Senator Bennett ... Be a Champion for Climate!
Eco-Justice Collaborative, Faith in Place Action Fund, the Prairie Group, Sierra Club, and Prairie Rivers Network, co-organized a press conference and rally on Monday, August 16. We are urging State Senator Scott Bennett (to support Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s proposed equitable clean energy and climate bill, when the senate reconvenes later this month. The event, held outside of his Champaign office at 45 E. University Avenue drew 75 or more people. At the end of the rally, those present taped personalized "White You Were Out" pink slips to his office door, urging he Senator to respond to our changing climate by voting for a bill that closes the Prairie State coal plant in southwestern Illinois.
Close Prairie State!
Illinois’ Prairie State coal plant has recently been thrust into the middle of state and national conversations about decarbonizing our power sector. The plant, a 1,766 megawatt behemoth located just 36 miles southeast of St Louis, is the largest coal-fired power plant and the largest emitter of carbon dioxide in Illinois. It is the 7th larges emitter of carbon dioxide in the country, and responsible for 76 premature deaths every year. It needs to close.
EJC and its partners believe any legislation that excludes the largest emitter of greenhouse gas pollution in Illinois is not a true climate bill. Senator Bennett must lead the way to pass Governor Pritzker’s proposed climate, energy, and equity bill — which would move the state to 100% renewable energy by 2050 , create thousands of jobs, and close Prairie State.
“Prairie State is responsible for more than one death every week. This rising death toll and harmful impacts on our communities can only be stopped by closing this coal plant and making the transition to clean energy as quickly as possible,” said Japhia Ramkumar, founding member of Illinois Clinicians for Climate Action.
Unfortunately, Senator Bennett is among politicians who have revoked their prior support of Governor. Pritzker’s proposed climate, energy, and equity bill, specifically because it would shut down Prairie State by 2035. The plant employs 1,000 people at the power plant and adjacent coal mine, which feeds the plant. But, the Governor's bill has funding to retrain workers - and, they would have nine years to prepare for Prairie State's closure. The bill allows the plant to stay open until 2045, if Prairie State owners demonstrate they are able to capture and store 90 percent of its CO2 emissions, beginning 2035.
Some Photos from the Rally
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Code Red - We're Running Out of Time
This event took place just one week after the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) released a new report, indicating that there is only a short window of time to mitigate the severe impacts of climate change and that fast, aggressive and global action is needed to do so. As organizers, we know too well that the impacts of the Prairie State Coal Plant extend far beyond the state of Illinois—emitting more methane, sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxides, and carbon dioxide than any power plant in the state. Illinois must do its part to reduce emissions nationwide by passing a bill that closes the Prairie State coal plant.
“The road to national climate action runs through Illinois. As President Biden works to pass national climate legislation, our state should be a leader in fighting climate change and creating equitable clean energy jobs for all. Without urgent action in Springfield, we’re a major roadblock,” said Pastor Scott Onque, Policy Director at Faith in Place Action Fund.
EJC and its partners will continue to ask Senator Bennett to be a climate champion. We will encourage him to fight for a fossil free future in Illinois that reflects the urgency of the climate crisis. We will keep pressuring him to vote for Governor’ Pritzker’s equitable clean energy and climate bill. This bill equitably creates green energy jobs, prioritizes closure of the dirtiest fossil fuel plants, and closes Prairie State. The Governor’s climate and equity bill moves us off fossil fuels in a planned way and creates thousands of green jobs. It will break down the barriers that have kept Black and Brown people out of energy jobs and have prevented minority contractors from entering the clean energy economy.
If you live in Senator Bennett's District, you can help! Call him at his Champaign office: 217.335.5252, or send him a letter today.
Speakers at the Rally
Japhia Ramkumar, Illinois Clinicians for Climate Action
Kristin Camp, Vermilion County
Solar developer, Tim Montague, Continental Energy Solutions