Biological Impacts of Efficiency and Renewable Energy Sources Vs. Fossil Fuels. Hans Detweiler, Environmental Law & Policy Center, Chicago, Illinois 60601

The recent report "Repowering the Midwest" provides two scenarios, a "Clean Energy Development Plan" and a "Business as Usual" plan, that present clearly contrasting visions for energy use in Illinois and the Midwest. Negative environmental impacts are greatly mitigated by 2020 under the Clean Energy Development Plan relative to the Business as Usual plan, with regional SO2 emissions dropping 56%, regional nitrogen oxide emissions dropping 71%, regional carbon dioxide emissions dropping 51%, and regional mercury emissions dropping 50%.

All energy use has environmental impacts. From an environmental perspective, therefore, as well as from economic efficiency and self-reliance perspectives, energy efficiency should be the cornerstone of a rational energy policy. Examining toxic pollutants, global warming pollutants, mining and raw resource extraction impacts, and wildlife impacts of energy production from both fossil fuels and renewable energy production reveals that renewable energy production has much smaller and more sustainable total impact.

Land use impacts from rail, versus highway and airport development, are similarly less negative. High speed rail development in Illinois thus brings significant environmental advantages.

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