4/21/16 – Hundreds to Rally in Springfield for Clean Energy and Climate Action for Earth Day

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
April 21, 2016

Contact:
David Jakubiak
djakubiak@elpc.org
(708) 299-7733

Michelle Knox
michelle@windsolarusa.com
(217) 825-4206

Hundreds to Rally in Springfield for Clean Energy and Climate Action for Earth Day

Citizens from Across Illinois Voice Strong Support for Illinois Clean Jobs Bill (HB 2607/SB1485)

SPRINGFIELD, IL- More than 300 Illinoisans travelled from across the state to rally for clean energy and climate action at the Illinois State Capitol in Springfield on Thursday. Calling for quick action on the bipartisan Illinois Clean Jobs Bill (HB 2607/SB1485), attendees joined the bill’s legislative co-sponsors at a Capitol rally and identified the bill as key to getting Illinois’ economy rolling.

“The Illinois Clean Jobs Bill makes sense for businesses; it makes sense for consumers and it is a common-sense response to the scientific imperative to address climate change,” said Michelle Knox, owner of WindSolar USA in Owaneco.

In the year since the bill was introduced, Illinois has lost 152 solar and 431 wind jobs, while Michigan added nearly 700 solar jobs and Ohio added more than 500 solar jobs. Illinois, once a leader in wind power, has slipped behind Oklahoma and may soon fall behind Kansas. Meanwhile Iowa’s wind industry continues to boom. Just last week Iowa added a $3.6 billion investment in new wind power.

“We simply cannot afford to be here a year from today, listing more and more states that, by then, will have passed us by,” said the Sen. Don Harmon of Oak Park, a lead sponsor of the bill. “Illinois needs to act, and we need to act now.”

The Illinois Clean Jobs Bill will strengthen policies to ramp up renewable energy like wind and solar to 35 percent by 2030 and cut energy use through efficiency by 20 percent by 2025. These efforts will save consumers money while bringing clean energy investment to new communities to strengthen local tax bases and create family-sustaining jobs. The bill will also create an estimated 32,000 new jobs annually once fully implemented.

State Rep. Elaine Nekriz of Northbrook, lead sponsor of the bill in the House, said the bill embodies the forward thinking Illinois needs to get moving again.

“Illinois’ lack of a budget is hurting our public universities and cutting off vital social services for those that need it most,” she said. “Clean energy growth and climate action are stalled out too while we wait for a budget. We have a responsibility to promote Illinois’ economic future— by building new jobs and helping people keep more of their hard-earned money.”

On of most cost-effective ways for families and municipalities to save money is with energy efficiency. But if the state’s budget impasse is not resolved by May 31, it would mean a loss of $76 million for energy efficiency projects across Illinois. Schools, libraries and fire stations will receive these funds for energy efficiency upgrades, but will miss out on the funding if no budget is passed.

Rep. Chris Welch of Westchester said the Clean Jobs Bill won’t only help residents save money by increasing energy efficiency and renewable energy; it will bring needed jobs and revenue to communities. For example, he said, the bill has provisions for turning brownfield sites into clean energy solar fields.

“By transforming blighted brownfields, we’re renewing our communities. It’s exciting to be a part of a bill that brings opportunity to every part of the state and helps for generations to come,” he said.

Rep Michael Fortner, one of the bill’s Republican co-sponsors, whose work on the legislation underscores the bipartisan support for clean energy driving economic development and environmental progress, joined several other co-sponsors in addressing the crowd.

For many Illinois residents who travelled to the rally from across the state, the shift to a clean energy economy is personal. Dulce Ortiz, of Clean Power Waukegan, is raising her family in the shadows of that city’s coal plant.

“I am here because every family has the right to breathe clean air and have a healthy environment. Clean energy will bring jobs and opportunity to places like Waukegan, which desperately needs economic development,” she said. “It’s time to get these policies right, bringing those projects home is a win-win for everyone in the community. We bring in more jobs and make sure my community is not left behind in the new economy, more importantly, it means the air our children breathe is less likely to make them sick.”

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The Illinois Clean Jobs Coalition is made up of Illinois businesses and organizations representing the state’s environmental, business and faith communities. Currently more than 160 businesses and 60 organizations have formally joined the coalition to promote steps to improve the Illinois environment, help consumers, improve public health, and create tens of thousands of new jobs across the state.