A few hundred Illinois environmental, labor and faith leaders hit Chicago's downtown streets Wednesday evening to rally for climate justice and demand that state leaders implement aggressive policies to combat climate change.
The Chicago demonstration was one of nearly 200 similar events held across the country as part of a national day of action spearheaded by the People's Climate Movement, which was behind last year's massive climate change march in New York City that drew some 400,000 people.
The organizers of Wednesday's national day of action hoped to send a clear message to political leaders scheduled to convene for a United Nations climate change conference in Paris this December.
"The goal of these marches was to help send a clear signal that the people of this country are concerned about [the] climate crisis and injustices that are going on," the Rev. Booker Vance with Faith in Place told Progress Illinois at the Chicago rally. "We want to make sure that when our leaders go to Paris that they have a clear sense that the people are behind them. The United States in all other areas wants to be a leader. This is an (area) clearly where we can show our leadership and understanding and compassion for issues of climate justice."
Environmentalists are putting pressure on Morgan Stanley to cut its financing ties to the coal industry as part of a larger disinvestment campaign aimed at big banks.
Organizers with the environmental group Rainforest Action Network (RAN) urged the investment firm to end its financing of coal mining and coal power during Friday protests held outside Morgan Stanley branches in nine major U.S. cities, including Chicago.
"Morgan Stanley is one of a few remaining large banks that is still funding dirty coal," said Chicago RAN volunteer Charlie Ryan, who distributed flyers about the anti-coal campaign outside a downtown Morgan Stanley location at 440 S. LaSalle St.
"If you look at some of the things they're doing, for example, they continue to finance mountaintop removal. Mountaintop removal is one of the worst ways to mine coal. They blow up the mountain. They don't repair it."
The public can weigh in on a draft water discharge permit for the proposed "Bulldog Mine" in eastern Illinois during a Wednesday evening hearing hosted by the state's Environmental Protection Agency (IEPA).
The Illinois Pollution Control Board (IPCB) has allowed a lawsuit against NRG Energy over groundwater issues to be expanded in light of newly-discovered coal ash ponds near the company's active coal-fired power plants in Illinois.