Action Alert! Attention eco-conscious Chicagoans here is your chance to support some local environmental action! On Thursday, July 28th, 9:15am at Chicago City Hall Council Chambers- 2nd Floor 121 N. LaSalle St. Chicago, IL., Chicago City Council Alderman Joe Moore (49th ward) and Alderman Danny Solis (25th ward) will reintroduce the Clean Power Ordinance. This legislation would limit the life-taking pollution that comes out of the Fisk and Crawford coal plants and set a national precedent for a municipality to regulate carbon emissions.
It was only two months ago that Greenpeace activists climbed the Fisk 450-foot smokestack to send a message to shut down the dangerous plants. They descended down the Pulaski Bridge with a banner that blocked a coal river barge near the Crawford plant and painted “Quit Coal” on the Fisk smokestack. Local residents stood in solidarity with the activists who camped out on the towering smokestack for 26 hours. Even local long time Chicago newscaster Walter Jacobson is on the side of the Greenpeace activists considering the old power plants.
Why should we support this ordinance? According to the Chicago Clean Power Coalition:
- Fisk and Crawford are Chicago’s largest sources of particulate-forming air pollution and are two of Chicago’s largest contributors to climate change, emitting as much CO2 as nearly 1.3 million cars.
- One in four Chicagoans live within a three-mile radius of the smokestacks. Chicago has the highest concentration of people living near coal plants in the nation, and 83% of those living within three miles of Fisk and Crawford are non-white. Those living closest to these plants are most affected, resulting in missed school days and work absenteeism.
- Pollution from Chicago’s two coal plants has created up to $1 billion in health and related damages in the last 8 years.
- Pollution from Edison’s Fisk and Crawford causes 42 premature deaths, 66 heart attacks and 720 asthma attacks each year. Additionally they release over 5 million tons of CO2 pollution, the equivalent of over 870,000 cars on the road.
- The coal burned at these plants is mined in Wyoming, the power is sold out of state and the profits go to a company in California, and Chicago is left with one thing – the pollution.
- Particulate matter from these plants impairs visibility and contributes to lung cancer, heart attacks, premature deaths, acute and chronic bronchitis, emergency room visits, asthma and other respiratory illnesses.
- ComEd testified before the ICC that it plans to build new transmission lines by 2011. Once these new lines are in place, Fisk and Crawford will no longer be needed to stabilize the electrical grid.
- Chicago has the authority to act. The City already has regulated air pollutants and particulate matter through its Air Quality Ordinance.
- Climate change, caused by CO2, will cause negative health and environmental impacts in Chicago. Reducing global warming pollution will significantly cut Chicagoʼs carbon footprint – keeping Chicago in the running for the ʻGreenest City in Americaʼ.
Those are a lot of interesting points to consider. Besides the obvious health, environmental and economic costs to our city, we want to keep Chicago on the “green energy” path, not the “brown” one. Former Mayor Daley spoke often about how he wished for Chicago to be a green leader in the nation we should not take a step back here. Chicago should remain on the path of the cutting edge – and let’s not “greenwash” our brown energy with a coal gasification plant. Also once ComEd builds the new transmissions lines, these plants will be obsolete.
According to P.E.R.R.O, Pilsen Environmental Rights and Reform Organization,“the Fisk Generating Station at 1111 W. Cermak (in Pilsen) and the Crawford Generating Station at 3501 S. Pulaski (in Little Village) are owned by Midwest Generation, a subsidiary of California-based Edison International, a corporation which sells electricity to Commonwealth Edison. None of the power generated at Fisk and Crawford is actually sold to Illinois utilities, but rather is used to maintain reliability of the electrical grid during peak times. Chicago residents are therefore bearing the ill health effects of dirty plants that send their product elsewhere. “
It seems unfair that the local residents are paying, in so many ways, for dirty power that is “outsourced”. So, if you live in or near one of these neighborhoods (or even if you don’t) and you care about keeping Chicago green for any one of the many reasons above, please consider taking some action to show support for this ordinance and let’s keep Chicago on the “green path” to local clean, sustainable, renewable energy.
“I’d put my money on the sun and solar energy. What a source of power! I hope we don’t have to wait ’til oil and coal run out before we tackle that.”~ Thomas Edison (1847–1931)