The Illinois General Assembly has voted to repeal a decades-old law that prohibited the state from implementing its own restrictions on greenhouse gas emissions.
Enacted in 1998, the Kyoto Protocol Act expressly denies Illinois the ability to reduce carbon and other greenhouse gas emissions beyond the goals set for the U.S. in the Kyoto Protocol, the international treaty that committed countries to reducing emission that contribute to climate change.
The U.S. withdrew from the treaty in 2001, leaving Illinois tied to goals that are no longer applied to the federal government.
On Wednesday, the Illinois Senate voted 36-17 to repeal the 1998 law. The measure passed the state House in March by a 66-44 vote, and Gov. J.B. Pritzker is expected to sign it into law.
The bill to repeal the 1998 law was sponsored in the House by Rep. Robyn Gabel, D-Evanston.
“The fact is that the Kyoto Protocol Act should never have been signed into law,” Gabel said in a statement. “In retrospect, it’s obviously short sighted, but even when it was passed in 1998, legislators should have seen it for what it was: a bill that only limited our state’s ability to make decisions and prepare for the future.”
With the state expected to be freed from the restrictions of the 1998 law, environmental advocates are again turning their attention to a highly ambitious clean energy bill that aims to move Illinois to 100% clean energy by mid-century.
The Clean Energy Jobs Act would establish lofty targets for renewable energy while creating a network of training centers aimed at preparing workers for clean energy jobs, with a focus on low-income and minority communities.
Advocates say that the proposed legislation, which has not received a vote in the full state House or Senate, would achieve a carbon-free power sector in Illinois by 2030.
“Illinois is ready to lead, and repealing our state’s Kyoto Protocol Act ensures that Illinois can lead while the federal government continues to not take climate change seriously,” said Kady McFadden, deputy director of the Illinois Chapter of the Sierra Club, in a statement. “For the good of our health and the strength of our economy, Illinois should double down on climate action by passing the Clean Energy Jobs Act.”