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CCFB News» April 2024

Manifolds, Manolos, and Manure

Research conducted by the Pew Research Center indicates that a surprising number of Americans deny that humans are a major contributor to climate change. Those same individuals do not see climate change as an important issue for the country.


Regardless of your thoughts on climate change, February was arguably the warmest February on record. And while I quite enjoyed not looking like a marshmallow in my winter wear during chores, I do have my concerns about why it was so warm. I’m sure scientists will spend years debating whether the weather was due to climate change. El Nino. Or simply a fluke. Either way February of 2024 was a toasty one.


My point with this isn’t to debate climate change. Or humans’ role or non-role in a warming planet. Rather my point is to discuss avenues being considered by Illinois to mitigate climate change.


In 2022, California took a drastic step to limit vehicle emissions. Under their rules, all trucks, SUVs, and cars sold would have to be zero-emission by 2035. Vehicles would have to be new electric, or hydrogen powered.


Illinois lawmakers are considering following suit. House Bill 1634 would mandate California’s emission standards in Illinois. However, unlike California’s statute that allows a phase in period, House Bill 1634 would require the switch overnight. Essentially, lower efficiency vehicles including trucks manufactured before 2010 would no longer be considered ‘street legal’ in Illinois. This is of grave concern to the Farm Bureau because many farmers rely on older equipment and cannot afford to essentially repurchase their entire farm fleet of tractors, semi tractors, and larger trucks overnight.


Advocates of the change contend that mandating California’s emission guidelines would reduce Illinois’ emission by more than 75 percent. For farmers the question is at what cost. In 2024, farmers are looking at commodity prices below breakeven prices and, if passed, House Bill 1634 would dramatically make the financial situation worse. Farmers do not set the price for their commodities, the Chicago Board of Trade does. Unlike other industries, farmers cannot pass price increases on to the consumer.


From a safety perspective, what happens when a farmer hauling animals during the summer has to stop and charge their vehicle for hours? Do those animals sit in the heat? What happens if that farmer can’t find a charging station and the vehicle stops with animals still in tow?


On that note, rural Illinois residents drive far more miles with few or no electrical charging stations. Logically, before this bill could be implemented more charging stations would need to be built.


On the note of Illinois’ abysmal lack of electric charging infrastructure, Senate Bill 3651would create the Electric Vehicle Charging Tax Act to impose a tax on electric vehicle charging stations. From January 1, 2025 through January 1, 2026, the rate of tax shall be $0.06 per kilowatt hour of electric vehicle power. The rate of tax shall be increased on January 1 of each year by the percentage increase, if any, in the Consumer Price Index. The tax would be used to build and maintain charging infrastructure.


Back to House Bill 1634, perhaps the most alarming aspect is the fact that it would bind Illinois policy to unelected bureaucrats in California with no accountability to Illinois government or citizens. Which begs the question, why in the world would the Illinois General Assembly want to hand their authority. Their responsibility. Their job over to another state?


House Bill 1634 is currently assigned to the House Energy and Environment Committee after the sponsor opted not to call the bill in Committee due to Farm Bureau’s vocal opposition.

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