* Remember when the House voted last month for a budget that included tax hike extension revenues but against a budget which didn’t include those revenues? Well, that’s not the only directly contradictory stance taken by the chamber in May.
As you probably already know, the Obama administration unveiled new rules this week to force states to lower carbon emissions by power plants. Those emissions are significant in Illinois…
Only five other states emitted more greenhouse gases from power plants than Illinois in 2012, according to the EPA. And while the Obama administration is saying that the proposed rule requires a 30 percent reduction of carbon from the power sector by 2030 based on their emissions in 2005, the reductions don’t fall equally state by state. Illinois is being asked to cut its power-plant emissions by 33 percent from its 2012 emissions. Only two other Midwestern states, Wisconsin and Minnesota, are being asked to do more. Strangely, neighboring Indiana, which emits more greenhouse gases than far larger Illinois thanks to its heavy dependence on carbon-heavy coal, must cut its emissions by only 20 percent. […]
Assuredly, coal plants will close because of this. Coal accounted for 41 percent of the power generated in Illinois in 2012 and is by far the biggest source of carbon emissions. But Princeton, N.J.-based NRG Energy Inc., which recently bought four coal plants serving the Chicago area out of bankruptcy, could argue for converting at least some of them to cleaner-burning natural gas as a way to lower emissions rather than simply maintain current carbon-free power generation through keeping nukes open.
* Last week, the House passed a resolution on a voice vote which strongly backed the idea of nuclear power to balance the greenhouse gas emissions of coal-fired plants…
WHEREAS, Closing even a few nuclear power plants could make achieving State and national carbon reduction goals difficult or impossible; after the January 2012 shutdown of a nuclear power plant in California, the state’s carbon dioxide output increased by 35% in the first year, according to the California Air Resources Board, and increased generation costs in the state by about $369 million, equivalent to a 15% increase in total generation costs, during the 12 months following the January 2012 shutdown, according to a working paper issued by the Energy Institute at Haas
The resolution was pushed by Exelon, which sold its coal fired plants years ago.
* The very same day, however, Rep. Brandon Phelps successfully fought to get his own pro-coal resolution out of the House Environment Committee, where it had been stuck for months. Phelps’ motion to discharge passed with 71 votes. He passed his resolution the next day…
State Rep. Brandon Phelps’ (D-Harrisburg) resolution passed the Illinois House Friday, calling for the Obama Administration to allow Illinois to set its own time table developing energy standards. The state’s abundance of coal and dependence on coal makes Illinois unique, and the state should be allowed to move into renewable energy sources at a different rate than other states, the lawmaker said. […]
State Rep. Ann Williams (D-Chicago) blasted the resolution as a work of the American Legislative Exchange Council, a conservative think tank, and called for a “no” vote, saying Obama’s home state should not balk at the president’s efforts to protect the climate.
“These restrictions that are coming will drive coal companies out of business,” said Republican House member Ed Sullivan (R-Mundelien). He said shutting down coal businesses in Illinois will cause power bills to skyrocket.
The resolution also asked that the IEPA be given more time to phase in the compliance schedule.
* From Crain’s…
“The House has passed two resolutions that point in two different directions that are hard to reconcile in a policy way,” says Howard Learner, executive direction of the Environmental Law and Policy Center, which has battled coal plants for years.
So who is likely to win in this shootout at the OK Corral, Exelon or coal-plant owners?
Never, never bet against Exelon in Illinois.
* The coal industry has fought pollution regs tooth and nail, which will likely be their ultimate undoing. From a new Washington Post-ABC News poll…
Fully 70 percent say the federal government should require limits to greenhouse gases from existing power plants, the focus of a new rule announced Monday by the Environmental Protection Agency. An identical 70 percent supports requiring states to limit the amount of greenhouse gas emissions within their borders.
Democrats and Republicans are in rare agreement on the issue. Fifty-seven percent of Republicans, 76 percent among independents and 79 percent of Democrats support state-level limits on greenhouse gas emissions. Strong tea party supporters are most resistant to limits on emissions by states and power plants; 50 percent say the federal government should impose caps, while 45 percent say they should not.
The cross-party agreement extends to a willingness to pay for such limits with higher energy bills, a flashpoint for debate and a key area of uncertainty in new regulations. Asked whether Washington should still go forward with limits if they “significantly lowered greenhouse gases but raised your monthly energy expenses by 20 dollars a month,” 63 percent of respondents say yes, including 51 percent of Republicans, 64 percent of independents and 71 percent of Democrats.
Americans living in coal-heavy states are supportive of limiting greenhouse gas emissions in the poll, even as their states will be forced to make bigger adjustments to meet the EPA’s new emissions targets. Among those in states where a majority of electricity is produced by burning coal, 69 percent say the government should place limits on greenhouse gas emissions. Support is a similar 71 percent in states where less than half of electricity comes from coal.
* Illinois officials applaud new EPA rule on emissions
* Illinois coal industry concerned about Obama’s call to tighten emission standards