ELECTION DAY ROUNDUP: WINNING THE PATH TO ILLINOIS’ 100% CLEAN ENERGY FUTURE

Election Day 2018 brought some big wins for the environment here in Illinois. Below is a summary of Sierra Club Illinois’ work this year. Thanks for all you did to make it such a success!

RESULTS

Sierra Club made a total of 114 endorsements for the general election, and 81% of them won, which is particularly exciting given the larger than number of challengers and open seat contestants we supported.

Endorsed winning candidates included:

All candidates endorsed for statewide office:  J.B Pritzker for Governor, Juliana Stratton for Lt. Governor, Kwame Raoul for Attorney General, and Mike Frerichs for Treasurer

12 out of 14 candidates endorsed for U.S. Congress

16 out of 22 candidates endorsed for Illinois Senate

45 out of 54 candidates endorsed for Illinois House

19 out of 24 candidates endorsed for county offices

We elected 17 new climate and clean energy champions, including:

New State Senators Ram Villivalam (Chicago) Ann Gillespie (Palatine) Rachelle Aud Crowe (Edwardsville) Chris Belt (East St. Louis), New State Representatives Delia Ramirez (Chicago), Lamont Robinson (Chicago), Jennifer Gong Gershowitz (Niles) Celina Villanueva (Chicago), Curtis Tarver (Chicago), Terra Costa Howard (Lombard), Mark Walker (Mt. Prospect), Bob Morgan (Highland Park), Dan Dedich (Buffalo Grove), Joyce Mason (Winthrop Harbor), Anna Stava Murray (Downers Grove), and Maurice West (Rockford), and Karina Villa (St. Charles) – see Karina here  Congrats to all!!!

We beat incumbent climate deniers, coal boosters, and clean energy opponents, including, Bruce Rauner, who boasted of his coal, oil, and fracking priorities, climate deniers Peter Roskam and Randy Hultgren, State Senators Tom Rooney, Michael Connelly,  and State Representative Sheri Jesiel, who opposed the Future Energy Jobs Act, and State Senator Ira Silverstein, who supported 30 year ratepayer subsidies for the proposed Tenaska coal plant, and also opposed FEJA.

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HOW WE DID IT

From Resistance to Results

In the early days of 2017, Sierra Club was welcoming thousands of new members seeking to put their shock and outrage at Trump and his agenda to work.  We quickly decided to begin preparing for the 2018 campaign far earlier than ever before, and started recruiting for and training Political Field Teams in each of our 15 local Groups across Illinois to lead our political field work in 2018.  We held 16 of these trainings and kickoff meetings that were attended by 423 people.

Each of these teams filled leadership roles of Recruitment Captain and Data Director, and members were trained in canvassing, phone banking, recruitment, storytelling, social media and the VAN database.  As a result, we had skilled, cohesive local teams in place across the state, in most cases way before we even knew which candidates we would be supporting. This built enthusiasm for a bold agenda and response to Trump, more than any individual candidate in most cases, that proved to be very effective and flexible in directing power wherever it would be needed most as opportunities arose.

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Setting a Bold Agenda

As the destructive scope of the Trump agenda became shockingly clear early in 2017, we aimed high to move Illinois in entirely the opposite direction.  Beginning with listening to our members and allies, for the first time we published a bold agenda for Illinois, 100% In For the Environment, before we even began any consideration of endorsements.  As a result, we set the bar for what it meant to move Illinois forward and resist the Trump administration when it comes to energy and the environment, and candidates responded, embracing and expanding on these ideas in races for local, state, and federal office. Check out our video highlighting the agenda!

Our Biggest Volunteer Effort Ever

Our teams held over 75 volunteer events for candidates (phonebanks, canvases, etc.) in the final two months leading up to election day – more than one event per day for our endorsed candidates! We knocked on 28,697 doors for endorsed candidates, and had 6,013 Voter to voter phone conversations about endorsed candidates.

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WHAT NOW? – IMPLICATIONS FOR 2019 – AND BEYOND

JB Pritzker Ran and Won On the Boldest Environmental Platform In Illinois History

JB Pritzker prepares to take over the Governor’s office after a campaign proposing to set a goal of 100% clean energy for Illinois, to replace all lead service lines, rebuild the Illinois Department of Natural Resources and our state’s commitment to conservation, act on climate change, and beef up environmental enforcement. Needless to say accomplishing these will take broad coalitions and significant financial investments, making Pritzker’s honesty about the need for a fair tax and strong support from organized labor potentially keys to building the support and resources to accomplish this bold agenda.

Clean Energy Is A Winning Issue in ALL of Illinois

From north to south, we saw clean energy win on Election Day.

Historically it was not unusual to see statewide candidates talk up clean energy and clean air in northeastern Illinois, and then pledge support for coal in central and southern Illinois.  In 2018 Democratic candidates ran on clean energy and action on climate change everywhere, including southernmost Illinois, central Illinois, and the Metro East. We are thrilled to work with new dowstate leaders like State Senators Rachelle Aud Crowe (District 56) and Chris Belt (District 57) to promote environmental justice and bring the clean energy economy to these communities.

In one of the marquee congressional races in the country, we backed Sean Casten as he was the first significant Illinois candidate to run first and foremost on climate change solutions.  While conventional wisdom suggested Casten run on health care and other important top of mind issues, he always stressed his long commitment to carbon reductions and inspired new levels of activism from our leaders and members in Chicago’s suburbs.

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Candidates Paid a Price For Anti-Environment Positions

Bruce Rauner’s coziness with big coal, his appointment of former polluter lobbyist Alec Messina, Illinois EPA’s poor enforcement record, and his association with a DuPage County company (Sterigenics) that was found to be emitting carcinogens in a residential area all reinforced a core narrative that he was a failed governor. Inexplicably, he was unable or unwilling to benefit from his role in the Future Energy Jobs Act (even though he essentially opposed the bill until he signed it) in a year when clean energy resonated across the state. We’re not aware that he ever uttered the words “renewable” or “clean” energy, but he did rally with several of the same coal barons conspiring with the Trump team to dismantle EPA and many safeguards.

Erika Harold said little about the environment, other than to criticize Kwame Raoul for sponsoring legislation ensuring access to justice for people harmed by pollution, and current AG Lisa Madigan for suing the Trump administration over environmental rollbacks, calling such actions “political”.  The latter gave Raoul a talking point he used frequently to paint Harold as extreme and allied with Trump.

We’re All In This Together:  Building a Bigger Movement to Move Forward Illinois

Sierra Club is committed to building a bigger environmental movement, and join others in advocating for social, racial, economic, and environmental justice.  This fall we joined with progressive allies to put forward a bold, progressive agenda for Illinois, and together we released a poll that shows that over two thirds of Illinois voters support an agenda that includes equality for all, immigration and criminal justice reform, quality health care, gun violence prevention, access to reproductive health care, and 100% clean energy future for Illinois.  We recognize that the future of our environment is inherently linked to the future of workers, civil rights and equality for all, and a more fair and balanced economy. We’re uniting to demonstrate the power of these issues to move voters, and to lay the groundwork for collaboration in 2019 and beyond to enact this bold agenda.

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2,000 Monarch Roadside Habitat License Plate Decal Applications Sent In!

kKu3iMv4T+e9Z1WhIbm6UQWe did it!

More than 2,000 Sierra Club, Illinois Environmental Council, and NRDC supporters came together to apply for the new Specialty Monarch License Plate Decal, raising over $20,000 for roadside monarch habitat and ensuring the decal will be commissioned!

Thank you for your support!

If you’re interested in joining the Illinois Chapter’s efforts to conserve Monarch butterflies and our other important pollinator species, please fill out this form.

Illinois Chapter Sierra Club pollinator web page.

Join the Illinois Chapter Monarch Campaign Facebook Group.

 

Just $10 to Help Monarch Butterflies!

Get your Monarch license plate decal before the end of September!

Monarch butterflies are critical pollinators that help support biodiversity by carrying important pollens long distances across their migration route. Sadly, monarch butterfly populations have been rapidly declining in North America since 1997. During that time, the Midwestern United States has seen an 88% decline in the number of monarchs, and a 64% decrease in the amount of available milkweed, which serves as the monarchs only egg-laying habitat and food source for monarch caterpillars.

Monarch team image

Fortunately, there is now a fun and easy way that you can help protect monarchs in Illinois through the Secretary of State’s specialty license plate program. For just $10 you may sign up for a monarch specialty license plate decal. Whether or not you choose to purchase a specialty license plate, the funds from the decal sales will go to the Illinois Department of Natural Resources to support roadside monarch habitat throughout Illinois!

We need just 76 more people to express interest to get the decal commissioned by the Secretary of State. 1,924 requests have been submitted but we need 2,000 total by the end of September. Once the monarch decal is commissioned, you will receive a letter from the Sec. of State with an opportunity to purchase a universal speciality plate with the monarch decal. You can choose whether or not to do so then. Either way, your $10 will go to help monarchs!

It’s easy!

Download and fill out the form at https://tinyurl.com/ILMonarchDecalAppln

  • Write in ‘Monarch Roadside Habitat’ for Name of Specialty Plate Being Requested
  • Write in ‘$10” for Amount Enclosed
  • Write a check to ‘Illinois Secretary of State” for $10
  • Mail to the address listed on the form
  • SHARE the form with friends, family and colleagues.

Together we can make this happen!
Apply for your monarch license plate decal by September 30th! 

Illinois Chapter Sierra Club Monarch Team

**Interested in joining the Team? Please fill out this form.**

Visit our Facebook Page

 

Join us this month to clean up our waterways!

From the shores of Lake Michigan to the banks of the mighty Mississippi and all ponds, lakes, and streams in between, Illinois depends on its waterways for agriculture, recreation, drinking water and much more. Unfortunately, our waterways are too often filled with garbage, toxic chemicals, and unwanted waste. Laws protecting our waterways are weak and the political will to fund and enforce cleanup and protection of these waterways is limited. That’s why we need all hands on deck to clean up our local waterways and spread the word about the importance of keeping them clean! By participating in a waterway cleanup this month, you can work with people in your community, state, and world to do your part to protect our waterways and become engaged global citizens in the process.

We are excited to join with our partners at Illinois Global Scholar, Prairie Rivers Network and American Rivers to announce the second annual Illinois Waterway Cleanup Week (recently designated by the Illinois General Assembly) this September 9th-16th. This event calls upon you, community members, and especially students and teachers, to collaborate on a service project of both local and global importance. Last year, Illinois Global Scholar worked with its partners including Sierra Club to coordinate an effort with 35 schools and organizations, which collected over 5,000 pounds of trash!

Illinois Waterway Cleanup Week involves picking up trash along our lake shores, in our rivers, in our streams, and even in roadside ditches and on trails – really any place where litter enters a watershed. Visit www.global-illinois.org/illinois-waterway-cleanup/ to find out more about Illinois Waterway Cleanup Week including nearby events, an app you can download to track the trash you collect, and information on available resources.

September brings lots of Sierra Club waterway cleanup activities across the state, during and beyond Illinois Waterway Cleanup Week. Find one near you and join in the fun!

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Blackhawk Group – Rock River Sweep                       

Join us for the 9th edition of Rock River Sweep to help maintain the cleanliness of our section of the river.

When: Saturday, September 8, 2018 starting at 9 a.m.

Where:  Meet at the shelterhouse in back of First National Bank and Trust, E. Main Street in Rockton, IL

Note: We’ll give out assignments, trash bags and gloves. Dress for the weather; long sleeves, long pants and old shoes are recommended. Participants can bring back their trash around noon, when we’ll do the door prizes, refreshments and pizza.  We should finish up around 1 p.m.

RSVP: We will again offer the long-sleeve shirts with Rock River Sweep logo.  Please RSVP to Loren at fllotowood@gmail.com or 815-289-1152 and specify the number and sizes of shirts you need. Invite family and friends!

 

Valley of the Fox Group – Algonquin’s It’s Our River Day Cleanup

Join the Sierra Club and partners for Algonquin It’s Our River Day, co-hosted by Environmental Defenders of McHenry County and the Village of Algonquin.

When: Saturday, Sept. 15 at 1-4 pm

Where: Cornish Park, 101 S Harrison St., Algonquin, 60102 (Downtown Algonquin)

“It’s Our River Day,” a statewide celebration, kicks off at 1PM with a welcome from a representative from the Village of Algonquin. The Sierra Club will provide bags and gloves for the shoreline clean-up at the main location at Cornish Park. Volunteers from the Illinois Paddling Council, Water Trailkeepers and Prairie State Canoeists will participate in an in-river clean-up between Cornish Park and Fox River Shores in Carpentersville. The Fox River Jeep Club will be located at Buffalo Park for trash/recycling pick-up downstream.

Cleanup participants will need to sign a waiver at the sign-in table. Young people attending without their parent or guardian should download and have the waiver signed by their guardian and bring it to the event.

All are welcome to help clean up the beautiful Fox River. The event is free and open to the public. Groups are welcome. Parking is available at municipal parking lot at South Harrison St and Washington St and street-side.

 

Chicago Group – Montrose Beach Cleanup & Nature Tours

For 20 years, Sierra Club Chicago Group has partnered with the Alliance for the Great Lakes to adopt Montrose Beach as part of the Ocean Conservancy’s International Coastal Cleanup. This year we’re expanding our beach-cleaning coverage by teaming up with members of the Environmental Club from nearby Harry S. Truman College.

When: Saturday, Sept. 15

7 a.m.–9 a.m. – Nature tour and beginning birder walk at Montrose Beach

9 a.m.–12 p.m. – Beach cleanup and more nature tours

Where: 200 W. Montrose Harbor Drive (see additional directions below)

To note: Come for all or part of the work period. Dress for the weather, wear a hat and sunscreen, bring a filled water bottle and work gloves if you have them. No dogs allowed. All ages welcome.

Volunteer crew leaders needed! If you would like to assist with any of the event duties (setup, registration, breakdown, etc.), please contact Jeff Shelden. Coffee and donuts provided!

RSVP: Please register here (for all individuals & groups). For more info, contact Christine Williamson.

Additional Directions: We will meet at Montrose Beach House at 7:00 a.m. Look for the Sierra Club banners and/or tents near the southeast end of the large white building. Parking is free and bike racks are provided. Montrose Beach House is a 10 to 15 minute walk from the bus stops at Montrose and Marine Drive.

 

Piasa Palisades Group – The Great Mississippi River Cleanup

The Great Mississippi River Cleanup includes a free boat ride, t-shirt and lunch. Pre-registration is required by September 13th. Volunteers 17 & younger must have adult supervisor with them.

When: Saturday, Sept. 22 at 9am – 12pm

Where: 4 clean-up boats leaving out of Grafton, IL (exact location TBD – likely at the Grafton Harbor)

RSVP: Volunteers must sign up here: https://www.signupgenius.com/go/20f0b44aaab2aa0ff2-2018

 

Eagle View Group – Illinois Waterway Cleanup

We are partnering with Keep Moline Beautiful, XStream Cleanup, Augustana Student Sierra Coalition & Rock Island High School Environmental Action Club for a cleanup of the Rock River.

When: Sun, Sep 23 at 1:00 – 3:00 PM

Where: 4540 3rd St, Moline, IL 61265

We will meet at the head of the Moline Kiwanis bike path behind UnityPoint (Trinity) Medical Center at 7th St & 52nd Ave. Park in the small lot by the path or in the lot across the street.

RSVP: Sign up here. Each person needs to register individually to sign the waiver.

Questions? Contact Kristen Bergren at ishibook@gmail.com

 

 

 

Chicago Earns Title As Greenest City

New Chi

For the second year in a row, Chicago has earned the title of Greenest City by the National Green Building Adoption Index. With nearly 70% of all office buildings certified as green buildings, Chicago continues to lead the country in sustainability practices.

This year’s title as Greenest City is another achievement for our city- one that should  encourage more bold goals! Prioritizing energy efficiency and energy waste reduction are critical steps on the path to a 100% clean energy future. While the current target to power municipal buildings with clean energy by 2025 is a laudable milestone, we encourage the city to consider a similar city-wide commitment so that all residents can benefit and be part of creating an equitable clean energy future.

Committing to a city-wide 100% clean energy future would place Chicago among more than 75 other cities who have committed to the same. Imagine the profound impact Chicago could have, locally and nationally, by investing in an equitable 100% clean renewable energy future! As a globally recognized sustainability leader, we believe that our city must make bold goals that blend world-class strategy with community values and priorities for the greatest benefit for the most people in our city. Whether motivated by lower energy bills, cost savings, public health, or environmental health, a clean energy future will provide a strong foundation to becoming the resilient, sustainable city we aim to be.

Empowering Young Leaders through Sierra Club’s Summer Program

The Sierra Club’s Summer Program (Sprog) is an intensive one-week leadership training program that teaches tools for environmental and social justice activism to young people across the country. Sprog is run by and for young people, teaching the knowledge and skills and sharing tools needed to become a leader and make a substantial difference in the future of one’s community and planet. It serves to connect a supportive regional network of youth activists who fight similar battles and share similar passions. Participants have described it as one of the most inspiring and fulfilling weeks of their life. This is a reflection by one of this year’s Midwest Sprog participants, who first interacted with Sierra Club through the Chicago Inspiring Connections Outdoors program. Find out more about Sprog here.

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I am Luis Ramirez, currently a sophomore studying Environmental Studies and Anthropology in Albion College. This summer, I participated in, personally, one of the most promising student organizations of the Sierra Club. The Sierra Student Coalition is an organization whose mission is to inspire and train young leaders of tomorrow and those of today to take the initiative of advocating and campaigning in their own communities or organizations in which they could be a key factor of change or take a leadership position. Throughout the week, the summer program (Sprog) taught me of the importance of building an inclusive and anti-oppressive organization or campaign.

One of my favorite moments in Sprog happened during discussion; being able to challenge ideas was probably one of the best learning opportunities since most of the participants do not come from the same community. As for me, coming from Chicago, I could relate to others either because they were from Chicago or because they were raised in the same cultural/racial community as me. I applied to both the West Sprog and the Midwest Sprog. After talking to other participants, I figured that every Sprog offered different perspectives, both in environmental and leadership practices or approaches to our different communities pertaining to modern day issues in our environment or communities. As members of our colleges, high schools, or communities, we would create a safe environment of acceptance and respect. But like every community, some ideas were not as popular and the exclusion between various participants was obvious. In the scenarios of disagreement, the trainers were mostly more than prepared to reach out and facilitate the discussions.

The week consisted of 101 training in organization, leadership building, and campaigning; the trainings then became more advanced throughout the week. I had the privilege of being sponsored by the Illinois Chapter of Sierra Club, and my peers were sponsored by their state chapters or city youth environmental organizations. Thanks to the trainers around the nation, the Sierra Student Coalition put a stand in Washington D.C. to advocate for both the future of the program and the trainers. In Midwest Sprog, two training and discussion based topics were more common throughout the week: Environmental Issues and Oppression in our nation. Because participants were from various social economic status, cultures, religions, race, and gender many took the initiative to lead discussions and training alongside with trainers; this was probably one of my favorite and most educative scenarios of the program.

I would have not heard of this opportunity if it had not being for Inspiring Connections Outdoors- Chicago (ICO) staff who reached out to me about the opportunity. Alongside other students from Chicago, sponsorship and support was one of the key factors of attending the program. I am thankful that many more young adults have the resources necessary to attend programs and be guided throughout their environmental or advocacy lifestyle thanks to organizations like ICO who provide learning and service opportunities in their communities. Because of my time in Sprog, I am ready to be involved in future training opportunities with the Sierra Student Coalition or future staff positions within the Sierra Club or other environmental organizations.

“Illinois Must Step Up” In the Wake of Trump’s Unlawful Dirty Power Plan

As Trump and Wheeler Gut Clean Air Safeguards to Appease Coal, Will Rauner Respond?

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, former coal lobbyist and acting Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Andrew Wheeler released an unlawfully weak carbon pollution policy that would gut the Clean Power Plan’s life-saving standards and do next to nothing to fight the climate crisis, continuing the agenda of disgraced former EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt.

Since the Clean Power Plan was proposed in 2015, hundreds of businesses and organizations and tens of thousands of Illinoisans have asked Governor Rauner to commit to a carbon reduction plan, but Rauner has never responded.  Earlier this month, Rauner keynoted a rally with coal CEOs where he praised the Trump administration’s efforts to roll back clean air standards and said “I think we’ve got a friend now in the White House.”

In response, Jack Darin, Director of the Illinois Sierra Club, released the following statement:  

“Donald Trump’s decision to opt out of reducing carbon pollution is unlawful, immoral, and threatens to opt America out of the global clean energy economy.  Illinois must step up to object to this plan, and set bold clean energy and climate goals to protect our health and bring clean energy jobs to our communities.  Instead of rallying with coal barons to cheer on Trump’s rollbacks, Bruce Rauner should listen to the Illinois residents, businesses, and lawmakers urging him to make it clear that clean energy is Illinois’ future.”