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Clean Energy Advocates Make History in Illinois

The people of Illinois have much to celebrate today as Governor J.B. Pritzker signed the Climate and Equitable Jobs Act (CEJA) into law. Members of the Illinois Clean Jobs Coalition (ICJC) are calling it “the most ambitious and equitable clean energy law in the country.” It’ll transition Illinois─the sixth-heaviest carbon emitter in the country─to 100 percent clean energy by 2050 with equity at the center. CEJA is a massive cultural sea-change for a state that’s long been home to fossil-fuel interests.

“The Climate and Equitable Jobs Act is a bold, nation-leading law that will put Illinois on a path to a 100 percent clean energy future, protect public health from pollution, provide a just transition for communities historically dependent on dirty fossil fuels, enact tough utility accountability measures, and create jobs and wealth in Illinois’ Black and Brown communities,” said members of the ICJC.

CEJA, the product of three years of grassroots organizing and bipartisan support in both chambers, was born out of the “Listen. Lead. Share.” campaign, which centered input gathered through hundreds of community listening sessions hosted by local ICJC partners, including Energy Foundation grantees. The result was a massive, passionate, mobilized, and diverse coalition comprising over 200 organizations in every corner of the state with enough tenacity to overcome the state’s long-reigning fossil interests and their allies.

Passage of CEJA represents a historic shift in Illinois as climate justice advocates cemented their political power in energy decision-making. Illinois will now leverage its massive economy to drive national clean energy leadership and raise the ambition and connection between climate and equity.

Here’s why passage of CEJA is monumental: It sets Illinois on a path to a 100 percent clean energy future by 2050, and delivers 100 percent carbon-free power by 2045, by closing coal and fossil gas power plants on timelines that guarantee climate action, public health protection, and prioritization of environmental justice communities. It closes the seventh-largest polluting coal plant in the U.S. (Prairie State) by 2045. It increases funding to get from the current 9 percent to 40 percent renewable energy by 2030 and 50 percent by 2040. Additionally, CEJA commits up to $80 million per year over the next decade to electric transportation with 45 percent of benefits going to environmental justice and low-income communities.

This is a milestone moment for the people of Illinois, and for the country, as other states make similar commitments to invest in climate and clean, affordable energy progress. CEJA establishes a national model for good paying, clean jobs while addressing the legacy of pollution that has plagued communities living in the shadows of dirty power plants. Today marks a new, clean energy chapter for our communities, economy, and health as we build a brighter future that works for all of us.

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