This guest blog post is by Ready for 100 volunteer Gavin Hamilton
Ready for 100 shines a light on local efforts and political actions, but many systemic changes happen at the state level. For example, utilities such as ComEd are regulated by state agencies rather than at the local level. Chicagoans should demand action for a just transition at all levels. People from Chicago and around Illinois are excited about this transition: Ready for 100 coalition members were among more than 1,000 people who attended a virtual clean energy lobby day on November 12 and participated in supporting activities during action week.
During the week of action, there were more than 80 conversations with legislators telling them that CEJA cannot wait.
The focus of these actions was the Clean Energy Jobs Act (also known as CEJA), which is a proposed bill that will stimulate the equitable growth of our state’s clean energy economy. The driving force behind CEJA, the Clean Jobs Coalition, came up with the legislation after holding 100+ community conversations to capture the diversity of needs across Illinois. CEJA puts Illinois on a path to a carbon-free power sector by 2030 that would become completely renewable by 2050. Electric vehicles get a kick start that has the same effect as removing 1 million gas and diesel-powered vehicles from the road. Unlike other proposed clean energy bills, CEJA firmly commits to ensuring a just transition. Transitioning to renewable energy means that fossil fuel and nuclear power plants will close, but it also means that a huge number of jobs are created in clean energy. Clean energy workforce hubs, contractor incubators, and other programs will be created to make sure that communities with legacy energy production are set up to succeed in a clean energy future.
Supporting this legislation is especially crucial given recent efforts by a vague “dark money” group that has spent more than a quarter million dollars to create advertising and social media messages attacking CEJA. The mysterious group, known as the Clean Energy Transition Project, has not proposed specific policy alternatives, but frames its messaging as criticism of ComEd and Exelon while putting out false and misleading information about CEJA. This has led to speculation that its funding may come from fossil fuel interests outside of Illinois.
You can still contact the Governor or your legislators to tell them to pass the Clean Energy Jobs Act! Make sure to check out #CEJACantWait on Twitter or Facebook!