The war against clean energy and effective climate action may have several fewer soldiers manning the barricades to foil the public interest.
And that is good, as we consider how the opponents of the Clean Power Plan, led by Senator Mitch McConnell, got together to pass a Congressional Review Act (CRA) to block America's effort to curb dangerous carbon pollution from power plants. But Senator McConnell's attack on Clean Power had to advance without the help of three members of his own party - Senator Collins, Senator Ayotte and Illinois Senator Mark Kirk.
Senator Kirk hasn't always been good on climate and clean power issues. But he has stated that climate change is real, that human activity plays a role and it's too big to ignore. With his vote to protect the Clean Power Plan this week, Senator Kirk chose to support action on climate change rather than ignore the problem.
As I noted in our press release reaction after the vote (admittedly after a technical snafu...oops...) Senator Kirk's willingness to go against his party is important. And it reflects the vast majority of Illinoisans (and Americans) clamoring for action because they know we have so much to gain from the Clean Power Plan; and so much to lose from dithering on addressing climate change.
In Illinois, we even have turnkey legislation ready to go that would make the necessary changes to the state's clean energy policies to meet the goals of the Clean Power Plan, while putting tens of thousands of people to work. The Illinois Clean Jobs Bill (SB 1485/HB 2607) will bring key economic and public health benefits to the state. It will curb harmful pollution that worsens asthma, boost the state's economy, lower household electricity costs through increased energy efficiency and eventually create 32,000 good jobs annually from greater investments in the renewable energy industry.
We felt so strongly about the need to emphasize to Senator Kirk the importance of the need to fight climate change, and the benefits of clean power, that we went on a two-week run of public education ads criticizing his vote in June to block climate action and to encourage him to support the Clean Power Plan. We did this to show just exactly what's at stake - our children, our health and safety.
We hope Senator Kirk's most recent vote on climate is a sign of more positive things to come. Time will tell.