Representing the interest of Illinois’ coal industry, State Senator Dale Fowler (R-Harrisburg) spoke before the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to voice his support for the Affordable Clean Energy (ACE) rule proposal on October 1.
“Those in our coal industry and the individuals who already struggle to afford their power bill need more advocates to stand for their needs at both the state and federal levels,” said Fowler. “Today I’m here to be that advocate and voice, working to remove the bureaucratic red tape that has threatened a major industry in Southern Illinois and the hard earned dollars of the people I represent.”
The ACE rule is the most-recent proposal put forth by EPA to replace the existing greenhouse emissions guidelines, the Clean Power Plan (CPP). Put in place in 2015, the CPP was touted as a means to address growing carbon emissions from power plants.
However, opponents challenged the unprecedented environmental initiative, noting how the EPA’s original proposal was an overreaching mandate that would hurt the coal industry. Voicing their concerns, 150 entities, including 27 states, 24 trade associations, 37 rural electric co-ops, and three labor unions challenged the rule with a bipartisan majority of the U.S. Congress formally disapproving of the CPP.
“What the ACE rule proposes to do is address the long-term, irreversible consequences of the CCP, empowering states with the authority to reduce emissions according to their regulations and provide affordable power to residents,” said Fowler. “Working to reduce harmful emissions is a priority, but the reality is that the CPP was going to hurt an important industry to my region and other mining outfits throughout the nation. That’s not progress, that’s irresponsible policy.”
According to an independent economic analysis by NERA, CPP’s overreach would have cost up to $292 billion and caused double digit electricity price increases in 40 states. Meanwhile, the ACE rule proposal is expected to promote efficiency improvement projects at US power plants, update the EPA’s New Source Review permitting program and provide affordable energy to Americans while reducing CO2 emissions.
"The Clean Power Plan replacement, the Affordable Clean Energy (ACE) Rule, is a welcomed return to a lawful framework for regulation of power plant emissions that will benefit ratepayers of Illinois and the country," said Phil Gonet, President of the Illinois Coal Association.
Currently, there are 100 billion tons of recoverable coal beneath the borders of Illinois. Proponents for the ACE rule proposal contend that rolling back the harmful and ineffective CPP initiative will help pave the way for the growth of the coal industry in the future, providing regulatory certainty to the states and energy sectors.
“The 59th Senate District has a rich coal mining industry, employing 43% of the state’s coal mine workers and producing 58 percent of Illinois’ coal in 2017. It's a vital industry to my district and this state,” said Fowler. “Under the current, one-size-fits-all mandate put in place under the Obama Administration, the coal industry was suffering with low and middle-income Americans left to foot the bill on rising energy costs.”
After taking office, the Trump Administration issued an Executive Order, directing the EPA to review the CCP. In response the ACE rule proposal was developed. The EPA held a public hearing on the proposed ACE rule proposal at the Ralph Metcalfe Federal Building in Chicago to receive public feedback on the newly-developed guidelines.