- Associated Press - Wednesday, September 15, 2021

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (AP) — Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker on Wednesday signed into law a pledge to eliminate the state’s climate-damaging carbon emissions within a quarter-century, including money to keep clean-power nuclear plants running and incentives for purchasing electric vehicles.

The legislation invests in the development of renewable solar and wind energy. It also provides incentives for individual action, such as a rebate of up to $4,000 for the purchase of electric vehicles. Pritzker wants 1 million electric cars on roads by 2030.

“There is no time to lose,” Pritzker said Wednesday. “But what we can do is to fight to stop and even reverse the damage that’s been done to our climate. As of today, Illinois is a force for good, for an environmental future we can be proud of.”

To reach its goal of a carbon-free Illinois by 2045, the law props up two nuclear power plants that owner Exelon says are unprofitable - the Byron power station and the Dresden plant in Morris. A $700 million ratepayer-financed subsidy to Exelon saves thousands of jobs associated with the plants and the large amount of clean power they provide, which boosts the state’s race with the climate from the start.

It also shuts down power plants that burn coal to produce electricity, a number that has been dramatically reduced in the past decade because of technology that makes natural gas easier to obtain. Most notably affected are municipally-owned utilities in the capital city of Springfield and in Marissa, 41 miles (66 kilometers) southeast of St. Louis.

Springfield taxpayers have upgraded City Water, Light & Power to clean up its emissions. And the 2012 opening of Marissa’s Prairie State Generating Co., under clean air laws endorsed by Democratic President Barack Obama’s administration, reveals the economic and ideological struggle over the severity of the threat of climate change and how best to halt it.

While action around the edges on clean air has continued for decades, Pritzker made the idea a campaign promise and, upon taking office in 2019, found himself among other newly elected Democratic officeholders who embraced similar plans.

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