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Illinois consumers rally to pass CEJA: “A bill for Illinoisans historically and systematically shut out and forgotten”

Consumers from across the state gathered on Zoom and Facebook today for a virtual environmental justice lobby day in support of the Clean Energy Jobs Act (CEJA), comprehensive energy legislation currently before the Illinois General Assembly.

The second virtual lobby day, today’s event saw Illinois residents meeting with their legislators over Zoom calls and urging them to ensure the concerns of marginalized communities are addressed in upcoming legislation. Consumers also gathered at a virtual rally to discuss current environmental justice bills, including CEJA.

“CEJA is a bill for Illinoisans historically and systematically shut out and forgotten. CEJA is unapologetically a bill for workers and contractors who identify as Black, Indigenous and people of color,” said Hilary Scott-Ogunrinde, a rally speaker from Macedonia Development in East Saint Louis. “CEJA is a bill for urban Illinois, for rural Illinois. It’s a bill for blue collar and white collar workers.”

The clean energy legislation is the most pro-consumer energy plan in Springfield. It would require ComEd to give a refund to customers for its corruption scandal, implement a historic expansion of energy efficiency, and end an unfair rate-setting system that has opened the door to a decade of Ameren and ComEd rate hikes. CEJA would also put the Illinois Power Agency in charge of managing a key part of the electricity market in ComEd territory, creating the opportunity to save consumers money while greatly expanding clean energy investment. At its center, CEJA promotes racial and socioeconomic equity through programs designed to address some of the structural barriers that have kept Black, Indigenous and people of color (BIPOC) businesses and communities from receiving the benefits of clean energy policies.

For example, CEJA would establish an equity points system that rewards companies based on how closely they follow various equity actions, such as maintaining a Black, Indigenous and people of color  workforce. Among other provisions, it would also help develop and fund clean energy entrepreneurship and business development in BIPOC communities.

More generally, the bill would implement various goals and standards for the state, such as a reduction in greenhouse gas emissions and other pollutants that most often impact BIPOC and environmental justice communities the worst.

“We are here today because we care about leaving an Illinois that my sons, and your sons and daughters, and your grandchildren can thrive in,” Scott-Ogunrinde said. “We are here to act, we are here to build clean, green thriving communities throughout the entire state of Illinois.”

Today’s rally kicked off the Illinois Clean Job Coalition’s Week of Action, five days worth of events and actions to make your support for clean, affordable energy and environmental justice clear to your elected officials. Below are other actions to take throughout the week.

  • Hold Utilities Accountable for Their Actions: The House Energy and Environment Committee is holding an important hearing on how future legislation, including CEJA, can hold large utility companies more accountable to the people they serve in light of ComEd corruption. Catch the hearing live at 4:30 pm on Tuesday to follow the latest updates on utility accountability, a critical component of the Clean Energy Jobs Act. Tune in live.
  • Call Gov. Pritzker: You can call Governor Pritzker! Share with him why we need to pass CEJA now! Not sure what to say? No worries! Click here to be connected with his office by phone and a sample script.
  • Urge Your Legislators to Hold Utility Companies Accountable for Their Corruption: Take further action and demand that the Illinois General Assembly pass legislation that includes oversight for big utility companies. Tell your legislators that Illinois consumers deserve transparency and accountability: Click here to take action!
  • Make a Follow Up Call to Your Legislators: Now, it’s time to call your legislators to follow up on the conversations you had, and remind them that you will be watching how they vote as the legislative session concludes in May. Accountability and urgency are a huge part of what motivates legislators to make lasting change. Call them by clicking here.
  • Get 5 Friends on Board: After you call your legislators, recruit 5 friends to sign the #CEJACantWait petition: https://ilcleanjobs.org/clean-energy-jobs-act/