Mary Kuhlman, Illinois News Connection
SPRINGFIELD, IL-(Effingham Radio)- Illinoisans can now comment on the Trump administration’s proposal to replace the Clean Power Plan, an Obama-era rule aimed at drastically cutting carbon emissions from coal-power plants.
The Affordable Clean Energy Rule, or ACE calls for states to develop their own reduction goals and submit their plans within three years to the Environmental Protection Agency.
President and Executive director for the Environmental Law and Policy Center Howard Learner says the new proposal nixes the Clean Power Plan’s state-specific goals for reducing greenhouse-gas emissions.
“Illinois has been aggressively accelerating clean energy development and what that’s lead to is with a surplus of power,” says Learner. “A number of the older coal plants have shut down and as a result Illinois is very close to meeting its 2020 coal of reducing carbon pollution.”
Illinois still ranks in the top five states for coal production.
The 2015 Clean Power Plan was put on hold by the U.S. Supreme Court and has not yet taken effect.
And yesterday, Illinois joined 16 other states in asking a U.S. Appeals Court to rule on the current legal challenges to the Clean Power Plan.
Learner says the Affordable Clean Energy Rule would delay implementing meaningful air-quality improvements in a number of ways, including changing the way an older coal plant’s remaining life is factored into how it should be handled.
“What it does is tell companies like Vistra, which owns old highly pollution coal plants in central and southern Illinois, that when it comes to carbon pollution reduction the federal government is no longer truly minding the store and is willing to accept states not moving forward in any serious ways,” says Learner.
Janet McCabe, senior law fellow with the center, helped develop Clean Power Plan standards during her time at the EPA under President Barack Obama.
She contends it is crucial that the public weighs in during the rule-making process.
“When I was at EPA, every single rule I worked on got better between proposal and final because of comments that we got,” says McCabe. “And those are important expressions from taxpayers in this country about what they feel their government should do to protect them or to stay out of the way.”
Public comments on ACE will be accepted through October 30th.