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Great Lakes Article:

Great Lakes: Illinois emissions top 99 countries' combined

September 5, 2002


Emissions from Illinois do more to warm the planet than releases from 99 developing countries combined, according to a report issued Wednesday by the National Environmental Trust.

Illinois is seventh among all states for emissions of carbon dioxide, blamed for global warming.

Releasing the report, Citizen Action Illinois and the Environmental Law & Policy Center called for national, state and local action to cut emissions.

Illinois discharged 58.6 million metric tons of carbon equivalent into the atmosphere in 1999, ranking seventh. Texas led, followed by California, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Florida and Indiana. Michigan was eighth and New York ninth.

Illinois' total surpassed the combined releases of 99 developing countries, including Nicaragua, Mongolia, Cambodia and Afghanistan.

The state also emitted more carbon dioxide than many large countries, such as Egypt, Thailand and the Philippines.

The state ranks high in the nation because its large population pulls about half of its electricity from old, dirty coal-fired power plants, said Ashley Collins, environmental director of Citizen Action Illinois.

She put in a plug for proposed state legislation to clean up the plants.

Illinois drivers spew even more carbon dioxide into the air-- 18.8 million metric tons--than the 17.9 million metric tons contributed by coal-fired plants.

The report is based on figures from the U.S. Energy Department and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

Thomas Murphy, director of the environmental science program at DePaul University, said the permafrost in Alaska is melting and the growing season in Europe is 11 days longer than it was 30 years ago.

"There are 50 to 60 indicators of climate change, and they're all going up," Murphy said.

If we continue on our present course, "the Earth will become uninhabitable in the future," he said.

Among the solutions are more-efficient cars and appliances, conservation, and power production with renewable sources of energy such as solar, wind and biomass.

"We're not calling on Americans to stop driving," said Kappy Laing of the Environmental Law & Policy Center. "There are energy- efficient cars and appliances."

Linda Sonner of the Kane County Interfaith Council on Climate Change said her family recently bought a solar-powered attic fan and owns a Toyota Prius, a hybrid gasoline-electric car.

"It's very roomy," she said, "and it gets 60 miles to the gallon."

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