RHA has worked for decades to reduce pollution from industrial sources like power plants and the millions of vehicles operating in Illinois. This spring, your advocacy visits, emails and phone calls led to substantial victories for clean air. We also gained ground on important policies we’ll continue to advance next session.
Clean Energy Jobs Act Continues to Build Momentum
The ambitious Clean Energy Jobs bill continues to gain momentum with 49 co-sponsors in the House and 27 in the Senate by the end of May – with many joining as co-sponsors after RHA’s Lung Health Education Day in March.
The bill would ensure all electricity comes from non-carbon sources by 2030 (no fossil fuels) and all electricity comes from clean renewable sources by 2050; that the benefits of clean energy development from this transition are distributed equitably; and that efforts to electrify transportation remove the emissions equivalent of a million cars from the air people breathe.
RHA will continue to build on this momentum until the General Assembly comes back to Springfield in October.
Long-Standing Prohibition on State Action to Address Climate Crisis is Repealed
Legislation passed this session will remove a law passed 20 years ago that prohibited Illinois from enacting any policies to reduce greenhouse gases and tackle the climate crisis. The vote reflects that the state legislature increasingly sees an unstable climate as a health threat, especially for vulnerable people and those living with chronic medical conditions.
Removing this restriction means Illinois can now forge a more effective climate strategy and implement stronger greenhouse gas reduction policies, which will help expand clean renewable energy resources and reduce ozone smog. As the Sun-Times noted, Illinois could now even require tighter pollution limits for cars.
Clean Energy – Clean Air Victories in State Budget and Capital Spending Plan
The new state budget and capital plan passed this spring included several provisions to reduce emissions from electricity generation and transportation. Some harmful ideas were prevented as well.
Early versions of the capital plan included a $1000/year registration fee for any electric vehicles (EVs), which would have been a serious blow to the small but quickly growing market in Illinois just as more affordable EVs are beginning to show up at dealerships. In the end, zero-emission EV registration fees were raised to the same level as fossil fuel-powered vehicles and an extra $100/year fee was assessed since EV don’t contribute to state gasoline taxes. While this eliminated discounted registration fees for EVs, one of the very few incentives Illinois had to encourage people to by zero-emission vehicles, it also means EV fees are only a quarter of what was initially proposed. Electric vehicles will still save drivers hundreds of dollars a year on gasoline not bought, and help reduce smog and greenhouse gas pollution!
Other victories this year in the state budget:
- $50 million for the Renewable Energy Resources Fund. This supports the Illinois Solar for All program, which prioritizes new solar electric generation projects and solar job training in low-income communities.
- $70 million is in the capital plan for renewable energy and energy efficiency programs for state facilities. This is sufficient funding to reduce 5% of state building energy usage, which will lower power demand and air pollution.
- $70 million is in the capital plan to construct electric vehicle charging infrastructure in low income communities, helping ensure all communities can use electric vehicles.
- $20 million is re-appropriated and another $60 million is appropriated from the Volkswagen emissions cheating settlement fund. Illinois EPA can now spend $80m on electric vehicle projects in the coming year that help reduce emissions from transportation sources to clean the air.
Together we’ve made great strides toward cleaner air, healthier lungs and a more sustainable future.
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