Photo by Dani Wilson
Before the lobbyists traveled to the Capitol, they hosted a rally to address clean energy and jobs in the Alton area.
ALTON — Earth Day was a powerful day for many Alton residents this year, as the Sierra Club invited citizens to travel with them to Springfield and lobby for the Illinois Clean Jobs Act.
The Sierra Club hosted a rally the morning of April 22 before a bus loaded with people, signs and passion for clean energy traveled to the Capitol.
Laura Asher, volunteer leader of the Piasa Palisades group of the Sierra Club, began the rally with an explanation of the benefits of the Illinois Clean Jobs Act and how it affects the Alton area, and even her own family.
“Our mission is to explore, enjoy and protect the planet, and that certainly ties in with what we’re here to do today,” Asher said. “I feel lucky enough to live in Alton, where we’re surrounded by natural beauty. The Mississippi River flows right by our doorstep, with my husband and two kids we see bald eagles, we see pelicans, we see great blue herons all along the river. We hike along its bluffs and we’ve paddled on its backwaters. Today is a day to recognize those natural wonders and be grateful. Today’s also the day when we’ve gathered to head to our capital and demand protection for our home.”
Asher said the factories around the Alton area pose a threat to the air and water as well as causing health problems for residents.
“Living by a coal plant, I worry about the health of my children,” Asher said.
Asher said natural energy would allow the area to use clean sources of energy rather than the outdated and dangerous sources of power from coal, and that this would have a positive impact on the community and the economy.
“It’s market-based, not taxpayer-funded. Best of all, it will create tens of thousands of jobs,” Asher said.
Jeff Rains of the Steelworkers Organization of Active Retirees said he is proud to go to Springfield to lobby for sustainable, long-lasting jobs.
“I’m hoping that we can persuade Congress to do the right thing, to create sustainable, good-paying, family-supporting jobs that we can coexist with, jobs that don’t threaten our future and don’t threaten our health. The Illinois Clean Jobs Act is a step in the right direction,” Rains said.
Pastor David Crowley of First Presbyterian Church in Alton spoke about the ethical aspect of the Illinois Clean Jobs Act. He talked about his own history, saying he grew up around factories and coal mines and saw the devastating health impacts to factory workers and miners in the area.