CPLC: Statement on Anti-Asian Hate Incidents

In March, thousands participated in protests in Atlanta, New York, and other cities denouncing anti-Asian sentiment. [Jason Leung/Unsplash photo]

As a community organization committed to justice for all people, Clean Power Lake County condemns the troubling trend of violence toward Asian American and Pacific Islander communities.

The mass shootings that killed eight people—six of whom were Asian women—in Atlanta, Georgia, on March 16, are one devastating instance of violence against the Asian American community.

The Stop AAPI Hate Center received 3,795 reports of anti-Asian hate incidents in the United States between March 19, 2020, and February 28, 2021. This number represents only a fraction of the number of hate incidents that actually occur. Still, it shows how vulnerable Asian Americans are to discrimination that ranges from shunning to verbal slurs to physical violence.

Most attacks target the most vulnerable members of the Asian American community. Women report 68% of incidents. Youths (0 to 17 years old) report 12.6% of incidents and seniors (60 years old and older) report 6.2% of the total incidents.

Our hearts are with all of the Asian, Asian American, and Pacific Islander communities.

For information on how you can be an ally to AAPI communities, visit stopaapihate.org/actnow/.

CPLC Stands With Chicago’s SE Side in Hunger Strike Against General Iron Move

Today, four members of Clean Power Lake County’s Steering Committee joined a growing hunger strike to protest the move of General Iron Industries’ metal shredding facility from Chicago’s affluent, predominantly white Lincoln Park neighborhood to the predominantly Latino Southeast Side (East 116th Street along the Calumet River).

Clean Power Lake County co-chair Celeste Flores explains why she, Lupe Bueno, Eddie Flores, and Leah Hartung participated in today’s one-day solidarity hunger strike:

[As residents of] Waukegan, Illinois, we know all too well how environmental justice communities bear the burden of the health and economic impacts from corporate polluters. We stand in solidarity with community members on the Southeast Side of Chicago, who are on the fifth day of their hunger strike.

Fasting is used as a method of protesting injustice. In this case, the injustice is environmental racism—something environmental justice communities experience on a day-to-day basis. Mayor Lightfoot has had plenty of opportunities to stand with the people and not with corporate polluters. Today I am calling on Senators Durbin and Duckworth to intervene before it is too late for the community members they represent. 

Just [as they did with] the community members in Little Village—who in April 2020 experienced the demolition of the Crawford smokestack in the middle of a global pandemic that affects the respiratory system—Mayor Lightfoot and her team have shown over and over again they do not have the best interests of community members in mind when approving permits that favor corporations over people. 

Senator Durbin and Senator Duckworth, it is not enough for you to come out with a statement after the permit is issued. This community deserves to hear you denounce the approval of the General Iron operations permit for the Southeast Side of Chicago, and they deserve it today. We look forward to you choosing to stand with people who live and work in the Southeast Side and holding Mayor Lightfoot accountable for her actions in this beautiful community.

A local teacher and two activists initiated the hunger strike to draw attention to their plight. They have vowed not to eat solid foods until the City of Chicago denies General Iron’s application for an operating permit. (For updates, go to #StopGeneralIron Hunger Strike on Twitter.)

According to a news report in the Chicago Sun-Times, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) is investigating residents’ complaints that operation of the car-shredding facility would violate their civil rights.

As far as Clean Power Lake County is concerned, adding yet another polluter to a community already burdened by other industrial companies in the area is unconscionable. 

If you agree, please call on Senators Tammy Duckworth and Richard Durbin to intervene and condemn General Iron’s proposed move.  

CPLC Co-chair Joins Illinois EJ Commission

Dulce Ortiz of Clean Power Lake County in a video clip
Dulce Ortiz, seen here in a 2020 video stressing the urgency of passing CEJA.

Dulce Ortiz, co-chair of Clean Power Lake County, recently was appointed by Gov. J.B. Pritzker to Illinois’ Commission on Environmental Justice. She will serve through September 2022.

Ortiz currently is one of three commissioners who stand for communities concerned with environmental justice. She is the only voting member from Lake County.

The EJ Commission advises state entities and the Governor on environmental justice and related community issues. Members analyze current state laws and policies for their impact on the issue of environmental justice and sustainable communities. They also prioritize areas of the state that need immediate attention.

Voting members include 10 representatives of various state agencies and 14 members of the public.

Gubernatorial appointees include residents of EJ communities, experts on environmental health and environmental justice, and representatives of business, labor, and environmental organizations.

Ortiz has been a leading voice for clean air, clean water, and healthy soil for every Lake County community member—especially those disproportionately impacted by environmental pollution—since 2013.

CPLC: 2020 Highlights

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After the year we just had, the term “2020 vision” will never sound quite the same. 

2020 brought more than its share of tragedies and challenges, yet Clean Power Lake County (CPLC) had moments worth celebrating. We’re excited to share some of these moments with you because they highlight the many ways our supporters continue to show up to fight for environmental justice in Lake County. 

January 

  • January 6: CPLC joined Illinois Communities for Coal Ash Cleanup to comment on the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency’s draft rules for coal ash impoundments. 
  • January 6: The Waukegan City Council passed a resolution to support Illinois’ Clean Energy Jobs Act (CEJA). The resolution recognized that environmental risks and burdens fall disproportionately on communities of color—and that these burdens cumulatively contribute to climate change. CPLC supports CEJA as a solution to both environmental racism and climate change at the local level.
  • January 14: CPLC co-chair Celeste Flores traveled to Texas for EPA public hearings on the proposed Miscellaneous Organic Chemical Manufacturing rule. The proposed rule included regulations on ethylene oxide (EtO) emissions. Representatives of environmental justice organizations from across the nation attended the hearings. 
  • January 20: CPLC co-chair and Mano a Mano Executive Director Dulce Ortiz received a Drum Major Award from Waukegan Township. Announced on Martin Luther King Jr. Day, the awards recognize people who stand up for human rights and civil rights in their personal and professional lives.
  • January 21: CPLC joined other members of the Illinois Clean Jobs Coalition (ICJC) at a press conference to demand that legislators block Trump-backed fossil fuel bailouts. ICJC said the bailouts exacerbate climate change, pollution, and energy inequity.
  • January 21: The public finally learned that Medline Industries in Waukegan had initiated a temporary shutdown of EtO operations on December 13.
  • January 27: CPLC helped deliver 38,000 petitions from Illinois residents urging Gov. J.B. Pritzker to pass CEJA. Colin Byers of Waukegan spoke on our behalf. He was accompanied by Steering Committee members Rev. Eileen Shanley-Roberts, Eddie Sandoval, and Celeste Flores.
  • January 29: Gov. J.B. Pritzker mentioned clean energy as a priority during his State of the State address. (Let’s continue to urge the governor to act on this priority in 2021; see actions at the end of this post.)

February

  • February 4: Co-chair Celeste Flores attended the State of the Union address in Washington, D.C., as a guest of Sen. Tammy Duckworth to help shine a light on environmental justice and “raise awareness of the fact that these communities face public health challenges at alarming rates while too many in power look the other way.”
  • February 18: CPLC signed a joint organization letter calling on the EPA to reduce EtO and other emissions from chemical plants to decrease the risk of cancer.
  • February 21: Co-chair Dulce Ortiz spoke at an Illinois House Public Utilities Committee hearing, urging legislators to protect communities against the harmful impacts of continued fossil fuel bailouts by passing CEJA and growing an equitable clean energy economy.

March

April  

May

August

  • August 11: CPLC joined national environmental justice organizations in sending a letter to the EPA opposing attempts to undermine the independent scientific standard for EtO.
  • August 12-13: Ten CPLC volunteers delivered public comments at the first of two sets of coal ash hearings hosted by the Illinois Pollution Control Board. 

September

October

  • October 7: Anticipating that CEJA might come up for a vote during the scheduled veto session, CPLC partnered with ICJC to create a video with our perspective on the need for CJEA.  Although the veto session was cancelled, the video remains a strategic tool to help move legislators during the next session.
  • October 31: As of this date, 1,712 people had signed a joint Sierra Club/Faith in Place/Eco-Justice Collaborative/CARE petition calling for strong coal ash rules. More than 310 petitions contained personalized messages.

November

December

Last, but not least

  • CPLC, partnering with the Illinois Environmental Council Education Fund, launched the “Support CPLC” fundraising campaign. Proceeds will help us ramp up public work to transition northeastern Lake County toward a clean, sustainable future and to fight environmental injustice in our community. As of today, we are more than halfway toward our $30K goal. To support CPLC, please make a gift here.

2021 vision

We predict that CEJA will pass in 2021—with your help! So we must tell our elected officials to pass CEJA now!

We have much justice work to do this year. Despite 2021’s disturbing start, we look forward to continuing this work, together, to create a more livable, more just world.  

It’s Voting Season, Lake County 

Let's all register and vote!

That means it’s time for us to exercise our right to vote and demonstrate our collective power to shape our shared future! Here is important information you need to know about voting in the upcoming elections. 

Check your registration status

First things first: Visit the Lake County Voter Power website (Sitio web de Lake County Voter Power) to verify whether you are registered to vote. 

Get informed

Once you log in to the Lake County Voter Power site, you’ll be able to take action and find lots of helpful information. 

  • Request a ballot by mail November election
  • Track my mail ballot November elections
  • What is on my ballot?
  • My elected officials
  • My districts
  • Certificate of registration
  • Voting by mail program
  • Where do I vote?
  • Know your ballot style
  • How to cast a write-in vote

We believe it’s super important that you look at your ballots online before you go to vote in person. Ballots list a lot of candidates running for positions that are not as well known as the office of President. These may be harder (but no less important) to navigate if you haven’t done a little prep work before you go to vote.

Registering and voting in-person 

Do you need to register to vote, or update your information? No problem! You can register and vote the same day at early voting sites through November 1, and at specific locations on November 2-3. 

See a full list of early voting sites in Lake County.  (Haga clic aquí para obtener una lista completa de los sitios de votación temprana.)

  • Monday, October 19, through Sunday, November 1
    Grace period voter registration will be available at every early voting site in Lake County. All locations offer weekday, evening, and weekend hours.
  • Monday, November 2
    Four early voting sites will remain open to voter registration applicants on Monday, November 2.
  • Tuesday, November 3 (Election Day, state holiday)
    Grace period voter registration will be available at your assigned neighborhood voting site (el lugar de votación de su vecindario asignado), the Lake County Main Courthouse Lobby (18 N. County St., Waukegan), and the Lake County Fairgrounds (1060 E. Peterson Road, Grayslake). 

Election Day polls will be open from 6 a.m. until 7 p.m. 

Voter registration requirements

To register to vote in the US elections, you must:

  • Be a United States citizen
  • Be a resident of your precinct at least 30 days before the election
  • Be 18 years of age or older on or before the November 3, 2020, General Election
  • Not be convicted and in jail
  • Not claim the right to vote anywhere else in the United States.

In-person voter registration applicants will be required to present two forms of valid identification at time of registration. Both must include your name, and one must have a current Lake County street address.

Voting by mail 

Visit Lake County’s Vote-by-Mail information portal (el portal de información de Voto por correo de Lake County) for vote-by-mail application deadlines as well as information on submitting mail-in ballots. 

Due to post office processing delays, we strongly encourage vote-by-mail voters to:

  • Fill out your ballot and drop it in the mail on the day it arrives. Ballots postmarked after Election Day will not be considered. 
  • Drop off your completed ballot at one of Lake County’s free drop box locations (uno de los buzones gratuitos). 
  • Drop off your completed ballot at the Lake County Clerk’s Office (18 N. County St., Waukegan) by 7 p.m. on Election Day.

Together we win!


Want details on ballots, candidates, referenda?

Click here (English).
English 
Click here (Spanish)
Spanish

 

 

CPLC Members to Lawmakers: Pass CEJA Now

Clean Power Lake County activists urge Illinois lawmakers to pass the Clean Energy Jobs Act in 2020.
Dulce Ortiz, co-chair of Clean Power Lake County, and other Waukegan activists urge Illinois lawmakers to pass the Clean Energy Jobs Act in 2020.

Storms are becoming more intense. Sea levels are rising. Disastrous wildfires are destroying record acreage (2.5 million this year) and impairing air quality over multistate regions. Climate change and COVID-19 are causing unprecedented public health and economic crises. There is no time to wait for cleaner, healthier, more affordable energy.

And we don’t have to wait. The Clean Energy Jobs Act (CEJA) will create thousands of jobs in Illinois’ growing clean energy industry—without raising taxes or hiking utility rates. No wonder 82% of Illinois voters support CEJA, according to a May 2020 poll released by the Illinois Clean Jobs Coalition. 

The thing is, Illinois lawmakers have yet to pass CEJA. So Dulce Ortiz, David Villalobos, and Eduardo Flores of Clean Power Lake County want to know: What is Gov. J.B. Pritzker waiting for?

CEJA will:

  • Put jobs and equity at the center of a clean energy future, creating well-paying jobs in the communities where they are needed the most
  • Guarantee cost savings on electricity bills for consumers through capacity market reform
  • Put Illinois on a path to 100% renewable energy by 2050 by taking advantage of the falling cost of wind and solar power and focusing on energy efficiency
  • Provide a just transition for fossil fuel workers and communities
  • Reduce air and water pollution from the fossil fuel industry

As we approach the final legislative session of 2020, will you stand for clean energy, clean air, and clean water? Tell lawmakers that CEJA must take precedence in the November veto session: Sign our “Pass CEJA” petition today.

 

Everybody Counts

Everyone counts in the 2020 Census.
The US Census is one time when everyone counts—babies, children, teens, adults, older adults. [Alekss/Dreamstime]
Every 10 years, the United States counts the people in this country in a process called the census. This is one time when everyone counts—babies, children, teens, adults, older adults.

The 2020 Census will provide a snapshot of America’s population—who we are, where we live, and so much more.

The census matters

Here’s why census information is vital for us and our community:

  • Determines how many representatives each state gets in Congress as well as how congressional and state legislative district boundaries are redrawn
  • Determines how more than $675 billion in federal funds are distributed yearly to more than 100 programs, including Medicaid, Head Start, block grants for community mental health services, and the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP)
  • Helps communities plan for a variety of resident needs, including new roads, schools, and emergency services
  • Helps businesses decide where to open places to shop

Census results affect our community every day.

Think of your morning commute: Census results influence highway planning and construction, as well as grants for buses, subways, and other public transit systems.

Or think of your local schools: Census results help determine how money is distributed for the Head Start program and for grants that support teachers and special education.

The list goes on, including programs to support rural areas, to restore wildlife, to prevent child abuse, to prepare for wildfires, and to supply housing assistance for older adults.

It’s time to raise our hands  

There’s one condition: To ensure we get our fair share, we all must raise our hands and participate.

Right now, our area is trailing Illinois as a whole for completed census forms, according to the United States Census Bureau. While 66.6% of Illinois residents have completed their forms, only 60.5% of residents of the Illinois 10th Congressional District have done so. For Zion, the response is 59.1%. For Waukegan, the response is only 55.9%.

The good news is, online, phone and mailed self-responses will be accepted through October 31. Visit my2020census.gov to begin.

Visit 2020census.gov/en/contact-us.html to find out how you can speak with representatives in any of 14 languages.

Census takers will interview non-responding households in person from August 11 through October 31 in most parts of the country.

For more information, get the 2020 Census facts at a glance.

Sources: United States Census Bureau, IL Count Me In 2020

 

Celebrate Freedom, Reflect on Racism

[Tess/Unsplash photo]
On June 19, 1865, more than two years after President Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation, enslaved Black people in Texas finally learned that they were free.

Today, Juneteenth is a time to celebrate that freedom. It also is a time to reflect on what we can do to fight actively against the systemic inequities that Black communities face: police brutality, voter suppression, housing discrimination and more.

Octavius Hayes, a member of Clean Power Lake County’s steering committee, explains what’s at stake:

The accumulation of incidents of racism, police brutality and murder of so many Black and brown people over the last few years alone has clearly left an indelible mark on young people, especially young people of color. But these types of violent acts of racism and bigotry are nothing new, predating the founding of our great nation. Therefore, as a nation, as Illinoisans, and as community members of Lake County, it isn’t simply enough to expect better. We must unite to demand better, and do the work of dismantling systemic racism, to ensure the safety and dignity of all people. Otherwise, this nation is doomed to continue to repeat the same mistakes that only further divide us at a time when we should be coming together to find solutions for imminent threats to humanity—such as climate change—that transcend race, economics, and borders.

 

 

Black Lives Matter: Let’s Talk About Environmental Justice 

Environmental justice for all.
[Leah Hartung/Canva image]
By Leah Hartung

For environmentalism to be successful and complete, it must include social justice. Environmental degradation and climate change do not affect the population equally: The brunt of the burden falls on marginalized communities. With the Black Lives Matter movement sweeping the nation, sparked by the murder of George Floyd, it is necessary for environmentalists to discuss the physical as well as the social environment for Black people in the United States.

The social environment for Black people in America has long been a painful one. America has a long history of police brutality disproportionately affecting Black people. In 1927 and 1928, Black residents of Chicago constituted 30 percent of the victims of police killings, even though they only made up 5 percent of the area’s population, according to an Illinois Crime Survey cited in Smithsonian Magazine. Today, about 1 in 1,000 Black men in the United States die at the hands of the police, according to the Los Angeles Times. Black women are 1.4 times more likely than white women to be killed by the police (Los Angeles Times). Black men, according to the Washington Post, are 2.5 times more likely than their white counterparts to die during an encounter with the police, adjusting for the age of the person shot, whether the person suffered from mental illness, whether the person was attacking a police officer, and for the crime rate in the neighborhood where the shooting occurred. 

The high rate of unarmed Black Americans killed by the police causes more incidents of depression, stress, and other mental health issues among Black people, even if they did not have a direct connection to the Black Americans who lost their lives, according to a study by Boston University’s School of Health and University of Pennsylvania.

Yet it is not only the social environment that hurts black people in America. The physical environment that Black communities live in also continues to cause them harm at disproportionate rates. Black Americans face a 54 percent higher health burden from air pollution compared to the overall population, according to a study by the Environmental Protection Agency, which cited historical racism and economic inequality as major factors for the disparity. Facilities emitting particulate pollution are more likely to be in Black communities, causing Black Americans to experience more asthma, a greater likelihood of heart attacks, and premature death. According to an analysis in the New England Journal of Medicine, Black Americans are 3 times more likely to die from exposure to air pollutants than white Americans.

The higher burden of air pollution on Black communities is particularly dangerous during this pandemic. A preliminary nationwide study from Harvard University found exposure to high levels of air pollution correlated with higher mortality rates from COVID-19. This finding, coupled with health disparities and unequal access to care in Black communities, helps explain why Black residents only account for 29% of Chicago’s population—yet 52% of those testing positive and 72% of those who had died as of April 6, 2020, were Black (WBEZ). 

Additionally, because of Black communities’ fewer resources, economic disenfranchisement, and unstable housing, they are more vulnerable to climate change as it intensifies natural disasters such as heat waves, flooding, and hurricanes, said Janaya Khan, co-founder of Black Lives Matter Toronto, in The Root. Climate change will further erode the disparity between Black and white communities.

Let us take this moment to reflect on how the environment in America is not the same for all of its citizens.

Leah Hartung is from Libertyville, Illinois, and is a rising junior at Emory University (Atlanta, Georgia) studying environmental science.

CPLC Celebrates LGBTQ Pride Month

[42 North/Pexels photo]
As a community organization committed to justice for all people, Clean Power Lake County is pleased to celebrate Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Queer (LGBTQ) Pride Month. We gratefully acknowledge the impact that lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender individuals have had on history locally, nationally, and internationally.

June 2020 marks the 50th anniversary of annual LGBTQ+ Pride traditions. The first Pride march in New York City was held on June 28, 1970, on the one-year anniversary of the Stonewall Uprising, a tipping point for the gay liberation movement in the United States.

LGBTQ+ celebrations may look a little different this year—as Americans cautiously begin to resume public life in the midst of a global pandemic; as protesters across the country call for justice in the violent death of George Floyd; as police in riot gear fire rubber bullets, pepper spray, and tear gas at protesters and rioters. Yet LGBTQ+ celebrations are as important as ever, or perhaps even more important than ever: Pride Month offers us ways to protest discrimination and violence as well as to promote the dignity, equal rights, and self-affirmation of LGBTQ+ people.