This week the Illinois Legislative Black Caucus is releasing their legislative agenda for addressing systemic racism in Illinois. The agenda is focused on eradicating the racial disparities inherent in our economy and workforce, in our education system, health care and human services, and criminal justice system and police force.
The Illinois Environmental Council stands in strong support of the Black Caucus in these efforts, and encourages the General Assembly to take up this legislative agenda in the coming lame duck session.
Several priorities of IEC and our community are included within this legislative agenda, including:
- Lead Service Line Replacement. ⅛ of all lead service lines in the U.S. located within Illinois, and a greater proportion of those are located in Black and Brown communities. Clean water is a basic human need, and Illinois must immediately pass legislation to require the replacement of lead service lines, prioritizing vulnerable communities and ensuring those communities have access to the jobs this work creates.
- Environmental Justice Permitting. As we have seen time and time again, community input and knowledge is left out of permitting decisions. IEC supports work that will bring communities into the decision making processes that will have a direct impact on their lives and well-beings.
- Equity in Farming. A study of the agricultural sector and opportunities for Black, Brown, Indigenous, and People of Color is a necessary assessment of support for farmers reaching all communities.
- Criminal and Economic Justice Reforms. Reforms to our criminal and economic justice system will ensure that more people can participate in our democracy and the green economy.
- Public Health. Black and Brown communities face disproportionate health impacts from exposure to polluted air and other forms of environmental pollution. It is critical that we increase access to public health services in communities where they are needed most.
We are only as powerful as the people in our movement and those we serve. Building power for people and our environment in Illinois requires us to actively combat social and political power dynamics that disenfranchise marginalized communities across a broad range of issues beyond those that fall squarely within traditional environmental policy.
There is no meaningful action on our environment or our climate without racial justice. When marginalized communities are empowered, environmental protections become more possible.
There is much more work to be done beyond these measures, and IEC will be a partner to the Legislative Black Caucus in combating not only environmental racism, but systemic racism generally.