The creation of Illinois' Renewable Energy Standard (RES) is one of the General Assembly's most encouraging legislative achievements of the past decade. The standard, established in 2007, stipulates that 25 percent of the electricity sold in Illinois by 2025 must be generated by renewable energy sources like wind and solar power. Experts predict that the law will create over 68,000 construction jobs and over 2,500 permanent operations and maintenance jobs over its duration -- not to mention help wean Illinois off of dirty fuel sources like coal. GOP gubernatorial nominee Bill Brady, however, isn't a fan.
Back in 2007, Brady cast one of just 13 dissenting votes against the bill (PDF) in the State Senate. (It decisively passed the House 80-33.) It's not surprising; Brady doesn't even believe that global warming is caused by human activities. Still, it should be alarming for Illinois voters who want to move the state's energy economy into the 21st century.
While it's unlikely Brady could convince the General Assembly to toss out the RES entirely, he could very well veto improvements to the underlying law. Just this past session, Gov. Pat Quinn signed a bill that speeds up the date by which utilities will have to procure solar power under the RES. (The Illinois Environmental Council, which made the bill one of their top priorities this past year, thinks the legislation will create 5,000 green energy jobs and will position Illinois as a regional leader in solar production.) Brady could also scuttle a series of reforms to increase energy efficiency or even move to pull the state out of the Midwestern Greenhouse Gas Reduction Accord Advisory Group, a promising consortium of six states and one Canadian province looking to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Four years is a long time to live under an anti-environmental chief executive.