Jul 11, 2022 - News

Illinois leads on climate action

Illustration of a hand holding a vacuum, sucking carbon dioxide molecules out of the air. 
Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Illinois is emerging as a national leader in greenhouse gas reduction, according to a new report by environmental think tank RMI.

Why it matters: The nonprofit's report was released the same day the U.S. Supreme Court reduced the EPA's authority to regulate emissions nationally, placing more responsibility on local energy policies.

What they found: RMI focused on six states — Illinois, New York, New Jersey, Colorado, Washington and California — that lead on climate policy but also create about 20% of all U.S. emissions.

  • The report praised Illinois' 2021 Climate and Equitable Jobs Act(CEJA) as "an ambitious economy-wide climate bill that sets strong emissions targets and provides substantial investments."
  • The bill requires private coal- and oil-fired plants to reach zero emissions by 2030 and aims for the state to have 1 million electric vehicles on the road by 2030, among other targets.

Yes, but: While CEJA shoots for a 46% reduction in statewide emissions from 2005 levels by 2030, the RMI modeling estimates the state is on track to achieve just about 22%.

What they're saying: "The scorecard … reminds us of the importance of emissions limits and holding industry accountable," Samira Hanessian of the Illinois Environmental Council, which pushed for CEJA, tells Axios.

The other side: The Illinois Manufacturers' Association (IMA) was one of several organizations that opposed CEJA for being too aggressive.

  • "The new law in Illinois fails to recognize the need for a measured transition to the new clean energy economy, resulting in significantly higher electric bills for consumers and rolling brownouts," IMA president Mark Denzler tells Axios.

The big picture: "If we are going to slash emissions in half by 2030, as climate science indicates that we must, then tracking and planning are absolutely essential," RMI's Jacob Corvidae said in a statement accompanying the report.

  • "These states have a unique ability to set the pace nationwide."
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