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 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 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 4: CPLC advocated for the passage of CEJA during Lobby Day in Springfield. Steering Committee member Octavius Hayes spoke at the high-energy rally.
- March 6: Co-chair Celeste Flores testified about just transitions in an Illinois House Energy and Environment Committee hearing on equity in the energy industry.
- April 16: CPLC joined the Earth Day to May Day Coalition, which united labor, community, and environmental justice organizations. Co-chair Dulce Ortiz spoke at the coalition’s kickoff press conference.
- April 22: Several CPLC volunteers spoke during a virtual Earth Day event hosted by the Earth Day to May Day Coalition.
- May 5: Co-chair Celeste Flores appeared on a “Chicago Tonight” segment focusing on the COVID-19 pandemic’s impact on Waukegan. She made relevant points about CPLC’s mission and advocacy for environmental justice.
- May 28: A new ICJC poll showed that 8 in 10 Illinois voters support CEJA. They understand that CEJA will create thousands of clean energy jobs without raising taxes or hiking energy bills.
- 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 14: Co-chair Celeste Flores was named to Energy News Network’s 40 Under 40 list. The list highlighted emerging leaders in the work to achieve a just transition to a clean energy economy.
- September 17: CPLC Steering Committee member Eddie Flores advocated for CEJA during a virtual youth town hall hosted by ICJC.
- September 21: CPLC and ICJC hosted a “Re-envision and Re-invest in Illinois Coal Communities” virtual town hall. Co-chair Dulce Ortiz spoke at the event.
- September 22: CPLC, Sierra Club, and State Rep. Joyce Mason hosted a “Reimagining Solutions for Racial Justice & Climate Change in District 61” virtual town hall focusing on CEJA. Co-chair Dulce Ortiz was a featured speaker.
- September 29-October 1: Ten CPLC volunteers—three testifying in Spanish—delivered public comments at the second of two sets of coal ash hearings hosted by the Illinois Pollution Control Board.
- 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 9-13: More than 1,000 Illinois residents—including CPLC volunteers—attended 80 meetings with Illinois legislators on Virtual Lobby Day, November 12. Steering Committee member Eddie Flores spoke at the midday rally.
- December 22: CPLC, Earthjustice, and many other justice organizations sent a letter to the EPA requesting an extension on the deadline for public comment on the draft human health/ecological risk assessments for EtO. The original deadline was January 19, 2021.
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.
We predict that CEJA will pass in 2021—with your help! So we must tell our elected officials to pass CEJA now!
- Write your own letter. Feel free to use sample phrases and facts from our CEJA fact sheet.
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.