Activists push for Green New Deal, hold climate strike in downtown Joliet

Speakers call out Rep. Bill Foster, NorthPoint project

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About 30 activists gathered Friday for a climate strike in downtown Joliet to push for government action to combat climate change.

The speakers called for local legislators to support the Green New Deal, a proposal to get the country to net zero greenhouse-gas emissions within a decade.

The organizers of the demonstration included the Will County Progressives and 2020 congressional candidate Rachel Ventura, who also sits on the Will County Board. Activists have organized similar climate strikes recently in Naperville and Aurora.

Will County Progressives chairwoman Suzanna Ibarra and Ventura also called out U.S. Rep. Bill Foster, D-Naperville, for what they said was his unwillingness to support the Green New Deal.

“If there is anything worse than a climate denier, it is a scientist who knows the dangers of the climate crisis and turns his back on the solutions,” Ventura said of Foster’s education and experience as a physicist.

The speakers also decried the growing logistics and distribution industry in Will County, which they said contributes to pollution with the large amount of trucks on the roads and poor working conditions for their workers.

They specifically targeted the controversial development plan they fear will harm the environment and quality of life of residents.

Delilah Legrett of the Just Say No to NorthPoint group said she and her partners would continue to fight against NorthPoint Development as it has tried to expand throughout Will County.

Last year, the Just Say No to NorthPoint group successfully pressured the village of Elwood to turn away the company's proposed 2,200-acre industrial park. But the company has since approached other municipalities. Last month, the Joliet City Council narrowly approved zoning NorthPoint needed to start industrial development on 103 acres.

Legrett explained that she and her partners worry the development they suspect NorthPoint is planning will bring more truck traffic and distribution centers to the county with no promises of high-paying jobs.

“We aren’t giving up,” she said. “There will be more meetings to attend, more decisions to be made and we are resilient.”

Alex Ortiz

Alex Ortiz is a reporter for The Herald-News in Joliet. Originally from Romeoville, Ill., he joined The Herald-News in 2017 and mostly covers Will County government, politics, education and more. He earned his bachelor's degree at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and a master's degree from Northwestern University.