Voters in Key Senate Districts Back Clean Energy Jobs Act Because It Provides Thousands of Jobs in Communities Most Impacted by Pandemic

Chicago — A new poll shows that over 70% of Illinois voters in key state Senate Districts support the Clean Energy Jobs Act (CEJA) because it is the only comprehensive, equitable clean energy legislation that would move the state to 100% renewable energy and create thousands of good-paying jobs for people and communities of color and communities most impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.

The poll, released by the Illinois Clean Jobs Coalition and conducted by Public Policy Polling, surveyed Illinois residents in Senate Districts 17, 14 and 4 from Oct. 2-3. The poll found voters overwhelmingly support CEJA as a way for the state to recover from the pandemic, stimulate the economy and create jobs without raising taxes, spending scarce state revenue, hiking electric bills, or bailing out Exelon, utilities or fossil fuel companies.

One of the fastest growing sectors in Illinois, clean energy policy is one of the only tools the state has to put people back to work, especially in communities where workers and small businesses have been hit hardest — predominantly communities of color that have seen disproportionate numbers of COVID-19 cases and deaths. CEJA requires thousands of clean energy jobs created by the bill to be prioritized in Black and Brown communities and communities impacted by coal plant closures. 

Support for CEJA was overwhelming: 75% in Senate District 17, 72% in Senate District 14, and 73% in Senate District 4. Support from surveyed African American voters, among the communities most impacted by the pandemic, was greater: 80% in Senate District 17, 84% in Senate District 14, and 74% in Senate District 4. Of the voters surveyed, 71% think the General Assembly should take up CEJA now. 

“The pandemic is delivering a terrible and disproportionate blow to communities of color that are suffering and dying more from COVID-19 and also experiencing greater numbers of unemployment and financial hardship,” said Rep. Emanuel Chris Welch, whose House district overlaps with Senate District 4. “We need to pass the Clean Energy Jobs Act to create a new clean energy economy that not only protects our planet but creates thousands of new good-paying jobs in communities of color that need economic solutions now.”

“We need solutions now to help the people in my district who have suffered the brunt of this unprecedented pandemic,” said Rep. Nick Smith, whose House District is shared with Senate District 17. “I support the Clean Energy Jobs Act because it will prioritize equitable job creation and wealth building in these communities hit hardest.”

“Our communities want economic solutions that have the promise of new jobs and new opportunities at a time when so many people and families are struggling,” said Rep. Robert Rita, whose House District is shared with Senate District 14. “The Clean Energy Jobs Act can be a critical part of our work to recover from the pandemic without relying on state spending or higher utility bills, and we need to pass CEJA now.”

CEJA would spur Illinois to build four to five times the amount of new renewable energy in the state and bring in more than $30 billion in new private investment to Illinois by 2030. The bill has 56 sponsors in the House and 30 sponsors in the Senate. 

The Clean Jobs Coalition has made equitable job creation the core of CEJA, including:

  • A new Equity Points System for companies seeking renewable energy, energy efficiency and electric vehicle contracts will require companies to commit to equity in hiring, ownership, subcontracting, pay, and community involvement.
  • Expansion of the Clean Jobs Workforce Hubs and Clean Energy Contractor Incubator programs to additional communities in underserved parts of Illinois and expanded support for apprenticeships and on-the-job training.
  • Doubling down on community-based solutions with local community-led jobs and workforce planning, new incentive programs for multi-family housing solar projects, and requirements to ensure clean energy programs reach and benefit low-income and environmental justice communities across the state.
  • Require immediate re-opening of the rooftop and community solar programs to get solar installers back to work.

A copy of the legislation can be found here, along with a table of contents

The latest poll demonstrates consistent support for CEJA and comes after a May 2020 statewide poll showed 74% of voters surveyed statewide want lawmakers to pass CEJA now. 

The Clean Jobs Coalition is made up of more than 200 consumer, business, environmental, environmental justice, health care, faith-based and student organizations. Visit ilcleanjobs.org to learn more.