Press Release - Thursday, November 15, 2007
Governor Blagojevich signs Midwestern Regional Greenhouse Gas Reduction Accord
CHICAGO - Governor Rod R. Blagojevich and the governors of Iowa, Kansas, Michigan, Minnesota and Wisconsin today signed the Midwestern Regional Greenhouse Gas Reduction Accord, strengthening his commitment to fight global warming in Illinois and throughout the Midwest. This historic agreement aims to greatly reduce greenhouse gas emissions (GHGs) in Illinois and across the region. The Accord will help achieve the goal Gov. Blagojevich announced in February to reduce GHGs in Illinois to 1990 levels by 2020 and to 60 percent below 1990 levels by 2050.
"I'm proud to join my fellow Midwestern governors to strengthen our energy security and fight global warming. America's heartland is ready to lead our nation toward a smarter, cleaner energy future because Illinois and the Midwest can't - and won't - wait for federal action," said Gov. Blagojevich. "We can have economic prosperity, energy security and a healthy environment at the same time - because innovation and investment in next-generation clean technologies will make us more competitive and create jobs, while saving energy and cutting greenhouse gases."
Illinois' participation in Midwestern Regional Greenhouse Gas Reduction Accord to reduce greenhouse gas emissions is critical toward its success and is significant for the Midwest and the nation. Illinois is the largest Midwestern state and the state's economy is a microcosm of the national economy with significant agricultural, industrial, and coal mining sectors. In addition, Illinois relies significantly on coal to meet the state's energy needs.
By signing the Regional Greenhouse Gas Accord, Midwestern Governors agreed to set regional GHG reduction goals and to develop a "cap & trade" program to achieve these goals. Under cap & trade, total GHG emissions are capped and gradually decrease, allowing facilities that emit GHGs, such as power plants and factories, to buy and sell pollution "credits" according to each company's ability to cost-effectively reduce their GHG emissions. Companies that cannot cut back emissions as cheaply would buy allowances from firms that can cost-effectively reduce their GHG emissions beyond what is required.
Within the next year, governors will establish regional targets for greenhouse gas emission reductions and complete development of a proposed cap & trade system. The Accord builds on existing greenhouse gas reduction efforts in each Midwestern state as well as two existing regional efforts in the northeast and the west. The Midwestern Accord is the largest and most ambitious in terms of total GHG emissions targeted of the existing regional efforts by Northeastern and Western states.
In addition, Gov. Blagojevich and the governors of eight Midwestern states signed a series of agreements to strengthen the region's energy security and cut GHG emissions by promoting energy efficiency and taking advantage of the Midwest's unique ability to produce cleaner fuels and electricity from crops, wind and coal. Midwestern states are leading the nation in the development of renewable energy and energy efficiency programs. The Midwest boasts world-class renewable energy resources that support rapidly growing wind energy, corn ethanol and biodiesel industries, and has the potential for robust cellulosic biomass and solar industries.
The agreements established goals to, for example:
- Expand availability of ethanol at retail gas stations by increasing the number of stations offering 85% ethanol fuel (E85) to 4,400 retail stations (15% of total stations in Midwest) in 2015 increasing to 9,700 stations (25%) by 2025.
- Generate more power from clean, renewable sources so at 10% of electricity consumed in the Midwest from wind power and other renewable energy sources to 10% by 2015, increasing to 30% by 2030.
- Cut pollution and utility bills by meeting at least 2% of Midwestern electricity and natural gas needs through use of energy-saving technologies by 2015.
- Capture and store carbon dioxide from all new power plants by 2020.
- Complete plans for a multi-state pipeline to transport carbon dioxide from coal gasification plants to oil fields suitable for enhanced oil recovery and underground storage of CO2.
To support these shared goals, the Midwestern states launched new cooperative regional initiatives to address the following:
- Carbon dioxide management to create a regional transportation and storage infrastructure;
- A bioproduct procurement program to support the growth of the region's bioeconomy;
- Electricity transmission adequacy to support thousands of new megawatts of wind energy;
- Renewable fuels corridors and coordinated signage to promote renewable fuel usage across the Midwest;
- Advanced bioenergy permitting to assist states with the latest technologies; and
- Low-carbon energy transmission infrastructure that will provide a cost-effective way to supply the Midwest with sustainable and environmentally responsible energy.
Under Gov. Blagojevich's leadership, Illinois has helped lead the Midwest and the nation in fighting climate change:
- In October 2006, Gov. Blagojevich launched his Global Warming Initiative by signing an Executive Order that created the Illinois Climate Change Advisory Group (ICCAG), the first such effort by a Midwest state. The Governor tasked the ICCAG with developing strategies to meet his goal of cutting GHGs in Illinois to 1990 levels by 2020 and to 60 percent below 1990 levels by 2050. The ICCAG's report to the Governor is expected to be completed by the end of the year.
- As part of the Governor's Global Warming Initiative, Illinois joined New Mexico to become only the second state in the nation to join the Chicago Climate Exchange (CCX). As a CCX member, the state makes a voluntary, but legally binding, commitment to reduce GHG emissions from state buildings and vehicle fleets.
- Gov. Blagojevich recently signed into law a renewable energy standard that requires utilities to supply 25% of their power from wind power and other renewable energy sources by 2025. The governor also approved an energy efficiency standard that requires utilities to meet 2% of their customers' energy needs through energy savings by 2015. Both standards, among the nation's strongest, will bring more wind power to Illinois and will use energy savings to cut greenhouse gases and lower utility bills for Illinois families and businesses.
- Earlier this year Illinois became a founding member of The Climate Registry, a voluntary North American GHG tracking system for businesses and governments to document their current levels of GHG emissions. Currently, The Climate Registry is comprised of 39 U.S. States, the District of Columbia, 3 Canadian Provinces, 3 tribes and one Mexican state comprehensively addressing GHGs.
- On Earth Day 2007, Gov. Blagojevich announced that the State will plant two million additional native trees annually, which will absorb approximately 200,000 metric tons of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere annually by 2020, equivalent to taking 36,000 cars off the road.
- In February 2007, the Governor joined California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger and executives from BP to launch the Energy Biosciences Institute to be based at the University of Illinois-Urbana/Champaign and the University of California, Berkeley, to research next-generation homegrown biofuels made from crops that will cut GHG emissions, boost America's energy independence and create new markets for Illinois farmers.
- In January 2007, Gov. Blagojevich celebrated final approval of rules he introduced to dramatically improve air quality and protect public health by slashing mercury, sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxide emissions from the three largest coal-fired power plant companies in Illinois. The companies are also required to shut down three of their oldest, least efficient boiler units, leading to a reduction of 2.1 million tons of greenhouse gases annually.
- Gov. Blagojevich has approved incentives and programs that helped make Illinois the number one consumer of biodiesel in the nation. Illinois also has the second largest number of retail gasoline stations selling E-85 (85% ethanol) - up from 25 in 2003 to more than 140 today.
- Last July, the Governor announced the State of Illinois would begin powering 141 Springfield-based facilities under his control with clean renewable wind energy purchased from the Springfield's municipal utility company, City Water Light and Power.