"We've worked hard in Illinois to
become a national leader in reducing toxic pollutants like mercury,
sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxide," Blagojevich said. "The next
front is greenhouse gases. The impact of global warming from
greenhouse gases in Illinois and around the globe could be
devastating. We can't wait for the federal government to act,
because experts have warned that if we don't address global warming
within the next decade, it may be too late to avoid serious and
An executive order signed by the governor on Thursday creates the
Illinois Climate Change Advisory Group, which will consider the full
range of policies and strategies to reduce greenhouse gas emissions
in Illinois and make recommendations to the governor. The advisory
group will have broad representation, including business leaders,
labor unions, the energy and agricultural industries, scientists,
economists, and environmental groups from throughout the state. The
governor named Doug Scott, director of the Illinois Environmental
Protection Agency, as chairman of the advisory group.
The governor also announced Thursday that Illinois will join New
Mexico to become only the second state in the nation to join the
Chicago Climate Exchange. As a member, the state makes a voluntary,
but legally binding, commitment to reduce greenhouse gas emissions
from the electricity and fuel needed to operate state facilities and
motor vehicles. The reduction target applies only to state
Scientists have reached consensus that increasing emissions of
carbon dioxide from the combustion of fossil fuels, methane from
landfills and other sources of greenhouse gases are trapping heat
and causing the earth's atmosphere to warm. According to scientists,
global warming could cause a variety of serious problems in
Illinois, including more frequent droughts, flooding and extreme
heat events. Such changes could decrease agricultural production,
overwhelm sewage infrastructure and cause property damage. Increased
temperatures could also lead to dangerous increases in the level of
air pollution and to the introduction of invasive species that could
damage native ecosystems.
"By acting now we can take important steps to reduce our
greenhouse gas emissions and realize the economic development
benefits that strategies to confront climate change can offer," said
Scott, the Illinois EPA director. "Promoting energy-efficient
technology, homegrown renewable energy from wind power and biofuels,
as well as systems to trap and store carbon dioxide emissions will
curtail our greenhouse gas emissions while triggering greater
investment and job creation in Illinois."
"Solving global warming problems is the challenge of our
generation," said Howard A. Learner, executive director of the
Environmental Law and Policy Center. "While the federal government
is stalling, Governor Blagojevich is stepping up Illinois' efforts
to promote important global warming solutions. The governor's
climate change initiative and recent energy independence plan can
help move Illinois to the forefront of the growing global movement
to develop clean energy, cleaner cars and more energy-efficient
buildings that will help reduce global warming pollution. That can
benefit our economy, our environment and future generations."
"Three cheers for the governor's acknowledgement that we can and
must set a course in Illinois to address our contribution to global
warming," said Rebecca Stanfield, director of Environment Illinois
and the Illinois Global Warming Solutions Campaign. "We are now
moving beyond the question of whether to take action and are moving
on to figuring out how to do it in Illinois."
The Chicago Climate
Exchange is North America's only, and the world's first,
greenhouse gas emissions registry, reduction and trading system. By
2010, members are required to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 6
percent compared with their average emissions between 1998 and 2001.
Members that cannot meet their emissions reductions targets can buy
credits from members that have exceeded their required reductions or
from farmers or others who have reduced carbon releases to the
The Chicago Climate Exchange, known as CCX, is an Illinois-based
company with more than 100 members, including large industrial
companies, utilities, universities, cities and nongovernmental
organizations. Members based in Illinois include Baxter Healthcare
International, Motorola, Square D Electronics and the city of
By joining CCX, the state of Illinois is "taking a meaningful
step to reduce global warming caused by our own facilities and
vehicles, and we're setting an example for others to follow," the
governor said. "I believe in market-based approaches to combating
climate change, and CCX is at the forefront of this movement. The
lessons we learn will help in developing future policies to
significantly reduce greenhouse gas emissions."
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"We are proud and excited that the state of Illinois has
announced its commitment to join CCX, which only underscores the
leadership the state had held in finance, agriculture and industry
over the years," said Dr. Richard Sandor, Chicago Climate Exchange
chairman and chief executive officer. "CCX membership will help
Illinois build upon its unparalleled expertise in these three
sectors to help address global climate change, manage energy use
wisely and help forge a solution to important environmental
challenges that can reward and strengthen all relevant economic
sectors in the state."
"By joining the Chicago Climate Exchange, the state of Illinois
is demonstrating the leadership that is needed to address climate
change, a crucial issue facing corporations and society at large
today," said Art Gibson, vice president of environment, health and
safety at Baxter. "Membership in CCX has helped Baxter prepare for
evolving global approaches toward addressing global warming." Baxter
was one of the 14 original charter members of the group and the
first health care company to join.
Since Blagojevich took office in 2003, the state has taken
numerous steps to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, including:
overall number of state vehicles by 11 percent, from 13,635 in
2003 to 12,100 now.
number of flex-fuel vehicles in the state fleet from 1,339 in
2000, which was 10 percent of the fleet, to 1,944 now, or 16
percent of the fleet.
Increasing the use
of renewable and cleaner burning ethanol and biodiesel in the
state fleet. More than 1 million gallons of biofuels have been
consumed by state vehicles since April 2004.
Saving $5 million
last winter by turning back the thermostats in state buildings.
facilities with electricity generated by wind power and other
renewable energy sources.
efficiency and conservation efforts at state facilities.
These efforts curtail greenhouse gas emissions and save taxpayer
money by limiting the state's use of electricity and petroleum-based
This summer, the governor proposed the nation's most innovative
and aggressive energy independence plan, including additional
strategies to reduce carbon emissions by boosting investments in
energy-efficient technologies, renewable power generation and
homegrown fuels made from Illinois coal, corn and soybeans. The
initiative also includes a planned pipeline to help capture carbon
dioxide emissions from new coal gasification plants.
Earlier this year, the state launched the Illinois Conservation
and Climate Initiative in partnership with the Chicago Climate
Exchange. The joint initiative offers farmers and other landowners
the opportunity to earn and sell greenhouse gas emissions credits
through CCX when they take steps to trap carbon dioxide and reduce
methane emissions by using conservation tillage, planting grasses
and trees, or capturing methane with manure digesters. These
practices keep carbon in the soil and plants instead of being
released as carbon dioxide. Illinois is the first state to sponsor
such a program. Nearly 200 landowners, mostly farmers, have
"From the governor's energy independence plan to the Illinois
Conservation and Climate Initiative, Illinois has an ongoing
commitment to reducing the impact of global warming," said Scott,
the state EPA director. "Joining the Climate Exchange is another
proactive effort by the state to reduce the greenhouse gases that
contribute to climate change and ultimately affect the quality of
life for our children and our grandchildren."
As part of the governor's global warming initiative, the Illinois
EPA director and Steven Frenkel, director of policy development for
the governor, will meet with top officials from California later
this month to discuss greenhouse gas reduction strategies.
California's Gov. Schwarzenegger recently signed legislation that
creates the most ambitious greenhouse gas reduction program in the
nation. Scott and Frenkel will meet with the secretary of the
California Environmental Protection Agency, Linda Adams; the
assistant secretary for climate change, Eileen Tutt; the deputy
cabinet secretary for Schwarzenegger, Brian Prusnek; and the
executive director of the California Air Resources Board, Catherine
Witherspoon. These meetings will help inform the development of
Illinois' plans for combating global warming.
[News release from the governor's