U.S. District Court Decides in Favor of Illinois Future Energy Jobs Act

Decision Clears the Way for Healthier Air, Climate Security and Jobs Across Illinois

July 14, 2017
Sharyn Stein, 202-572-3396, sstein@edf.org

(Chicago, Illinois – July 14, 2017) In a victory for clean energy and jobs in Illinois, the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois decided in favor of the state’s Future Energy Jobs Act and zero-emissions credit program today.

Judge Manish Shah dismissed complaints against the state in Electric Power Supply Association v. Star, rejecting claims that the Future Energy Jobs Act was unconstitutional and preempted under the Federal Power Act. 

Today’s ruling affirms states’ rights to ensure climate security, clean energy and prosperity. Judge Shah quotes the Supreme Court’s finding in the landmark 2016 decision in Electric Power Supply Association v. FERC in his opinion:

“‘FERC cannot take action that transgresses states’ authority over generation.’” (Opinion, page 27)   

“The District Court’s decision today supports Illinois’s efforts to reduce climate pollution, expand clean energy and create jobs. It will have profound benefits for the health, safety and prosperity of families in Illinois,” said Environmental Defense Fund Senior Attorney Michael Panfil. “It is vital that we secure states’ fundamental authority to craft clean energy policies in response to critical threats to human health and the environment.”

Environmental Defense Fund together with Elevate Energy, Citizens Utility Board and the Respiratory Health Alliance filed an amicus, or “friend of the court,” brief in support of the state of Illinois. 

Today’s decision upholds Illinois’s Future Energy Jobs Act program, which provides for widespread use of clean energy through programs designed to benefit all communities across Illinois, as well as a Zero Emissions Credit program.

This landmark law charts a transformative path to clean energy and prosperity for Illinois. Environmental Defense Fund estimates the law will spur $12 billion to $15 billion in new private investment in clean energy, and will reduce harmful carbon dioxide pollution by more than 33 million metric tons annually in 2030, helping Illinois to slash carbon pollution from the power sector by more than 50 percent from 2012 levels. According to leading consumer watchdogs, the law provides energy efficiency initiatives that will lower customers’ electric bills

Opponents of Illinois’s program had argued that federal law should be applied in an unprecedented and unwieldy way that would have severely inhibited the state’s clean energy goals.

“Today’s court victory is a victory for all Illinois families and communities who will have healthier air, climate security and jobs under the landmark Illinois Future Energy Jobs Act,” said Dick Munson, EDF’s Director of Midwest Clean Energy Programs.

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