Sen. Anderson seeks improvements to coal ash bill
State Sen. Neil Anderson (R-Moline) urged lawmakers to vote No on a bill involving coal ash pollution he felt could be made better.
Senate Bill 9, sponsored by State Sen. Scott Bennett (D-Champaign), requires that owners or operators of coal combustion residual units that are closed have to remove coal ash pits and notes that the coal ash pits cannot be placed in landfills.
"This is a difficult issue for me," Anderson said on the Senate floor. "I want to give perspective about where I'm coming from. In my district [there is] the Cordova nuclear-generating station, which I would argue is probably one of the most if not the cleanest forms of energy in the United States."
Anderson said one of the many reasons Illinois constituents enjoy some of the lowest energy prices in the United States is the fact that the state has a very diverse energy portfolio, which includes coal.
"This bill is going to cost electric generators associated with these regulations hundreds of millions of dollars," Anderson said. "We constantly talk on the floor here when we're doing bills about how great it is when we get labor and business to support our legislation — how that is the goal. Unfortunately, with this legislation, we have both business and labor in opposition. I don't think that's a precedent we want to start."
Anderson said he understood Bennett's intent in sponsoring the bill.
"I agree with your intent," Anderson said. "This is a major issue that needs to be addressed. But I don't think it's soup yet. I think we can still work to make this better and remove some of the opposition. Because of that, I would suggest a No vote."
The bill lays out that any coal combustion residual unit that is required to close must submit a closure plan and get that plan approved. It also provides that whoever conducts the closure activities shall utilize local labor and ensure that the work is performed by "responsible contractors and subcontractors that pay workers the prevailing wage and fair benefits," according to the legislation.
The bill passed with 39 Yes votes, nine No votes and seven Present votes.