Contradictory messages on green policies

Posted11/22/2021 1:00 AM

It's been a fascinating few weeks. The governor signed the biggest renewable energy and zero-emission transportation investment ever. The state then passed incentives to attract more fast-growing electric vehicle and battery manufacturing.

The governor hit the United Kingdom with Illinois' speaker and senate president to sell Illinois as a place to do green -- both environmental and profitable -- business. And Wall Street decided Rivian, with its downstate electric vehicle factory, is worth more than GM or Ford.


So it's strange to watch downstate Sangamon County. This week the largest solar power plant proposed in Illinois got permission to build at the northern end. At 5 square miles and able to generate as much power as a big coal plant, it's massive. Unlike burning coal, it won't produce any harmful emissions. But at the southern end, the proposed EmberClear Lincoln Land fossil gas power plant in Pawnee would be a huge new polluter. The company wants to emit nearly 1000 tons of lung-damaging pollution a year while pumping 3.8 million tons of greenhouse gases into our destabilized climate. A State EPA public hearing on the 17th should deny permission to build it.

The comparison between these two projects could not be more stark. It's surprising and a bit embarrassing to the state to see this struggle still being played out between a clean, green, healthy and prosperous future path and a dystopian future strewn with biblical floods, homicidal heat waves, withered and washed away crops, and diminished health and economic prospects.

That damage won't just be downstate; We will all feel the effects. The truth is all Illinois residents will rise or fall together in our rapidly approaching future depending on what path we chose. So will our kids and grandkids.

Brian Urbaszewski, Director, Environmental Health Programs

Respiratory Health Association


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