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We Finally Did It—Celebrating Illinois Passing the Climate and Equitable Jobs Act!

Last week, Governor J.B. Pritzker officially signed the Climate and Equitable Jobs Act—SB2408 (CEJA) into Illinois Law—marking one of the nation’s most bold advancements in equitable workforce development and climate justice.

After more than three years of community organizing and grassroots efforts, Faith in Place is proud to have played a leading role in passing the most comprehensive climate and equitable jobs bill in the country. During last week’s testimony in the Illinois Senate on the bill, Senate President Don Harmon (D-Oak Park) said, “We owe our kids an apology for waiting so long to act on this bill.” Climate change is here, and we are seeing its effects more and more each day.

As people of faith and conscience, we must act decisively and intentionally to create a more just and sustainable world for our children and grandchildren. It took a strong coalition of organizations nearly three years to get this bill across the finish line, but CEJA does just that—creates a future our kids can be proud of—now, and 20 years from now. CEJA is both a nation-leading climate and equity bill—not one or the other, as is often the case. Both climate and equity were prioritized in this bill—working together to build a stronger economy that benefits all Illinoisans, while cutting fossil fuel emissions and protecting the planet.

Pictured above is Faith in Place's Policy Director, Pastor Scott Onqué (far right) in Springfield with lawmakers, climate champions, and coalition members who fought so hard for a bill that prioritized climate and equity. Here are some of the equity provisions that we’re excited about:

  • Over $80 million per year for 13 workforce and contractor development programs targeted in equity focused communities all over Illinois

  • Minimum diversity and equity requirements for all renewable energy projects, and dedicated support for disadvantaged contractors to participate in the clean energy economy

  • New training programs for returning citizens in the solar and energy efficiency sectors

  • Establishes a $40 million grant program for communities where nuclear or fossil fuel generators and mines have or will close to address the social and economic impacts of the renewable energy transition

  • Establishes the Displaced Energy Worker Bill of Rights for fossil fuel plant workers

  • Creates a Green Bank to finance clean energy projects and a Jobs and Environmental Justice Grant Program to provide seed capital for disadvantaged businesses.

These important decarbonization targets protect people and planet:

  • Sets Illinois on a path to a 100% clean energy future by 2050, and delivers 100% carbon-free power by 2045, by closing coal and fossil gas on timelines that guarantee climate action, public health protection, and prioritization of environmental justice communities. This includes closing the 7th largest polluter in the U.S. by 2045, with 45% emissions reductions by 2035

  • Funding to get from 9% to 40% renewable energy by 2030 and 50% by 2040, by building 3.5 times more renewable energy each year than the Future Energy Jobs Act (FEJA, 2016)

  • Commits up to $80 million per year over the next decade to electric transportation with 45% of benefits going to environmental justice and low-income communities.

These consumer protections ensure affordable energy bills and accessibility for energy upgrades for all Illinoisans, regardless of income:

  • Creates a process for a new low-income rate and prohibits various late fees and customer deposits for low-income customers

  • Increases the Illinois Solar for All program from $10 million per year to $50 million per year

  • Creates new inclusive financing mechanisms for families to invest in energy upgrades.

Why should people of faith be so proud of this legislation? CEJA invests in fossil communities and workers who have been left behind or harmed by systemic injustice, protects the planet by requiring the worst polluters in the state to cut their emissions or close, increases funding for renewable energy and energy efficiency, ends formula rates—which amplify economic injustice, and preserves a future for our children and grandchildren.

Pictured above is Faith in Place's Policy Coordinator, Christina Krost with her daughters at the Capitol in Springfield, advocating for climate justice. They’re excited that Illinois is becoming a climate leader and making a commitment to protect their futures. While we celebrate the enacting of this new historic law, we understand that this is just the beginning. There is much more work to be done in implementing this legislation, and Faith in Place is committed to ensuring that this bill is carried out successfully—on behalf of our communities, our children, and all the future generations to come. If you are interested in learning more about the Climate and Equitable Jobs Act, please contact our Policy Coordinator, Christina Krost and our Policy Director, Pastor Scott Onque for more information or to host a Faithful Citizen’s Workshop at your House of Worship.

Christina Krost:

Pastor Scott Onqué:

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