Mayor Rahm Emanuel, Crain’s Chicago Business
August 6, 2015
Throughout my years in public service, I have believed that protecting our environment is not just our responsibility to our children, it’s also a smart investment in our economic future.
Recently, President Barack Obama released the final version of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Clean Power Plan, which calls on states to reduce energy plants’ emissions 32 percent below 2005 levels by 2030. The president’s leadership on this issue provides us an opportunity to protect future generations and help businesses and residents save money on their utility bills while creating jobs here in Chicago.
Since the beginning of my administration, Chicago has led the way in clean energy. Our Retrofit Chicago partnership has upgraded over 20,000 residential units in the past three years, creating huge savings for renters and homeowners. Our Commercial Buildings Initiative encompasses almost 40 million square feet, among the nation’s largest voluntary private-sector efficiency programs. The result: We reduced carbon dioxide emissions by 28,000 metric tons, the equivalent of removing 5,800 cars from the road, and saved $2.5 million in energy costs.
In February I stood with business, environmental and labor leaders to announce a clean energy framework for Illinois that meets the president’s call to action and will generate more than $400 million a year in new investment in Chicago, creating thousands of jobs annually.
The Illinois Clean Jobs Bill would boost Illinois’ renewable energy requirements to 35 percent by 2030, while increasing energy-efficiency goals to 20 percent by 2025. It also would create a state “cap and invest” system similar to what was original proposed by the Obama administration during my time as chief of staff.
The Clean Jobs bill not only creates jobs—it would save customers $1.6 billion by 2030, according to the Citizens Utility Board, amounting to nearly $100 annually for the average household.
The bill also would create new community solar programs, incentivize the productive use of our brownfield sites and require a share of clean energy come from low-income and affordable housing.
We have the opportunity to expand on Chicago’s role as a leader in clean energy; we know that the payoff would be considerable. What we need are policies at the federal and state level to build on our efforts. The president has done his part. I urge the Illinois General Assembly to do theirs by supporting the U.S. Clean Power Plan and Illinois Clean Jobs Bill.