Report: Illinois Stands to Reap Significant Health Benefits from The Future Energy Jobs Act

Increases in Renewables and Energy Efficiency Will Reduce Pollution from Power Plants

The Future Energy Jobs Act will bring significant public health benefits for people living in Illinois and across the region by reducing dangerous air pollution from power plants, according to a new report released by the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) and the Respiratory Health Association of Metropolitan Chicago today.  

“We knew this law brings a ton of benefits to the state’s economy and environment, but when you factor in the incredibly positive public health impact, it is a slam dunk,” said Noah Garcia, a report co-author with NRDC.  “When you can plainly see the number of lives saved because of less air pollution, there’s a renewed urgency to ensure smart implementation of the Future Energy Jobs Act and accelerate our switch to clean and carbon-free energy sources.”

“The Health Benefits of the Illinois Future Energy Jobs Act” estimates the health benefits which will come from reductions in particulate matter emissions as a result of the Illinois law. The report focuses on the smallest of the particles, only 2.5 microns in size, a tiny fraction of the width of a human hair, which are easily breathed into the body, wreaking havoc on the lungs and sometimes making it into the blood stream. Particulate matter, or soot, can aggravate asthma, exacerbate respiratory discomfort and illness, increase the incidence of nonfatal heart attacks and, in some cases, bring upon premature death. As the Act, which will be implemented this summer, increases the amount of energy efficiency and renewable energy in Illinois’ electricity sector, particulate emissions will decrease, bringing a reduction in the number of asthma attacks and hospital visits to Illinois and neighboring states.

“Implementing the Future Energy Jobs Act will cut pollution from coal plant smokestacks, helping Illinois families avoid terrifying asthma attacks, heart attacks and premature deaths,” said Brian Urbaszewski, Director, Environmental Health Programs for Respiratory Health Association. “Clean and renewable energy sources and the clean air they bring will build the healthy future Illinois children need to grow and thrive.”

Among key findings in the Health Benefits of the Illinois Future Energy Jobs Act report:

●        In 2018, it will help reduce particulate matter air pollution enough to prevent:

  • Up to 7,950 lost work days
  • 1,070 asthma attacks
  • 70 asthma emergency department visits
  • 50 hospital admissions
  • 100 heart attacks
  • Up to 160 premature deaths

●        Cumulatively, between 2018 and 2030, it will help prevent:

  • Up to 132,960 lost work days
  • 17,890 asthma attacks
  • 1,100 asthma emergency department visits
  • 780 hospital admissions
  • 1,650 heart attacks
  • Up to 2,800 premature deaths in total

The report also indicates that the Act will result in a reduction of annual carbon pollution by up to 32 million tons in 2030, accelerating Illinois’s transition to a low-carbon economy.

While this report is focused on particulate matter, the energy sector is responsible for many other forms of pollution. The report notes that there are significant concerns about health impacts associated with other forms of energy generation, including nuclear, which should not be overlooked.

NRDC’s report is here:


The Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) is an international nonprofit environmental organization with more than 2 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, MT, and Beijing. Visit us and follow us on Twitter @NRDC.

Respiratory Health Association has been a local public health leader in metropolitan Chicago since 1906. Today, the association works to prevent lung diseases such asthma, COPD, and lung cancer; promotes clean air, and helps people live better through education, research and policy change. For more information, visit


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