By Leaflet, via Wikimedia Commons
ALTON — Today, a bus of Metro East residents is joining citizens from across Illinois to rally for clean energy and climate action at the Illinois State Capitol in Springfield.
The citizens will be in Springfield to voice support for the bipartisan Illinois Clean Jobs Bill (HB 2607 and SB1485), and many of the bill’s legislative co-sponsors will rally with citizens outside the Capitol.
“With our local coal plant set to retire on June 1, we are fighting statewide for policies that will jump-start Illinois’ energy economy,” said Laura Asher, chair of the Piasa Palisades Group of the Sierra Club. “We need new, family-sustaining jobs for workers impacted by the rapidly changing energy market. The Illinois Clean Jobs Bill provides funding for workers and communities in transition, which would help ensure that the Riverbend is not left behind. This is why we’re calling on Senator Haine and Representative Beiser to advocate for our community and become co-sponsors of the Illinois Clean Jobs Bill.”
“The Illinois Clean Jobs Bill will accelerate a transition to a sustainable future, and our generation understands that this needs to happen now,” said Eden Vittoff, co-founder of Green LYFE Network (Leading Youth For the Environment). “It is more important than ever to take action on climate change, so we are not content to stay on the sidelines as our future on this planet is jeopardized. We are the first generation to see the effects of climate disruption and the last generation that can do anything about it.”
The Illinois Clean Jobs Bill will strengthen policies to ramp up renewable energy like wind and solar to 35 percent by 2030 and cut energy use through efficiency by 20 percent by 2025. These efforts will save consumers money while bringing clean energy investment to new communities to strengthen local tax bases and create family-sustaining jobs. The bill will also create an estimated 32,000 new jobs annually once fully implemented.
Energy policy is among the key issues that have been debated in the Illinois legislature in the past year. In 2015, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency finalized the Clean Power Plan, giving states the opportunity to create plans to cut carbon pollution and grow clean energy jobs.
Illinois, once a leader in clean energy jobs in the Midwest, is losing jobs because of broken renewable energy policies. While Illinois’ clean energy jobs increased by 9 percent last year, fueled by increases in the field of energy efficiency, wind energy and solar energy jobs fell by a combined 6.9 percent.
If the state’s budget impasse is not resolved by May 31, it would mean a loss of $76 million for energy efficiency projects across Illinois. Schools, libraries and fire stations will receive these funds for energy efficiency upgrades but will miss out on the funding if no budget is passed.