State of the Air: ILLINOIS

Kelly NicholsContact Kelly Nichols at to learn more or volunteer.

Kelly has 4-year-old twins, and a husband who is from Australia. She grew up roaming the woods of mid-coast Maine and Northern Minnesota before she found herself involved in theatre and stand-up comedy in New York City. The youngest of two girls, her parents instilled a solid love of nature in her growing up, and her favorite thing is to spend time by the waters of Lake Michigan, in her garden, or on a forest preserve in her current home in Highland Park, Illinois. She is excited to be working to make the air of Illinois cleaner, and create a better planet for all of us!

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Here’s what we’re working on in Illinois:

We are fighting climate change and air pollution in Illinois by standing behind policies that support cleaner air and stronger emissions standards. Moms Clean Air Force Illinois is a member of strong state coalitions that are working together to support compliance of America’s Clean Power Plan and a strong state implementation plan.

A huge amount of energy transportation and creation occurs in Illinois, as the state is a center for pipelines of natural gas and crude oil. The production, processing, and transportation of crude oil also leaves Illinois at risk for rail disasters of epic proportions. Illinois is home to two of 44 coal ash sites that the EPA has classified as “high hazard,” leaving our population and natural resources vulnerable from spills and contamination. One coal ash site is less than a half mile from the shore of Lake Michigan, one of Illinois most cherished and visible natural resources.

Illinois borders the world’s largest group of freshwater lakes on earth, the Great Lakes. Source of drinking water to more than 40 million people, the Great Lakes are threatened by pollution and declining water levels, which is already resulting in increased algal bloom production. Scientists predict that climate change will cause water levels in the Great Lakes to drop significantly in coming decades, threatening this source of not only vital drinking water, but also transportation, tourism, commercial fishing operations, manufacturing operations, and sportsmen industries. This is another way that Illinoisans understand the personal, immediate impacts of climate change on our homes and communities.

The increase in severe weather in Illinois has caused a lot of damage in the form of flooding, heavy rainfall, and tornadoes. The dozens of gas pipelines and natural gas production centers in Illinois have caused a large amount of methane emissions that are currently unregulated on the state or federal level. Illinois’s location makes it not only an energy crossroad, but also a crossroad for rail, truck, car and air traffic. The long hot summers, exacerbated around the heat islands in Chicago and East St. Louis, turn all of these motor vehicle emissions into smog, or ground level ozone–lung irritants that can trigger asthma attacks, interfere with normal lung development, and increase the incidence of respiratory infections for residents in Illinois.

Currently, the rate of asthma in Illinois is 13%, higher than the national average. The Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America ranks Chicago in the top 10% of “the most challenging places to live with asthma.” Asthma is hitting the frontline neighborhoods in Chicago harder than in many other places in the nation, with asthma rates in some neighborhoods soaring as high as 33%. As the climate gets hotter, air pollution, allergies, and temperature will trigger more asthma attacks in children.

Although Illinois generates a huge volume of energy, some of which is exported via two primary grids to other states, Illinois can’t export the emissions and pollution that the energy production and transportation creates. One of the bi-products of coal-fired power plants is mercury, and in a study completed by Illinois PIRG in 2006, it was discovered that of 804 fish samples taken statewide, over 30% of the samples were found to have unsafe levels of mercury for women of average weight and children under the age of 8, who eat fish twice a week.

In Illinois, Moms Clean Air Force is a part of several statewide coalitions fighting for cleaner air, including the Illinois Climate Table and the Illinois Clean Jobs Coalition. Moms Clean Air Force works continually with these groups to develop and execute a tactical plan to inform members, residents, and elected officials of the needed changes to energy production and the desire to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in our state.

Additionally, Moms Clean Air Force works locally in Chicago to build support for a mandate, that would identify and regulate diesel emission hot spots.

In addition to state-specific work, Moms Clean Air Force Illinois is supporting national efforts:

Mercury: We are supporting strong limits on harmful mercury emissions from coal-fired power plants.

Climate Change: We are fighting global warming by supporting policies, namely America’s Clean Power Plan, that will reduce carbon emissions and decrease dangerous co-pollutants.

Clean Energy: We are ensuring that our energy future is renewable, clean, and healthy — for the sake of our children’s health.

Chemical Policy Reform: We are fighting to keep toxic chemicals out of the products we use every day, through joining local efforts to protect families from toxic chemicals and advocating for strong implementation of the Lautenberg Chemical Safety Act (2016).

Natural Gas Pollution: We are demanding strong protections from methane, volatile organic compounds, and other harmful air pollutants associated with fracking and natural gas development.

Illinois electricity generation by source, 2014:

  • Nuclear (49%)

  • Coal (43%)

  • Renewables (5%)

  • Natural Gas (2%)

Coal power plant pollution is responsible for 389 deaths and 285 hospitalizations in Illinois every year, making Illinois 5th worse state in the country for coal power plant pollution

According to the American Lung Association’s 2016 State of the Air report, nearly 250,000 children suffer from asthma

In 2015, there were 42 code orange ozone days in Cook County, Illinois


How the Risk from Diesel Soot in Illinois Compares to the Other Lower 48 States and District of Columbia: 8 of 49


  • 2009 -2014 Illinois Asthma State Plan. Third Edition. Illinois Department of Public Health. Web.
  • Clean Air Task Force

How to Call Your Elected Officials

BY Moms Clean Air Force ON January 1, 2017
We’re all used to text and email, and often that’s speedy and effective. But sometimes, the sound of a voice makes all the difference. Now is one of those times. Your members of Congress must hear from you on the issues that matter to you! Click here...

TOPICS: Activism, Alaska, Children's Health, Colorado, EPA, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Missouri, Montana, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Politics, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Vermont, Virginia, Washington State, Wisconsin, Wyoming
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Upcoming Events

Thursday, March 16-Friday, March 17: Moms Clean Air Force Illinois is attending the Loyola Climate Conference.

Saturday, March 18: Moms Clean Air Force Illinois is hosting a Town Hall focused on diesel pollution with Little Village Environmental Justice Organization (LVEJO).

Saturday, March 18: Moms Clean Air Force Illinois is tabling at Green living fair in Libertyville.

Thursday, April 6: Moms Clean Air Force Illinois is participating in Earth Day of Action Springfield.

Saturday, April 8: Moms Clean Air Force Illinois is attending the Illinois Resistance Fair.

Past Events

March 2017:

Moms Clean Air Force Illinois attended One Earth Film Fest.

Moms Clean Air Force Illinois tabled at GoGreen Wilmette Fair.

February 2017:

Field consultant, Kelly Nichols met with Congressman Danny K. Davis’s in-district office.

Moms Clean Air Force Illinois attended a press conference hosted by Senator Durbin focused on the nomination of Scott Pruitt to head EPA. Following the press event, field consultant, Kelly Nichols attended a rally with EPA employees in Federal Plaza.

Moms Clean Air Force Illinois attended One Earth Film Fest.

Moms Clean Air Force Illinois tabled at GoGreen Wilmette Fair.

January 2017:

Moms Clean Air Force Illinois attended a rally to oppose the nomination of Scott Pruitt to head EPA.

Moms Clean Air Force Illinois members participated in the Women’s March on Chicago, part of a network of marches held across the country.

Moms Clean Air Force Illinois attended and tabled at the Highland Park Martin Luther King, Jr. Day of Service Event in Highland Park.

December 2016:

Moms Clean Air Force Illinois attended a Lake County Coalition Fundraiser Event.

Moms Clean Air Force Illinois attended a NatGeo “Years of Living Dangerously” watch party featuring CPLC coalition.

September 2016:

Moms Clean Air Force Illinois hosted a Play-In for Clean Energy at Meineke Park in Schaumburg.

Moms Clean Air Force Illinois hosted a press conference focused on the Clean Energy Incentive Program on the steps of Old St. Pat’s Church with partners: Chicago Youth Alliance for Climate Action, Faith in Place, and Respiratory Health Association.

Field organizer, Kelly Nichols taught a lesson on clean air and children’s health at the Academy for Global Citizenship to Ms. Fyffe’s 3rd grade class.

Field organizer, Kelly Nichols spoke at an Environmental Town Hall on America’s Clean Power Plan with an expert panel from ELPC, NRDC, Illinois Environmental Council, Chicago Botanic Garden, as well as State Senator Julie Morrison, State Representative Elaine Nekritz and State Representative Scott Drury.

Field organizer, Kelly Nichols attended the dedication and ribbon cutting in Altgeld Gardens on the South side of Chicago.

August 2016:

Moms Clean Air Force members testified at the Clean Energy Incentive Program (CEIP) hearing in Chicago.

June 2016:

  • Moms Clean Air Force Illinois tabled at Radish Healthy Living Fair in Davenport, Iowa.
  • Moms Clean Air Force Illinois hosted a “School’s Out Food Drive” contributing to the over 4,542 pounds of food collected by Moms Clean Air Force chapters nationwide.

May 2016:

  • Field organizer, Kelly Nichols tabled at an event at Piotrowski Park in Chicago with the Little Village Environmental Justice Organization. The event focused on clean air and concerns over diesel pollution.
  • Moms Clean Air Force Illinois attended the Highland Park Walk/Bike Fair.
  • Moms Clean Air Force Illinois presented at a Rotary Club in Moline.
  • Field organizer, Kelly Nichols presented a portion of a ReAmp webinar on grassroots tactics and approaches by C3 organizations in an election year.

April 2016:

  • Field Organizer, Kelly Nichols attended the Environmental Law and Policy Center 2016 Dinner and Celebration in Chicago. Also in attendance were many state and federal legislators (including Congresswoman Jan Schakowsky (IL 09), and Senators Dick Durbin (IL) and Elizabeth Warren (MA)). Kelly was able to meet and connect with Senator Warren who was very pleased to see Moms Clean Air Force in attendance and told Kelly that the work Moms Clean Air Force does is so very important and to keep it up.
  • Moms Clean Air Force Illinois conducted a Read-In at Gumdrops playgroup in Geneseo.
  • Moms Clean Air Force Illinois conducted a Read-In at Glencoe Public Library.
  • Moms Clean Air Force Illinois hosted an Earth Day Read in with new Geneseo Mayor Kathy Carrol-Duda at Concordia Lutheran Preschool.
  • Moms Clean Air Force Illinois tabled at Forest Park Nature Center Earth Day Festival in Peoria.
  • Moms Clean Air Force Illinois tabled at Brookfield Zoo – Party for the Planet.
  • Moms Clean Air Force Illinois presented on methane at an Earthkeepers meeting in Moline.
  • Moms Clean Air Force Illinois tabled and hosted Read-Ins at the Galena Earth Day Festival.
  • Moms Clean Air Force Illinois hosted a “Mama Summit” in Springfield.
  • Moms Clean Air Force Illinois attended Baker School Spring Fling.
  • Moms Clean Air Force hosted a Read-In at The Peace School in Chicago.

March 2016:

  • Moms Clean Air Force Illinois hosted a “Read-In” in Chicago.
  • Moms Clean Air Force Illinois hosted a Read-In with a yoga class at Gather play space in Evanston. Contact Kelly at for more info or to RSVP.
  • Moms Clean Air Force Illinois hosted a Read-In at Ravinia Nursery School.
  • Moms Clean Air Force Illinois attended GO GREEN WILMETTE’S ENVIRONMENTAL FAIR, “Sustainable Suburbs,” at Michigan Shores Club.
  • Moms Clean Air Force Illinois attended the Loyola Climate Conference.
  • Moms Clean Air Force Illinois tabled at a Merchants of Doubt screening at Nuestra Senora de Guadalupe Episcopal Church, 2415 N. Butrick, Waukegan, IL 60087.
  • Moms Clean Air Force tabled at a screening of Merchants of Doubt in Peoria sponsored by partner Central Illinois Healthy Community Alliance.
  • Moms Clean Air Force tabled at MommyCon Chicago.

February 2016:

  • Moms Clean Air Force Illinois discussed methane pollution at Metropolitan Community Church in Davenport, IA and conducted a press event and rally after the service.
  • Moms Clean Air Force Illinois hosted a Peoria Press Event to discuss clean air and healthy hearts. The press conference featured: Robin Garlish (a mom, and asthma sufferer concerned about clean air), IL State Senator David Koehler, Pastor Wayne Wickware (who will talk about how clean air affects the whole being), Crystal Yost and Kelly Nichols (talking about the importance of children’s health and clean air).
  • Moms Clean Air Force tabled at a Guster concert in Des Moines, IA where we talked about methane with concertgoers and got nearly 200 methane cards signed.
  • Moms Clean Air Force hosted a Clean Air Valentine making party at Gumdrops playgroup in Geneseo, IL.
  • Moms Clean Air Force hosted a Clean Air Valentine making party at Metropolitan Community Church in Davenport, IA.

January 2016:

  • Field organizer, Kelly Nichols traveled to Champaign, IL to present at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign on clean air, children’s health, and advocacy. She presented with Union of Concerned Scientists’ Jessica Collingsworth to an environmental law class and a public health and climate change class, taught by Warren Lavey and Dr. Holly Rosencranz, respectively.

December 2015:

  • Moms Clean Air Force tabled at the Radish Winter Wellness festival in Moline, collecting petitions from parents and pictures from Illinois and Iowa children to call on our officials to act on climate.
  • Moms Clean Air Force met with Senator Kirk’s and Durbin’s office to present them with cards drawn by Illinois children to thank them both for their commitment to protecting children’s heath through showing support for America’s Clean Power Plan

November 2015:

  • Field organizer, Crystal Yost attended and tabled at a press event entitled “Coming Together for Clean Jobs” hosted by Faith In Place and Representative Carol Ammons. Speakers included: Sen. Koehler, Rep Ammons, Harry Ohde from IBEW, Chis Nickell (American Wind Energy Management), Matt Langendorf, Plumbers and Steamfitters, Illinois Environmental Council and Sierra Club, Pastor Vance.
  • Moms Clean Air Force participated in a petition drop in Springfield and Chicago to to urge Governor Rauner to support America’s Clean Power Plan.
  • Moms Clean Air Force attended a Clean Energy Forum at Blackhawk College. Experts from several environmental organizations gave information on America’s Clean Power Plan and on the proposed Illinois Clean Jobs bill. Representative Mike Smiddy attended and provided his insight into overall energy issues in Springfield.
  • Moms Clean Air Force Illinois conducted an interview with Mayor Nadine Palmgren. The discussion focused on brainstorming ways Moms and the city of Geneseo can work together to promote renewable energy.
  • Moms Clean Air Force Illinois attended and tabled at the Black Catholic Initiative and Networks for climate and health.
  • Moms Clean Air Force Illinois hosted a happy hour and participated in an Environmental Justice forum.

October 2015:

  • Moms Clean Air Force Illinois attended and tabled at a legislative Town Hall. Senator Patricia VanPelt spoke about clean energy and clean jobs for Illinois’ future.
  • Moms Clean Air Force Illinois and local health professional visited Senator Kirk’s office in Chicago and met with staffer Robert Johnson, who was interested in working further with us and engaging Senator Kirk on climate.
  • Love UR World Summit. Field organizer, Kelly Nichols traveled to Peoria to collaborate on an event for the People’s Climate March with Sierra Club’s Beyond Coal organizer, Elizabeth Scrafford, and Girl Scout Troop 6195 leader Jenica Hopkins.
  • Field organizer, Kelly Nichols attended the Chicago People’s Climate March rally in downtown Chicago. It was amazing, with a lot of organizations collaborating and in attendance. The speakers and the buzz it generated was powerful.
  • Field organizer, Kelly Nichols attended the Women Supporting Women event with the organization Mom + Baby, where she spoke about Moms Clean Air Force.
  • Guardians of the Globe Event. Field organizer, Kelly Nichols partnered with the local Pediatric Environmental Health Specialty Unit and Respiratory Health Association to create an event for a high school (Walter Payton College Prep) teaching high schoolers about the health effects of climate change and how they could advocate for themselves.
  • Field organizer, Kelly Nichols tabled at a clean energy and clean jobs Town Hall with State Sen. Patricia VanPelt, 10/26/15. Kelly tabled at the Town Hall about clean energy and clean jobs at the Garfield Conservatory.


September 2015: 

  • Open Space Celebration. Field organizer, Kelly Nichols spoke at a rally focused on keeping Lake County out of the way of the Rte. 53 extension. Kelly spoke to the concerns the residents of Lake County have about air quality, and how it will be reduced with the influx of more traffic.
  • Field organizer, Kelly Nichols traveled to Washington, D.C. to join an Illinois/Indiana delegation to testify before the OMB on the smog and ozone level finalization. While in D.C., Kelly met with Jasmine Hunt in Sen. Durbin’s (IL) office, Congressman Dold’s (IL) staff, and did an information drop at Congressman LaHood’s office (IL) and Senator Kirk’s (IL) office.
  • Clean Energy Forum in Rockford, IL. Moms Clean Air Force Illinois co-sponsored this event along with the Union of Concerned Scientists.


August 2015:

  • America’s Clean Power Plan Climate Table Event and press conference. Field organizer, Kelly Nichols was in attendance to hear U.S. Rep. Mike Quigley, U.S. Rep. Bobby Rush and Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan and business, public health and faith leaders speak about America’s Clean Power Plan.
  • EPA Clean Truck Standards hearing. Field organizer Kelly Nichols and “Superteen” Kyla Peck testified in support of stronger regulations on diesel emissions and engine requirements in diesel vehicles. The focus was primarily on children’s health, and Kyla spoke effectively about how her severe asthma is affected by air pollution.
  • Field organizer, Kelly Nichols participated in a press event in Waukegan with partner group, Clean Power Lake County to celebrate America’s Clean Power Plan. The event was attended by Illinois State Senator Melinda Bush, the chairs of the local chapters of NAACP, and Faith in Place.
  • Field organizer, Kelly Nichols spoke at “Impactful Strategies: Supporting the Environment”, a discussion co-sponsored by Moms Clean Air Force, League of Women Voters Highland Park/Highwood, Go Green Highland Park, Alliance for the Great Lakes, and League of Women Voters Lake Michigan Region.
  • Field organizer, Kelly Nichols tabled with “Superteen” Kyla Peck at the first day of a three-day summit at Trinity Lutheran Church on the South side of Chicago.
  • Field organizer, Kelly Nichols hosted her first annual Illinois Play-In for Climate Action on Thursday, August 27. Partners included: Union of Concerned Scientists, Respiratory Health Association, Illinois Environmental Council, Faith in Place, and Elevate Energy. The crowd of over 40 people gathered in Union Park in downtown Chicago to show support for America’s Clean Power Plan and call for clean energy solutions that improve our state’s air quality and improve children’s health. A press conference with speakers Brian Urbaszewski (Respiratory Health Association), “Superteen” Kyla Peck, Pastor Booker Vance (Faith in Place), and Kelly Nichols followed the kid-friendly fun.


July 2015:

  • Moms Clean Air Force Illinois co-hosted and organized a Clean Air and Climate Awareness picnic at a public park in Waukegan, Illinois. The event was co-hosted with Clean Power Lake County.
  • 14 Illinoisans attended Moms Clean Air Force’s Play In for Climate Action in Washington, D.C.–including Cheryl Johnson, daughter of Hazel Johnson, Mother of the Environmental Justice movement, who spoke at the press conference. Illinois attendees had the opportunity to voice concerns about air quality and America’s Clean Power Plan with the offices of Senators Kirk and Durbin.

May 2015: Mama Summit 2015 | Moms Clean Air Force Illinois members gathered at the state capitol in Springfield to call on elected officials to take action climate change. Parents met with lawmakers from both sides of the aisle to discuss reducing carbon dioxide emissions, fixing the broken Renewable Portfolio Standard in Illinois, and improving local air quality. The press conference featured powerhouse supermoms Carrie Woodruff and Robin Garlish, who spoke about their children, both of whom suffer from severe asthma. Participants met with Governor Rauner’s adviser for energy and the environment — who reportedly was still wearing his “Mompartisan” button the next day!

May 2015: “Sneezing and Wheezing” Press Conference. Moms Clean Air Force Illinois field organizer, Kelly Nichols spoke at this press conference regarding the release of the NRDC’s “Sneezing and Wheezing” Report about Climate Change and allergies.

April 2015: Moms and Docs Roundtable – Loyola University Chicago – Moms Clean Air Force Supermom, Carrie Woodruff, represented Moms Clean Air Force at the Moms and Docs Roundtable. She spoke to audience members about climate change and health.

May 2014: Mama Summit 2014 | Moms Clean Air Force Illinois members gathered at the state capitol in Springfield to call on elected officials to take action climate change.


Bruce Rauner

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US Senate

Dick Durbin

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Environmental Scorecard

Tammy Duckworth

Contact information:

  • G12 Dirksen Senate Office Building
    Washington, DC 20510
  • Email: Contact form
  • Phone: (202) 224-2854
  • Twitter: @SenDuckworth

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US House of Representatives

Bobby Rush (District 1)

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Robin Kelly (District 2)

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Dan Lipinski (District 3)

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Luis Gutierrez (District 4)

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Mike Quigley (District 5)

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Peter Roskam (District 6)

Contact information:

  • 2700 International Drive
    Suite 304
    West Chicago, IL 60185
  • Email: Contact form
  • Phone: (630) 232-0006
  • Twitter: @PeterRoskam

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Danny K. Davis (District 7)

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Raja Krishnamoorthi (District 8)

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Jan Schakowsky (District 9)

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Bradley Schneider (District 10)

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Bill Foster (District 11)

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Mike Bost (District 12)

  • 23 Public Square
    Suite 404
    Belleville, IL 62220
  • Email: Contact form
  • Phone: (618) 233-8026
  • Twitter: @HouseGOP

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Rodney Davis (District 13)

Contact information:

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Randy Hultgren (District 14)

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John Shimkus (District 15)

  • 201 North Vermilion Street
    Suite 218
    Danville, IL 61832
  • Email: Contact form
  • Phone: (217) 446-0664
  • Twitter: @RepShimkus

Environmental Scorecard

Adam Kinzinger (District 16)

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Cheri Bustos (District 17) 

  • 3100 N. Knoxville Ave.
    Suite 205
    Peoria, IL 61603
  • Email: Contact form
  • Phone: (309) 966-1813
  • Twitter: @RepCheri

Environmental Scorecard

Darin LaHood (District 18)

  • 100 NE Monroe Street
    Room 100
    Peoria, IL 61602
  • Email: Contact form
  • Phone: (309) 671-7027
  • Twitter: @RepLaHood

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Take a look at what we’ve been up to in Illinois:


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