Metro East Green Alliance

In the spring of 2016, the Wood River Power Station in East Alton, Illinois, shuttered its doors and sent its workers home with no jobs, no financial cushion, and no hope. Spurred by the clear need for a just transition from fossil fuels to renewable energy, a dedicated group of Piasa Palisades Group members joined forces with United Congregations of Metro East in the fight for environmental justice in order to seek justice for the land, water, air, and people impacted by profit-driven fossil fuel polluters. Thus, in the spring of 2016, Metro East Green Alliance (MEGA) was born with the mission to hold polluters accountable and to support the advancement of the clean energy economy through education, intervention, and advocacy.

Today, MEGA shows up on many fronts:

  • MEGA worked on the Coal Ash Pollution Prevention Act for several years, which was officially signed into law in 2019. This rulemaking is still being strengthened through ongoing hearings conducted by the Illinois Pollution Control Board. The ongoing efforts to ensure coal ash is handled safely and removed from areas where it threatens human health and fragile ecosystems is one of the most important environmental fights in Illinois and across the nation. Our partners in this fight include Sierra Club, Prairie Rivers Network, and Earthjustice.

  • In September of 2021, Governor JB Pritzker signed the Climate and Equitable Jobs Act (CEJA) into law, marking the passage of the most comprehensive and equitable climate legislation in the nation. The law combats climate change and centers equity by prioritizing environmental justice communities that are most impacted by pollution and environmental racism. MEGA is a longtime supporter and advocate of CEJA and advocated for this landmark legislation throughout the lengthy policy process. In particular, MEGA advocates for a just transition in coal communities like East Alton and an economy that favors climate change mitigation measures such as electrifying the transportation grid, especially in poor communities harmed most by pollution, and holding polluters accountable to clean up their mess. MEGA intends to be part of the CEJA rollout—helping educate the public on the implementation of CEJA and move Illinois toward 100% clean energy by 2050. 

  • In our ongoing effort to bring health and wealth back to Illinois, and as coal plants close their doors in an inevitable downward spiral, MEGA is working closely with the Illinois Environmental Council to create a robust policy that will regulate coal plant demolition. At present, there are no regulations in place. In addition, MEGA aims to help hard-hit communities decide their own fossil free future and build out their solar and wind capacity. 

  • Moving forward, MEGA will be partnering with other Sierra Club Illinois volunteer groups and environmental justice organizations across the state to address coal mining—another dark cloud of the ever-expanding harm done by the fossil fuel industry. Until now, mining issues have taken a backseat to power generation pollution and coal ash threats, but it is clear that mining must be the next target. Mining threatens ecosystems, endangers species, harms family farms, and pollutes precious water resources across Illinois. MEGA will work to end mining in Illinois. 

From the start of MEGA’s advocacy work, one thing has been clear—fossil fuel companies have known for decades that the extraction and burning of fossil fuels did more than heat and cool homes and power the auto industry. They know that they were inflicting major harm in every part of the environment, but profit kept them quiet. Fossil fuel companies remained silent and deceitful despite access to the data and technology that could have changed the course of climate change decades ago. MEGA will not be silent now. 

To learn more and get involved, check us out on Facebook and Twitter.