Record flooding, historic droughts, Lake Michigan’s disappearing shoreline. These are the increasingly visible effects of the climate crisis that threaten to further disrupt our economy and our daily lives, while disproportionately impacting underserved and marginalized populations in long-neglected communities as a result of historic and deeply rooted inequality.

Gov. JB Pritzker and the Illinois Legislature need to finish the job of passing comprehensive energy legislation. I am advocating for bold clean energy investments in nuclear and renewable energy paired with comprehensive labor standards including prevailing wages and expanded apprenticeships for communities of color.

Legislation introduced by Climate Jobs Illinois and included in the energy bill called the Carbon Free Schools Initiative will focus on retrofitting schools for renewable energy making our schools healthier in disproportionately impacted areas (Tier 1 and Tier 2 School Districts), at no cost to taxpayers. This legislation will provide for upgrades that will make students healthier, will employ thousands of workers across Illinois and provide for millions in cost savings to school districts. School districts could be doing carbon assessments and upgrading HVAC right now across Illinois.

In addition, lawmakers were poised to preserve the state’s zero-carbon nuclear fleet, saving the jobs of 28,000 workers directly and indirectly employed by the state’s nuclear plants. Two of the nuclear plants are scheduled to go prematurely offline this fall as a deal lingers.

Let’s pass comprehensive energy legislation and start building a cleaner, fairer Illinois.

Cindy Starks

Coal City Public Library District