Executive Director
Energy Council


November 16, 2018

The first week of veto session has wrapped up. Despite rumors that the General Assembly would cancel Thursday, both Chambers met for brief session. Many of Governor Rauner's vetoes were overridden by the House and Senate, upwards of 40. Not all of those will receive a total override, but members were busy taking their bills back from the Governor. For a full list of the bills the Chamber was watching or engaged in, see Friday's Government Affairs report. If you do not receive that (you should be!) please let me know and I'll make sure you are added.

The activity in energy and environment has so far focused on environment issues. The House and Senate both held hearings on ethylene oxide (EO), with the House passing legislation out of the House Environment Committee. This issue is in response to incidences of potentially harmful exposure from facilities in Illinois, specifically the Stringencies facility in Willowbrook.

House Environment met on Tuesday and considered HB 5985 (Sente) and HB 5983 (Durkin), which passed.  Both these bills look to limit, restrict and eventually ban the use of ethylene oxide.  Both of these bills remain fluid and working groups continue to meet to address stakeholder concerns.  While the bills passed committee, they will not advance the House as is and the sponsors have committed to working with industry on this issue.

A group of Illinois federal officials - Sens. Durbin and Duckworth, and Reps. Bill Foster and Brad Schneider - met with acting EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler on Thursday to discuss EO, arising from reports that the U.S. EPA delayed telling residents about the EO emissions. They've requested an investigation by the EPA Inspector General and additional testing by the USEPA.

Senate Amendment 1 to SB 241 (Munoz) passed the Senate Executive Committee.  The Chamber testified in opposition to the bill and Senator Munoz agreed to accept language from the Chamber to tighten notification requirements on air permits. The Chamber raised concerns that the legislation adds a layer of bureaucracy that would slow down future and existing projects, make notification requirements for many permits duplicative, and could halt projects at the last minute. On Wednesday, Senator Munoz filed the Chamber's language, Amendment 2, which would allow for notifications to the State Senator and Representative to occur per the Senator's request, but limits it to permits for new facilities and requires the IEPA to adopt rules to implement the language in an effort to delineate between permits that already require notices (public hearings, etc.) and avoid duplicating efforts. If this Amendment is adopted, the Chamber will be neutral on the bill. The amendment was not adopted before the Senate left town.

The Senate Environment and Conservation Committee met Wednesday to hear from experts on EO for a subject matter hearing.  Discussions are ongoing among stakeholders, but no legislation was considered by the Senate.  If legislation moves, it will likely be the House bills.

House Public Utilities met to hear SB3051 (Mulroe/Hoffman), a technical change that clarified that the Illinois Water Systems Viability Act was not to sunset on the date included in final passage. The debate brought up opposition that was heard with the Systems Viability Act was originally debated in the spring, but ultimately passed out of Committee. The Chamber supported the bill.

The Committee did not break into subject matter on the Affordable Clean Energy Rule. As previously discussed, Chairman Thapedi wanted to continue the conversation from October on the ACE rule and hear from stakeholders that offered comments to the U.S. EPA on the proposed rule. The Chamber did not submit comments to the U.S. EPA, but did testify at the October hearing. The Chairman would like to reschedule the hearing to the second week of veto session.
We anticipate consideration of legislation to extend the home rule tax preemption for electric generation that the Chamber has been leading to occur during the second week of veto session and into lame duck. Progress is ongoing. There is unlikely to be any substantive energy legislation considered during the second week of veto, but we anticipate a very active spring session.  

More Election Info
The U.S. Chamber of Commerce put together a scorecard of where energy issues shook out across the country. I had a roundup in my last newsletter, but this a broader grab of all the energy issues on the ballot on November 6th. Take a look.
Federal Happenings
  • Trump said on Friday he will nominate Andrew Wheeler, the Acting EPA Administrator, for the top job at the EPA.
  • FERC nominee Bernard McNamee testified before the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee on Thursday as the Committee considered his nomination to Federal Energy Regulatory Commission. As expected, the hearing swirled around the Trump Administration's proposal to offer support for coal and nuclear plants. FERC rejected that proposal, but McNamee was the drafter in his role as Director of Policy at the U.S. Department of Energy. Chairwoman Murkowski hopes to see McNamee confirmed by the Senate in December.
The Illinois Chamber's Tech Council is proud to invite all Illinois Chamber members to attend a free two-day, localized program bringing together small business owners, entrepreneurs, job seekers and community groups to enable them to learn how to use technology to grow their business and to learn new skills.  The event, put on by Facebook, will take place from December 3 through December 4 at the Bank of Springfield Center in Springfield, IL.  For more information and to register, click here.  


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