December 30, 2008

Happy New Year, Indeed!

While the headlines of the day may make Illinois' political landscape seem hopelessly mired in scandal and legal uncertainty, and make saving the planet seem far from the Springfield agenda; we are closer than you may realize to major transformational change coming from, of all places, our state capitol, on the big issues facing our state and our civilization.

That's why, looking at the big picture, I am very excited about the prospect for real change in 2009 and beyond.

As environmentalists who have worked with Barack Obama for over a decade on clean energy and environmental health issues, we are especially proud and excited to see an Illinois environmental champion putting energy and environmental protection at the center of his agenda for America. We know first-hand, from our work with him over the years in Springfield and as our U.S. Senator, his commitment to a better environment is real, and that change is coming for our country and our planet.

We had other big victories at the ballot box in 2008 that will help change Illinois politics for the greener. Sierra Club helped elect a new class of state legislators, Democrats and Republicans, who are committed to solving global warming, protecting our water, and rebuilding the Illinois Department of Natural Resources. Change has come to America, and we are bringing it to Springfield as well.

While we are working hard to usher in a new era of solutions, we also are working hard to end the era of old, dirty energy. We won a big victory to stop a new dirty coal plant proposed for Franklin County. We are teaming up with local farmers to fight the ravaging impacts of longwall mining in southern and western Illinois.

We are building new partnerships for solutions with unusual allies. To help solve global warming, we are teaming up with faith groups like the American Jewish Committee, Protestants for the Common Good, and the Evangelical Lutheran Church of America. We are nurturing future environmental leaders through work with the Boys and Girls Clubs Of Chicago, and by hosting youth fishing derbies. To rebuild the Illinois Department of Natural Resources after years of cuts and neglect, we work with sportsmen partners like Ducks Unlimited and Pheasants Forever. We are building broad support for a green economy by joining with labor and workforce advocates in the Chicagoland Green Collar Jobs Initiative. We work with over 30 Illinois Cool Cities, whose mayors have pledged local efforts to save energy and combat climate change.

The work we have done together in 2008 gives us much to celebrate, but we also plan for a very ambitious 2009, when we will need all of our new strength and then some to make the most of the historic opportunities that lie ahead.

We are gearing up to make sure that Illinois’ members of Congress will be part of the solution as we change America’s energy, pollution, and conservation policies for the better.

Springfield is in a state of crisis this holiday season, but we are planning for big new opportunities once the current scandals are resolved, and the public’s demand for change is heard in out state capitol. We are ready to reverse cuts to the Illinois Department of Natural Resources, to make Illinois a clean car state, and to move ahead with new programs to cut global warming pollution. Current headlines make us wonder if Illinois politics is broken forever, but we believe brighter days are ahead, and we want to be ready to make sure the environment is a big winner in the new political landscape that must surely follow these chaotic days.

Anything is possible, and with your support and engagement, we are dreaming big.

Happy New Year indeed!