IL Leaders Pass Historic Climate, Equity Bill Creating Huge Opportunity For Clean Energy in the State

Statement by Jessica Collingsworth, Senior Energy Policy Analyst with the Union of Concerned Scientists

Published Sep 14, 2021

Media Contact

CHICAGO, Ill. (September 13, 2021)—The Illinois General Assembly passed a comprehensive bill today, the Climate and Equitable Jobs Act (CEJA, SB2408), that puts the state among the nation’s leaders in confronting the climate crisis. This bill reduces carbon emissions and moves Illinois away from fossil fuels and towards a clean energy future to achieve a 100% carbon-free power sector by 2045. Additionally, the legislation prioritizes pollution reductions within environmental justice communities. The bill increases the renewables portfolio standard (RPS) funding and targets to achieve 40% renewable energy by 2030 and 50% by 2040, and grows the Illinois Solar for All program budget to $50 million annually. It also commits to investments that put 1 million electric vehicles on the road in Illinois by 2030.

The bill centers equity in many ways, including by securing over $80 million per year for workforce and contractor development programs targeted in equity focused communities—it creates new training programs for formerly incarcerated individuals in clean energy jobs, and a Clean Energy Jobs and Justice Fund which is a nonprofit green bank to bring equitable lending and business development to diverse communities. The bill will aid in fostering an equitable and just transition for fossil fuel-dependent communities by establishing an up to $40 million/year grant program for communities where nuclear or fossil-fuel generators and mines have closed or will close, and a Displaced Energy Worker Bill of Rights for fossil fuel power plant, nuclear power plant, and coal mine workers.

Below is a statement by Jessica Collingsworth, a senior energy policy analyst with the Union of Concerned Scientists.

“The Climate and Equitable Jobs Act addresses the state’s ongoing climate crisis by transitioning Illinois away from fossil fuels to clean and affordable renewable energy. CEJA has strong equity components throughout the bill that were developed based on direct engagement and dialogue with community and environmental justice organizations throughout the state.

“This comprehensive clean-energy package includes strong decarbonization targets that prioritize closing carbon-emitting power plants in environmental justice communities, which have been especially hard hit by global warming pollution and its resulting impacts. It also includes crucial interim pollution reduction targets that are necessary to avoid the worst consequences of climate change. After years of grassroots organizing and advocacy on this bill, we are thrilled to see this historic legislation pass in Illinois.”