U.S. Rep. Sean Casten, D-Downers Grove, who serves the 6th Congressional District, discussed on Thursday afternoon his accomplishments and goals before the end of his term with the Northwest Herald.
Using his tech expertise as former CEO of Turbosteam Corp. and Recycled Energy Development, using energy recycling technologies to reduce greenhouse gas emission and converting energy facilities to cleaner, more economic uses. Casten’s mission, he said, is to set legislative agenda to avert “climate catastrophes.”
To accomplish this, Casten said he aims to work toward growing the economy while becoming energy efficient, decarbonize industries and reduce carbon dioxide levels to 1985 levels, which was the last time atmospheric levels were consistent with the past 300,000 years.
“The reason I’m in this job is because I am deeply concerned about climate change and the fact that that was a priority in my prior professional career, doesn’t mean it stops being a priority once I got into this line of work,” he said.
The Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi selected Casten to attend the
25th meeting of the Conference of the Parties to the U.N. Convention on Climate Change, something he said he takes “pride and “a bit of humility” in.
During his term, Casten introduced various bills, including bicameral and bipartisan Clean Industrial Technology Act, which would create an agency at the Department of Energy to “decarbonize hard to decarbonize industries,” and make U.S. companies more competitive.
“This all started because I made the observation that got there that everybody committed to be zero carbon by X is, is being irresponsible if they can’t also tell you how are we going to make fertilizer or how we’re going to feed people with that fertilizer. ... You can’t just make a promise, you have to have the path to get there,” he said.
Casten currently is working on an Energy Prices Act, which will address consumer energy prices and investments in new technologies, and a carbon price bill.
One of the other goals he’s working toward is to reducing the effects of the new tax plan signed by President Trump in 2017, which instituted a cap on the state and local tax deduction.
“People here were really angry at the way that the SALT cap impacted their taxes. And I think one of the very first bills I introduced with Lauren Underwood was a bill to significantly reduce that,” he said.
The bill to reduce the cap on SALT, passed in the House, and he said he hopes Mitch McConnell, Kentucky’s senior U.S. senator and Senate Majority Leader, will allow the bill to pass the senate.
“I think the problem McConnell has is that the groups of donors that typically support his party don’t like these bills, but the voters do and he’s got a real problem if they come to the floor,” he said. “And I think that’s really unfortunate because our democracy needs two parties who are committed to governance and committed to representing the people, not the donor class.”