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Illinois Should Honor Real Environmental Leaders, Not Fracking/Coal Legislators

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DuQuoin's uniqueness is a reminder that in a recent report on clean energy and green jobs in Illinois, not a single project was located below the central Illinois capital of Springfield, with most green jobs going to Chicago:

Courtesy of Clean Energy Works for Us

3: The Carbondale City Council, the Home of "Clean Coal" Research, Voted for a 100 Percent Renewable Energy Plan

In one of the most under-reported stories this year, the town council of Carbondale -- where Southern Illinois University boasts of its "clean coal" research program, where the coal export industry was launched nearby 200 years ago, and where huge corporations from New York listed ads 150 years ago to invest in the future of Mt. Carbon -- voted to approve a 100 percent renewable energy electrical contract in January. According to City manager Kevin Baity, Carbondale was the energy consortium's "only city to choose the fully renewable energy option."

4: With Oil/Gas Drilling Injunction Lifted, Local Heroes Like the Shawnee Vinyard Indian Community, Friends of Bell Smith Springs, and the Regional Association of Concerned Environmentalist Are Defending the State's Vital Shawnee National Forest

Home of the state's defining and famed Garden of the Gods, the Shawnee National Forest and several federally protected wilderness sites, the last forests of southern Illinois are now game to Frerichs' fracking bill, after a 17-year injunction on drilling was lifted in March.

Thanks to long-time defenders like Sam Stearns, with the Friends of Bell Smith Springs, Barney Bush and the Shawnee Vinyard Indian Community, and Mark Donham and many others with the Regional Association of Concerned Environmentalist, the state's most unique environmental destination will stave off attempts by out-of-state fracking operators.

5: Southern Illinoisans Against Fracturing Our Environment Leaders Like Liz Patula, Tabitha Tripp, Dayna Conner, Brent Ritzel, Annette McMichael and Legions More

Unlike many environmental lobbyists and leaders who operate out of their offices, far from the impacted areas of the extraction industries, the grassroots volunteers with SAFE -- Southern Illinoisans Against Fracturing Our Environment -- have taken the lead on the frontlines in southern Illinois to speak on behalf affected communities, to hold legislators accountable to their constituencies instead of outside corporate lobbyists, and to educate rural and unincorporated communities on the realities of fracking, water and air protection, and the flaws in Frerichs' fracking law.

While left out of the negotiations on the state's fracking law, SAFE and its many environmental leaders deserve to be in the front row of any future negotiations -- not to mention any statewide "environmental leadership dinner."

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