Illinois needs Clean Energy Jobs Act

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Over the past six months, Illinois and the rest of the nation have been struck hard by the coronavirus pandemic, suffering a tragic loss of lives and severe economic distress. We’ve seen protests against racial injustice fueled by long-standing issues of inequality. All the while, even though we’ve been distracted by these major issues, climate change continues unabated.

Earth’s Northern Hemisphere just had its hottest summer on record (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Global Report, September 2020). Here in Stephenson County we historically averaged four days a year over 100 degrees (1971-2000). This is projected to increase to 25 days a year by midcentury (2036 -2065) and 49 days by late century (Union of Concerned Scientists Killer Heat Interactive Tool).

Add our local data alongside all the Midwestern counties in the bread basket and consider the effects on agriculture. Combine this with the increasingly severe cycles of droughts and flooding to imagine the consequences for farming, one of our most important economic drivers.

In spite of all this, in Illinois we have a great opportunity this fall to pass a bill that would address the problems outlined above.

The Clean Energy Jobs Act currently before the Illinois General Assembly would have multiple benefits without raising our taxes:

— At a time when COVID-19 has led to so many job losses, CEJA would create good jobs in renewable energy. Job training would be focused on disadvantaged communities throughout the state, as well as workers impacted by coal mine closures in southern Illinois.

— Illinois has already seen a growth in renewable energy jobs. As of 2018, there were 123,247 clean energy jobs in Illinois, a 4% increase from 2017. CEJA would help continue that trend with incentives for renewable energy.

— Farms and small businesses would find it easier to install solar through a project cap funding increase.

— By passing CEJA, Illinois will become a leader in addressing climate change. CEJA would commit Illinois to 100% renewable energy by 2050, cut carbon from the power sector by 2030 and significantly reduce pollution from gas and diesel vehicles in the transportation sector.

— Capacity market reform is needed to ensure Illinois residents are not hit with higher electric bills. This is addressed by CEJA.

We have the opportunity to pass CEJA in the veto session this fall. Let’s put Illinois on the right track with good-paying jobs and economic development, and help our most vulnerable communities and achieve a clean energy future.

Please urge the legislators from our area — Sen. Brian Stewart and Rep. Andrew Chesney — to vote "yes" on the Clean Energy Jobs Act.

Candace Colby is a member of the Environmental Study Group: Facebook: @esgroup32. Email: candacecolby@aol.com.

via Journal Standard

September 26, 2020 at 06:46AM

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