With the Trump administration expected to roll back federal climate policy, advocates are hoping states and cities will pick up the slack on reducing carbon emissions. Chicago is often touted as a leader on this front thanks to its solar, energy efficiency and other programs, along with the 2012 closure of two urban power plants and city officials’ action against petroleum coke storage. Now a majority of City Council members and the Chicago chapter of 350.org want the city to make a statement against the fossil fuel industry by pledging to divest the city’s pension funds and stocks and bonds. A divestment resolution was introduced in December, and backers are hoping it will be heard by the full council this spring. The measure would be largely symbolic, since a resolution is non-binding and the state government is in charge of pension investments.
The potential for generating energy from anaerobic digesters could address water quality issues and increase clean energy from Wisconsin farms, though economic and technical challenges remain with bringing the energy to the market.
Advocates who have been pressuring a Wisconsin utility to adopt more clean energy are applauding the recent announcement of a new wind project in Iowa.
A former coal plant in Joliet, Illinois is an example of the type of facility that can successfully be converted to natural gas. Not all plants are as ideal.
Local leaders and many residents say they like the idea of nurturing clean energy technology in Bronzeville, and hope a planned microgrid can be a springboard for related community-driven projects.
While state agencies have recently removed climate change information from their websites, Wisconsin has a long history of being a leader on climate and clean energy research, including by scientists working for government agencies and public universities.
Indiana legislators have introduced a bill that many fear could kill the state’s solar industry by ending net metering and also essentially preventing people from using the energy from their own solar panels.
“Self-implementing” regulations over coal ash impoundments raise concerns and questions in Illinois, where multiple storage sites are potentially hazardous.
“The Midwest is a pretty good place for us to get things done” despite concerns about the new president, says Howard Learner, director of the Chicago-based Environmental Law and Policy Center.
Wisconsin has stood out nationwide for state officials’ hostility toward solar and other renewable energy sources, but there are also numerous bright spots in Wisconsin’s clean energy landscape, including leadership by rural electric cooperatives in renewable development.