Regional Web banner January
Rich Miller

Rich Miller

Energy bill running out of steam

By Rich Miller

While a huge cloud of coal ash exploded around Springfield’s coal-fired electric power plant late in the afternoon, the state’s top three Democrats were huddled in a Statehouse conference room, trying to find a way to slash electric power plant carbon emissions to zero by 2045.

The irony was both unmistakable and irresistible.

RichMiller 1

Rich Miller

The giant ash plume, caused by an equipment failure, finally dissipated hours later. But by then it was also clear that any attempt to pass a climate/energy bill by the end of the day was doomed – and that was a human failure.

The Senate Democrats have controlled the negotiations on the climate/energy bill for more than two years, but Gov. JB Pritzker’s office has obviously wanted to take control of the process from the very start. They just think they know better, on this and many other topics.

That conflict has led to untold sniping, which is not surprising because Gov. Pritzker and Senate President Don Harmon have battled since even before Pritzker backed a candidate against Harmon in the Senate President’s race in early 2020.

Gov. Pritzker walked away from the energy talks at the end of this past spring session when Harmon wouldn’t agree to close the state’s two municipally owned coal-fired electric power plants in Springfield and the Metro East by 2035. Pritzker again walked away in mid-June when Harmon tried to piggyback onto the week’s session agenda of correcting the House appropriations bill’s many fatal mistakes with a bill to fix the climate/energy bill.

But Harmon ultimately couldn’t unite unions and environmentalists on the new legislation, even though Pritzker agreed by then to extend the coal plant closure dates to 2045.

Then history repeated itself last week when the General Assembly’s focus was supposed to be on the legislative remap do-over. Harmon couldn’t close the climate/energy deal talks amidst numerous large and small objections from the governor and the greens. Blame Harmon, blame Pritzker, blame whomever. The talks failed.

Three strikes, you’re out, etc., so now the ball is in Pritzker’s court. Harmon finally surrendered control and punted a climate/energy bill to the House, where Speaker Chris Welch has warned both Pritzker and Harmon that he isn’t moving a bill unless all three agree to it.

Harmon’s game plan has obviously been to appease trade unions in order to fund his redistricting-year campaigns in 2022. Speaker Welch has never expected to receive the same level of support from the white-dominated trades that flooded the kitty of his predecessor, Michael Madigan, so he appears to be aligning himself with our billionaire governor to help fund the 2022 season.

But, in reality, maybe it was time to hand all this over to fresh eyes, because what the Senate was doing just didn’t move the ball forward enough.

The proceedings last week often devolved into petty one-upmanship.

The week’s initial Senate Democratic proposal imposed such strict limitations on carbon emissions by the municipally owned electric power plants like Springfield’s CWLP and the Metro East’s gigantic Prairie State Energy Campus that there was no likely way either plant could survive until 2045, even though no closure date was inserted into the legislation. But the governor had demanded a “date certain” closure for both plants, so the Senate Dems drastically revised their bill to allow the plants to pump out 100 percent of the carbon they are currently spewing all the way through to 2045, and then only then would they have to stop. No way would that be acceptable. It was an almost juvenile response.

The governor’s office countered with a combination of proposals: Scale down the coal plants’ carbon emissions over the years and then shut everything down in 2045. The proposal was rejected out of hand.

Senate President Harmon told reporters he believed it was too uneconomical for the companies to both reduce their carbon footprint and stop production before they’d finished paying for their pollution-reduction efforts. The governor’s office believes the plants qualify for federal tax credits to subsidize the step-down, and they want time to convince Prairie State to take the money and the deal. Word is that an offer has been made directly to the electricity provider.

Unless attitudes change, the whole thing might just turn out to be too big for a state legislature to tackle. Harmon called the energy bill the most complicated piece of legislation he’s dealt with in 21 years. He’s probably right.

Rich Miller also publishes Capitol Fax, a daily political newsletter, and CapitolFax.com.

Local News

palos tax appeal flyer for 1-26-22

Palos Township tax appeal workshop on January 26

For 68 years the Palos Area Chamber of Commerce has remained actively involved in the everyday life of the Palos area, residents and business community. (Supplied photo)

Palos Area Chamber dedicated to promoting area

By Kelly White Dedicated to helping local area businesses strive is the Palos Area Chamber of Commerce. The chamber was formed in 1949 when a small group of merchants joined together for the purpose of advancing economic, industrial, professional, cultural, and civic welfare of the Palos Heights area. For 68 years, the Palos Area Chamber…

Peggy Zabicki

We need real solutions to crime

By Peggy Zabicki Your correspondent in West Lawn 3633 W. 60th Place • (773) 504-9327 Crime and safety concerns are the number one topic of all the calls and texts I receive. It seems that many politicians offer no solutions except the usual lists of ways to keep safe. I think everyone knows about locking their cars…

Mary Stanek

Icy spill yielded plenty of good will

By Mary Stanek Your correspondent in Archer Heights and West Elsdon 3808 W. 57th Place • (773) 284-7394 Here is a giant shout out to our first responders in the community. On Jan. 9, when a sheet of ice descended on Chicago, I was walking the dog. Walking around Peck School was great. Their snow…

Joan Hadac

It’s a busy January in Gage Park

By Joan Hadac Neighborhood correspondent at large Greetings, Gage Parkers! I’m pleased to be filling in this week for Karen Sala. It’s fun for me to report on Gage Park, the neighborhood where I lived for the first 26 years of my life. There’s always something happening in this big, exciting part of Chicago, so…

Kathy Headley

You can bank on good service here

By Kathy Headley Your correspondent in Chicago Lawn and Marquette Manor 6610 S. Francisco • (773) 776-7778 In this world of corporate takeovers, it is kind of hard to feel safe in the hands of big business. First, we have to supply some of our personal information to the automated system. Then there’s the seemingly…

Palos Park police will hold an active shooter training session on January 30. (Supplied photo)

Palos Park police to hold active shooter drill

From staff reports Palos Park Police will fine tune their strategies for dealing with an active shooter to ensure the safety of both officers and citizens later this month. The end goal of the January 30 drlll is to test the department’s active shooter response plans and fine tune them. “Palos Park effective preventive measures…

Richards High School Principal Dr. Mike Jacobson and several staff members at the high school, 10601 Central Ave., Oak Lawn, walked for 24 hours on a treadmill to raise money for student scholarships starting bright and early on New Year's Day. (Supplied photos)

Richards’ Principal walks 24 hours for a cause

By Kelly White Most people spend New Year’s Day relaxing. Richards High School Principal Dr. Mike Jacobson spent it on the treadmill. For the second year in a row, Jacobson inspired generous donations of more than $20,000 on New Year’s Day by walking 24 hours on a treadmill without stopping. All of the money raised goes directly to benefit…

Victress Women's Wellness Center, 7120 W. 127th St., Palos Heights, welcomed in the new year with a goal-setting seminar open to women in the local community called, Achieve 2022: This year set goals, not resolutions. (Supplied photos)

Victress Women’s Wellness Center sets goals for 2022

By Kelly White Empowering women in the new year is Victress, a wellness center for women, in Palos Heights. The center opened in October at 7120 W. 127th St. and welcomed in the new year with a goal-setting seminar open to women in the local community called, Achieve 2022: This year set goals, not resolutions.…

Engineer Carl Germann (left) and executive producer Ron Jankowski helped Channel 4 in Palos Heights to a successful 2021. (Photo by Jeff Vorva)

Broadcast news — Palos Heights’ Channel 4 has big 2021

By Jeff Vorva The first Palos Heights city council meeting of 2022 featured a few minutes of bragging about Channel 4’s success in 2021. The local cable channel had a record-breaking year and Alderman Jerry McGovern was more than happy to run down the happy totals at Tuesday’s board meeting at City Hall. There were…

Neighbors

DVN JCs Restoration House Ad
Cook County Sheriff ad.2
palos tax appeal flyer for 1-26-22

Palos Township tax appeal workshop on January 26

For 68 years the Palos Area Chamber of Commerce has remained actively involved in the everyday life of the Palos area, residents and business community. (Supplied photo)

Palos Area Chamber dedicated to promoting area

By Kelly White Dedicated to helping local area businesses strive is the Palos Area Chamber of Commerce. The chamber was formed in 1949 when a small group of merchants joined together for the purpose of advancing economic, industrial, professional, cultural, and civic welfare of the Palos Heights area. For 68 years, the Palos Area Chamber…

Peggy Zabicki

We need real solutions to crime

By Peggy Zabicki Your correspondent in West Lawn 3633 W. 60th Place • (773) 504-9327 Crime and safety concerns are the number one topic of all the calls and texts I receive. It seems that many politicians offer no solutions except the usual lists of ways to keep safe. I think everyone knows about locking their cars…

Mary Stanek

Icy spill yielded plenty of good will

By Mary Stanek Your correspondent in Archer Heights and West Elsdon 3808 W. 57th Place • (773) 284-7394 Here is a giant shout out to our first responders in the community. On Jan. 9, when a sheet of ice descended on Chicago, I was walking the dog. Walking around Peck School was great. Their snow…

Joan Hadac

It’s a busy January in Gage Park

By Joan Hadac Neighborhood correspondent at large Greetings, Gage Parkers! I’m pleased to be filling in this week for Karen Sala. It’s fun for me to report on Gage Park, the neighborhood where I lived for the first 26 years of my life. There’s always something happening in this big, exciting part of Chicago, so…

Kathy Headley

You can bank on good service here

By Kathy Headley Your correspondent in Chicago Lawn and Marquette Manor 6610 S. Francisco • (773) 776-7778 In this world of corporate takeovers, it is kind of hard to feel safe in the hands of big business. First, we have to supply some of our personal information to the automated system. Then there’s the seemingly…

Palos Park police will hold an active shooter training session on January 30. (Supplied photo)

Palos Park police to hold active shooter drill

From staff reports Palos Park Police will fine tune their strategies for dealing with an active shooter to ensure the safety of both officers and citizens later this month. The end goal of the January 30 drlll is to test the department’s active shooter response plans and fine tune them. “Palos Park effective preventive measures…

Richards High School Principal Dr. Mike Jacobson and several staff members at the high school, 10601 Central Ave., Oak Lawn, walked for 24 hours on a treadmill to raise money for student scholarships starting bright and early on New Year's Day. (Supplied photos)

Richards’ Principal walks 24 hours for a cause

By Kelly White Most people spend New Year’s Day relaxing. Richards High School Principal Dr. Mike Jacobson spent it on the treadmill. For the second year in a row, Jacobson inspired generous donations of more than $20,000 on New Year’s Day by walking 24 hours on a treadmill without stopping. All of the money raised goes directly to benefit…

Victress Women's Wellness Center, 7120 W. 127th St., Palos Heights, welcomed in the new year with a goal-setting seminar open to women in the local community called, Achieve 2022: This year set goals, not resolutions. (Supplied photos)

Victress Women’s Wellness Center sets goals for 2022

By Kelly White Empowering women in the new year is Victress, a wellness center for women, in Palos Heights. The center opened in October at 7120 W. 127th St. and welcomed in the new year with a goal-setting seminar open to women in the local community called, Achieve 2022: This year set goals, not resolutions.…

Engineer Carl Germann (left) and executive producer Ron Jankowski helped Channel 4 in Palos Heights to a successful 2021. (Photo by Jeff Vorva)

Broadcast news — Palos Heights’ Channel 4 has big 2021

By Jeff Vorva The first Palos Heights city council meeting of 2022 featured a few minutes of bragging about Channel 4’s success in 2021. The local cable channel had a record-breaking year and Alderman Jerry McGovern was more than happy to run down the happy totals at Tuesday’s board meeting at City Hall. There were…

CRR NH Harmony Restaurant House Ad
Regional dermatology associates House Ad