Illinoisans in support of the federal Clean Power Plan delivered nearly 35,000 petitions to Gov. Bruce Rauner's office on Thursday, urging him to support the new environmental regulations. Progress Illinois was there for the petition delivery at the Thompson Center.
Illinois environmental, business and faith leaders delivered nearly 35,000 petitions in support of the federal Clean Power Plan to Gov. Bruce Rauner's office at the Thompson Center Thursday morning.
The petitions, collected from residents across Illinois, called on the governor "to help make Illinois a leader in clean energy job creation and economic activity" by prioritizing renewable energy and energy efficiency as part of state efforts to comply with the new environmental regulations.
"We want Gov. Rauner to step up and say that he supports the Clean Power Plan and he wants to make sure that Illinois is at the forefront of modeling what it means to be environmentally sound and concerned," said the Rev. Booker Steven Vance with Faith in Place.
The Clean Power Plan looks to cut carbon emissions from existing U.S. power plants to 32 percent below 2005 levels by 2030. States, which are given flexibility under the Clean Power Plan to meet carbon standards, have to submit their initial compliance plans by September 2016. States must comply with the regulations starting in 2022.
Kelly Nichols with Moms Clean Air Force Illinois said the state should implement strong policies to improve air quality and combat climate change.
"As a parent, I am very concerned about my kids' health and the kind of planet that we're going to leave them," she said.
"The time to act is now," Nichols added. "There is no reason to wait for everything to get worse when we've been given a tool to be proactive and clean up our planet."
Here's more from Nichols:
The Clean Power Plan's requirements are under review by the Rauner administration.
"The administration continues to review the mandates of the Clean Power Plan, and we will continue to analyze the costs and impacts of all possible compliance options so that we can fully evaluate all of the state's options," Rauner spokeswoman Catherine Kelly said in a statement Thursday.
The Clean Power Plan is facing a legal challenge from 23 states, not including Illinois.
Attorney General Lisa Madigan's office announced last week that Illinois had joined a coalition of 25 states and cities supporting the Clean Power Plan in the legal battle over the environmental regulations. The coalition has filed a motion to intervene in defense of the Clean Power Plan.
"We're excited about (Madigan) standing up and being a model and an example for the direction we need to go," Vance said.
Will Kenworthy with Microgrid Solar, a solar installation company, said the state could use the Clean Power Plan in an effort to revamp its Renewable Portfolio Standard (RPS), a regulation passed in 2007 that requires the state to get at least 25 percent of its electricity from naturally renewable sources by 2025.
"Let's take this moment to also fix our state Renewable Portfolio Standard and get serious about renewable energy in this state," he said. "Illinois used to be a leader in renewable energy manufacturing and developing. Recently, Illinois slipped out of the rankings, stalling new economic development in the state. The Clean Power Plan gives Gov. Rauner an opportunity to revitalize Illinois so it can reclaim its spot as a clean energy leader."