STATES

Coal Generation, Rate Increases, Energy Efficiency Addressed in Proposed Settlement as Alliant Rate Case Gets Underway

Coal Generation, Rate Increases, Energy Efficiency Addressed in Proposed Settlement as Alliant Rate Case Gets Underway

ELPC, IEC, and Sierra Club applaud proposed agreement, say more work remains 

DES MOINES, Ia — The Environmental Law & Policy Center, Iowa Environmental Council, and Sierra Club agreed to a proposed partial settlement in the Alliant Energy rate case being heard by the Iowa Utilities Board this week. The proposed settlement, joined by ten of the 14 intervening parties, including the Consumer Advocate and large energy consumers, addressed several key issues in the rate case, including energy generation from Alliant’s coal plants, rate structures impacting energy efficiency, rate increases and others.

Alliant Energy, a utility providing electric service to about 490,000 customers in Iowa, is seeking a rate increase and proposing a number of rate changes and new programs. The Iowa Utilities Board sets the rates for Iowa’s investor-owned utilities, including Alliant Energy, through information gathered during a contested rate case.

Alliant Receives Less Money Than Requested

Alliant was seeking to increase electric rates to cover a request of $203.6 million per year. As part of the proposed settlement, Alliant agreed to a reduced request of $127 million. The company will refund customers interim rate increases applied in 2019 to the tune of $7.5 million through the end of 2020. While customers will still see an increased bill, it will be a smaller increase than Alliant had sought.

Alliant also agreed to waive their fixed-bill plan, which sought to charge customers a fixed bill each month plus an administrative fee, but without any true-up at the end of the year to account for actual energy usage.

A Plan for Uneconomic Coal Plants

As part of the proposed settlement, Alliant Energy agreed to participate in a first-ever in Iowa comprehensive planning process for their generating fleet. This analysis will require Alliant to assess the economics of its coal plants compared to cleaner, home-grown energy options like solar, efficiency, wind, and battery storage.

An analysis conducted by expert witnesses in the case by IEC and ELPC found that Alliant’s coal plants are not economic and customers could save hundreds of millions of dollars by developing a plan to transition away from these plants. Additional expert analysis on behalf of Sierra Club found that retirement and replacement of Alliant’s coal plants could save customers more than $600 million. These analyses found that customers could be better served with cheaper, cleaner energy from renewables or open-market energy purchases.

“We are proud to have secured a commitment by Alliant to evaluate the economics of its remaining coal plants and integrate meaningful stakeholder input as part of the process. We are confident that this analysis will be the first step in moving Alliant away from dirty, expensive coal plants,” said Elizabeth Katt Reinders with the Sierra Club. “We look forward to working with Alliant on its transition off coal as they move from analysis to planning to action.”

Energy Choices for Customers

Alliant Energy agreed to discontinue their plan for applying a declining block rate in summer months. This type of rate structure reduces the cost per kilowatt hour as more energy is used, which discourages energy savings and encourages users to consume more power. Alliant’s proposed declining block rate also has an outsized negative impact on smaller individual customers who could not benefit from the rate structure.

The company also withdrew plans to increase some fees for customers with solar panels or other self-generation. “Customers who invest in their own renewable generation provide energy that benefits everyone. Their investment, while keeping their rates low, also benefits the utility by producing and supplying clean power that enhances grid stability,” said Kerri Johannsen with the Iowa Environmental Council.

Collaboration on the Path Forward

Alliant Energy agreed to an improved collaborative stakeholder engagement process with environmental and consumer groups as the company moves forward with grid investments and utility-owned distributed renewable energy projects.

“We look forward to a more robust and fruitful engagement with Alliant Energy. While we have been included in collaborative projects previously, there is an opportunity to better incorporate feedback and reflect it in decision-making processes. We are ready to get around the table to talk about what’s next,” said Josh Mandelbaum with the Environmental Law & Policy Center.

While the environmental groups are applauding the proposed settlement, the agreement was not comprehensive. Some issues remain unresolved. This week’s hearing at the Iowa Utilities Board will be an opportunity for parties to cross-examine witnesses and for the Board to gather further information. The proposed settlement agreement will not go into effect unless the IUB approves it in its final order in the rate case, which will come before the end of the year.

The hearing is open to the public and the media and is taking place in the Varied Industries Building at 3000 E Grand Ave in Des Moines starting at 8:00 am daily.

View the case docket at https://efs.iowa.gov/efs/ShowDocketSummary.do?docketNumber=RPU-2019-0001

View the logistics for the hearing at https://efs.iowa.gov/cs/groups/external/documents/docket/mdax/odgz/~edisp/1883271.pdf

Proposed Consent Decree Edwards Coal Plant Would Help Community, Environment

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Contact: Paul Dailing, pdailing@elpc.org, 312-795-3701

Proposed Consent Decree Edwards Coal Plant Would Help Community, Environment

Environmental Law & Policy Center attorneys represented the plaintiffs in case resulting in record award in an opacity citizen suit

STATEMENT BY HOWARD A. LEARNER

EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, ENVIRONMENTAL LAW & POLICY CENTER

In response to the announcement Monday of a proposed consent decree that, subject to regulatory approval, will result in the retirement of the Edwards plant and the payment of $8.6 million to fund community projects in the Peoria area. Attorneys from the Environmental Law & Policy Center served as outside counsel for plaintiffs the Sierra Club and Respiratory Health Association (RHA) in a Clean Air Act lawsuit brought, along with Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), against Illinois Power Resources Generating, LLC (IPRG), an affiliate of Luminant, in 2013.

In response, ELPC Executive Director Howard A. Learner said:

“This consent decree, if approved, will result in cleaner air and better public health for people in Peoria and the surrounding region as the highly polluting Edwards coal plant is retired in 2022. Moreover, the consent decree provides for $8.6 million of projects to benefit the region,” Learner said. “ELPC is proud of our legal work in this case to enforce the environmental laws and protect healthy communities.”

In response, Brian Urbaszewski, RHA’s Director of Environmental Health Programs, said:

“We are glad we were able to craft a resolution to this legal case that provides certainty on future emissions from the Edwards plant and will also direct funding to benefit Peoria-area residents,” Urbaszewski said. “The steadfast legal work by ELPC and the other plaintiffs’ counsel helped ensure funds provided by the consent decree will be directed to public health improvements, directly benefitting sick and vulnerable area residents.”

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Environmental advocates applaud investment in Michigan’s first electric school buses

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

LANSING – A coalition of environmental groups today applauded the rollout of 17 electric school buses for seven Michigan school districts through a Michigan Association for Pupil Transportation pilot project. The buses will transport children to and from schools in Ann Arbor, Gaylord, Kalamazoo, Oxford, Roseville, Three Rivers and Zeeland.

The Environmental Law & Policy Center was one of the earliest advocates for replacing dirty diesel school buses with zero-emission electric school buses,” said Susan Mudd, senior policy advocate at the Midwest-based environmental group. “Adopting electric school buses both benefits children’s health and accelerates the shift to cleaner transportation. We hope this collaborative approach between schools, utilities and state government serves as a model for other states across the country.”

The Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes and Energy (EGLE)’s Fuel Transformation Program is helping replace old diesel school buses using funds allocated to Michigan via the Volkswagen Diesel Emissions Environmental Mitigation Trust settlement. This is the first grant opportunity supported with Volkswagen settlement funds allocated to Michigan via the State Mitigation Trust. The project will be collaboratively funded by the grant, school districts and other partners, including utility companies.

“This is a win-win for Michigan’s kids and Michigan’s environment. Children spend an average of 40 minutes a day in a school bus and the air pollution caused by diesel buses can interfere with lung development and cause health problems like coughing and inflammation,” said Charles Griffith, director of climate and energy programs for the Ecology Center. “We are proud to have been a supporter of the electric school bus pilot project from the beginning, and look forward to additional opportunities to reduce emissions and improve health with future grants from EGLE’s Fuel Transformation Program.”

According to a study by the University of Michigan and the University of Washington, using cleaner school bus transportation could result in 14 million fewer absences from school a year.

“This is an important first step to bringing clean, electric transportation to schools and our communities,” said Lisa Wozniak, executive director of the Michigan League of Conservation Voters. “In addition to the short-term benefits of improving air quality and keeping kids safe and healthy, we will see long-term benefits as we address the causes of climate change in our daily lives.”

Diesel exhaust emissions and the soot emitted by engines can exacerbate asthma and allergies, cause lung damage and eye, throat and bronchial irritation.

“We are excited to see Michigan put on the map as a leader in transportation electrification for school buses,” said Kate Madigan, director for the Michigan Climate Action Network. “The harmful emissions from diesel buses can impact respiratory, cardiovascular and neurological health of children, who are especially vulnerable. Moving to zero-emission school buses will reduce pollution, improve health and save lives.”

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New Poll Reveals NW Ohioans’ Willingness to Support Regulatory Actions on Large Animal Feeding Operations to Reduce Toxic Algae Blooms in Western Lake Erie

New Poll Reveals NW Ohioans’ Willingness to Support Regulatory Actions on Large Animal Feeding Operations to Reduce Toxic Algae Blooms in Western Lake Erie

Gov. DeWine must keep Ohio’s promise and commitment under Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement to reduce phosphorus in Lake Erie by 40% by 2025 and 20% progress by 2020

CHICAGO – Nationally-recognized pollster J. Ann Selzer‘s new poll of 500 voters in northwest Ohio for the Environmental Law & Policy Center (ELPC) found that after respondents learn about the connection of manure runoff pollution from concentrated animal feeding operations (CAFOs), they support regulatory actions to help alleviate the toxic algae blooms impacting safe clean water in Lake Erie. Specifically, the majority of respondents were willing to support a moratorium on new or expanding CAFOs as well as regulations on permitting existing CAFOs. Issues around safe clean water and the impact on the Great Lakes economy resonated strongly among respondents. And a majority said they would consider this issue when it comes time to vote.

“The poll results show that Ohioans are fed up with toxic algae blooms in western Lake Erie and understand that reducing manure runoff pollution from CAFOs is necessary to achieve safe clean water,” said Howard Learner, Executive Director of the Environmental Law & Policy Center. “Governor DeWine must keep Ohio’s promise and commitment under the Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement to reduce phosphorus entering Lake Erie by 40% by 2025 with a 20% reduction for interim progress by 2020.”

The poll results show:

  • Safe clean water is the #1 issue for people (92%)
  • While people have generally heard about algae blooms, they initially don’t know much about the causes, or about CAFO’s, or if CAFOs are regulated.
  • After the participants hear the pro and con arguments about reducing manure runoff pollution from CAFOs, their willingness to support a moratorium grows to 59%.
  • 59% also favoring expanding the permitting process to include more CAFOs.
  • When considering who to vote for, 59% said they would lean towards the candidate who favors a moratorium of and more regulation on CAFOs.

Phosphorus pollution from agricultural runoff – excess fertilizer from crops, and manure from CAFOs — is considered the largest cause of harmful algae blooms in western Lake Erie. The Ohio EPA’s analysis found that the agricultural sector is responsible for 88% of the phosphorus pollution in the Maumee River watershed entering Western Lake Erie. Although crop fertilizer is widely cited as the main culprit, a report ELPC released this spring with the Environmental Working Group showed the significant growth of CAFOs and manure runoff from those operations into the Maumee River watershed plays a much larger role in algae bloom formations in western Lake Erie than was previously known. Moreover, ELPC’s methodology for the report using publicly-available satellite imagery revealed many identified CAFOs are not permitted by Ohio’s Department of Agriculture.

The recent poll results show that when Ohioans learn more about the growth of CAFOs and their manure runoff contributing to the algae bloom problem, voters will support Ohio public officials that back actions that include freezes on new CAFOs. The poll reflects the views of 500 Ohioans from Erie, Lucas, Ottawa and Sandusky Counties, who represent a broad cross-section of the population and political parties.

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Community and Environmental Organizations Push Michigan Public Service Commission to Reject DTE’s Long-Term Energy Plan

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

LANSING, MI – Environmental and community organizations today are calling for Michigan’s Public Service Commission to reject the proposed long-term energy plan from DTE following testimony from experts revealing how DTE’s plan will hold back a transition to cleaner, more affordable energy. Experts ranging from energy economists, renewable experts, and health professionals submitted testimony detailing significant flaws in DTE’s proposal.

Advocates argue that the plan would unnecessarily increase costs, rely too heavily on fossil fuels that should be retired much earlier, increase racial and economic inequity, and not invest enough in the clean energy resources that customers are increasingly demanding. Environmental and community organizations also call for a more transparent, fair, and inclusive planning process that would hold the state’s utilities accountable to Michigan customers.

The full case filing including testimony can be found here: https://sforce.co/2KMZROU.

The following are reactions from environmental, conservation and community organizations on DTE Energy’s proposed Integrated Resource Plan: 

“DTE has an opportunity to embrace a clean energy future for Michigan, but by submitting a plan that fails to seriously look at solar and wind power, battery storage, energy efficiency and demand response, it did not give itself that chance,” said Margrethe Kearney, a senior attorney with the Environmental Law & Policy Center. “This plan holds onto the old way of doing business, outdated strategies that don’t give DTE the flexibility to integrate clean, cost-effective renewables that benefit both Michigan’s economy and the environment.”

“We need a plan that puts people first, with health, affordability and community power at the forefront,” said Jackson Koeppel, Executive Director of Soulardarity. “DTE’s proposal is a transparent attempt to push the cost of their bad investments and abysmally poor management onto the low-income communities and communities of color they have been dumping pollution and rate hikes on for their entire career. DTE is intentionally ignoring community solar and other local solutions because they care more about how much money their investors will make next quarter than the lives of the millions of people they claim to serve.”

“DTE’s plan is supposed to be a vision for powering homes and businesses across the state. Instead, it’s left Michigan’s environmental justice communities feeling stripped of power,” said Michelle Martinez, statewide coordinator for the Michigan Environmental Justice Coalition. “If we want real climate justice, the process must change, must be inclusive, and must hold DTE accountable.”

“DTE’s IRP treats both carbon emissions and cost impacts on ratepayers as an afterthought, instead of a priority that needs to be addressed,” said Alexis Blizman, Policy Director at the Ecology Center. “DTE must expand energy efficiency, as well as include greater investments in clean, renewable energy, like wind and solar, to protect ratepayers against both the harmful impacts of continuing the use of fossil fuels, as well as the price volatility of natural gas. The Commission should reject DTE’s proposed IRP and send them back to create a plan that protects both people and planet.”

“DTE’s IRP is consistent with a century-old monopoly stuck in traditional solutions,” said John Richter, Policy Analyst at Great Lakes Renewable Energy Association. “DTE has proposed utility-owned wind parks in just enough quantity to meet their legal obligations and the demands of their largest customers for green energy. While the GLREA welcomes the proposed renewable energy facilities, the assumptions formed in the overall plan are faulty and mired in the past. This plan needs substantial revision.”

“DTE’s current proposal to keep coal online for the next 20 years will have vast and far-reaching implications on the health, safety, and well-being of families across Michigan,” said Kindra Weid, RN and Coalition Coordinator of MI Air MI Health.

“Integrated resource plans are incredibly important for mapping out our energy future. It’s critical that the plans the MPSC ultimately approves are based on sound analysis,” said Charlotte Jameson, energy policy and legislative affairs director of Michigan Environmental Council. “DTE submitted a plan riddled with flaws that bias the outcome away from clean, renewable energy. These errors are clear to see, especially when you compare their plan with the one Consumers Energy submitted. As intervenors charged with protecting Michigan’s environment and residential ratepayers, we will continue to weigh in on each step of this IRP process to make sure we get the best outcome for Michigan’s residents.”

“DTE’s long-range plan fails to rein in exploding electricity costs that are burdening families and businesses,” said Lisa Wozniak, executive director of the Michigan League of Conservation Voters. “Michiganders are seeing the negative effects of climate change every day — from flooded basements and farm fields to spreading algae in the Great Lakes and scorching droughts. It is time for DTE to move aggressively toward clean, renewable energy instead of delaying investments in solar and wind power and opening new, expensive gas plants.”

“DTE’s plan yet again shortchanges their customers’ clean energy future in favor of more expensive fossil fuels,” said Ariana Gonzalez, senior energy policy analyst for the Natural Resources Defense Council. “They clearly ignored the massive tide of criticism from their last proposal that led to a billion-dollar gas plant. This is why we must set a precedent in this case to ensure clean, safe and affordable energy for all.”

“DTE’s peaker fleet, which is primarily used to meet heavy loads on hot summer afternoons, contain some of the oldest units of their type still in operation,” said Sean Gallagher, Vice President of State Affairs at the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA). “DTE failed to provide any analysis on its peaker fleet and simply proposes to run its aging fossil fuel units for another 20 years.  By contrast, we analyzed how these failing units could be successfully and reliably replaced with clean, reliable solar + storage assets. The Michigan Public Service Commission should require DTE to analyze a move to cleaner peaking resources to reduce costs, lower emissions and expand solar deployment.”

“Instead of protecting clean water, clean air, and our communities, DTE chooses to invest in their pocketbooks by doubling down on expensive, polluting fossil fuels,” said Theresa Landrum, Detroit resident and activist with Sierra Club. “We call on the Michigan Public Service Commission to reject DTE’s polluting energy plan.  Alternatively, we ask the MPSC to require them to design a plan that protects Michiganders and those living in the most heavily impacted communities by investing in cheaper and cleaner renewable energy sources, efficiency programs, and storage technology.”

“DTE’s plan to keep relying on coal plants for the next two decades fails to account for the health, climate, and financial impacts of burning coal,” said Shannon Fisk, Managing Attorney of Earthjustice’s Coal Program. “DTE overestimated the costs of replacing coal plants with renewables, storage, and efficiency because the company relied on flawed and outdated assumptions, instead of actual market data. Michiganders would benefit most, in terms of cost and health, from aggressive replacement of coal plants with cost-effective and reliable clean energy.

“DTE’s plan favors its own expensive power plants over a truly robust process to ensure cleaner and more affordable energy for Michigan customers. I’ve seen utility commissions reject resource plans for far less egregious missteps,” said Joe Daniel, senior energy analyst at the Union of Concerned Scientists. “DTE overestimated the cost of renewables, underestimated the benefits of efficiency, all the while ignoring risks associated with the way it operates its existing fleet of coal-fired power plants. The Michigan Public Service Commission should send this plan back to the company and insist that DTE take seriously its obligation to fairly evaluate all resource options, especially earlier investments in renewable energy and energy efficiency.”

“Solar and other clean energy options have quickly become some of America’s lowest cost resources, and every Michigander should be able to benefit from these affordable, healthy, homegrown options. Instead, DTE is trying to double down on polluting gas and get away with offering only a very small utility-controlled green power program that will cost customers a premium when it should be delivering savings,” said Will Kenworthy, Midwest Regulatory Director with Vote Solar. “This expensive plan will put solar out of reach for many low-income families, seniors on fixed incomes, environmental justice communities and others who shouldn’t be shut out from the clean economy, which is why we’re joining together with allies today to urge a stronger, healthier and more resilient path forward for DTE.”

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Wisconsin PSC Will Approve Unnecessary High-Voltage Transmission Line that Will Permanently Damage the Driftless Area

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Contacts:

David Clutter, Dave@driftlessconservancy.org, 609-692-2153

Chuck Tenneson, Charles@driftlessconservancy.org, 608-930-3252

George Meyer, georgemeyer@tds.net, (608) 516-5545

Wisconsin PSC Says Will Approve Huge Unnecessary High-Voltage Transmission Line that Will Permanently Damage the Driftless Area

There Are Better Clean Energy Solutions and Alternatives for Wisconsin

Dodgeville, WI – Today, the Wisconsin Public Service Commissioners met and voted to approve moving forward to issue a written decision approving the proposed costly Cardinal-Hickory Creek transmission line that would cut a wide swath through Wisconsin’s scenic Driftless Area natural resources and communities.

David Clutter, Executive Director of the Driftless Area Land Conservancy, said: 

“The Driftless Area Land Conservancy is very disappointed in today’s decision by the PSC Commissioners to approve this unneeded 120-mile transmission line with 17-story towers that would create irreparable and permanent damage to the scenic Driftless Area. The Commission’s own staff testified that this transmission line is not the most economical option in most modeling scenarios. It’s not needed for energy demand nor reliability to keep the lights on. We expect that this decision will be challenged before federal and other state agencies, and in the courts if necessary.

Dane County, Iowa County, and many municipalities and school districts throughout Southwest Wisconsin opposed this unneeded transmission line. Furthermore, all of the state legislators of both parties and two members of Wisconsin’s Congressional delegation expressed serious concerns regarding the construction and maintenance of this transmission line.

Numerous Wisconsin environmental, agricultural, grassroots citizen and consumer protection groups opposed this transmission line. Thousands of Wisconsin residents submitted written comments and testified at public hearings in opposition to this destructive proposed project.

The direction the Commissioners’ seem to be taking is contrary to Wisconsin state law. Their decision is not supported by expert witness testimony, the PSC’s own staff testimony or thousands of members of the public.

Wisconsin needs to transition to renewable energy and we can do so without damaging the natural areas and special places of our Driftless Area. There are better clean energy solutions and alternatives for Wisconsin. The PSC’s decision will result in higher utility rates in Wisconsin and across the Midwest, and will allow ATC and ITC to condemn private land through eminent domain.

The Driftless Area Land Conservancy hopes that the Commissioners will reconsider their apparent decision before entering a final order in this case. Upon reviewing the final order, the decision will be appealed if the Commission’s decision stands.

 

George Meyer, Executive Director of the Wisconsin Wildlife Federation, said: 

“The Wisconsin Wildlife Federation is extremely disappointed with the Public Service Commissioners’ decision to issue a certificate of public convenience and necessity for the Cardinal-Hickory Creek high-voltage transmission line.

The Driftless Area is a truly unique landscape and home to a large number of valuable and heavily used Federal, State and local recreational areas. There has been a substantial amount of public and private investment in the natural resources and the recreational facilities of the Driftless Area including hundreds of small businesses that derive their income based on the resulting tourism economy.

The construction and maintenance of the proposed line and very high towers will have significant and undue adverse impacts on environmental values, including land and water resources. The Wisconsin Wildlife Federation will continue to challenge this destructive transmission line before federal and other state agencies, and in the courts if necessary.”

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Milestone Bill to Clean Up Coal Ash Pollution in Illinois Becomes Law

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Milestone Bill to Clean Up Coal Ash Pollution in Illinois Becomes Law

The Coal Ash Pollution Prevention Act is a critical step in fixing Illinois’ coal ash problem

*Note a teleconference with activists and legal experts will be held at 4:00pm CST to speak about the impacts of the law. Dial (605) 313-5111, Access Code 643244

CONTACT: Al Grosboll | Environmental Law & Policy Center | AGrosboll@elpc.org (217) 652-3866

 

SPRINGFIELD, IL—Today, bipartisan legislation to protect Illinois’ citizens and the environment from the effects of toxic coal ash became law. The  Coal Ash Pollution Prevention Act will result in stronger rules for coal ash cleanup and fund cleanup programs through permit fees — while also requiring performance bonds or other financial security to ensure that companies set aside the money to close and clean up coal ash ponds.

The legislation creates a regulatory framework to ensure polluters, not taxpayers, pay for needed closure and cleanup, guarantees public participation and transparency around cleanups for affected communities, and provides Illinois EPA the funds it needs to properly oversee closure and cleanup. It also requires Illinois to put in place standards for coal ash impoundments that are at least as protective as federal coal ash rule requirements, with additional protection against dust and water pollution.

The bill, sponsored by Sen. Scott Bennett and Rep. Carol Ammons, passed the Illinois Legislature in May. Gov. J.B. Pritzker signed the bill into law today.

The legislation was badly needed. Organizations and community leaders have demanded state action for years. A recent report by Environmental Integrity Project, Earthjustice, Prairie Rivers Network and Sierra Club found widespread pollution in groundwater around 22 of the state’s 24 coal ash dumpsites. Pollutants found in nearby groundwater include arsenic, cobalt and lithium. That report found that Illinois is one of the worst states in the nation for pollution from coal ash pits.

Iconic Illinois landscapes such as the Middle Fork of the Vermillion River, the State’s only Wild and Scenic River are threatened by leaking coal ash impoundments constructed under loose regulations or no regulations whatsoever.

Now that the bill has become law, the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency (IEPA) will begin writing and proposing draft rules. The Illinois Pollution Control Board (PCB) will finalize the IEPA rules once they are approved. Both the rulemaking proposal process by IEPA and the approval process by PCB will allow stakeholders and community members to provide input before the final rules are put in place.

“This coal ash legislation is an important environmental protection success to protect safe, clean and drinkable water in Illinois,” said Howard Learner, Executive Director of the Environmental Law & Policy Center.  “ELPC is pleased that Gov. Pritzker signed SB 9 because it will protect our water quality, air quality and public health.”

 

STATEWIDE PARTNER QUOTES

“Thank you to Governor Pritzker for signing the landmark Coal Ash Pollution Prevention Act,” said Andrew Rehn with Prairie Rivers Network, “We would not be here today with the incredible leadership from Senator Bennett and Representative Ammons and heroic efforts from community groups across the state. We are now taking the first steps in cleaning up the toxic coal ash stored in unlined pits across Illinois.”

“With this law, Illinois is joining other states that are working to protect their citizens from toxic pollution from coal ash dumps,” said Jennifer Cassel, an Earthjustice coal program attorney  based in Chicago. “For too long, utilities have been allowed to dump this pollution into unlined pits with no regard for the consequences. That will no longer be the case in Illinois.”

“By signing this bill into law, Gov. Pritzker has taken a historic step in protecting communities and the environment from dangerous coal ash pollution across Illinois,” said Colleen Smith, legislative director for the Illinois Environmental Council. “Now, polluters will be held responsible for the clean up of their toxic waste–not residents of Illinois.”

“The communities of faith represented by Faith In Place Action Fund applaud the Governor signing SB9 into law. Illinois joins other states that are putting its residents’ health before industrial polluters’ profit. We look forward to working with IEPA to engage communities most affected by coal ash on the rulemaking process.” Celeste Flores, Faith in Place Action Fund

“This is the most significant step to protect clean water and public health that has made it into law in years. People across the state who have struggled with the impacts of toxic coal ash are grateful that their calls for action to protect our groundwater and hold big polluters accountable have been heard. It’s now critical that the Illinois EPA develop the strongest possible coal ash rules with community input to ensure that this historic bill realizes its promise for coal ash communities across Illinois,” said Joyce Blumenshine of the Sierra Club.

 

REGIONAL PARTNER QUOTES

Wood River/Alton/Metro East

“It is always encouraging when people who have long felt ignored and powerless discover that someone finally listened. Metro East Green Alliance members have worked for several years to get the Texas-based coal giant Dynegy and the previous Rauner administration to do the right thing–to clean up the Wood River Power Plant that was shuttered over three years ago in a responsible way and to compensate the vulnerable community left unemployed and at increased health risk,” said Toni Oplt, MEGA member. “Now that SB9 is law, we feel the state legislature, Governor Prizker and IEPA have, at last, pulled up a chair for us at the table. We have faith they will continue to listen as the SB9 rulemaking for coal ash cleanup and the accompanying requirements for corporate financial assurances move forward.”

Waukegan

“This is a great win for Coal Ash Communities, especially for Waukegan residents that have been continuously affected by corporate polluters. The Governor is putting the State of Illinois in a good trajectory in signing SB9 into law, by sending a message that environmental justice communities across the state are being put before profitable industrial polluters like NRG Energy. Waukegan residents commend Governor Pritzker and our state legislators for making SB9 into law. Our land is our children’s future and we look forward to the state of Illinois to continue strengthening protections for our vulnerable environmental justice communities.” Dulce Ortiz, Clean Power Lake County

Vermilion County/Danville/Champaign

“We are so pleased that Governor Pritzker has signed Senate Bill 9 into law”, said Pam Richart, Co-Director of Eco-Justice Collaborative. “Community calls to clean up pollution from coal ash dumped on dozens of power plant sites across the state, including the unlined, leaking pits along the Middle Fork of the Vermilion, Illinois’ National Scenic River, have been ignored for far too long. This bill ensures that those living near coal ash will have a say in how these dumps are cleaned up, so that water quality, public health, and local economies are protected.”

“The Protect the Middle Fork Citizens Advisory Group sincerely thanks Governor Pritzker for signing SB9. This bill will help keep Illinois water resources clean in perpetuity; ensure that communities like ours have a voice in how polluting coal ash pits impacting our water are closed; and require financial assurances for coal ash impoundment closures. This is a good day for Illinois!” Protect the Middle Fork Citizens Advocacy Group

Peoria

“This legislation is a critical step forward in ensuring that frontline communities like Peoria, impacted by coal ash pollution, are protected and won’t be left behind as we transition to a clean energy economy. We applaud the leadership of community members and legislators who have pushed for stronger coal ash protections and now it’s critical that the Illinois EPA propose the strongest rules possible with public input from those most impacted.” Reverend Tony Pierce, President of Illinois People’s Action and Heaven’s View Christian Fellowship in Peoria.

“The Central Illinois Healthy Community Alliance applauds the Governor signing SB 9, showing his commitment to communities that live with the prospect of abandoned coal ash pits and the toxins that threaten both groundwater and the Illinois River. The Coal Ash Pollution Prevention Act will protect communities by demanding real financial assurances instead of allowing these continually reorganizing energy profiteers to insure themselves,” said Tracy Fox, Central Illinois Healthy Community Alliance.

ELPC Commends Congress’ Bipartisan Support to Reauthorize and Increase Funding for Successful Great Lakes Restoration Initiative

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Contact: Judith Nemes
(312) 795-3706
JNemes@elpc.org
 

ELPC Commends Congress’ Bipartisan Support to Reauthorize and Increase Funding for Successful Great Lakes Restoration Initiative over Next Five Years

“Protecting safe clean drinking water, healthy fisheries and enjoyable outdoor recreation for all is not a partisan issue”

 STATEMENT BY HOWARD A. LEARNER

EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, ENVIRONMENTAL LAW & POLICY CENTER

“The Environmental Law & Policy Center commends bipartisan Congress leaders for taking a big step forward to reauthorize and increase funding for the successful Great Lakes Restoration Initiative (GLRI). The Great Lakes is where we live, work and play. Protecting safe clean drinking water, healthy fisheries and enjoyable outdoor recreation for all is not a partisan issue.”

“The Great Lakes provide drinking water to 42 million people. Reauthorizing GLRI for the next five years with increased funding is necessary to combat harmful algae blooms in western Lake Erie, Green Bay and Lake Superior, and threats of invasive species throughout the Great Lakes. More intense rain storms driven by climate change create significantly more stress on Great Lakes infrastructure and the ecosystem. The best defense is a good offense.

“The next five-year GLRI funding cycle, beginning in 2022, should ramp up to $475 million annually during that time from the current $300 million annual allocation. The funding increase would bring the program back to the original FY 2010 level of $475 million.

“Trump’s War on the Great Lakes must be kept in check since his administration attempted to either eliminate or cut funds for the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative over the last three years. The administration fails to address toxic algae blooms by not requiring enforceable regulatory standards to reduce agricultural runoff of phosphorus pollution from manure and fertilizers that impairs safe clean drinking water for millions of people.

“Great Lakes protection and restoration has strong bipartisan support. Protecting clean water for fisheries and outdoor recreation and ensuring safe drinking water for all is not a partisan issue in the pivotal Midwest states where the 2020 election may be decided. Great Lakes protection is a core value shared by all.

“Since GLRI was launched in 2010, it has provided essential funding to protect and restore the largest system of fresh surface water in the world. GLRI projects also protect safe clean drinking water for 42 million people and support a $62 billion economy based on fishing, boating and recreational activities.”

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ELPC Applauds (IL) Lake County Board Decision to End Pursuit of Route 53 Extension

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

July 12, 2019

 

Environmental Law & Policy Center Applauds Lake County Board Decision to End Pursuit of Route 53 Extension

“This is a big victory and turning point for better transportation solutions in Lake County and the Chicago region”

STATEMENT BY HOWARD A. LEARNER

EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, ENVIRONMENTAL LAW & POLICY CENTER

In response to the Illinois Tollway’s request to the Federal Highway Administration to rescind the Notice of Intent for the Tri-County Access Environmental Impact Statement, which effectively ends efforts to create a Route 53 extension north of Lake Cook Road, ELPC Executive Director Howard Learner said:

“This is a big victory and turning point for better transportation solutions in Lake County and the Chicago region. The Illinois Tollway has thrown in the towel, and the Lake County Board has de-prioritized the Route 53 extension, which isn’t financially viable and the public doesn’t want. Together, they are bringing this boondoggle and environmentally destructive tollway to its well-deserved end.

“Let’s acknowledge that the Route 53 tollway seems to have nine lives, but hopefully this is the last.”

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IL Pollution Control Board Advances Controversial Coal Pollution Rule for Vistra Energy

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Pollution Control Board Advances Controversial Coal Pollution Rule for Vistra Energy

Environmental and Community groups’ welcome Pritzker improvements to Rauner pollution rule but call for stronger pollution reduction plans from Administration

CHICAGO – Today, the Illinois Pollution Control Board (IPCB) approved a rulemaking initiated in 2017 under the Rauner Administration that allows Vistra Energy, the Texas-based owner of Illinois largest coal plant fleet, greater flexibility to operate its plants with less stringent, state pollution standards. Since proposed, the revisions to one of Illinois’ signature air pollution standards, known as the Multi-Pollutant Standard (MPS), generated significant public opposition across the state and drew greater speculation on the close ties Rauner’s IEPA Director had with polluting industries though important improvements were made to the original proposal by both the IPCB and new IEPA leadership under the Pritzker Administration, environmental and community groups continue to seek stronger standards.

The new emissions caps change the existing standards based on emissions rates to a total tonnage standard which environmental and community advocates argue is less protective and will allow Vistra to shutter plants with pollution controls while continuing to operate its dirtiest plants without installing modern pollution controls. Those advocates contend that this could result in some communities seeing greater pollution from the plants that remain open and continue to operate without modern pollution controls. Notable improvements in the final approved proposal include lower emissions caps than originally proposed by Rauner’s IEPA, cap reductions if Vistra seeks to shutter or sell power plants, and a requirement to retire 2,000 MWs of its Illinois coal generation by the end of 2019.

The approval comes on the heels of yesterday’s federal rollback of the Obama Administration’s Clean Power Plan. The alternative plan, dubbed the “Dirty Power Plan” by advocates, is little more than a giveaway to the coal industry. With rollbacks at the federal level, state action becomes all the more important and advocates urge the Pritzker administration to take stronger action.

 In response to the IPCB’s decision, the Central Illinois Healthy Community Alliance, Environmental Defense Fund, Environmental Law & Policy Center, Illinois Environmental Council, Illinois Peoples’ Action, Metro East Green Alliance, Natural Resources Defense Council, Illinois Sierra Club, Respiratory Health Association, Prairie Rivers Network, and Union of Concerned Scientists issued the following joint statement:

“We’re pleased to see that important improvements to this rulemaking were won today by the thousands of Illinois residents who spoke out in opposition to this ill-conceived rule from the Rauner Administration and Vistra Energy. However, as President Trump continues to rollback federal environmental protections, Illinois should be leading with far more aggressive pollution standards on power plants instead of granting greater flexibility to a Texas fossil fuel corporation.

“We welcome Vistra Energy’s commitment to retire some of its Illinois plants–that it has said for years were likely to retire–but the new standards still allow Vistra to close plants with modern pollution controls and continue running its dirtiest plants without any modern upgrades which will leave frontline communities in Illinois at risk.

“As these out-of-state coal corporations continue to demand coal bailouts from state regulators and legislators, it’s critical that the Pritzker Administration and Illinois officials step up with stronger leadership to deliver more aggressive pollution reductions from aging power plants and plans to invest in Illinois coal workers and communities that will inevitably be left behind by these out-of-state corporations.”

 

 

 

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