The unprecedented lack of a state budget caused serious harm across Illinois, and especially in disadvantaged communities. We’re thrilled that the State of Illinois has a budget at long last, and we can begin to repair that harm and provide real opportunities for people who need it most in the clean energy economy through the Illinois Solar For All program.
It almost didn’t happen that way. Last week, Governor Rauner proposed a budget that could have eliminated all of the funding for Illinois Solar For All, and Sierra Club sprang into action. More than 1,800 Sierra Club members and supporters reached out to their legislators in Springfield before and during the 4th of July holiday, and it had an impact. Legislators rejected Rauner’s proposal, and approved a new proposal that did not sweep any funds away from Illinois Solar For All.
Sierra Club joined this effort in support of environmental justice partners in the Illinois Clean Jobs Coalition, especially the Little Village Environmental Justice Organization and Faith in Place, who envisioned the Illinois Solar For All program and are now working to create the new statewide training programs that will begin later this year. Sierra Club volunteers lobbied their state legislators all spring to prepare for this showdown, including in-district visits to lawmakers’ offices and many calls; and, nearly 50 making the trip to Springfield for a lobby day in April to protect the funds.
The new Illinois Solar For All program is a key component of the Future Energy Jobs Act (FEJA). The program will train and employ residents of low income communities, citizens returning from the criminal justice system, and foster care graduates in the clean energy industry that is soon to take off in Illinois thanks to the FEJA.
With everything Trump is doing to make America dependent on fossil fuels again, it is essential that Illinois chart a course for 100% clean energy future that includes everyone. The Illinois Solar For All program is part of a great start, and thanks to your action and the great work of our partners in the Illinois Clean Jobs Coalition, we are on course for a brighter future.
Springfield, June 26 – This morning the Illinois House passed HR490, urging Governor Rauner to have Illinois join 12 states, Puerto Rico, and over 300 cities in supporting the goals of the Paris Climate Agreement and signing onto the U.S. Climate Alliance. The resolution also urges the state to develop a plan of how Illinois can achieve 100% clean, renewable energy by 2045, a goal that dozens of cities and the state of California are working towards. The Resolution passed 54-29.
In response, Jack Darin, Director of Sierra Club Illinois Chapter, released the following statement:
“Governor Rauner, it is time for Illinois to join the US Climate Alliance, and chart our own course to a clean energy future. President Trump is stepping back from the global move to clean energy, but Illinois does not have to follow him. It’s time to commit to fighting the climate change that threatens Illinois, and plan for the bold long term goal of a 100% clean energy future.
“Illinois is already on track to meet the Paris Agreement emissions reduction targets, as the clean energy boom on the way under the Future Energy Jobs Act (FEJA) is projected to reduce carbon emissions at least equal to those agreed to in the Paris accord. A transition to 100% clean energy will not happen overnight, but the transition has already begun, and setting that as a long term goal for Illinois will guide job training, economic development, grid infrastructure, and other components of a clean energy future.”
Today the Illinois General Assembly passed Senate Bill 550, which will require testing for lead contamination in Illinois elementary schools and daycares. Sierra Club volunteers worked over the last year to educate lawmakers about the risks of lead contamination to children’s health, and to support the new testing requirement.
Sierra Club, Illinois Chapter Director made this statement:
“We applaud the hard work of State Senator Heather Steans and State Representative Sonya Harper to better protect Illinois children from lead in their drinking water. Lead can poison a child’s brain leading to developmental problems, and we need to be doing more to protect our kids everywhere they drink water, but particularly at school and in daycare. Now parents, schools, and daycares will have the facts they need to make sure our schools are places of learning, not poisoning.
It has never been more important that states lead in protecting our environment and ensuring our infrastructure is safe. We applaud Attorney General Lisa Madigan for her strong advocacy for this legislation and for our children, and the Illinois Environmental Council for working with all parties to reach this important agreement.”