Bustos Touts 'Rural Green Partnership,' Airs Concerns About NAFTA Replacement

Aug 5, 2019

Rep. Cheri Bustos (right) listens to an explanation of the HCC solar array
Credit Guy Stephens

Illinois 17th Congressional District Representative Cheri Bustos is touting a report released Monday that brings rural Midwestern voices into the discussion on how to address climate change.  

Bustos said the plan for a ‘Rural Green Partnership’ is a way to make sure her part of the country isn’t left out in the response to an issue of national importance. She said some proposals to fight climate change don’t pay much attention to those in agriculture.

“And when you have an ag-driven economy like we do,” she said, “I’m going to make sure that our farm families aren’t left behind in this conversation, but rather are part of the solution.”   

Bustos said the report will address those and other concerns as well.

“It’s everything from taking a look at, ‘What do we want to do to make sure that people who work in coal mines – and we have coal mines in Illinois, still – or in the oil industry, they are prepared for whatever the next line of work is,’" she said. “It addresses farmland, it addresses solar.”  

Bustos also pointed out that ethanol and biodiesel, important economically in rural areas, are also important to any proposal to fight climate change.

The Democrat said any bill that comes from the report should have bipartisan support. 

Bustos spoke while touring a solar array at Highland Community College in Freeport. She said hearing what it takes to get an alternative energy source up and running there helps inform her as she seeks legislative solutions to climate change.

Bustos also addressed the Trump Administration’s replacement for the North American Free Trade Act, or NAFTA.  Bustos said party leaders are open to the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement, or USMCA.  

“We are negotiating in good faith,” she said. “The goal is to be able to get to a ‘yes.’ And, and I think everybody's committed to that, we just have to make sure that it continues to move forward.”

But Bustos said she and her colleagues are concerned that the treaty be not just an update of NAFTA, but an improvement.

Bustos said she wants to help farmers dependent on international trade. But, she said, after NAFTA a lot of American jobs went to Mexico or other countries. She said she wants to ensure that won’t happen with the USMCA, before she and her colleagues will vote for it.  

Republicans have also aired concerns about provisions of the pact. There has also been opposition to the pact in Canada and Mexico. But Mexico’s Senate recently ratified the agreement.