Jesse Jackson Joins Push for Natural Gas Pipeline to Illinois Town

(UC) — At a time when some other localities are trying to limit consumer access to natural gas, the Rev. Jesse Jackson Sr. is helping local leaders draw attention to the need for a natural gas pipeline to serve a low-income area near Chicago.

Jackson and a group of local leaders are working to bring natural gas service to the Pembroke Township, where the median annual income is about $16,000, unemployment is above 30% and many residents struggle to warm their homes through frigid Illinois winters with firewood.

Chicago NBC-TV affiliate WMAQ reported that officials in the township planned to meet with representatives of Nicor, raising hopes in the community that the utility may extend service to their homes. 

“This community has been overlooked for 48 years for natural gas,” Hopkins Park Mayor Mark Hodge said. “We’re in need of industry. We’re in need of jobs, and school needs natural gas to our community.” 

Jackson joined officials and residents at an event in early December to help bring attention to the issue. and the Chicago Tribune reported Jackson is trying to broker an agreement between Nicor Gas and government agencies to extend gas service to the township to benefit residents and encourage new businesses.

“There are pockets of poverty all over the country,” he said. “My job is to lift up those whose backs are against the wall.”

Marie LaPorte, Nicor's director of customer development, said it would cost more than $8 million to extend service to the area, the Tribune reported.

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