Illinois signals strong support for EPA's proposed Clean Power Plan

In a letter to the EPA, fifty-three members of the Illinois General Assembly joined together to signal their support for the Clean Power Plan, the historic effort to attack climate change by cutting carbon pollution. As the legislators make clear in their letter, Illinois stands to gain significantly with the move to a clean energy future that will mean more jobs for the state.

There are already 100,000 clean energy jobs in Illinois. EPA’s “Clean Power Plan” sets the stage for lots more as deepened investment in energy efficiency and renewable energy help Illinois to gradually reduce the amount of carbon pollution pumped into the air by the electricity sector. Nationally, power plants account for a staggering 40% of our nation’s carbon pollution---by far the largest source of such pollution. Illinois’ proposed target would result in a 33% reduction in the carbon intensity of electricity generated in Illinois by 2030 which, if done right, could lead to many more clean energy jobs for the state. 

In addition to helping build tens of thousands of news jobs across the state, the Clean Power Plan would provide massive benefits to public health and the pocketbooks of Illinois consumers. Since the adoption of an energy efficiency standard in 2008, consumers have already seen hundreds of millions of dollars in bill reductions from utilities providing services that keep electricity prices low and help all of us do more with less energy.

The lawmakers’ show of support was submitted on the final day of the formal comment period for EPA’s proposed Clean Power Plan. Recent polling shows overwhelming public support for such proposals.  A survey by Hart Research showed that 71% of Illinois voters endorse the EPA establishing new limits on the amount of carbon released by power plants and setting new standards for energy efficiency.  In another poll by Public Opinion Strategies, 69% of Illinoisans say that the state should get its energy from “as many diverse energy sources as possible,” rather than relying on just a few.

At last count, over 23,000 Illinoisans weighed-in to support EPA’s Clean Power Plan, delivering petitions to the Governor of Illinois in support of a plan that maximizes renewables and energy efficiency.  These lawmakers are not only leading the way for the rest of their peers, they are listening to what Illinois citizens want.

A few highlights from among the commenters include:

  • 53 members of the Illinois Senate and House submitted a letter to EPA which said, in part:  “we pledge to work with both U.S. EPA and Illinois EPA to ensure we have a strong plan that works for Illinois to reduce carbon emissions. In fact, Illinois is in a great position because of our early adoption of clean energy policies to meet or exceed our state’s target; and in doing so, we will achieve even greater cuts in our emissions, health benefits for all our citizens, and will spur further growth in our state’s economy.”  That letter can be found here.
  • Illinois Assistant Majority Leader, State Representative Elaine Nekritz  (D-57) had the following to say, “Illinois’ smart renewable energy and energy efficiency policies have helped to drive a clean energy work force that numbers over 100,000 today. Carbon-cutting energy solutions mean good paying jobs in technology and the trades—and the Clean Power Plan provides the state with a huge opportunity to create more of them while cleaning our air and protecting our health.”  
  • In September, hundreds from Chicago's faith community gathered for a Faith in Place event at Trinity Church of Christ (Trinity UCC) on Chicago's South Side to voice support for EPA’s Clean Power Plan. “The burden of climate change impacts and decades of dangerous pollution has fallen on our city’s [Chicago’s] most vulnerable communities. That is why we stand up and applaud President Obama for taking action to address climate change,” said the Rev Dr. Otis Moss III, Senior Pastor of Trinity UCC. “It is our moral obligation to fight this injustice and inequality by cutting pollution and bringing good, clean energy jobs to every community in our state.”
  • "There is widespread business support for the Clean Power Plan in Illinois," said Gail Parson, Midwest Advocate for Environmental Entrepreneurs (E2), a non-partisan resource for the business community. "Hundreds of businesses showed their support for the plan by attending forums throughout the state and sending comments and letters to the Governor." Corbett Lunsford, executive director of the Illinois Association of Energy Raters & Home Performance Professionals and managing director of Chicago-based Green Dream Groupdescribed how a strong state implementation plan could mean an additional 7,200 jobs in Illinois in a recent editorial in the Illinois Business Journal.

Polling of Illinois voters consistently shows that Illinoisans support clean energy investment over dirty fossil fuels by a wide margin.  Specifically, a recent poll by Fairbank, Maslin, Maullin, Metz & Associates (FM3) and Public Opinion Strategies found that 60% of Illinoisans are concerned about climate change and believe that action is necessary.  Moreover, a whopping 95% support investing in energy efficiency, while 88% support wind and 80% support solar energy solutions.

The state of Illinois also submitted supportive comments, including one set of joint comments with 13 other states including: CA, CT, DE, MA, MD, ME, MN, NY, NH, OR, RI, VT, WA. In the comment letter from the 14 states that submitted joint comments, they said, “We applaud EPA for proposing a rule that will place the United States on a path to achieving meaningful reductions in carbon pollution, although we recognize that greater overall reductions will be necessary to meet the challenge of climate change.” 

U.S. EPA is set to finalize the new anti-carbon pollution standard by June of 2015, after which each state will be charged with developing a plan to reduce carbon pollution and meet their enforceable target.  NRDC looks forward to working with Illinois regulators, legislative leaders and all interested stakeholders to develop a plan to build an innovative, diverse, and clean electricity system that costs less, delivers reliable power and creates tens of thousands of good paying clean energy jobs.

About the Authors

Nick Magrisso

Midwest States Legislative Director, Midwest Program

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