Thousands Of Petitioners Support Clean Energy In Illinois

SPRINGFIELD-- Brian Sauder says, "The economic interests of the day will rule how this clean power plan is shaped in Illinois, and that's why we're speaking up and feel like we have a moral obligation."

Boxes and boxes of signatures --nearly 20k-- all supporting the EPA's clean power plan, delivered to the Governor's office Tuesday. Sauder says they're "thanking him for his support, but saying, 'hey we need to prioritize reducing air pollution in our communities.' and we can do that through energy efficiency and creating green jobs."

The goal is to reduce carbon pollution from exisiting power plants. The EPA's plan has plenty of support in Illinois from environmental agencies, but there's one industry that may be hurt by the plan. Illinois's coal power producers. Collectively, the state's coal burning power plants account for nearly half of Illinois's power production. And if they shut down --or even cut back on production-- jobs would dry up, as well.

Michelle Knox owns a wind energy company. She says environmentalists are working to address that problem, too. "I think we really have an opportunity with this emerging market for job retraining." She says programs are already in place to help teach current and future workers the skills needed in the clean energy sector.

"Here in Springfield we're working with Lincoln Land Community College to offer renewable energy courses. And more colleges are developing curriculums so that we can continue to train this work force." Officials with CWLP and others in the coal industry say Central Illinois plants are some of the cleanest in the country. But backers of the EPA's plan say despite addressing the problem now -- that's not good enough. Sauder says, "We've had enough. We think it's time for us to step up."