Jan. 5, 2018 – Peoria Journal Star – Spotlight: Continue to invest in power plants and communities

On behalf of the nearly 900,000 members of the Illinois AFL-CIO, I encourage the Illinois Pollution Control Board (IPCB) to approve the revision to Illinois’ Multi-Pollutant Standard air emissions rule filed by the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency (IEPA). We support this revision as it is the best path forward to preserve air quality while protecting jobs and sustaining economic vitality in the state of Illinois.

Nearly $2 billion has already been invested in the power generation facilities originally covered by this rule, significantly reducing sulfur dioxide, nitrogen oxides and other emissions in recent years. Since 1998, Dynegy has reduced SO2 emissions by 90 percent and reached similar reductions in other emissions. The emissions control projects at these downstate plant sites provided more than 4,000 union construction jobs.

Dynegy is presently meeting its compliance obligations and these revisions do nothing to change its obligations regarding additional emission controls going forward. Given Dynegy’s investments and compliance history, it is important to ensure they have the operational flexibility to run their fleet in the most efficient manner while protecting the environment. These proposed revisions will allow Dynegy to more efficiently invest in its power plants, communities, and workers.

Dynegy’s facilities across central and southern Illinois employ more than 700 highly skilled, well-paid union members and provide hundreds of part-time building trades jobs for maintenance and upgrades. Dynegy supports over 8,000 direct and indirect jobs in Illinois. It generates more than $2 billion in benefits to the Illinois economy, directly impacting 80 of 102 counties, with millions of dollars in property tax payments supporting local schools and emergency services.

We fully support strong environmental standards. The revised rule will reduce allowable emissions from the Dynegy fleet. This revision effectively balances environmental protection with a sensible regulatory framework, bringing Illinois in line with other annual federal compliance standards. Under the revised rule, the fleet would be subject to a hard cap on allowable sulfur dioxide (SO2) and nitrogen oxides (NOx) emissions. With this single limit cap, the amount of annual emissions allowed would be lower than under the current rule, including a 17 percent reduction in SO2 emissions and a 24 percent reduction in NOx emissions.

Public health is protected by short-term — one-hour, three-hour, 24-hour — National Ambient Air Quality Standards-based emission limits. This change not only allows for operational flexibility and is good government practice, but the science also proves it is a win for the environment.

For the sake of individuals, families, communities and businesses across central and southern Illinois, I urge the IPCB to approve IEPA’s request to revise Illinois’ Multi-Pollutant Standard.

Michael T. Carrigan is president of the Illinois AFL-CIO, based in Springfield.

Read the online version here.