Executive Director of the Illinois Public Health Association (IPHA) Tom Hughes expressed the organization’s support of the passage of Senate Bill 2408, or the Climate and Equitable Jobs Act, in a statement last week.
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The bill establishes a statewide carbon-free energy goal of 100% by 2050, as well as a phase out of municipal coal and natural gas plants by 2045. These carbon-powered energy sources will be replaced by renewable energy sources, such as wind and solar, which currently account for only about 7% of the state’s energy.
The legislation also supports the continued operation of nuclear power plants as a renewable energy source, stating that “nuclear power generation is necessary for the State’s transition to 100% clean energy, and ensuring continued operation of nuclear plants advances environmental and public health interests.”
Additionally, the legislation establishes a $180 million annual investment in clean energy workforce diversification and training.
After the governor signed the bill into law, Hughes stated:
“As an association representing local health departments across the entire state of Illinois, we serve on the frontlines of defending the public’s health and safety. It is our responsibility to not only protect people and communities from current threats to their health, but also to speak out about threats to future generations.
Climate change and its effects are undoubtedly a public health crisis, one that our organization has been vocal about, which will continue to escalate with devastating consequences on the safety and livelihoods of people and communities. We stand in strong support of the clean energy legislation signed into law today by Gov. Pritzker, and urge other states and regions to enact similar guidelines that will help curb the effects of climate change in our world.”
Hughes stated that, like the COVID-19 pandemic, the climate change crisis posed widespread threats to the world’s health.
“As we saw throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, widespread threats to the world’s health have devastating impacts and the ability to bring even the most developed countries to their knees. Members of our association have been on the frontlines since the start of the pandemic and know that threats like these must be taken seriously.
We strongly support the legislation signed into law today and applaud the governor, legislators and advocacy groups involved for taking this strong step to stop climate change. It is our hope that by enacting cleaner energy policies like these, we will be able to stop the devastating effects climate change will ultimately have on the health and safety of people in Illinois but also across the world.”