IL Clean Energy Job Growth – Unprecedented!
New findings on IL clean energy job growth were released today (March 20, 2014) by Clean Energy Trust and survey partners Environmental Entrepreneurs, The Environmental Law & Policy Center and the Natural Resource Defense Council.  They show that Illinois is well positioned to make the transition from coal and natural gas to clean, safe, renewable energy.  Some of these findings were astonishing (excerpts from fact sheet):

  • With 96,875 workers, Illinois’ clean energy industry workforce is large enough to fill Soldier Field one and a half times over.
  • Energy efficiency is the primary focus of 62 percent of Illinois clean energy businesses. Other sectors include renewable energy (21 percent), alternative transportation (5 percent), greenhouse gas management (1 percent) and “other” (12 percent).
  • A number of clean energy sectors experienced rapid growth in 2013. Alternative transportation grew by 21 percent, greenhouse gas management grew by 5 percent and energy efficiency grew by 3 percen
  • Policy headwinds in 2013 held back other sectors, especially renewable energy companies and the businesses that support them. Clean energy firms cited maintaining a strong Renewable Portfolio Standard as the top area of importance for growing their business.
  • Illinois is well positioned to lead on clean energy. Quality of life, proximity to customers and access to a skilled and educated workforce were top reasons businesses choose to locate in Illinois.

Interested in knowing more?  Click for the Clean Jobs Illinois interactive website.

But the Coal Industry Perpetuates Its Myths
While this report was making its way around the social media networks, Lan Richart, Eco-Justice Collaborative, was testifying before the House Energy Committee on HB5660 – ENERGY CONSERV & COAL DEVELOPMENT ACT which, if passed, would put an end to the state-mandated and state-funded coal curriculum.

The GOOD NEWS is that this bill is moving forward, by a vote of 9 (yes) to 6 (no).  But the Phil Gonet, President of the Illinois Coal Association claimed that environmentalists are trying to cast a poor light on coal.

A recent report by Downstream Strategies and the Center for Tax and Budget Accountability that was  commissioned by Eco-Justice Collaborative, Prairie Rivers Network, Sierra Club and Faith in Place shows that the Illinois state budget is losing about $20 million annually because of coal subsidies.

There also is plenty of evidence that shows mining coal subsides our farmland, some of the best in the world; creates a legacy of toxic slurry in impoundments that are known to contaminate groundwater; de-populates once cohesive farm communities; and more.  And if that isn’t bad enough – Illinois coal is being exported to developing countries where burning contributes to climate change, and our state legislators are studying how to increase our state’s market advantage.

If you agree that the subsidies for the coal industry need to end; and that one of the FIRST steps  is to end the kids coal curriculum, contact your elected officials TODAY.

HB5660 may be a symbol and a step forward towards ending costly subsidies to the coal industry.  But it also is a way to show the industry that it’s time to move Illinois to clean energy – and stop the mining of coal and natural gas that profits the corporations, but leaves legacy costs for residents of this state that compromise health, livelihoods, and the environment upon which all dap end.

Download a fact sheet here.

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