Latest posts by Nancy Thorner and Ed Ingold (see all)
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On Thursday, June 1, 2017, Trump withdrew from the Paris Climate Accord, negotiated by President Obama and 195 countries in Dec. 2015, which elicited howls of protests from the likes of Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel. Emanuel and others eviscerated Trump for refusing to honor Obama’s commitment, a treaty which Obama declined to submit to the Senate for ratification.
In the Rose Garden announcement, the president made this remark:
“In order to fulfill my solemn duty to protect America and its citizens, the United States will withdraw from the Paris climate accord. Withdrawing represents a reassertion of America’s sovereignty.”
What exactly does the agreement entail that would infringe on the ability of this nation to grow its economy and create jobs?
Under the agreement, the United States was required to cut its carbon-dioxide emissions 28 percent below 2005 levels by 2025 and provide billions of dollars in funding to the United Nations’ Green climate Fund. A NERA Economic reportshowed that meeting the carbon-dioxide targets imposed on the United States would force the premature closing of many of the nation’s least-expensive power plants, would cost the U.S. economy nearly $3 trillion, and by 2040, the United States would have lost 6.5 million industrial-sector jobs, including 3.1 million manufacturing jobs.
Push Back Against Trump’s Withdrawal
It took only a day for a California-led alliance of dozens of corporations, states and cities across the country to respond to Trump’s attack on the worldwide agreement. Banding together, a loose coalition has been formed, whose intent is to try and meet US greenhouse gas emission targets set by the pact without Washington, D.C.
Three hundred and thirty-one U.S. Mayors, including Chicago’s own Mayor Rahm Emanuel, agreed to intensify efforts to meet each of our cities’ current climate goals, push for new action to meet the 1.5 degrees Celsius target, and work together to create a 21st century clean energy economy. As quoted in the article:
We will continue to lead. We are increasing investments in renewable energy and energy efficiency. We will buy and create more demand for electric cars and trucks. We will increase our efforts to cut greenhouse gas emissions, create a clean energy economy, and stand for environmental justice. And if the President wants to break the promises made to our allies enshrined in the historic Paris Agreement, we’ll build and strengthen relationships around the world to protect the planet from devastating climate risks. The world cannot wait — and neither will we.
A week later, Friday, June 9, Illinois Democrat constitutional officers — State Treasurer Mike Frerichs and other top elected officials — joined with radical environmentalists to demand that Governor Rauner join the California-led Climate Alliance. The letter, in part, read (no Republican signed on):
“As governor, your decisions affect life within our borders and in the world at large, and many people throughout our state are looking for your leadership on this issue. To date, we have not heard your stand on this issue. We encourage you to join your peers from California, New York and Washington and lead in combating global warming, drought, stronger storms and other catastrophes that would decimate Illinois’ economy from Southern and Central Illinois farms to Chicago’s lakefront.”
Paris Climate Accord Sets Unreachable Targets
It will be a heavy lift. States and cities would need to meet a pledge to reduce America’s greenhouse gas emissions to 28% below 2005 levels by 2025, America’s self-declared target under the Paris Accord deal. Even with these efforts, the estimated effect on global temperature, by the year 2100, is about 0.2 degrees Celsius.
Illinois produces only about one-third of the energy it consumes, including petroleum, coal, natural gas and electricity. The rest is imported from a few states like North Dakota and Texas, which produce more than they consume. Implementation of Illinois’ version of the Paris Accord will cost jobs and cause businesses to flee to adjoining states and southern states who value jobs over ideology. Those remaining will be increasingly forced to move to large urban areas, like Chicago, to reduce cost. People will have to follow, because transportation will be crippled and road construction will be greatly reduced. Housing prices will tumble even more than they already have, as more people move out or to the city and in from other states.
Democrats and environmentalists that insist that the entire state of Illinois should adhere to the Paris Accord goals, by their extremist beliefs, only assure that Illinoisans will become economically trapped, unable to flee higher taxes, and confronted with more regulations and lower wages. That leaves Mike Madigan and others who control Illinois free to further pursue Illinois’ trajectory of debt and self-destruction. In that the most fundamental freedom of all is the ability to vote with your feet, that right is always the first to go under a despotic government.
For many years coal was the second largest electricity provider in Illinois, with ample coal reserves in Southern Illinois, but as a fossil fuel which emits CO2, coal is now the whipping boy of the environments and those who believes that renewable energy sources can replace fossil fuels. In 2016, coal provided less than one-third of new power generation.
Wind power and sun as substitutes for coal or nuclear power?
The sun doesn’t shine at night (and in Illinois, not every day either). The wind is unreliable too. In traveling thorough the windmill belt in Illinois and Indiana, many times the windmills are idle. That’s why ComEd wanted a peak usage fee to make up for their losses as backup to the whims of nature.
According to State Profile and Energy Estimates, Illinois was sixth in the nation in terms of installed wind capacity in 2016, with more than 4,000 megawatts on-line. Solar power provided less than 0.1% of the state’s net electricity generation. A study by the IER (Institute for Energy Research), which notes the status of renewable Energy in all states, indicates that Illinois is not on track to meet its mandate of 25% from renewables by 2025, mandated by a state bill signed by Governor Rauner in December of 2016.
Meanwhile, Illinois leads the nation in electricity generation from nuclear power. About half of all net electricity generation in Illinois is produced by the state’s six nuclear power plants with their eleven reactors. Because of economic issues in the electricity market, two stations were scheduled to closein 2017 and 2018, but the Illinois legislature in late 2016 approved measures to keep the stations operating another decade. As a typical nuclear plant is 800-1000 MW. Closing two nuclear plants would have placed Illinois at the breakeven point or with a net deficit for electricity.
Renewable are Costly
Electricity prices are already nearly 40 percent higher in States with renewable electricity mandates. Illinois ranks 21st in the cost of electricity. The idea that the U.S. economy can be run solely with renewable energy — a claim that leftist politicians, environmentalists, and climate activists have endlessly promoted — has always been a fool’s errand.
This report by the Center for Data Analysis (CDA) provides a comprehensive economic analysis of what a Renewable Electricity Standard (RES), if imposed at the federal level, would really cost Americans:
- Raise electricity prices by 36 percent for households and 60 percent for industry;
- Cut national income (GDP) by $5.2 trillion between 2012 and 2035;
- Cut national income by $2,400 per year for a family of four;
- Reduce employment by more than 1,000,000 jobs; and
- Add more than $10,000 to a family of four’s share of the national debt by 2035.
Should Illinoisans tolerate the defiance exhibited here in Illinois to follow the dictates of the economic disastrous Paris Climate accord, given the near junk bond status of the state, and when the accord has nothing to do with climate change and everything to do with punishing the US for being too industrial, too successful, too Western, and a host of other supposed evils that cause leftists to become unhinged?
This comment by Jay Lehr, Ph.D., science director at the Heartland Institute, sums up the situation:
Everything Illinois does to cut emissions will simply punish its citizens with no benefits whatever. It is just plain stupidity, which the Left embraces, as it will help bring capitalism states and cities to their knees. Let them do so, and maybe one day Illinois voters will get wise.
Rauner must ignore Illinois’ “Dumbocrats” who are intent on imposing Chicken Little nonsense on the citizens of Illinois, as it’s a recipe for disaster.
[First published at Illinois Review.]