Durbin, Duckworth, Krishnamoorthi, Bustos, Gracia signal support

Funding for public transit, EV infrastructure and carbon free schools would create thousands of jobs in Illinois to support post-pandemic recovery

Springfield, Ill. — Labor coalition Climate Jobs Illinois today urged the Illinois Congressional Delegation to push for clean energy and clean transportation projects as part of any federal infrastructure legislation with the incoming Biden administration.

These projects—funding for public transit, acceleration of electric vehicles, and a new federal green bank to finance other clean energy infrastructure—would all create good-paying union jobs and tackle climate change that would also fuel post-pandemic economic recovery.

“For generations, union men and women have built the infrastructure that powers Illinois’ economy and has created a prosperous future for this state. Investing in clean energy and transportation projects will create more pathways to the middle class and help us win the battle against climate change, the fight of our lifetimes,” Climate Jobs Illinois Executive Director Nikki Budzinski said.

The incoming Biden Administration and congressional leaders of both parties have signaled they plan to move an infrastructure package, which has traditionally included funding for roads and bridges, water and sewer systems and other projects, in early 2021.

Said U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin: “After the Trump Administration’s refusal to listen to scientists and experts, I am looking forward to making serious efforts to combat climate change under the Biden Administration. We can address climate change and spur economic growth at the same time, ensuring we don’t leave workers behind in the process. I will continue working to provide significant federal investments in clean energy infrastructure projects that will create good union jobs and help us all transition to a clean energy economy.”

Said U.S. Sen. Tammy Duckworth: “Communities across the country are grappling with decades of underinvestment in infrastructure, the impacts of climate change and a struggling economy. By implementing policies advocated for by Climate Jobs Illinois and working with the Biden Administration, Congress has a unique opportunity to address climate change and create good-paying union jobs. I look forward to working with Climate Jobs Illinois and delivering on this bold vision.”

Said Congressman Chuy García: “It’s time we challenge the status quo and demand equity, access and sustainability in our transportation policies. For too long, transportation projects have driven economic inequality, growing carbon emissions, and erected physical barriers that carve up Black, Latino, and working-class communities. The 117th Congress and a Biden-Harris Administration have an opportunity and mandate to reverse course. Instead we must advance an infrastructure package that makes transportation the force for economic empowerment and racial equity that it is and should be. Labor and environmental leaders in Illinois are ready to lead and I stand with them.”

Said Congresswoman Cheri Bustos: “As we look to build our state’s clean energy economy, it is critical that we bring strong labor standards and wealth building in underserved communities – often the most disparately impacted by the negative effects of climate change – to the center of the conversation. For so many, our unions have provided a pathway to the middle class. That’s why I am proud to support Climate Jobs Illinois in their call to prioritize clean energy, transportation and infrastructure, and look forward to partnering with them and the incoming Biden Administration.”

Said Congressman Raja Krishnamoorthi: “Meaningful investments in climate change solutions and infrastructure must be included in any infrastructure packages coming before Congress next year. As the co-founder of the bi-partisan Congressional Solar Caucus, I know how many people rely on this industry for good-paying union jobs. I look forward to working with President-elect Biden and his cabinet to create financial support at the federal level to combat the climate crisis.”

Among the items that CJI asked to be included are:

  • $32 billion in immediate operating assistance to public transportation agencies across the country, including Illinois: From the Chicago Transit Authority to Connect Transit in Bloomington-Normal to Metro-East Mass Transit District in metro St. Louis, these agencies will have to lay off tens of thousands without federal assistance. If passed this would likely provide Chicago transit agencies $1.8 billion and downstate transit agencies $243 million.
  • Accelerate adoption of electric vehicles (EVs), especially for state and local governments by funding: EV charging manufacturing and installation; a $7,500 consumer incentive for purchasing EVs; cover the cost differential between EVs and traditional fuel vehicles for public fleets, including transit and school buses. Any federal incentives should require the inclusion of Davis-Bacon wage standards and labor peace and neutrality standards.
  • Creation of a National Green Bank/Clean Energy Accelerator to provide low-interest financing for: CJI’s Carbon Free Schools initiative, transmission lines to deliver clean electrons from where they are produced to where they are needed; and upgrade energy efficiency in homes, schools and buildings.
  • Include the American Nuclear Infrastructure Act to help stabilize Illinois’ nuclear fleet, the largest in any state.
  • Establish a Presidential Just Transition Task Force to find ways to finance a Just Transition Fund to support workers and communities where fossil fuel generation is closing due to market forces and other policies.
  • Include requirements for strong labor standards on any projects that receive federal dollars including: comprehensive labor standards, including prevailing wage, apprenticeship requirements, labor peace agreements, project labor agreements and responsible bidder requirements.

This fall CJI, which is independent of energy developers and utilities, released a comprehensive plan to create more than 280,000 jobs in Illinois. The plan has four main sectors: carbon-free power generation, just transition & equity, building efficiency and transportation. CJI’s plan offers a large-scale but practical blueprint for investing in clean-energy infrastructure that simultaneously maximizes emissions reductions to address the climate crisis and create or sustain union jobs and apprentice programs in areas hit hard by the current economic crisis as well as by historic underfunding.

Climate Jobs Illinois represents the hundreds of thousands of Illinois working men and women who are best suited to build Illinois’ new clean-energy economy from the ground up. The organization’s Governing Board includes Illinois AFL-CIO President and Chair Tim Drea, Illinois AFL-CIO Secretary Treasurer Pat Devaney, Chicago Federation of Labor President Bob Reiter and Chicago & Cook County Building & Construction Trades Council President Ralph Affrunti.

By advocating for bold clean energy investments with comprehensive labor standards, including prevailing wage, apprenticeship requirements, labor peace agreements, project labor agreements and responsible bidder requirements, Climate Jobs Illinois is working to ensure these jobs create more pathways to the middle class, especially for communities disproportionately impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic and climate change.

To learn more, visit https://climatejobsillinois.org, and follow CJI at @ClimateJobsIL on Twitter or join its Facebook page.