“Invest in Illinois Families, Not Texas Corporations”
Springfield, IL—(ENEWSPF)—April 17, 2018
By: Renner Barsella
Monday afternoon, public health and environmental advocates from across Illinois rallied outside Illinois Environmental Protection Agency (IEPA) before offering public comments to the Illinois Pollution Control Board (IPCB). Monday’s hearing was the third session where impacted communities have turned out in opposition to proposed changes in state air pollution rules. Up until now, those rules have protected the public against dangerous air pollution. Proposed changes would allow Dynegy-Vistra to keep cheap, dirty plants open while closing cleaner ones, nullifying the Rauner administration’s claim that the move is to “keep plants open” and save jobs. Dynegy has repeatedly pled poverty as a reason for these changes, yet, just this week, they closed on a merger worth $20 billion with Vistra, a Texas-based corporation.
A statement released by Sierra Club Illinois Director Jack Darin in response said, “The $20 billion merger between Dynegy and Vistra should put an immediate end to any consideration of rate hikes or weaker air pollution protections Dynegy has proposed as bailouts.”
The proposed changes came after eight months of back-room talks between Dynegy and Gov. Rauner’s IEPA, whose Director came under fire in the Chicago Tribune in January for his close ties to Dynegy. This closed door dealing was highlighted at Monday’s event by protesters carrying large printouts of emails exchanged between IEPA officials and representatives of Dynegy.
In response to an open invitation for changes, comments or questions, one email from a Dynegy lawyer reads, “This attachment provides you with our suggested changes to the draft MPS Rule Revision Language. We thank you for the opportunity to review and share our position.”
Advocates from across the state have called foul at the lack of transparency in the process, have asked for stays due to the stakeholder change following the Dynegy-Vistra merger, and have highlighted the continued broken promises of big coal when it comes to leaving Illinois communities in a lurch.
“Governor Rauner should be demanding worker protections and making sure coal ash clean up isn’t left to taxpayers. Instead, he is pushing backdoor bailouts for these corporations, like the proposed changes to Illinois’ air pollution rules, and obstructing stronger coal ash protections. Out-of-state energy corporations who have no long-term commitment to Illinois communities are not a good bet for our local economies. Let’s invest in Illinois communities, not Rauner’s friends at Texas’s big coal companies. Illinois needs sustainable jobs for working families and bold economic development powered by 100% clean energy,” said Darin.
Next week environmental advocates will rally at the State Capitol in the hundreds and others will fly to DC to testify against USEPA Head Scott Pruitt’s attempted rollbacks on coal ash pollution. Thousands of Illinoisans are negatively impacted by what is being called Rauner’s “big coal agenda” and a growing grassroots movement is continuing to build across the state in opposition to it.
About the Sierra Club
The Sierra Club is America’s largest and most influential grassroots environmental organization, with more than 3 million members and supporters. In addition to helping people from all backgrounds explore nature and our outdoor heritage, the Sierra Club works to promote clean energy, safeguard the health of our communities, protect wildlife, and preserve our remaining wild places through grassroots activism, public education, lobbying, and legal action. For more information, visit www.sierraclub.org.