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Downstate Caucus

EJC serves on the leadership team for the newly-formed Downstate Caucus of the Illinois State Climate Table. This is an elected position. The Illinois State Climate Table recognizes that downstate opportunities for reducing harmful greenhouse gases differ from those of the Chicago metropolitan area, and that there are benefits in coordinating climate-related work at the state level. The Downstate Caucus was created to coordinate work between the downstate advocacy organizations across Illinois with the State Climate Table in support of reducing carbon and other greenhouse gases.

The Downstate Caucus works together to:

  • Ensure strong and just state renewable energy and energy efficiency goals in Illinois that include the three State Table policy pillars on renewable energy, energy efficiency, and greenhouse gas emissions (GHG). Work in this area has, to date, largely focused on implementing the Future Energy Jobs Act.
  • Incorporate land-based or other draw-down strategies that help reduce GHG emissions and stabilize our climate. These would build upon the unique geography, opportunities, culture and other attributes of downstate Illinois.

The Downstate Caucus has begun to meet monthly. It has adopted a set of norms along with the Jemez Principles for Democratic Organizing that participating organizations have signed. Members include environmental organizations; labor; business associations (including representation from green businesses; solar, wind, and energy efficiency); and faith groups. The Citizens Utility Board also is a member, helping guide the discussions on policies related to the Future Energy Jobs Act.

One of its first priority actions was to review the draft Illinois Power Agency Renewable Resources Procurement Plan and to provide comments specific to downstate Illinois interests. This included modification to the Illinois Power Agency’s (IPA’s) proposal regarding expanding access to solar programs and training for low-income communities; defining environmental justice communities; and grouping municipal utilities and rural cooperatives with Ameren to ensure compatibility in rate structure. Comments were submitted to the IPA on November 13.

What's Next
In the coming months, the Downstate Caucus plans to:

  • Send out a survey to identify resources and interests of member organizations.
  • Work with the larger State Table to educate elected officials and decision-makers on four potential platforms:
    • Expanding clean energy.
    • Reducing power plant pollution.
    • Creating jobs and economic opportunity.
    • Electrifying transportation.
  • Evaluate the benefits of creating working groups that could potentially include:
    • A policy working group that would work closely with the State Climate Table.
    • Organizations interested in working with land-based strategies, such carbon farming and regenerative agriculture.
    • Organized labor, reaching out to downstate businesses to help train employees for a new energy economy.
    • Green businesses, working to promote strategies for bringing resiliency and sustainability into business practices and operations.

If you are interested in participating or learning more, contact Pam.