SPRINGFIELD, Ill. – Today community leaders from across the state of Illinois delivered more than 20,000 petitions to Governor Pat Quinn’s office in Springfield applauding his support of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) historic Clean Power Plan, released in June. The groups also urged the Governor and other public officials to use the plan as an opportunity to create jobs through investments in renewable energy and energy efficiency while curbing dangerous carbon pollution from power plants.
Investing in clean energy and cutting carbon pollution will lower energy costs for consumers, create jobs and stimulate economic growth. The Illinois Commerce Commission has found that renewable energy lowers wholesale power prices by about $177 million a year, which are savings that get passed on to consumers. According to Clean Energy Trust, Illinois’ clean energy industry employs over 100,000 workers in sectors including renewable energy, energy efficiency and alternative transportation.
“Clean energy is a sure bet for Illinois; it has created over one hundred thousand jobs and millions of dollars in electric bill savings for Illinois families and businesses,” said Michelle Knox, Owner of WindSolarUSA and Board Member of the Illinois Solar Energy Association. “We thank Governor Quinn for his support for the Clean Power Plan, and urge him to prioritize the growth of Illinois' clean energy economy.”
Curbing dangerous carbon pollution through investment in clean, renewable energy is essential to combating climate change. Illinois has been hard-hit by the impacts of climate disruption. These impacts include damaging droughts and floods, which create supply chain risks for businesses and increased food prices for consumers. Climate disruption also creates a major threat to public health, with more high ozone alert days that can make breathing difficult for asthmatics, children and the elderly.
When the Clean Power Plan was announced in June, Governor Quinn released a statement of support highlighting the urgency to take action, stating “Illinois has seen the devastating impacts of severe weather first-hand with 11 natural disasters over the past five years. Moving toward a cleaner, more reliable and resilient energy system will bring significant benefits to our communities and our state.”
“We have a moral obligation to act on climate, and the Clean Power Plan is a tremendous pathway for us to take action to cut dangerous pollution and create clean energy jobs,” said Reverend Brian Sauder, Executive Director of Faith in Place. “Governor Quinn has stepped out as a climate champion, and the faith community urges him to use this plan to cut pollution by bringing more clean energy and energy efficiency jobs to our neighborhoods and communities.”
According to the American Lung Association, more than 6.7 million Illinoisans breathe unhealthy air. Air pollution from power plants causes acute effects on public health and the long-lasting health impacts of climate disruption put our health at an even greater risk. As temperatures rise, the most vulnerable communities in Illinois will be exposed to conditions that can result in more illness and death due to asthma and respiratory illness, heat- and weather-related stress and diseases.
“As a mother who lives near Dynegy and NRG’s coal plants in Peoria, it’s difficult to watch my child with asthma struggle to breathe because of our state’s continued dependence on coal,” said Robin Garlish, a mother from Peoria and member of the Central Illinois Healthy Community Alliance. “We have an obligation to our children and future generations, which is why I ask Governor Quinn to prioritize a clean energy future for Illinois.”
The broad coalition organizing this event in support of the EPA's Clean Power Plan includes health and environmental justice advocates, business owners, faith leaders, clean energy supporters and conservationists: