PEORIA, IL. – United States District Judge Joe Billy McDade approved today a settlement agreement between the Sierra Club, Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), Respiratory Health Association (RHA), and Vistra Energy to resolve the Clean Air Act lawsuit brought by environmental organizations in 2013. The settlement includes the retirement of the E.D. Edwards coal-fired power plant by the end of 2022 and $8.6 million in funding for workforce development and public health and environmental projects that benefit Peoria-area communities.
“The Judge’s approval of this agreement today is a huge win for impacted residents who have voiced their concerns about coal pollution for years and advocated for a clean energy future for Peoria that will include and benefit those residents previously left out,” said Ryan Hidden, Peoria Resident and Organizing Representative for Sierra Club’s Beyond Coal Campaign. “As other coal communities are blind-sided with abrupt plant retirements, this agreement offers key components of a responsible transition plan beyond coal, with adequate time to prepare for closure and funding to support new clean energy investments and workforce development.”
With approval of the settlement, a 90 day period begins for the plaintiffs to develop a plan to award a set $8.6 million for local projects to benefit communities in the Peoria area most impacted by the Edwards plant and its closure. The agreement allocates two categories of funds from Vistra Energy: $1.7 million for economic transition projects focused on job training or re-training available to Edwards employees and Peoria-area residents, and $6.88 million for projects delivering environmental and public health benefits to local communities. The plaintiffs will be announcing a process for submitting RFPs next week.
“Today’s decision will deliver critical air quality improvements to the Peoria region, especially for vulnerable residents most impacted by exposure to dangerous air pollution,” said Brian Urbazsewski, Director of Environmental Health Programs for RHA. “We look forward to working with community partners in the coming months to identify local projects that will offer additional lung health benefits to local residents.”
"For the first time in Illinois, we are seeing a truly just transition take place in a community that was economically dependent on the fossil fuel economy," said J.C. Kibbey, Illinois clean energy advocate for the Natural Resources Defense Council. "This settlement can inform state policy to ensure that communities across the state affected by the move away from coal have similar opportunities to transition to renewable energy."
The Sierra Club is America’s largest and most influential grassroots environmental organization, with more than 3.5 million members and supporters. In addition to protecting every person's right to get outdoors and access the healing power of nature, the Sierra Club works to promote clean energy, safeguard the health of our communities, protect wildlife, and preserve our remaining wild places through grassroots activism, public education, lobbying, and legal action. For more information, visit www.sierraclub.org.
The Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) is an international nonprofit environmental organization with more than 3 million members and online activists. Since 1970, our lawyers, scientists, and other environmental specialists have worked to protect the world's natural resources, public health, and the environment. NRDC has offices in New York City; Washington, D.C.; Los Angeles; San Francisco; Chicago; Bozeman, Montana; and Beijing. Visit us at www.nrdc.org and follow us on Twitter @NRDC.
Respiratory Health Association has been a local public health leader in Illinois since 1906. A policy leader, our organization remains committed to advancing innovative and meaningful tobacco control policies. We have been one of the state’s leading advocates for federal oversight of tobacco and vaping products, Tobacco 21 and Other Tobacco Product policies. For more information, visit resphealth.org.