SPRINGFIELD — This morning, dozens of activists delivered petitions from 23,000 Illinois residents to Governor Pritzker’s Offices in Springfield and Chicago supporting the passage of the Clean Energy Jobs Act (CEJA) during the spring legislative session. CEJA is a comprehensive bill that puts Illinois on a path to a carbon-free electric sector, lowers electricity costs, reduces pollution from transportation, protects communities, and creates equitable job creation in communities around Illinois.
Hundreds of volunteers and organizers worked throughout the year to talk to their neighbors about CEJA, and garner petition signatures in support of passing the bill. CEJA is currently the only energy bill in the General Assembly based on bottom-up feedback from communities across the state, collected through community dialogues across the state in 2018 that focused on energy, jobs, and the environment. These signatures, meanwhile, were collected throughout 2019 and show the widespread support that such a comprehensive and community-informed bill can gain.
“This past summer and fall we hosted three listen, lead, share events. The purpose of the sessions was for ordinary people, like you, to have an opportunity to voice their opinions about Illinois’ clean energy future.” said Roy Williams, Jr. President of Springfield’s Faith Coalition for the Common Good, “OUR VOICES WERE HEARD! We are taking our petitions in support of the Clean Energy Jobs Act to the Governor today.”
“We are here with signatures from tens of thousands of Illinois residents who share Gov. Pritzker’s goal of 100% clean, renewable energy by 2050 and an equitable green energy economy for us all,” said Cindy Shepherd, of Faith in Place.
Before the delivery, speakers emphasized the urgency of passing CEJA this spring. Illinois faces a perfect storm of environmental and economic crises that necessitate swift and bold legislative action. Speakers highlighted these crises and called on the Governor to protect and strengthen Illinois communities by passing CEJA this spring:
July 2019 was the hottest month in recorded history. This past year, all 102 counties in Illinois were declared
agriculture disaster areas due to extreme weather, and just a few weeks ago, two Chicago beach fronts were destroyed in flooding.
“As we begin to feel the impacts of the climate crisis more intensely, it’s young people like me, with so much life ahead of us, who have the most to lose if we don’t take bold action to combat this crisis now,” said Alli Fry, youth activist and office manager at the Illinois Environmental Council.
This year, Vistra Energy abruptly shuttered four coal plants in Illinois, resulting in lost jobs and property tax revenue in those communities. Dozens of communities are now at risk, as corporations that have been polluting these communities for decades cut and run. CEJA is the only comprehensive energy bill that proposes a just transition policy shaped by feedback from residents in coal communities. CEJA would help coal communities weather significant losses to their tax bases and creates incentives to direct new renewable energy development where it is most needed. CEJA also advances programs that prioritize good green jobs, entrepreneurial opportunities and programs that put wealth-producing assets in the hands of environmental justice communities and others too often left behind.
Mary Ellen DeClue a resident and advocate from Montgomery County where the Coffeen Power Station has shuttered said,”This reality of a sudden financial tax income void that can cripple communities and harm residents must be not only recognized, but justly addressed. The Clean Energy Jobs Act would establish a new Energy Community Reinvestment Act to support communities and workers who are economically impacted by the decline of fossil fuel generation.”
Stopping Trump Appointees Rate Hike:
Last month, Trump appointees on the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission issued a ruling that would force Illinois consumers to pay extra for electricity generated by coal and other dirty sources of power that aren’t needed to serve local demand. FERC’s order amounts to another massive bailout for coal and gas companies resulting in what could be the largest electric increase in Illinois history. Illinois can protect itself from these rules by passing CEJA this spring.
“The FERC ruling threatens most Illinois consumers with an increase of up to $864 million a year to pay for dirty power we don’t want or need,” said Cate York, sustainable communities liaison for the Citizens Utility Board. “We urge Springfield to pass the Clean Energy Jobs Act, because it would protect consumers from this increase and empower the state to secure clean, affordable energy for all of Illinois.”
The Solar Cliff:
Three years ago the Future Energy Jobs Act fixed a broken renewable energy policy in the state, jumpstarting the industry after a seven-year stagnation. Unfortunately, because of limited renewable energy funds, that growth will lead to a bust in the renewable energy market, and put in jeopardy the new jobs and workforce efforts that have come with it.
Illinois faces huge challenges over the coming months, but CEJA presents an opportunity to confront all these challenges while improving day-to-day life for countless Illinoisans. This bill has garnered overwhelming grassroots support, because it was shaped by and for everyday Illinoisans.
The Clean Energy Jobs Act will:
- Aim for a carbon-free power sector by 2030, and provides financial and other assistance to environmental justice communities as well as communities and workers impacted by coal plant retirements;
- Move Illinois towards 100% renewable energy by 2050, attracting $39 billion in clean energy development;
- Develop transportation electrification to give Illinoisans access to cleaner and more affordable forms of transportation;
- Expand energy efficiency programs that have already cut utility bills by billions of dollars;
- Spark business development, workforce training and jobs so all Illinois residents can benefit from the clean energy
The Illinois Clean Jobs Coalition (ICJC) is a group of more than 200 organizations, businesses, and community leaders working together to advance clean energy jobs, lower energy bills, and healthier air and water. Visit
ilcleanjobs.org to learn more.