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Environmental Justice
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Can We Breathe? Taking Action for Clean Air in Our Communities

The "Can We Breathe" campaign is a powerful initiative designed to empower our community to understand and address air pollution. This multi-phased project tackles the issue head-on by identifying the biggest threats to our air quality and public health.

Phase 1: Monitoring and Data Collection

Our journey begins with a community air monitoring network. Over two years, this network will meticulously track air pollution levels, providing a clear picture of the challenges we face. This data forms the foundation for informed action.

Phase 2: Deep Dive into Air Toxins

Next, we delve deeper with air toxics monitoring. This phase focuses on pinpointing the specific types of harmful pollutants present in our air. By understanding the composition of air pollution, we can identify its sources with greater precision.

Empowering Our Community with Knowledge

"Can We Breathe" doesn't stop at data collection. We believe knowledge is power. The data gathered through monitoring will be thoroughly analyzed to assess its impact on public health. This information will be presented in a clear and accessible manner to community members, fostering a deeper understanding of air pollution and its implications.

Taking Action: Advocacy and Education

Armed with data and a clear understanding of the challenges, we will launch a call to action. Our findings will be presented to local government and legislators, urging them to implement policies and regulations that reduce community air pollution burdens.


The United Congregations of Metro East (UCM) has been working to protect the environment in St. Clair and Madison Counties by confronting the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) about lowering their testing standards for the Veolia Incinerator. UCM stands by the Bible verse Titus 1:7 which states that “an overseer, as God’s steward, must be above reproach.” In press releases and demonstrations, we called upon the Veolia and the EPA to strengthen, not weaken, environmental permits for the Metro East.


On August 21st, 2018, UCM held an action/protest regarding this issue at the East St. Louis Higher Education Campus in Illinois. We also presented this issue at UCM's Membership meeting on November 15, 2018 in O'Fallon, Illinois, and have been closely monitoring the actions of Veolia and the EPA since. We are determined to end corrupt and unjust practices of foreign and domestic companies polluting our environment.


Legislators in Illinois have passed a sweeping clean energy bill that was three years in the making. The bill seeks to make Illinois the leading state when it comes to clean energy. It aims to eliminate coal-fired power generation and improve accountability. Highlights include:

  • 100% clean energy by 2050

  • Nearly $700 million to keep nuclear plants online

  • $4,000 electric vehicle rebates

Building Capacity for a Sustainable Future

The "Can We Breathe" campaign goes beyond immediate action. We are committed to building long-term capacity within our community. Through a strategic media plan, we will create resources that empower residents to track air quality in real-time. Additionally, a sensor loan library and a STEM curriculum focused on air pollution will equip students and community members with the tools and knowledge they need to understand their exposure and explore solutions.

Preparing for Emergencies: Protecting Our Health

Living near heavy industrial areas requires vigilance. To address this, the campaign will develop an emergency preparedness plan in collaboration with community members and students. This plan will focus on identifying early warning signs of air pollution emergencies, understanding the associated health risks, and implementing effective response strategies.

By promoting community participation and awareness, "Can We Breathe" empowers individuals to make informed decisions about their health and well-being. Together, we can create a cleaner, healthier future for our communities.

Can We Breathe
Can We Breathe is a platform that focuses on uplifting BIPOC voices and advocating for racial justice. Our content includes articles, videos, and podcasts that aim to educate, inspire, and empower our community. We invite you to join us in the ongoing fight for equality and justice.
Sustainable Energy

Three Lessons from Organizers Who Fought for Illinois' Climate Equitable Jobs Act (CEJA)

It is not enough to be right

You can only win what you have enough power to compel, and you always need more power

The bill you write will never be implemented stronger than you write it




Clean Air Saves Lives

Justice Knows No Borders

United Congregations of Metro East (UCM) joined Metropolitan Congregations United (MCU), Sierra Club, Community First Plus, Metro East Green Alliance (MEGA), and Mississippi River Network in a rally on Saturday, July 24, 2021 at the McKinley Bridge Roadside Park in Venice, IL. 

The purpose was to bring organizations from both sides of the Mississippi River together to address an issue that effects all of us. 

Read the article:

Air Quality Rally for Environmental Justice 



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