Science
4:30 pm
Mon June 9, 2014

Durbin: Climate Denial 'Mindless And Irresponsible'

Sen. Dick Durbin answers questions from reporters Monday after a speech at the Southern Illinois University School of Medicine in Springfield. The Illinois Democrat says it's "mindless and irresponsible" to ignore the scientists describing global warming.
Credit Brian Mackey/WUIS

As Democrats in coal states rush to distance themselves from new federal regulations intended to address global warming — Senator Dick Durbin says Illinois is in a good position among coal-producing states.

Brian Mackey reports that, unlike many coal-state Democrats, Sen. Dick Durbin us not attacking new federal greenhouse-gas regulations.

The Environmental Protection Agency under President Obama says states have to gradually cut carbon pollution from power plants by 30 percent based on 2005 levels.

This has prompted attacks by Democratic Senate candidates in Kentucky, West Virginia and other coal states — but not Illinois.

Durbin says Illinois generates a lot of carbon-free nuclear power, but currently exports most of it.

"We have an option of keeping that electricity in our state, for our people, and not adding to pollution at all," Durbin says.

He also points to the proposed FutureGen 2 plant in west central Illinois, which would bury greenhouse-gas emissions deep underground.

"That project alone will have the capacity to hold the carbon pollution of 50 Illinois coal-generated electricity plants for 50 years," Durbin says.

He says those factors, along with investment in solar and wind energy, mean Illinois is well-positioned to benefit from the EPA regulations.

Durbin also has harsh words for politicians who question the science behind global warming — and by "politicians," he really means members of the Republican Party.

"I am here to tell you that the only major political party in the world today that denies global warming is the Republican Party in the United States of America," Durbin says. "They're denying basic science. And that, to me, is mindless and irresponsible."