Facilities Tour
August 11, 2021

Casten, Underwood Tour Northern Illinois Facilities with White House Official

U.S. Reps. Sean Casten, D-Downers Grove, and Lauren Underwood, D-Naperville, accompanied White House Climate Advisor Gina McCarthy on a tour Tuesday of several scientific facilities in northern Illinois. The tour featured stops at Fermilab in Batavia, North Central College in Naperville and Argonne National Laboratory in Lemont.

IPCC Report

The timing of the tour closely followed the Aug. 9 release of a report compiled and presented by the International Panel for Climate Change (IPCC) detailing a grim account that there is an increasingly urgent need to address climate change and that the window to reverse the damage is narrowing.

McCarthy said the need to act against climate change is more pressing now than ever, especially considering the release of the IPCC report.

“The reason why it’s different today than it was before is the last time I worked in the administration, I was arguing with climate change deniers,” McCarthy said. “I don’t do that anymore; I don’t need to. People understand that the world has changed. Like it or not, they can see it, and they can feel it, and they can taste it. But more importantly, we have solutions now that if we deploy at scale, we will buy us huge opportunities for additional time while great places, like Fermilab and Argonne and our other innovation centers, can actually develop the next generation.”

Takeaways from the Tour

Underwood said one common message rang clearly time and time again during her tour of the facilities: the importance of climate, energy and jobs.

“We’re facing a crisis of climate change right now, but also historic opportunities,” Underwood said. “The opportunity to create millions of good jobs, American jobs that will also improve the health of our planet. The opportunity to solidify Illinois’ role as a global leader in clean energy, cutting-edge scientific research and the fight against climate change.”

Her remarks were in reference to the infrastructure bill passed yesterday by the Senate now awaiting consideration in the House. It helps provide funding to enable job creation in the renewable energy sector and embark on clean energy projects.

Casten said he gained a lot from touring the facilities and seeing firsthand how potential investment will benefit communities of northern Illinois in the future.

“We are a district that is going to hugely benefit from the transition to a clean economy,” he said. “We’ve got really, highly educated people who understand these issues. We’ve got two world-leading national labs doing both the basic science and the deployment of the technologies that aspire to bring this forward.”

The event also featured a roundtable discussion with climate experts and environment and sustainability leaders, like WGN’s Tom Skilling, Sierra Club’s Kady McFadden, Morton Arboretum’s Gerry Donnelley, Midwest Energy Efficiency Alliance’s Stacey Paradis, Invenergy’s Shashank Shane, Downers Grove North High School’s Mike Heinz, Clearway Energy’s Barry Matchett, and National Resources Defense Council’s JC Kibbey.

Naperville News 17’s Megann Horstead reports.

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