CHICAGO - Soon after the new EPA carbon emission standards were announced Monday, several Chicago area Democrats and environmentalist groups gathered to announce their support for President Obama's efforts, even though the standards could have a devastating effect on Illinois' coal production.
Attorney General Lisa Madigan, Congressman Bobby Rush and Mike Quigley were among those at a press conference held in Chicago.
Obama's standards sets the Illinois Democratic Party at odds with itself.
Illinois Review: Downstate lawmakers push to allow Illinois less stringest EPA Standards
With the help of Republicans, Downstate State Rep. Brandon Phelps, a Democrat from Highland, passed a resolution on the Illinois House floor last Friday calling on the President to allow states to set their own standards and timeline for the state's already struggling coal industry.
Downstate Congressman Bill Enyart voiced his disapproval of the EPA standards for his downstate district.
“In recent years, our Southern Illinois coal industry has slowly rebounded through persistence and determination,” Enyart, D-Belleville, told The Southern. “The regulations announced today will halt that rebound and cause more uncertainty in coal mines and power plants in our region and beyond.
“Our local economies and most importantly our families simply cannot withstand the loss of good paying jobs in the region,” said Enyart, co-chair of the Coal Caucus.
The Environmental Protection Agency's proposal will require deep cuts in carbon emissions from existing power plants, including a 30% national target by 2030.
The EPA draft rule, a major plank of President Obama's initiative to fight climate change, will require states to develop and implement plans to cut power plant emissions of heat-trapping carbon dioxide. It will give states different reduction targets but will seek a national average — from 2005 levels — of 25% by 2020 and 30% by 2030, say those familiar with the plan.
Frustrated by a Congress that would not support his plan, last June, President Obama asked the EPA to use its authority under the Clean Air Act to limit power plants emissions, which account for the largest share — nearly 40% — of total U.S. emissions. Coal-fired facilities will be hardest hit, because they emit more carbon than other power plants.
After June 2015, the states will have at least a year to craft their plans. The EPA could step in with its own version if states don't comply with the plan.