Peoria Journal Star | Op-ed by Ryan Hidden
In response to the recent Op-Ed by Tim Benson, the Clean Energy Jobs Act (CEJA) would be a major step forward in creating a more sustainable, equitable, and resilient economy for residents of Illinois.
Over the course of the past year, Illinois residents have experienced extreme weather, unprecedented electricity bills increases, and job losses in coal mining communities. Now, during this public health and economic crisis, the need for decisive action is greater than ever. We need legislation that promotes clean energy, reduces pollution, and creates jobs. CEJA does just that.
Peoria has suffered far too much from the old dirty energy system including polluted air, causing high rates of breathing problems in our neighborhoods, and dirty coal ash seeping into area groundwater. CEJA would reduce the amount of harmful pollution put into the air, increase the total amount of electricity created by renewables, and help create good jobs in Illinois’ rapidly growing clean energy industry like the jobs being created in Illinois Central College’s solar pipeline training program.
These jobs will help lower Peoria’s poverty rate where 1 in 4 Peorians are in or near poverty. Neighborhoods in Peoria’s valley and bluffs would benefit from CEJA’s energy efficiency programs. CEJA would help lower the cost of electricity and expand solar for all and electric vehicle access for all, helping ensure that the clean energy transition benefits all Illinois residents.
The COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated inequalities in Peoria and across the state while hitting the clean energy industry hard. Now is not the time to hit the brakes on progress but take action that will help Illinois build a more equitable, sustainable, and resilient economy with no cost to taxpayers.