Lawmakers debate Illinois ‘coal’ education

Apr 3, 2014

Illinois law requires school children be taught the benefits of the state's coal industry. The Illinois House spent the better part of an hour yesterday Thursday debating whether that ought to continue.

Opponents of the coal program say it doesn't reflect the diversity of Illinois' power supply. Rep. Deborah Conroy is a Democrat from Elmhurst:

"We have many energy sources in Illinois. Not only coal, but gas, nuclear, geothermal, solar, wind, and many more."

She says students should be taught to think critically about the environmental costs and benefits of various energy sources,  and are not served by a curriculum that just promotes coal. So the Sierra Club wants the coal education requirement taken out of state law.

Downstate lawmakers, like David Reis of Willow Hill, see it as an attack on coal country.

"They have an agenda, they don't like carbon fuels, and ... we have more coal in Illinois -- BTU power -- than all of Saudi Arabia."

For now, the requirement that school kids learn about coal remains; the measure didn't get enough votes to pass.