June 29, 2009

SCOTUS Backs Sierra Club vs. IL Dirty Coal Plant

Another big decision from Washington today in favor of a clean energy future:
U.S. Supreme Court Rejects Last-Ditch Effort to
Build Outdated Illinois Coal Plant

Washington, D.C.--In a victory for clean energy, the United States Supreme Court today refused to consider an appeal by EnviroPower, LLC. The company was attempting to build a coal plant in Southern Illinois using outdated plans that lacked modern pollution controls. Today's decision affirms earlier rulings by the federal courts on this proposed coal plant. It also reflects a broader national trend as states, businesses and cities reject dirty coal in favor of clean energy and the green jobs it brings.

In response, Bruce Nilles, Director of Sierra Club's Beyond Coal Campaign, issued the following statement: "EnviroPower has been pursuing its coal plant project for nearly a decade. The fact that the company tried to take this case all the way to the Supreme Court, losing at every step along the way, shows how desperate coal plant developers are these days. Today marks the end of the road for EnviroPower's outdated plans, but only the beginning for a clean energy economy. We have barely scratched the surface of energy efficiency and clean energy's potential to create jobs and boost the economy."

A copy of the Supreme Court's order regarding Franklin County Power, et
al. v. Sierra Club is available here.

June 27, 2009

Why Foster Voted No

“As a scientist, I believe that climate change is real and that action is necessary. It is also crucial that we restructure our energy systems to increase efficiency and reduce our dependence on imported sources."

So why'd he vote no? Here's what he says.

June 26, 2009


The U.S. House's approval of legislation making sweeping changes in America's energy policies is truly an historic action that brings our nation one giant step closer to a clean energy future that includes millions of new jobs, cleaner air for all of us to breathe, energy independence, and most importantly, a solution to the climate crisis that threatens our very way of life.

We salute the Illinois members of Congress who cast their vote today for economic recovery now, and for a cleaner, better world in the future. We will all benefit from these policies, but that did not make this an easy vote. The forces behind our old, dirty energy economy are very powerful, and the lobbying against these changes has been fierce. However, Representatives Bean, Davis, Guttierrez, Halvorson, Hare, Jackson, Kirk, Lipinski, Quigley, Rush, and Schakowsky stood up to the status quo today, and voted for big changes that will make Illinois a more prosperous, better place to live.

We also salute the leadership of President Obama and his administration in moving America toward a clean energy future. Obama and his team have set many powerful changes into motion to spur the transition to a clean energy economy, and his leadership was crucial to today's victor.

This legislation is a major leap forward for our country, but it is not perfect. We plan to work now with Senators Durbin and Burris to strengthen and pass the American Clean Energy Security Act, and get it to President Obama's desk for his signature in a form that maximizes the job creation and environmental benefits for all of us. There is much work ahead to do that, but tonight we celebrate a major victory for Illinois, our country, and our planet.

Rush, Quigley, Biggert speak on House floor on climate

The House is currently debating the American Clean Energy Security Act, and IL reps are speaking up:

Quigley and Rush spoke in favor.

Quigley: "We’re often asked, ‘What’s our legacy here? What really matters about what we do?’ And I’d like to think it’s how our children and our grandchildren will react to what we did, and what we left behind."

Rush - "we were able to improve the bill by not only protecting low, moderate and middle income families from rising energy costs, but also providing real incentives for communities like the one I represent for new career pathways to move out of poverty and quality, career-oriented jobs in construction and related fields."

Judy Biggert tweeted about her opposition. She objects to energy efficient building codes for the country, even though the General Assembly just passed them for our whole state.

IL Delegation Could Be Decisive In Historic Climate Vote

Take action here

June 11, 2009

Springfield Delivers Big Gains for Clean Energy

While the severity of the state's financial crisis makes it difficult for anyone to call this year's legislative session a success, there were major advances for renewable energy and energy efficiency that make Illinois a national leader in energy innovation at a time when Congress and the Obama administration are considering similar changes for the country. As a result, Illinois is better positioned to attract and create good-paying green energy jobs, save ratepayers money, and reduce air pollution in our communities.

A top priority for environmental advocates this session was new requirements that our natural gas companies launch programs to help residents and businesses cut their gas usage and bills. SB 1918, now on Gov. Quinn's desk, requires gas companies to take steps to reduce statewide gas consumption 7% by 2020. They are expected to do this with incentives for upgrades to more efficient furnaces and boilers, weatherization assistance programs, and assistance to businesses to reduce wasted heat. Another innovation, "on-bill financing", will give you 0% financing on high-efficiency boilers, furnaces, and other appliances, allowing you to pay off the purchase with the savings on your gas bill. These programs are going to slash heating bills, create jobs in home weatherization, and make a dent in global warming pollution by reducing natural gas consumption. We established similar programs and targets for electric utilities in 2007, and our combined programs will be noticed in Washington, as first the House and then the Senate take up energy and global warming legislation. Credit for moving Illinois from the back of the pack to the head of the class in energy efficiency goes to a broad coalition of environmental advocates, consumer advocates and utilities who participated in negotiations, and especially the strong leadership of Attorney General Lisa Madigan's office, which forged agreement on truly bold new programs.

HB 3987 is another major advance. It replaces a confusing patchwork of local building codes with a uniform, statewide, state-of-the art energy-efficient building code. In the future, all new residential and commercial construction in Illinois will be built to the regularly updated standards of the International Energy Conservation Code. This will reduce energy waste for as long as these buildings are in use, provide certainty to the construction industry, and make significant reductions in energy use and pollution. SB 2150 makes minor adjustments to our new renewable energy requirements (our 25% renewable requirement by 2025 is far stronger than what is on the table right now in Congress, unfortunately), including jump-starting the solar power industry in Illinois.

While these new ways of thinking about energy are poised to become law with Governor Quinn's signatures, the legislature rejected attempts to maintain Illinois' historic focus on coal and nuclear options. The Illinois Chamber of Commerce made a major push for the so called "Energy to Jobs Act", but the package of coal and nuclear incentives looked very dated to many in the legislature, and was never a serious threat to pass.

It's hard not to draw parallels to the debate underway on Capitol Hill, where Reps. Waxman and Markey are preparing a plan to go in a bold new direction, while House Republicans, unfortunately, just rolled out a package of mostly old ideas that is very heavily slanted toward production against efficiency - always the cheapest, fastest, cleanest, most job-creating energy source.

Not long ago, Illinois was anything but a laboratory for innovations in energy policy - we were pretty much all-coal, all-nuclear, all the time when it came to energy. At least on one major issue, change apparently has come to Illinois, and we are rejecting the old ideas in favor of new. If Illinois, of all places, can shift its focus to the solutions of the future, surely Congress can do the same for America.

Quigley: "Nothing About Coal Is Clean"

Great statement from Rep. Mike Quigley on the House floor about the promise of green jobs instead of dirty coal.
"Mister Speaker, nothing about coal is clean.

From extraction, to waste slurry, to stream contamination in Appalachia – nothing, I repeat, nothing about this energy source is clean.

In order to extract coal from the ground, mountains are literally blasted apart, killing wildlife and destroying forests, contributing to erosion, flooding, and pollution that hits local communities and causes severe health problems. Over 1,200 miles of streams in Appalachia alone have been buried or completely contaminated because of mountaintop mining.

In order to prepare the coal for burning, an overwhelming amount of water is needed to “clean” the coal. For every ton of coal cleaned 20 to 40 gallons of water are used to wash the coal, creating a sludgey pollutant known as slurry. Over 90 million gallons of slurry are created every year while harvesting and preparing coal for burning.

Keep in mind, we haven’t even begun to burn the stuff yet.

Green jobs are the key to economic and environmental progress in regions torn by surface and mountaintop mining and struggling economically due to the destruction of the land. These include jobs in wind, hydroelectric and bio-fuel power. These jobs will give hard-hit communities a long term future for their families, instead of a short term paycheck in exchange for their quality of life."