Like The Illinois Clean Jobs Coalition, the Downstate Caucus has adopted a set of norms that include following the Jemez Principles for Democratic Organizing.
We know that if we are to be able to function in accordance with these principles, we need to expand the diversity of our Caucus and work to build inclusiveness into our strategic planning initiatives. To that end, the DSC is committed to:
- Identify community representatives and groups historically left out of this conversation, and invite them to participate in our Caucus and the deep decarbonization summit.
- Build relationships and trust that would allow us to create together a long-term vision with near-term actions that address equitable decarbonization.
- Work together in solidarity and mutuality, supporting one another’s initiatives.
- Address equitable resource distribution, ensuring groups receive funding to participate equitably.
- Continue to expand the diversity of our Caucus over time through actions associated with our strategic plan that promote equity, inclusivity, and justice via deep decarbonization.
Interested in learning more or becoming involved? Contact Pam Richart, Eco-Justice Collaborative.
The Downstate Caucus (DSC) was founded shortly before the Future Energy Jobs Act was passed in 2016 as a way to build downstate power for implanting the new legislation and policy goals of the Illinois Clean Jobs Coalition (ICJC), recently realized with the passage of the Climate and Equitable Jobs Act. Eco-Justice Collaborative is a founding member of the DSC and has served on its leadership team.
Over the past three years, the Caucus has been working with the ICJC to strengthen the equity provisions and ensure the passage of CEJA. This bill puts Illinois on a path to a 100% clean energy future while providing a just transition for workers and communities historically dependent on dirty fossil fuels. It enacts some of the toughest utility accountability measures in the nation. And it creates jobs and wealth in Illinois’ Black and Brown communities, which are often the first to suffer negative consequences of pollution but the last to reap the health and economic benefits of a clean energy future. Now that the bill has been adopted, we will work to ensure its implementation as follows:
- Educating the Public - The Downstate Caucus is committed to ensuring that the facts of this bill, particularly as they relate to opportunities downstate, are known, and that communities are prepared to take advantage of the myriad of opportunities for transitioning from fossil fuels; training; and clean energy jobs.
- Equity - The Climate and Equitable Jobs Act has the power to transform communities downstate, particularly those who have been marginalized or excluded by systemic, racial barriers. The DSC will monitor how this bill is implemented to ensure that the provisions we worked so hard to achieve are realized.
- Reducing Emissions from Power Plants - Phasing out coal and natural gas plants by 2045 is one of the key milestones of CEJA. Members of the Downstate Caucus will work to ensure that the implementation of this Act is consistent with the provisions of this new law, particularly with respect to timelines created for plants in environmental justice communities.
- Munis and Cooperatives - The DSC will continue tackling the problems associated with municipal and rural electric cooperatives, which have long-term leases tied to coal. This includes ensuring transparency and accountability; removing barriers to providing cost-competitive access to solar energy; and processes that allow customers to sell the excess energy they produce back to the grid.
- Electrifying the Transportation System - CEJA has aggressive proposals to help move our transportation fleet from gas-powered vehicles to those powered by renewable energy. The DSC will monitor how these provisions are implemented to ensure they meet the needs of communities downstate, particularly those that are communities of color or otherwise socially or economically disadvantaged.