Illinois Clean Jobs Coalition launches “Listen. Lead. Share. A conversation about winning a clean, equitable energy future.”

For Immediate Release:
December 6, 2017

Contact:
Billy Weinberg
IL Clean Jobs Coalition
(312) 485-4363

Illinois Clean Jobs Coalition launches “Listen. Lead. Share. A conversation about winning a clean, equitable energy future.”

Move toward 100% renewable energy by 2050, carbon-free power by 2030 and more electric vehicles are among policy goals to discuss statewide — especially among communities of color and Downstate counties

The Illinois Clean Jobs Coalition (ICJC) announced today the launch of a new statewide conversation aimed at encouraging Illinois to embrace a policy framework that would lead to cleaner energy and economic benefits for people across the state, especially in the form of new jobs for communities that need them the most.

The initiative is to be called “Listen. Lead. Share. A conversation about winning a clean, equitable energy future.” The Coalition is encouraging people across Illinois to join the conversation by going to: ILCleanJobs.org to sign up.

Members of the coalition said that their policy goals include ensuring equitable benefits across the state, moving Illinois to 100% renewable energy by 2050, cutting carbon pollution from the state’s power sector by 2030, and immediately electrifying the transportation sector.

However, they said, the pursuit of these policy goals needs to begin with a robust, statewide conversation—one in which they invited all Illinoisans to join.

“We are calling on every Illinois politician, including those, Republican and Democratic alike, campaigning for Governor, every community leader, and every voter to commit to these goals and join the conversation, so the state wins a clean, equitable energy future. We want to hear from business and labor, Chicago and Downstate, communities that are doing well and those that are currently left behind,” said Jen Walling, executive director of the Illinois Environmental Council and a member of the Illinois Clean Jobs Coalition.

Two members of Congress attended the press conference held Monday and pledged to hold conversations in their districts on the topic.

“On this President’s Day, it’s a bit ironic to say that the states must step up and lead, but considering President Trump’s glaring inaction on sustainability, that is the reality in Washington. Illinois passed the Future Energy Jobs Act, the greatest clean energy breakthrough in the state’s history, which is already creating thousands of jobs in every part of Illinois, saving consumers money on their bills, and taking direct action to combat the threat of climate change,” said U.S. Rep. Mike Quigley. “But, we can’t and won’t stop there.”

“The clean energy future is happening– it’s inevitable,” said U.S. Rep. Robin Kelly. “The question is, can Illinois lead the way? And, if we do, how do people outside Chicago as well as communities that often get left behind help lead the way in the new energy economy, especially in creating new clean energy businesses and sharing in the lower energy costs?”

Members of the coalition framed their policy goals as four questions that they hoped would be addressed during the statewide conversation that is being initiated online. They are:

  • How to put the fight for quality jobs and economic opportunity at the heart of a vision for a clean, equitable energy future?
  • How to expand clean energy and energy efficiency in an equitable manner to set Illinois on a path to achieve 100% renewable energy by 2050?
  • How to achieve a carbon-free power sector by 2030?
  • How to replace the equivalent of one million gasoline and diesel-powered vehicles on the road with electric vehicles, mass transit and other alternatives?

“The policy pillars that have been discussed are the right ones to start this conversation. We can build a prosperous future together by supporting the Illinois Clean Jobs Coalition’s agenda of 100% renewable energy by 2050, carbon-free power by 2030 and more electric vehicles on the road to reduce our dependence on foreign oil,” said Carol Hays, executive director of the Champaign-based Prairie Rivers Network. “But it’s important that not just the six-county area around Chicago benefits. We need the conversation to reach all 102 counties, and more importantly, we need benefits to reach every part of the state,” added Hays.

“People in our community, people of color, are often the most affected by environmental damage; air pollution from power plants, for example, leads to higher rates of asthma and other diseases that far outpace the rest of the population. Therefore, we have the most to gain from smart, equitable energy policy,” said Cheryl Johnson of People for Community Recovery. “By putting equity at its heart, by putting inclusion and sharing at its core, this conversation is off to the right start,” she added.

The Illinois Clean Jobs Coalition plans to hold town hall meetings, listening sessions, policy roundtables and other live and online events throughout the state on the topics over the course of the year.

The goal of the ongoing conversation will be to engage with people across the state on the topics of renewable energy, carbon-free power and the expansion of electric vehicles and to ensure that the jobs and economic benefits associated with these changes reach into every community across Illinois. The initiative will focus especially on how communities that are struggling economically can gain from the adoption of a bold clean energy agenda.

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The Illinois Clean Jobs Coalition is made up of more than 200 Illinois businesses and organizations representing the state’s environmental, business, and faith communities. Coalition members are working to improve public health, help consumers, better the environment, and create tens of thousands of new clean jobs across the state.

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