Congratulations to our very own Veronica Kyle for being selected to join Mayor-elect Lori Lightfoot’s Environmental Transition Committee! This is a great opportunity to ensure environmental justice is a key priority for this administration.
In her work she seeks to bring people to the table that are often not involved in conversations around Earth care, including African American, Latino, and affluent suburb communities. She has done this work by creating award-winning programs that bring about diversity and cross-cultural community engagement.
Veronica’s work has been nationally recognized as the 2013 Audubon/Toyota Green Fellow and a 2014 Northern America Association of Environmental Educators Fellow. She is currently serving a 4th term as an appointed Environmental Justice Commissioner for the State of Illinois.
Today, I’m excited to announce the Clean Energy Jobs Act, a revolutionary bill that would take action to address the climate crisis and transition Illinois to a clean energy economy for all.
This bill represents a turning point for our state. Instead of suffering the health and economic impacts of fossil fuels, we can build wealth through clean energy careers for people in communities that suffer most from environmental degradation.
Building on the overwhelming success of the Future Energy Jobs Act passed in 2016, the Clean Energy Jobs Act will:
- Put Illinois on a path to 100% renewable energy by 2050;
- Cut carbon from the power sector by 2030;
- Replace 1 million diesel vehicles with electric vehicles, mass transit, and other alternatives; and
- Create jobs and economic opportunity by:
- Building Equity in the Clean Energy Workforce
- Creating Clean Jobs Workforce Hubs
- Creating a Contractor Incubator Program
- Expanding Solar for All
Pastor Scott Onque
Last week, Governor Pritzker signed an executive order making Illinois the 18th member of the U.S. Climate Alliance! We’re excited to see Illinois take a stand to protect our planet, even as the federal government tries to exit the Paris Agreement, which is a worldwide effort to combat climate change. This is a great sign that we can have a productive year in Illinois. Learn more about the Alliance here!
We’re also excited to announce the launch of our 2019 Action Fund Video Series! Each month, we’ll be sharing a new video from an elected official, board member, or community leader to discuss how to take action with the Action Fund! Our Policy Director, Pastor Scott Onque, kicked off the video series in a Facebook Live video last week. Take a look and stay tuned for more updates about how to get involved!
Rev. Brian Sauder
P.S. Save the date! We’re headed to the State Capitol on Thursday, May 9th this year to advocate for clean energy and just jobs. We’ll have more information soon!
With the midterm elections days away now, it’s your time to act. The Faith in Place Action Fund encourages you to support candidates and policies that align with our core moral values – like replacing lead pipes to protect our children from being poisoned. Your vote matters to elect climate justice champions on November 6th. Thank you for joining the movements of people of faith and conscience striving for a more just economy, safer and healthier communities, and a better tomorrow!
Make a plan to vote.
- Read our full endorsements here.
- Go to BallotReady.org to learn about all the issues on your ballot.
- Find your polling place on Vote.org.
- Do you need a ride to the polls or can you offer someone a ride? Sign-up with Carpool Vote – a volunteer-led effort specializing in supporting people of color, people with disabilities, young people, non-English speakers, elderly people, and women.
- Need voter protection? Reach out to nonpartisan Election Protection and their affiliates via their hotlines and social media platforms:
- 866-OUR-VOTE (English)
- 888-Ve-Y-Vota (Spanish)
- 844-Yalla-US (Arabic/English)
- 888-API-VOTE (Asian American/Pacific Islander support)
- Digital outreach tools: @866ourVote and facebook.com/866OurVote.
- Celebrate that you voted as a Climate Champion by tagging us on your social media!
- Facebook: @faithinplaceaction
- Twitter: @FIPActionFund
- Instagram: @faithinplaceactionfund
Over the past few months, you may have noticed that the Faith in Place Action Fund has been more active. In 2016, we made our first endorsement of a candidate for office in Illinois, and this year we endorsed four (see the full list here!), and published questionnaires from more. We are busy meeting with candidates, collecting questionnaires, and educating the public in order to advocate for increased pathways for environmental justice jobs. But what is the Faith in Place Action Fund, and how is it different from Faith in Place?
The Action Fund, which is affiliated with Faith in Place but is a separate not-for-profit social welfare organization, allows us to take our advocacy to the next level. We mobilize people of diverse faiths to take action on issues that impact our friends, families, and neighbors in the areas of energy and climate change, sustainable food and land use, and water preservation.
Unlike Faith in Place, the Action Fund can directly endorse and support candidates who commit to our vision, and can lobby legislators to ensure they vote to protect our communities for generations to come. This gives us more power to impact policy and guarantee that all elected officials understand the importance of environmental justice.
Our planet is under attack, and its disproportionately impacting communities of color across Illinois. That’s why this work is so important. We will continue to organize people of faith to fight back through political advocacy, legislative education, and grassroots lobbying. I hope you will support this mission by becoming a Green Guardian today.
The following is testimony provided by Cindy Shepherd to the US EPA regarding their proposal to replace the Clean Power Plan.
I am Cindy Shepherd. I live and work in Champaign/Urbana and Central Illinois. I am the Central Illinois Outreach Director for a faith-based non-profit environmental justice organization here in Illinois, called Faith in Place.
I thank the panel for the opportunity to share my observations and thoughts with you about the importance of retaining the Clean Power Plan and rejecting any attempt to substitute and weaken it with the new proposal.
In my area of Central Illinois alone, several hundred businesses and residences have replaced all or part of their energy use with solar since the Clean Power Plan was announced.
My organization is also excited to share that more than a dozen houses of worship, of diverse religious traditions, are part of the FEJA success. They put on solar to witness to their communities their concern for Climate Care.
This legislation, passed bipartisanly with the strong support of a coalition comprised of labor, environmentalists, small business owners and people of faith. It has been a win-win-win for Illinois. There are 120,000 clean energy jobs now and our coalition is listening to people across the state as, together, we discern the next step. I’ve been in several of these grass roots meetings. People want to push toward 100% renewable energy in the near future. They do not want to turn back.
They are deeply concerned that the Dirty Power Plan will, by the government’s own calculations, result in 1400 more deaths per year when enacted. For people rooted and grounded in love for Creation and who strive to live as members of the family of God, this number can not be seen as a mere uptick in morbidity.
For us, one of those 1400 will be a beloved child, struggling for air during an asthma attack, her lips turning blue, her desperate parents rushing to the E.R. to find out this time they were too late. It is pastors and church families who will share the grief of that family, who will share the pain of her mother’s heart. This is just one. But she matters.
It is the family of faith that will gather at the grave to bury a husband and father and grandfather who worked with his hands all his life. We’ll gather with neighbors who remember how he helped them take down a tree, or add a wheelchair ramp to their house. His sons will tell stories about how his long-anticipated retirement brought, not new hobbies and fishing trips, but a diagnosis of lung disease, and oxygen tanks, and episodes of acute respiratory distress, and early death. This man is only one. But we love him.
People of faith love stories – the stories of ancient texts and the stories we share with one another. They shape our lives. They encourage us to be our best and do our best.
We reject stories where greed and waste and selfishness win. As an attempt is made to rewrite our national narrative, we hold out and we speak out for a better story, hoping for one our children can tell their grandchildren with love.
We know how the story starts: Once upon a time, the world was a vivid and beautiful place. Forests blanketed the mountains. Rains fell soft on fertile fields. Bright birds filled the air and the oceans teamed with life. Leviathan sported and played.
And what happened next? Our grandchildren’s grandchildren will ask. And the story continued. But human beings were shortsighted, and a little bit greedy. In just a few generations they fouled the air and polluted the water and depleted the land. Then the rains came hard, or not at all. There were wars and rumors of wars. Some people said, It’s too late to fix it. We might as well take all we can, even if it makes things worse.
And is that how the story ends? Or can we write another chapter?
Almost too late, people recognized the danger. They screwed up their courage and drew upon their better nature, and made the decisions that had to be made. And they did it because they loved life, and each other, and the promise that someday the Earth would belong to you.
I want that happier ending for the story. I want it so bad, as a person of faith, as an advocate of clean energy, as a citizen of the United States of America.
Please, do not allow that happy ending to become a fairy tale. Preserve the Clean Power Plan and the state and regional incentives to build a better future.
The following is testimony provided by Ginnie Judd to the US EPA
regarding their proposal to replace the Clean Power Plan.
My name is Ginnie Judd. I’m an Episcopalian and a member of St. Mark’s Episcopal Church in Glen Ellyn, Illinois. I’m an advocate of Faith in Place, a nonprofit organization that empowers Illinois people of all faiths to be leaders in caring for the Earth, providing resources to educate, connect, and advocate for healthier communities.
I’ve cared about the environment and environmental justice for many years. My family and I have been careful to conserve the precious resources of energy and water, which in turn, helps reduce the amount of air pollution. What I’ve learned over the years is this: Clean air and clean water should be everyone’s right, no matter the color of one’s skin or the size of one’s bank account.
Laws that help reduce our use of fossil fuels, which emit an enormous amount of toxins into the air, will help reduce air pollution. Laws that encourage increasing the amount of clean and sustainable energy such as solar and wind are the path to reduce not only air pollution but to ensure we are building an economy based on best practices for future energy needs. Clean energy jobs created by the growth in renewable energy will help families across the country.
My dad suffers from COPD. I see how this health challenge affects his life. He is luckier than some, who have worse breathing issues. The medical community has drawn a direct link from air pollution to respiratory problems, including lung cancer. No one should be subjected to dirty air because the fossil fuel industry’s profits are given a higher priority.
Given why this matters to me, I’m asking the EPA to reject the Affordable Clean Energy rule proposal.
Thank you for hearing my voice.
The following is testimony provided by Katie Maxwell to the US EPA regarding their proposal to replace the Clean Power Plan.
My name is Katie Maxwell and I am part of the communications team at Faith in Place – Illinois’ Interfaith Power; Light Affiliate. I am speaking today for those that can’t afford to take a day off work and for people of faith who care deeply about our planet. A lifelong resident of Illinois and a recent Environmental Studies graduate of St. Olaf College, I am passionate about environmental justice because the adverse effects are close to home.
My mother grew up in Northwest Indiana during the late 60s and 70s. She tells me you could see an orange haze in the air driving along the Skyway into Chicago. Thanks in large part to the Clean Air Act, the industrial smog was cleaned up. But the poor air quality left my mom with chronic health conditions – asthma and severe food allergies – that she fights every day. Some days, it’s hard for her to simply leave the house due to her pain. I’m thankful she has access to health care providers who help her manage her symptoms. I know that isn’t the case for many across the country, especially in communities of color. Communities that will experience a disproportionate number of the EPA’s estimated 1,400 premature deaths annually by 2030 under the proposed rule.
As a person of faith who values the beautiful diversity of communities, both human and nonhuman, here in Chicago and across the globe, it is unconscionable to me that we as a nation would put our own at risk. That we might choose profit over health, instantaneous gratification over preservation of what matters most: hope.
Whatever creed we adhere to, it’s our moral obligation to do right by our neighbors.
I’m asking the EPA to reject the proposed Affordable Clean Energy Rule and to not replace the Clean Power Plan. We have made good progress toward a better tomorrow with the current rule. Why get rid of something that is expected to annually save between 1,500 and 3,600 lives?
Thank you for your time and for hearing my testimony today.
The legislative session for the Illinois General Assembly will draw to a close at midnight tomorrow, May 31, 2018.
As state legislators are busy negotiating a state budget by this deadline, critical funding for job training programs in the clean energy economy is at risk with SB 2217.
In December 2016, the state legislature passed the Future Energy Jobs Act (FEJA) – a historic piece of legislation that creates significant investments in renewable energy and energy efficiency. Advocacy efforts by people of faith were extremely important for the passage of FEJA with provisions to address environmental justice.
Under FEJA, the Renewable Energy Resource Fund (RERF) is a dedicated source of funding for the Illinois Solar For All program. This program will build solar energy projects in economically challenged communities that prioritize employment of returning citizens, foster care graduates, and residents of communities that have faced environmental injustices.
However, now the RERF funds are at risk for permanent “sweeps” to be used for other purposes in the budget. Any funds swept will not be replaced.
Labor and community groups have already begun to design the training programs and infrastructure to prepare citizens for these job opportunities. Any sweeps of the RERF from SB 2217 will eliminate jobs that these training programs are anticipating.
In 2017, the House and the Senate unanimously adopted resolutions opposing RERF sweeps. Once again, the activism of people of faith signing petitions and attending Advocacy Day helped make passage of these bipartisan resolutions possible.
Our Policy Director, Pastor Booker Vance, testified in Springfield today, along with other environmental and community organizations, about the importance of maintaining funding for these programs.
Illinois desperately needs a real budget. However, it must be one that is based on real, sustainable revenues, not one-time gimmicks that eliminate new career pathways for people that need them most and delete hundreds of new solar energy projects across our state.
Oppose SB 2217 and any sweeps of the Renewable Energy Resources Fund.