On Thursday July 28, the City Council reviewed the Chicago Clean Power Ordinance and it received enough votes to pass! As I mentioned in my event announcement a few days ago, this ordinance has been backed by Alderman Joe Moore and Daniel Solis as well as much support from local environmental groups such as Sierra Club and the Chicago Clean Power Coalition.
According to the Chicago Clean Power Coalition website, “the ordinance now has 34 cosponsors, a majority of the City Council including 9 newly elected aldermen. An ordinance requires 26 votes to become law.” It is backed by 60 different groups from across the city which includes not only environmental and health groups but community and labor groups as well. These coal plants are a wide reaching issue.
GREEN ALDERMEN STAND UP FOR CHICAGO
Even though the Clean Power Ordinance has been continuously gaining support from new aldermen since it first was presented back in April 2010, the measure was turned down for a formal hearing for over a year and was withheld until recently with the new City Council and mayor.
Alderman Joe Moore points out one of the major compelling points about this issue: ”The coal burned at these plants is mined in Wyoming, the power is sold out of state, the profits go to a company in California, and Chicago is left with one thing – the pollution. This is the year Chicagoans will win the right to breathe clean air.”
According to information from the Environmental Law & Policy Center, “since the ordinance was first introduced in April 2010, the Fisk and Crawford plants pumped over 10,000 tons of sulfur dioxide, 2,500 tons of nitrogen oxides and 4.6 million tons of carbon dioxide into Chicago’s air. According to the National Research Council, the pollution from Fisk and Crawford results in over $120 million a year in health-related costs.”
Alderman Danny Solis, who calls himself Chicago’s “greenest” alderman, is in agreement with Moore on the health risks these two outdated plants are to Chicago residents: “There is no doubt that these coal power plants need to be cleaned up immediately to protect the fundamental health and safety of our communities. I am proud to have played a leading role in sponsoring the Clean Power Ordinance. I thank my colleagues for joining me in support of this important ordinance.”
NEW MAYOR GETS TOUGH ON DIRTY PLANTS
Mayor Emanuel worked on the ordinance proposal with Alderman Moore and wants to send a message to Midwest Generation who owns the two plants, Fisk and Crawford. As quoted in the Chicago Tribune, Emanuel states, “We are paying a health care cost as a city because of the plants. I want them as a company to be a responsible citizen to the people of the city of Chicago. I’m happy there are jobs there. I got that, but those jobs should not come at the expense of the public health cost to our children and to our taxpayers. And I’m planning on having that conversation with them.”
The nature of the ordinance would require the company to convert to natural gas, cut their operating hours or shut down both plants within four years. Midwest Generation has made no secret of its attempts to fight the Clean Power Ordinance, They have hired environmental consultants, lobbyists and a PR firm to fight the facts of the ordinance and to attempt to dissuade members of the City Council. They have previously stated that they would “delay” installing any improvements for as long as possible. What a surprise right? But why? Even though they generated $357 million in revenue in 2010, they still won’t install improvements even though they have the money. Makes you think they don’t care about the pollution and health issues they create here in Chicago. And why would they? They make their money elsewhere not here in Chicago.
Chicagoans, what do you think? Do we need a company here doesn’t even care about the local issues it creates? We don’t need them here. It seems like there is no reason to keep these plants running and negatives are very obvious. It is time for Fisk and Crawford to retire! And like Alderman Moore stated – it is our year to breathe clean air. Curious about which Aldermen are on the “green team” and are in favor the ordinance? Check the list and see if your Alderman is a supporter.
Thank God men cannot fly, and lay waste the sky as well as the earth. ~Henry David Thoreau