From Illinois Business Journal News Services
ALTON — A bus of Metro East residents headed to Springfield today to join citizens from across the state to rally for clean energy and climate action at the Illinois State Capitol in Springfield.
The citizens are voicing support for the bipartisan Illinois Clean Jobs Bill (HB 2607/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 Sen. Haine and Rep. Beiser to advocate for our community and become co-sponsors of the Illinois Clean Jobs Bill.”
The local plant is a Dynegy Wood River Power Station, technically in East Alton.
“The Illinois Clean Jobs Bill will accelerate a transition to a sustainable future, and our generation understands that this needs to happen now. 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.” Eden Vittoff, co-founder of Green LYFE Network (Leading Youth For the Environment),
The Illinois Clean Jobs Bill is intended to 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. Supporters say 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, supporters say.
Energy policy is among the key issues that’ve 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 clear leader in clean energy jobs in the Midwest, is losing jobs due to broken renewable energy policies, supporters of the bill said. They added that 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.
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 160 businesses and 60 organizations have formally joined the coalition to promote steps to improve the Illinois environment, help consumers, improve public health, and create tens of thousands of new jobs across the state.