mean "ultimately transforming our economy in a very dynamic and exciting way when you create American jobs and real prosperity," Roskam said.

Morgenthaler, a former state top adviser on homeland security, supports tax breaks for companies that invest in renewable energy and believes in similar incentives for homeowners who want to buy solar panels or install geothermal systems.

She also wants the government to invest in scientific research on alternative energies.

"We need to look at biofuels, solar power, wind and other promising areas, such as ocean currents," Morgenthaler said. "It's clean and it's renewable."

The candidates agree on expanding nuclear power in Illinois but differ on drilling for oil in the Arctic National Wildlife Reserve and releasing oil from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve.

With more than 700 billion barrels of oil in reserve, minimal use of the SPR will provide a break from high fuel prices, Morgenthaler said. She wants to protect ANWR but doesn't oppose offshore drilling elsewhere. However, she notes it can take years and is not an "immediate solution."

By contrast, Roskam considers releasing oil from the reserves imprudent, saying such measures would mitigate oil needs for just a few days. He believes drilling can be done in an environmentally responsible way in the Arctic and elsewhere and profits can be plowed back into alternative energy programs.