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Clearing The Air On Clean Air Plan

Amanda Vinicky

Illinois regulators are continuing to develop a plan to reduce the state's output of greenhouse gasses. Environmentalists say they have the Pat Quinn to thank. Or do they?

Illinois has had clean energy targets for years, but this latest effort isn't part of that. Rather, the state's Environmental Protection Agency and commerce commission are preparing for a proposed federal rule. It would reduce the amount of carbon dioxide emitted from coal-fired power plants.

"So we stand here today with 20,000 -- more than 20,000 petitions addressed to Gov. Quinn thanking him for saying that he supports President Obama in rolling out this Clean Power Plan," says Rev. Brian Sauder, who heads the religious environmental advocacy group Faith in Place.

But does Quinn deserve that appreciation?

If, and when, the federal rule is put in place, Illinois will have no choice. It'd be a mandate. Sauder says, yes -- again, because Quinn has voiced support for the proposal.

In fact, other states are balking at the requirements --- some are suing to stop it.

While the emission reduction targets wouldn't be flexible, states -- and their governors - will get to decide how to reach them.

Sauder says the announcement of praise for Quinn is unrelated to the upcoming election. He says it took a year to gather those 20,000 signatures; this is when they met their goal.

However, the Sierra Club has endorsed Quinn over Republican candidate for governor Bruce Rauner, citing his broad calls for deregulation. Rauner's campaign did not respond to a request for his stance on the Clean Power Plan.

Critics of the proposed rule say it would lead to job loss in an already struggling mining industry, and and that the federal government is overreaching.

Amanda Vinicky moved to Chicago Tonight on WTTW-TV PBS in 2017.
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