After years of advocacy by Sierra Club members and our allies, Governor JB Pritzker signed the Climate and Equitable Jobs Act into law on September 15, 2021, marking the passage of the most comprehensive and equitable climate bill in the nation. Illinois is now a national model in the fight against climate change.
Governor JB Pritzker holds the Climate and Equitable Jobs Act after signing it into law at the Shedd Aquarium in Chicago.
The Climate and Equitable Jobs Act sets bold targets to:
Put Illinois on a path to 100% renewable energy by 2050
Prioritize clean energy investments, job training, hiring, ownership, and new business creation in Black, Indigenous, and people of color (BIPOC), low-income, and environmental justice communities
Begin retiring fossil fuel plants from our electric grid, with a final phase out of all coal and gas plants by 2045
Create Just Transition programs to help communities and workers recover from the economic impacts caused by power plant and mine closures
Tackle Illinois’ heavily polluting transportation sector by investing in infrastructure that will get 1 million electric vehicles on Illinois roads by 2030.
Reduce disparate impacts in transportation pollution by developing Beneficial Electrification Plans with utilities to prioritize electrification investments that benefit environmental justice communities and that kickstart medium and heavy duty transportation electrification
Holds utility companies accountable with rigorous new ethics standards, penalties, and enforcement mechanisms
The Clean Energy Jobs Act was introduced in 2019 after years of work by the Illinois Clean Jobs Coalition, who based the bill’s central tenets on feedback from over 50 different dialogues with communities across the state. The coalition hosted five Lobby Days over the last two years at the Illinois statehouse, during which hundreds of Sierra Club volunteers lobbied their legislators to ensure that any energy bill considered by the legislature prioritized climate and equity. In addition, volunteers continued to organize in their communities to build a movement for climate legislation by hosting letter writing parties, phonebanks, Environmental Town Halls, and more.
In 2020, Sierra Club endorsed over 60 candidates running for seats in the Illinois Legislature who promised to support a strong and just 100% clean energy bill. Sierra Club members worked thousands of hours to elect these climate champions to office across the state, knowing the passage of CEJA would only be possible if we had environmental champions in the General Assembly.
Volunteers phone banking on Earth Day to urge constituents to call their legislators in support of the Climate and Equitable Jobs Act.
The core elements of the Clean Energy Jobs Act were included in an omnibus bill introduced by Governor Pritzker in May. When fossil fuel interests killed that bill in the final hour on May 31st, Sierra Club volunteers dove back into organizing efforts, never stopping our fight for a fossil free future for Illinois.
In 2021 alone, Sierra Club volunteers called over 40,000 voters across Illinois to urge them to contact their legislators in support of equitable clean energy legislation. Volunteers organized and supported actions across the state. From a rally outside Senator Glowiak’s office in Oakbrook Terrace, during which the Senator herself declared her support for CEJA, to a rally at the Illinois State Fair, Sierra Club volunteers made their voices heard. Throughout the lengthy negotiations process with stakeholders this summer, Sierra Club made it clear—Illinoisans want a climate bill, not a bill written by fossil fuel interests, and equity must be front and center.
Linda Sullivan, Connie Schmidt, and Vera Miller hold signs at the rally outside of Senator Glowiak’s office.
The passage of the Climate and Equitable Jobs Act would not have been possible without the hard work, perseverance, and resilience of Sierra Club members, supporters, and volunteers. As Illinois moves forward toward a 100% renewable energy future, Sierra Club will continue to hold our legislators accountable, ensure implementation focuses on equitable outcomes and achieves stated goals, and mobilize more voters across the state to advocate for a fossil free future for all Illinoisans.