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Alliance for Clean Coal v. Craig

ELR Citation: 24 ELR 20739
Nos. No. 93 C 4391, 840 F. Supp. 554/(N.D. Ill., 12/15/1993)

The court holds that the Illinois Coal Act violates the Commerce Clause of the U.S. Constitution. The Act requires public utilities to devise Clean Air Act (CAA) compliance plans and present them to the Illinois Commerce Commission for approval. The Act requires the utilities and the Commission to take into account the need to use coal mined in Illinois and the need to preserve as a valuable state resource the mining of coal in Illinois. The Act directs the four largest public utility plants in Illinois to include in their compliance plans the installation of devices to control sulfur dioxide emissions to enable them to continue to burn Illinois coal. The court finds that the overall effect of the Act is to encourage the use of Illinois coal and to discriminate against out-of-state coal. The court rejects the state's argument that the Act does not discriminate against out-of-state coal because allegedly the Commission may not approve the use of Illinois coal over out-of-state coal unless using Illinois coal would be the cheapest option for ratepayers. The Act does not require that the goal of using Illinois coal be subsumed under the goals of efficiency and cost. The court further holds that the Act is not justified by a legitimate local purpose, because the state's proposed justification—that the Illinois coal industry is at risk and that all Illinois residents will suffer the consequences of a failure of that industry—is not legitimate. The U.S. Supreme Court has never found the protection of a state's economy to be a legitimate purpose. Finally, the court enjoins the Commission from enforcing the Act and holds that all CAA compliance plans approved by the Commission in reliance on the Act are invalid.

Counsel for Plaintiff
Gerald O. Sweeney Jr., Damon N. Vocke
Lord, Bissell & Brook
Harris Bank Bldg.
115 S. La Salle St., Ste. 2600-3600, Chicago IL 60603
(312) 443-0700

Counsel for Defendants
John W. McCaffrey, Ass't Attorney General
Attorney General's Office
100 W. Randolph St., Chicago IL 60601
(312) 814-3000