[Bumped up to Tuesday for visibility]
* The Senate held a hearing today on the new climate/energy bill. But this thing as written isn’t going anywhere even if the Senate passes it tomorrow. From Gov. Pritzker’s office…
The Governor’s position on a comprehensive energy bill has not changed since discussions at the end of session in May and again in June: any energy package needs to lead with ethics and transparency, needs time to be vetted, and must end carbon emissions by a date certain. HB3666, a bill that was not agreed to by environmentalists nor negotiated with all stakeholders, falls short of that standard, and if it reaches the Governor’s desk, he will veto it. The Governor remains committing to finalizing a bill that put consumers and the climate first, moves us to a zero emission future, and leads with ethics and transparency.
Scientists around the world have said we are at a “code red for humanity” and surely they would agree that we cannot wait to 2040 to cut the emissions of Prairie State Energy Campus - the nation’s seventh largest polluter - in half. And a thousand page energy bill affecting both ratepayers and utility interests that have been the subject of a deferred prosecution agreement should not be released on a Monday and voted on the next day.
• The Senate draft was scheduled to be filed at 8:30AM, very shortly after a copy was sent to the administration and stakeholders for the first time.
• Our review of the 900 page plus bill is still ongoing at this hour.
• This bill does not reflect previous agreements, in fact, this draft is worse for the planet and better for industries of polluters.
o The Senate bill does not phase out the dirtier gas plants nearly quickly enough. Even natural gas companies believe the orderly process that would have been created by the Illinois EPA in the Governor’s draft was more workable and responsible.
* House Speaker Chris Welch’s spokesperson Jaclyn Driscoll…
The Speaker is still reviewing the language that was filed this morning, but he has always been clear that before an energy proposal is called in the House there must be a consensus among the Democratic caucus and stakeholders, as well as include strong, meaningful ethics provisions. Leaders Evans, Gabel, and Hoffman have been tenacious advocates at the table throughout these negotiations and Speaker Welch will rely on their advice and guidance as conversations continue.
* And one of those stakeholders is the Sierra Club…
Today, an amendment to HB3666 was introduced in the General Assembly, which fails to act on the urgency of the climate crisis and gives a free pass to the Prairie State coal plant, the largest polluter in Illinois. Despite widespread approval for an energy bill that sets firm deadlines to equitably decarbonize our electric grid and grow Illinois’ clean energy economy, legislators continue to cater to fossil fuel interests. The amendment to HB3666 currently allows Prairie State to continue burning coal without any pollution reductions before 2045, leaves frontline communities vulnerable to short-term pollution increases, and allows fossil fuel companies to appeal to the Illinois Commerce Commission for pollution bailouts. Sierra Club joined other environmental advocates in opposing any bill that jeopardizes people and a livable climate.
Despite Governor Pritzker, legislators, and the Illinois Clean Jobs Coalition staring down Exelon, ComEd, and Ameren to demand climate leadership for our state, fossil fuel corporations and special interests on behalf of Prairie State continue to hold Springfield hostage.
In response, Sierra Club Illinois Director Jack Darin released the following statement:
“We remain confident that an agreement on a comprehensive energy package is absolutely possible, but as currently drafted, Sierra Club cannot support this bill. This summer alone, we have witnessed the hottest July ever documented, extreme weather, and flooding across Illinois. A report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change sounding the alarm of an even graver climate crisis than we thought. This bill must match the urgency of the moment. While it includes many of our priorities to grow an equitable, clean energy economy across Illinois, it does not currently have a decarbonization plan that holds the state’s biggest climate polluters accountable or protects our frontline communities. Coal plants like the Dallman Power Plant and the Prairie State Coal Plant continue to pollute Illinois communities at alarming rates, with the Prairie State Coal Plant killing 76 Illinoisans annually and costing $2 billion a year in damage to our health and environment.
“The fossil fuel industry has time and again left Illinois workers in a lurch and left communities with toxic legacies and broken promises. Other states are tapping the potential of a booming clean energy economy and without action, Illinois will not only fail to meet the challenges of the climate crises, but will deny the opportunity of clean energy prosperity to generations of Illinoisans. We remain committed to working with legislators and stakeholders to come to an agreement that prioritizes equity, clean energy jobs, and decarbonizes Illinois’ electric grid.”
* IRMA, however, has moved to neutral…
The Illinois Retail Merchants Association (IRMA) released the following statement regarding the proposed energy omnibus legislation:
“From safely storing food and medicine to ensuring shoppers have access to needed goods around the clock, retailers and the consumers they serve need reliable and affordable energy. As a result, IRMA has been an active and engaged stakeholder on energy legislation dating back to our support of, and leadership on, the landmark deregulation of the Illinois energy market in 1997. IRMA was the only statewide business group to support deregulation, which has saved businesses and homeowners billions of dollars and created one of the most reliable grids in the nation. As such, we have expressed concerns about various energy proposals put forth over the last two years. Most notably the added cost and potential reliability issues included in earlier proposals,” said Rob Karr, president & CEO, IRMA.
“However, thanks to the strong leadership demonstrated by Senate President Don Harmon and Senate Pro Tempore Bill Cunningham, IRMA is no longer opposing this legislation following good faith negotiations that took place throughout the summer and leading into this week. While no bill of this complexity is ever perfect, much has been done to temper the costs on retailers and consumers. That includes reducing the overall size of the proposal, instituting caps on costs and attempting to safeguard reliability. We are also pleased the current proposal is taking additional steps to reach zero carbon emissions, as retail companies big and small are doing that proactively. Overall, this updated measure meets our goal of trying to ensure reliable and affordable electricity for retailers in Illinois while addressing climate change.”
*** UPDATE 1 *** IEC…
Following is a statement from Jen Walling, executive director of the Illinois Environmental Council, on the latest climate and energy bill released today:
“We stand on the precipice of passing comprehensive climate and equitable jobs legislation in Illinois. This moment comes after a years-long campaign, and our even longer strategic effort to build the power of the environmental movement in Illinois. We have grown a strong voting bloc of environmental champions, who stand shoulder to shoulder with Governor Pritzker and our community in demanding a bill that truly addresses climate change and that includes meaningful equity provisions.
“But this legislation isn’t there yet. Anything short of what Illinoisans deserve or what science demands would be too costly a mistake to make in the climate crisis, particularly for BIPOC communities most impacted. Illinois must plan a clear and certain timeline for ending fossil fuels–and it must do so in this bill.
“The coming days will determine whether legislators are strong enough to side with their constituents, or polluting fossil fuel industries who have called the shots in Springfield for too long. Our clean energy future and the future of generations to come depends on the decisions legislators make over the next few hours. Our movement won’t stop pushing until the General Assembly has passed equitable, comprehensive climate legislation worthy of the people of Illinois.”
*** UPDATE 2 *** Crain’s…
Senate President Don Harmon has tried to marry labor’s interests with the greens. He was sanguine Monday evening.
“The Senate president remains optimistic that we’ll find the winning balance of reliable, renewable and affordable energy policies for the people of Illinois,” a spokesman said.