Hundreds rally to support clean jobs bill in Springfield

From Illinois Business Journal news services

SPRINGFIELD — Hundreds of Illinoisans rallied for clean energy and climate action at the Illinois State Capitol in Springfield on Wednesday, as part of an Earth Day effort in support of pending legislation.

The citizens were joined at the rally by many legislators who are co-sponsoring the bipartisan Illinois Clean Jobs Bill (HB 2607/SB1485).

Last year, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency introduced the Clean Power Plan, giving states the opportunity to create plans to cut carbon pollution and grow clean energy jobs. With energy policy taking center stage this year in the General Assembly, the Illinois Clean Jobs Bill has emerged as the only bill that can protect the consumers and the environment while creating an estimated 32,000 jobs annually, supporters, including the Sierra Club, say.

“The Illinois Clean Jobs bill has the most grassroots and legislative support of any energy-related bill pending in the General Assembly this year,” said state Sen. Don Harmon, D-Oak Park. “And the news for consumers and clean energy keeps getting better: the state’s leading watchdog for utility customers – Citizen’s Utility Board – found that the Illinois Clean Jobs bill will save people a total $1.6 billion by 2030.”

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.

“I support the Illinois Clean Jobs Bill because I see it as an unprecedented opportunity to address the needs of the Illinois economy, a top priority for the people I represent in Central Illinois,” said state Sen. Dave Koehler, D-Pekin. “The Illinois Clean Jobs Bill also benefits the environment and the legacy we pass down to our children and grandchildren.”

Last week, two organizations – Citizens Utility Board and Union of Concerned Scientists – independently concluded that the Illinois Clean Jobs Bill would save customers billions of dollars, in stark contrast to two other pieces of energy-related legislation now pending in Springfield. As the state’s leading utility watchdog said this week, the Illinois Clean Jobs Bill is the only piece of legislation that would lead to customer savings.

“In my neighborhood, clean energy jobs are being carried out all the time. People are weatherizing their homes, updating their appliances and weatherizing their buildings. Believe it or not – these are all clean energy jobs,” said state Rep. Christian Mitchell, D-Chicago. “The Illinois Clean Jobs Bill will save the average consumer almost $100 a year, and I am excited to sponsor it.”

“Competition for clean energy jobs is intense — and we are letting too many states pass us by,” said Michelle Knox, owner of Wind Solar USA, a clean energy small business near Springfield. “Illinois’ clean energy standards are broken right now, creating an unstable business environment for companies to come to Illinois to create new jobs. The Illinois Clean Jobs Bill will make Illinois a hub for clean energy innovation while bringing new business to our state and creating 32,000 new jobs every year.”

“Like many people rallying in Springfield today, my family and I live in a community that is ready to curb air, water and climate pollution while growing local, family-sustaining jobs,” said Laura Asher, a mom from Alton. “The Illinois Clean Jobs Bill contains solutions to ensure that no Illinois community is left behind as we shift to a clean energy economy.”

The Illinois Clean Jobs Coalition is made up of Illinois businesses and organizations representing the state’s environmental, business and faith communities. Currently, more than 70 businesses and 30 organizations have formally joined the coalition.

More on the effort is at ilcleanjobs.org

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