CEJA brings hope for clean energy future

Daily Herald | Letter to the Editor

Epic wildfires rage across the West, spurred by drought and record high temperatures. Massive hurricanes hurl toward the Gulf Coast in record numbers as the oceans warm. Climate change is affecting lives now.

Since the 1980s scientists like James Hanson have warned us that we must decrease our fossil fuel consumption in order to protect our home, planet Earth.

Some national governments are doing just that, ours is not. In the U.S. we must rely on states to take the lead at this point. Despite passing the Future Energy Jobs Act in 2016, Illinois was still the fourth largest producer of coal as of 2019. It is clear that more aggressive measures are needed. I thank my state Rep. Grant Wehrli for co-sponsoring The Clean Energy Jobs Act (CEJA). I ask all representatives request CEJA be called to a vote during the fall veto session.

CEJA has a plan for increased energy efficiency, electrifying the transportation grid and training for the new workforce. It includes a just transition with a workers’ bill of rights to protect retiring coal plant employees — something the workers of all plants closed thus far could have used. These components will work together to eliminate Illinois’ reliance on fossil fuels by 2030.

VISTRA recently announced the largest planned closure of coal plants in U.S. history, over the next 7 years, because they are not profitable. This is a stark reminder that clean energy legislation is needed. These are turbulent times, but passing CEJA cannot wait. Gov. Pritzker and state legislators must pass CEJA this fall if they are serious about taking care of workers and securing a future for us.

Connie Schmidt, Chair

Sierra Club Illinois Chapter