SPRINGFIELD — Following an NRG announcement that the company would be shutting down two coal plants in 2022, the Illinois Clean Jobs Coalition (ICJC) released this statement:
“Today’s announcement that NRG would be shutting down their Waukegan and Will County coal plants next year would not have been possible without the tireless advocacy by local community leaders and residents who have had to breathe pollution and suffer long-term health consequences for decades. The Illinois Clean Jobs Coalition applauds the work of Clean Power Lake County, Citizens Against Ruining the Environment (CARE) and many others for their unwavering fight for environmental justice. Years of work, hundreds of volunteer meetings, and thousands of petition signatures have made this moment possible.
“All eyes are on NRG and state leaders to ensure that communities are included in planning the transition of these plants and the polluted sites they sit on. The closing of the last Chicago-area coal plants also points to the urgent need to pass comprehensive clean energy legislation that includes provisions for a just transition.
“Like the Clean Energy Jobs Act, the Governor’s current proposal helps communities with transition grants and support for displaced workers when they see coal-fired electric coal plants cut and run.
“It also creates and expands workforce training and access to seed capital and contractor equity to create jobs and wealth in Black, Indigenous, People of Color (BIPOC) and environmental justice communities like Waukegan, which bear the greatest cost of pollution but often share few benefits from clean energy technology.
“Today’s announcements from NRG show that the Governor’s plan to move Illinois beyond coal is actually right in line with market economics, and efforts to extend the life of municipal coal plants like Prairie State and CWLP are very out of touch with communities and energy sector trends. Having responsible and certain timelines to transition beyond fossil fuels couldn’t be more important, so that we can replace aging coal with renewable energy like wind and solar, and not new sources of pollution like gas.”
The Illinois Clean Jobs Coalition is made up of more than 200 consumer, business, environmental, environmental justice, health care, faith-based and student organizations.