Urban Environmentalists in Illinois Seek Policies that Will Hurt Their Rural Neighbors

Urban Environmentalists in Illinois Seek Policies that Will Hurt Their Rural Neighbors

July 29, 2021

A recent debate in the Illinois legislature underscores some of the long-standing issues when the environmentalist movement seeks to close fossil fuel plants. In Illinois, urban-centered environmentalist groups based in Chicago are seeking to close all of the state’s coal plants without regard to how this would impact their fellow residents in more rural parts of the state.

Two of the coal plants in question were commissioned less than 15 years ago, and attracted a young workforce seeking career stability and an ability to support their families. Now, all of that is being put at-risk.

Importantly, the state lawmakers pushing to shut down these plants are simultaneously ignoring the important ways these modern coal plants have improved their environmental performance. As WREX-NBC reports

Employees we spoke with understand the need for more renewable resources in the mix to help the environment. Staff also say Prairie State can mitigate most of the problems that plagued fossil fuel plants in the past. Lead Chemist Kyle Wolfe notes the desulfurization unit pulls nearly all of the sulfur out of the air preventing acid rain. And Wolfe explained the facility is already looking into carbon capture technology to help stop the outflow of carbon dioxide.

“We have to maintain reliable baseload power because the wind doesn’t always blow and the sun doesn’t always shine,” Wolfe said. “So that’s where large baseload plants, like us and some others, come into play.”

Unfortunately, the article exposes an all-too-frequent problem when it comes to debates over energy and the environment. Those who truly understand the important role of energy are seeking balanced solutions, with a variety of sources capable of meeting our needs in the best way possible. Meanwhile, environmental activists pursue ‘all or nothing’ strategies, seeking to push all fossil fuels offline without regard to the consequences.

Hopefully, Illinois policymakers will take into account the interests of their entire state, and not cave into special interest groups who seemingly don’t care how their policies will impact the entire state.