As prepared for Senate Committee on Energy and Public Utilities
Monday, August 30, 2021 – 3:00pm
As stated yesterday, the Illinois Clean Jobs Coalition is encouraged by progress on a comprehensive climate and equitable jobs bill. We’d like to thank legislative leaders and the Governor for meeting over the weekend to work out details.
However, there is not yet agreement on the decarbonization language, which currently allows Dallman and the Prairie State coal plant, which is the worst polluter in Illinois and seventh worst in the nation, to pollute indefinitely.
ICJC thinks it is possible to get this done. We are opposed to the bill as written today, but our goal is to get to “yes” by tomorrow.
Here is the path to get this bill done:
We need to reach agreement on Prairie State and Dallman to ensure we have an end date and meaningful near-term pollution reductions. Allowing coal power plants to run indefinitely is not consistent with environmental justice nor with the science of what is necessary to avoid catastrophic climate change. That is still going to be a difficult conversation and we need to get into the room with the Governor to land this plane.
There is also significant concern among members of the Coalition that there is a continuous nitpicking, pushing and altering by negotiators and labor on all of the critical equity programs they have worked hard to construct, while being inflexible on the other end. Two areas where this has popped up recently are around cuts to the equity and workforce budgets and language to prematurely repeal these programs. If we have hard sunsets for equity programs, we need a hard sunset for Dallman and Prairie State, and any repealers for the equity programs need to be extended through at least 2045 to ensure underserved communities are fully supported through IL’s energy transition. We need to make sure these programs last through the period of the energy transition effort we are embarking on.
The cut to the equity and workforce budgets for Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC), is very problematic, and goes right to the heart of what the Coalition has been working to achieve. We don’t believe the customer impact numbers justify it, as we are well under the budget target for this bill, and that program support needs to be restored.
We need to tighten up the reliability plan language in the current draft. We have discussed these and have edits there. The goal is to make this more of a fact-based process, rather than just a convenient method to get out of emissions reductions.
We also need to make some last changes on the decarbonization schedule for gas plants, which we think will both strengthen their climate impact and ease gas generators’ apprehension.
We are still reviewing the bill to see if there is anything else to resolve to get this over the finish line.
The Illinois Clean Jobs Coalition is made up of more than 200 consumer, business, environmental, environmental justice, health care, faith-based and student organizations.