Gov. JB Pritzker talks statewide plan to fight climate change as summit kicks off in Glasgow

ABC7 Chicago exclusive interview

Tuesday, November 2, 2021
Pritzker pitches IL as leader in climate change fight at global summit
Gov. JB Pritzker is attending an international climate summit in London and Glasgow and pitching Illinois as a green energy leader in the Midwest.

CHICAGO (WLS) -- Gov. JB Pritzker prepared Monday night to leave on his first international trip as Illinois' governor, heading to London and Scotland as world leaders gather for a major summit on climate change.

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"I'm going to be making the pitch that Illinois is now front and center in the fight against climate change," the governor said.

Pritzker said he believes Illinois' new plan to create more green energy will lead to more jobs and more dollars for Illinois residents.

"We want to be a location people look at to be number one on their 'hit list' for where they want to go in the United States," Pritzker said.

The first goal: Bring more electric vehicle manufacturers to Illinois.

Illinois already has a Rivian plant building electric trucks in Normal, and plans for Lion's facility for electric busses in Joliet. Pritzker said he hopes to convince international companies and investors to bring the whole parts and assembly package together in Illinois.

Gov. JB Pritzker spoke about his statewide plan to fight climate change as the summit with President Joe Biden and world leaders kicks off in Glasgow.

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"If a company wants to build a car assembly plant, we also want to bring a battery manufacturer there. We also want to bring suppliers there," Pritzker said. "We want them to come to Illinois. We want them all to gather in similar places."

His sales pitch is that Illinois has the workforce in a nationally central location. At the same time, the state has set a goal to gradually move to 100% renewable energy by the year 2050 to fight climate change. That includes eliminating all coal and natural gas power plants within 30 years, and Pritzker wants the world to know that.

"What we'd like to have is 100% renewable energy, that's the ultimate goal," the governor said, "but 100% clean energy is the more immediate goal."

Accomplishing it will take a massive investment in solar and wind power.

"We will have- first of all, electricity is going to be a lot less expensive. And electricity that we produce without burdening the environment," Pritzker said.

But not immediately. Illinois gets most of its power from nuclear plants, which are costly to operate, critical to maintain safely and, for the moment, essential to keep power on in the state.

Illinois rate payers will be paying a subsidy to keep three Elexon plants running for five more years. But as coal and gas ramps down, solar and wind farms will be taking over a number of Illinois farms now growing corn and soybeans. The governor insists all can thrive.

"Oh no, we've got 57,000 square miles of the state of Illinois, there's plenty of room for us," he assured.

And some believe a wind farm could be located out on Lake Michigan. It's an idea.

"It is, and indeed there are people who are looking at that," said Pritzker. "We're not going to do it if it's bad for the environment, that's just a fact. We're going to be very careful, whatever it is that we might do."