Landmark Climate, Jobs Law Hailed in Illinois

The historic clean-energy bill signed into Illinois law yesterday includes measures from closing coal and natural gas plants by 2045 to funding for clean-energy opportunities for Black, brown and Indigenous workers.

It also sets the deadline for net-zero emissions by 2050, increases funding for wind and solar, and keeps three nuclear power plants open for five more years.

Dulce Ortiz, co-chair of Clean Power Lake County, said it is important the bill focuses on Black and brown residents and frontline communities.

“The climate and equitable-job section prioritizes Black and brown communities that have been disproportionately impacted and historically suffered due to exposure to toxic pollution,” Ortiz explained.

Opponents of the law argued closing coal and natural-gas plants could raise electricity bills. State Democratic lawmakers noted consumers can expect to pay between $3.55 and $4 more per month.

Ortiz, who lives near a coal-fired power plant, argued the plants need to be closed to protect the health and wellness of surrounding communities.

Pat Devaney, secretary treasurer of the Illinois AFL-CIO, a member of Climate Jobs Illinois, said the bill sets some of the nation’s strongest labor standards, such as requiring collective-bargaining agreements for all utility-scale wind and solar.

He added it also helps communities currently reliant on coal and natural gas transition to the clean economy.

“With these provisions, we can ensure the clean-energy grid of the future will be built and maintained right here in Illinois by highly trained union workers to the benefit of their families and their communities,” Devaney asserted.

For people who live in work in communities where power plants are closing down, the bill establishes community grants, and a “Displaced Energy Worker Bill of Rights.” Advance notice of any closures is required, as well as financial advice, employment assistance and career services.

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