Thanks to all the health, faith, clean energy, environmental and business leaders who came out yesterday, nearly 35,000 petitions collected from across the state of Illinois were delivered to Governor Bruce Rauner’s offices at the State Capitol in Springfield and at the Thompson Center in Chicago. The petitions urge Governor Rauner to support the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) historic Clean Power Plan, and urge the Governor and Illinois public officials to prioritize growing jobs in renewable energy and efficiency in Illinois’ state goals to meet the Clean Power Plan.
“The Clean Power Plan gives Illinois a tremendous opportunity to attract new clean energy jobs, cut dangerous pollution and provide real savings on electric bills for those who need it most,” said Pastor Booker Steven Vance with Faith in Place. “Governor Rauner is one of the few governors left in the United States to speak out on the Clean Power Plan, so we’re lifting up the voices of nearly 35,000 Illinoisans urging him to do the right thing by embracing clean energy policies that will put Illinois on the right path.”
Under President Obama’s direction, U.S. EPA finalized the first-ever limits on carbon pollution for existing power plants in August 2015. This historic step by EPA to reduce carbon pollution from the electric sector is the single biggest step our nation has ever taken to address climate change while accelerating clean energy.
“We have a historic opportunity before us to put thousands of Illinoisans to work in clean energy,” said Shannon Fulton, Director of Business Development, StraightUp Solar. “Renewable energy manufacturing and deployment is a rapidly growing industry, and if we don’t create policies that attract these businesses, Illinois will be left behind. Governor Bruce Rauner must see and seize the opportunity the Clean Power Plan presents to bring clean energy jobs to Illinois.”
Now that the Clean Power Plan is final, it is up to states to build state implementation plans that work for each state’s unique energy landscape. States will need to submit initial plans to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency by September 2016. The Rauner Administration will soon need to demonstrate how Illinois is preparing to meet the Clean Power Plan goals.
“The Clean Power Plan gives Governor Rauner tools to build solutions that ensure that no Illinois community is left behind as we shift to a clean energy economy,” said Antonio Franco, Vice-President of Student Environmental Action Coalition at Illinois State University; Member of Illinois People’s Action. “Policies that work to cut pollution can also work to create revenue for coal communities and low-income communities to use to invest in for workforce development, and direct bill assistance for consumers.”
Since Illinois set clean energy targets in 2007, wholesale power prices have been cut by $177 million dollars per year, and more than 5 million tons of air pollution has been avoided. The savings from the lowered wholesale power prices have been passed on to consumers.
“I know firsthand that renewable energy industry has the potential to attract millions of dollars in private capital and development to the state of Illinois, if we have the right policies in place,” said Will Kenworthy, Vice President of Regional Operations, Midwest, Microgrid Energy. “Illinois used to be a leader in manufacturing and developing clean, renewable energy. Recently, Illinois has slipped in the rankings, stalling new economic development in the state. The Clean Power Plan gives Governor Rauner an opportunity to revitalize Illinois so it can reclaim its spot as a clean energy leader.”
The American Lung Association found recently found that more than 6.7 million Illinoisans breathe unhealthy air due to pollution. According to the Respiratory Health Association, death rates from asthma are particularly high for African Americans and Hispanics – three to six times higher than for Caucasians – and are concentrated in urban areas, including Chicago.
“As a parent concerned about my child’s health, I’m proud that we have clean energy solutions to tackle the threat of pollution to our public health right here in Illinois, said Robin Garlish, Peoria Mother and member of the Central Illinois Healthy Community Alliance. “When it’s a matter of the air we breathe, and the health of our families, there’s no time to waste, and no reason to wait. We urge Governor Rauner to support the Clean Power Plan now– rather than make children or seniors to spend another day, another month or another year waiting to breathe cleaner air.”