On Capitol Hill, Senate Democrats are reshuffling their list of priorities for the remainder of 2009. Among the issues that leaders like Illinois' own Dick Durbin are considering temporarily shelving is climate change legislation. Not surprisingly, the possibility of ...
On Capitol Hill, Senate Democrats are reshuffling their list of priorities for the remainder of 2009. Among the issues that leaders like Illinois' own Dick Durbin are considering temporarily shelving is climate change legislation. Not surprisingly, the possibility of further delay is drawing ire from environmentalists. A sobering new report (PDF) from the Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS) only reinforces their argument for immediate action. The Tribune highlights the group's predictions regarding the impact on Illinois if proposals to curb global warming are ignored:
More than 50 days a year would top 100 degrees in Chicago by mid-century, the report warns, up from a historical average of 15 per year. The city would average a heat wave per year on par with the city's 1995 scorcher, which authorities blamed for hundreds of deaths.
Once every five years, the city would endure a heat wave similar to Europe's in 2003, which the authors project would kill more than 1,000 Chicago residents.
By century's end, the report projects, every Chicago summer would be hotter than 1983, the hottest summer on record for the city. Illinois' climate would resemble east Texas today, the report says.
The report emphasizes that restricting emissions now would avert the warming trend from escalating over the latter half of this century. And the House has already made some major headway on that front by passing a climate change bill back in June that includes key cap-and-trade provisions. If and when the Senate takes up the measure, Environment Illinois and other statewide advocacy groups want to see some stricter, "common sense" energy efficiency guidelines included in the package.
Under the House bill, utilities would be required to account for a 20 percent energy savings -- 8 percent of which would come through enhanced efficiency standards on building codes, retrofits, and appliances and the remainder through the use of renewable sources -- by 2020. But environmentalists are looking to the Senate to raise the bar on efficiencies to 10 percent, which the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy (ACEEE) projects would reduce carbon emissions by 480 million metric tons (MMT) over the next 11 years. That's the equivalent of taking over 87 million cars off the road. Investing more in efficiency programs would also have the ripple effect of creating one million new jobs annually and saving the average household $832 a year. Here's how ACEEE estimates the policy would affect Illinois:
- By 2020: 30,400 jobs created per year, $252 in annual consumer savings, and 15 MMT of carbon cut;
-By 2030: 52,200 jobs created per year, $822 in annual consumer savings, and 34 MMT of carbon cut.
Illinois has already made progress in this area, passing a sizable energy efficiency reform package (SB 1918) through both chambers this year. But Environment Illinois' Brian Granahan says "it's time to fully unleash the power of easy, fast, and cost-effective energy efficiency solutions nationwide." More from a statement he released this afternoon:
The efficiency provisions would prevent 16 million tons of global warming emissions, equivalent to removing the pollution from 2.9 million cars from the road for a year.
“Americans know that energy efficiency is the cleanest, quickest, cheapest way of reducing our energy use and pollution,” said Brian Granahan. “These common sense solutions will put cash back in our pockets and help protect the air we breathe, the water we drink and the future of the planet.”