Mission and Work Highlights
Ecological responsibility in linkage with social justice is what the world needs now. Healthy earth community requires advocacy and action on urgent environmental issues in ways that connect with struggles for social and economic justice. Eco-Justice envisions and values ecology and justice together, since there will be little environmental health without socio-economic justice, and vice-versa. - Dieter T. Hessel
Eco-Justice Collaborative first raises public awareness of the consequences of our actions on people and our planet, then advocates personal and policy changes that:
- Seek harmony with planet earth.
- Respect all life.
- Value diversity.
- Support ecological sustainability.
- Bring about a just distribution of the world’s resources.
Eco-Justice Collaborative (EJC) invites you to work with us to rethink, imagine and then build a future based on sufficiency and a respect and care for all who inhabit this planet.
About Pam and Lan
Lan and Pam Richart are co-founders of the non-profit organization called Eco-Justice Collaborative, recently relocated to Champaign, IL from Chicago. Pam is an environmental land use planner by profession and Lan is an ecologist.
For over 20 years they were principals and owners of a land use and environmental consulting firm located in the western suburbs of Chicago. During this time they worked on public and private projects throughout the Midwest, providing consulting services in the areas of comprehensive planning; natural resource conservation and management; and the assessment of the environmental and socio-economic impacts from state-and federally-funded public works projects.
In the late 1990’s, a series of trips to economically-disadvantaged regions of Latin America opened their eyes to the social, economic, and environmental effects that the U.S. lifestyle and public policy have on our world. They subsequently re-arranged their lives to dedicate their energy to the work of their non-profit, created to raise public awareness of the impact of lifestyle choices and public policy on the planet and its people and to encourage changes that will heal and restore the planet, while bringing about a more just and sustainable world.
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Since our founding in 2008, our work has amplified our mission and our focus to help avert climate catastrophe by linking environmental, social, and economic challenges and opportunities. We have:
- Carrying out a campaign to pressure Dynegy-Midwest Generation to move its coal ash out of the floodplain of Illinois’ only National Scenic River. Success! With grassroots pressure and enforcement acton, Dynegy is moving its ash. Work is ongoing, as plans will be presented to the public by December 17, 2021. Initiatives include organizing a People's Hearing to highlight the risks of leaving toxic coal ash in the river's floodplain; pushing for a Section 401 Individual Permit (which required comprehensive review of the project); organizing for the water quality hearing held March, 2020; and coordinator with agencies, including the Illinois EPA; Illinois DNR; National Park Service; and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.
- Worked as part of a 10-person team created by the RE-AMP Network to develop strategies for reducing greenhouse gas emissions and creating carbon sinks in the Midwest via regenerative agriculture. Ongoing.
- Created a working group of the Illinois Clean Energy Jobs Downstate Caucus that focuses on Natural Climate Solutions and links to the newly-formed 30 x 30 statewide initiative. Ongoing.
- Organized to pass the groundbreaking Illinois Clean Energy Jobs Act. This bill puts Illinois on a path to 100% renewable energy by 2050, boosting Illinois' economy along the way. The bill's jobs training and jobs creation programs will help workers and coal communities transition from fossil fuels, and build equity and wealth in communities of color. Ongoing.
- Partnered with state-wide environmental organizations and community groups to bring about strong coal ash rules via the Illinois Pollution Control Board’s rule-making process. The final rules went into effect on April 21, 2021.
- Helped found and served on the leadership team for the Downstate Caucus of the Illinois State Climate Table, 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 and building resilient communities with clean, renewable energy and natural climate solutions. Work is ongoing, and focused on developing a set of strategies and practices that can be implemented in central and southern Illinois, with a focus on equity.
- Joined forces with Prairie Rivers Network, Earthjustice, Sierra Club Illinois, the Environmental Law and Policy Center, and Illinois Environmental Council and community groups living near toxic coal ash to develop and pass the Coal Ash Pollution Prevention Act. Illinois was the third state in the country to pas comprehensive coal ash legislation in July of 2019.
- Served as lead organizer in 2017 to bring forums and workshops about Illinois' groundbreaking Future Energy Jobs Act to downstate Illinois communities who have experienced significant job loss associated with reduced production of coal, and closures of coal mines and coal plants. Phase II will begin early 2018.
- Co-Founded the Community Futures Initiative, a group of advocates and front-line communities working for a coal severance tax in Illinois. Monies from this fund were planned to go back to communities struggling to diversify their economies and break free from their dependence on coal. While this initiative was stalled with the promise of continued support for Illinois coal after the 2016 election, the coal severance tax has been integrated into the just transition platform of the Illinois Clean Energy Jobs Act.
- Led delegations to West Virginia and central and southern Illinois to expose the impacts of coal mining (including mountaintop removal mining), burning, and disposal of waste. These experiences transform the lives of those who join us, and motivate delegates to support coal-producing communities working to move to an economy based on clean, safe, renewable energy.
- Worked to bring an end to the state-subsidized Illinois Coal Education Curriculum. Success! The Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity stopped distributing its climate-denying curriculum in 2013.
- Served as lead organizer for Great Lakes Bioneers Chicago in 2012 and 2013, bringing together more than 600 professionals, educators, the faith community, students and the general public around innovative solutions to today’s social, economic and environmental challenges. You can find videos of plenary speakers here and here.
- Organized a Women’s Tribunal on Gender and Climate Justice, one of just two in the nation. Through story, the Tribunal emboldened women in the Chicago metropolitan area and Appalachia to continue to work for energy justice and an end to a reliance on dirty coal.
- Re-ignited the fight to close the Fisk and Crawford coal power plants, two old polluting coal-fired power plants that operated in neighborhoods of color on Chicago’s southwest side. This included the founding of the Chicago Clean Power Coalition, which included faith-based groups, environmental organizations, businesses, environmental justice groups, health organizations, and students. Victory! Both plants were permanently closed in September 2012.
- Co-founded the Heartland Coalfield Alliance to transition our state and region from coal to safe, clean, renewable energy. EJC and its partners Prairie Rivers Network and the Sierra Club continue to support coal-producing communities with technical expertise and legislative solutions.
- Co-led an experiential course on eco-justice and cities as part of the Seminary Consortium on Urban Pastoral Education programming.
- Continued awareness-raising and education around key issues of eco-justice, including exponential growth and sustainability; food; water; and energy. This includes presentations to and engagement of faith groups, community colleges and universities, and the six-week course "Lifestyles for a Sustainable Future" offered by EJC.