Ryan Calls For Public Hearings On Peaker Plants; Creates Water Resources Advisory Committee
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
July 6, 2000
SPRINGFIELD - Governor George H. Ryan today called on the Illinois Pollution Control Board to conduct a series of public hearings to solicit information and public input regarding the environmental effects of gas-fired, peak-load electrical generation facilities, also known as peaker plants.
"Many Illinois residents have come to me and voiced concerns about the effects of these facilities on the environment," Ryan said. "Through these public hearings, everyone - including local residents - will get the opportunity to offer their input and become part of the solution."
The Board is expected to hold a number of public hearings in different areas of the state. The hearings will be open to any and all interested persons who wish to submit public testimony. Based upon the information gathered, the Pollution Control Board will issue a written report evaluating all the evidence and information presented at the hearings and provide a recommendation as to what it believes should be done in order to safeguard the environment. Specifically, the Board will examine whether further environmental regulations are advised, or whether legislative action is necessary.
Due to notice requirements, the first hearing is not expected to be held before mid-August. The exact times and locations will be announced later.
Also today, Ryan announced the creation of the Governor's Water Resources Advisory Committee. Ryan said the new committee's task will be to focus on our water resources and its usage, including the effects of peaker plants on groundwater and surface water supplies. The committee will also examine the various economic and social issues related to energy producing facilities and water use in Illinois and present recommendations for action to the Governor by December 2000.
"I want this new committee to take a close look at our water resources and specifically examine the impact of industry, agriculture and population on Illinois' groundwater and surface water supplies," Ryan said. "It's important for us to look into the effects of our energy producing facilities and promote the responsible usage of our limited natural resources."
A letter from the governor to the Pollution Control Board and the list of appointees to the Governor's Water Resources Advisory Committee are attached.
July 6, 2000
Illinois Pollution Control Board
600 South Second
Floor 4, Suite 402
Springfield, Illinois 62704
Dear Chairman Manning:
I have recently received a great deal of public comment over potential environmental threats caused by the recent proliferation in Illinois of new, natural gas-fired, peak-load electrical power generating facilities, known as "peaker plants." The Illinois Environmental Protection Agency currently reviews proposed peaker plants for compliance with Federal air emission requirements. In response to a recent inquiry, the United States Environmental Protection Agency confirmed that Illinois EPA is applying those requirements appropriately. Given the public interest in peaker plants, however, I also believe it would be beneficial for the Illinois Pollution Control Board to conduct inquiry hearings on the issue, pursuant to the Board's authority under the Illinois Environmental Protection Act and regulations promulgated thereunder. Accordingly, I request that the Board hold public hearings and request public comment on the following issues:
1. Do peaker plants need to be regulated more strictly than Illinois' current air quality statutes and regulations provide?
2. Do peaker plants pose a unique threat, or a greater threat than other types of State-regulated facilities, with respect to air pollution, noise pollution, or groundwater or surface water pollution?
3. Should new or expanding peaker plants be subject to siting requirements beyond applicable local zoning requirements?
4. If the Board determines that peaker plants should be more strictly regulated or restricted, should additional regulations or restrictions apply to currently permitted facilities or only to new facilities and expansions?
5. How do other states regulate or restrict peaker plants?
I have asked the Directors of the Illinois Department of Natural Resources, Illinois Department of Commerce & Community Affairs and the Illinois Department of Nuclear Safety, and the Chairman of the Illinois Commerce Commission, to have members of their respective staffs appear before the Board and participate in these proceedings to help develop a complete record. Illinois EPA Director Tom Skinner stands ready to have his staff appear and participate as well.
At the conclusion of the Board's proceedings, I ask that the Board issue a written decision, available to the public, in which the Board makes its findings, based on the evidence and public comment received. I ask that the Board's decision include the Board's recommendation on whether any additional requirements should be imposed on peaker plants to safeguard the environment and, if so, whether future rulemaking or legislative action is appropriate to accomplish that objective.
GEORGE H. RYAN
Governor's Water Resources Advisory Committee
Thomas Skinner (Co-Chair)
Director, Illinois Environmental Protection Agency
Brent Manning (Co-Chair)
Director, Illinois Department of Natural Resources
Director, Illinois Department of Nuclear Safety
Chairman, Illinois Pollution Control Board
Chairman, Illinois Commerce Commission
Director, Illinois Department of Agriculture
Director, Illinois Department of Commerce & Community Affairs
Illinois Energy Association
Midwest Independent Power Suppliers
Association of Illinois Electric Cooperatives
CEO, Gas Research Institute
Bonnie Thomson Carter
Lake County Board Member
Illinois Municipal League
Commissioner, Department of the Environment
City of Chicago
D. K. Hirner
Illinois Environmental Regulatory Group
Chemical Industry Council of Illinois
William A. Ward
Home Builders Association of Illinois
Illinois Agricultural Association
Association of Soil and Water Conservation Districts
Illinois Environmental Council
Prairie Rivers Network
Mike Maude, Sr.
Maude Development L.L.C.
Illinois Attorney General's Office
James R. Thompson Center
Illinois American Water Company
American Water Works Association
Vice-President Midwest Region