Lung Association: Climate and Equitable Jobs Act will Improve Our Air, Our Health and Our Future

Governor J.B. Pritzker Signs Sweeping Clean Energy Legislation

The American Lung Association applauds Illinois Governor J.B. Pritzker for signing the Climate and Equitable Jobs Act (SB 2408) into law today. American Lung Association President and CEO, Harold Wimmer, issued the following statement regarding the impact this law will have on clean air and climate in the state of Illinois:

“Today, Illinois is taking significant steps to ensure that all Illinoisans breathe air that is clean and free from pollution by enacting the Climate and Equitable Jobs Act. The American Lung Association deeply appreciates the strong leadership of the Illinois General Assembly, Governor Pritzker, and labor and environmental communities for crafting this bold law to aggressively address clean air and climate in our state.

“Ozone and particle pollution are two of the most widespread and dangerous pollutants in the United States, contributing to a wide range of negative health outcomes, including asthma attacks, lung cancer, cardiovascular and respiratory harm, heart attacks and strokes and premature deaths. Children, older adults, people with heart and lung diseases, low-income communities and communities of color face even greater risks. 

“The Lung Association’s ‘State of the Air’ 2021 report showed that nearly 7 million Illinois residents live in a county that received a failing grade for ozone pollution, including more than 6.6 million in Cook, Kane and Lake Counties and 262,000 in Madison County. Further, Chicago ranked as the 16th most ozone-polluted city in the United States and 15th most polluted by annual levels of particle pollution.  
 
“The transportation sector is a leading source of ozone-and particle-forming oxides of nitrogen and this Act calls for strong policies to accelerate zero-emission cars, buses and trucks paired with increasing usage of renewable energy. Our 2020 'Road to Clean Air' report shows that transitioning to electric transportation will prevent more than 4,000 asthma attacks, 270 premature deaths and more than $3 billion in avoided health costs in Illinois. The benefits of transitioning off fossil fuels will also directly affect those most impacted by air pollution: low-income communities and communities of color. Specifically, the Lung Association supports the following provisions related to transportation electrification and renewable energy:

•    Setting a target date of 2040 for 50% renewable energy and 100% by 2050;  
•    Closing municipally owned coal- and natural gas-fired power plants by 2045 unless they are carbon free;  
•    Appointing an Electric Vehicle Coordinator at the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency to help the state increase adoption of electric vehicles to 1 million by 2030, in part, by overseeing the issuance of electric vehicle rebates for consumers and electric vehicle charging rebates for organizations and companies; 
•    Requiring large electric utilities to file a Beneficial Electrification Plan by July 1, 2022 that addresses environmental justice interests, investment in infrastructure, and support of electric school buses and diesel public transportation. Large electric utilities must also implement a Public Schools Carbon-Free Assessment Program to help public schools become carbon free by 2030; 
•    Requiring the Illinois Commerce Commission to solicit input on the design of programs to expand electrification, including considering environmental benefits;
•    Providing education and incentives for low-income families to transition to solar power through the Illinois Solar for All Program; and 
•    Funding renewable generation projects at public schools, prioritizing environmental justice communities. 

“We are confident that the Climate and Equitable Jobs Act will show health and economic benefits for the people of Illinois. Especially as our state faces the impacts of climate change, this new law takes significant action to improve the health of our residents, especially those who are most vulnerable.”

For more information, contact:

James A. Martinez
(312) 445-2501
[email protected]

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