Chicago’s City Council Steps up to Fight Coal Pollution
by Kelly Mitchell
This morning, one hundred people gathered at Chicago’s City Hall to announce the reintroduction of the Clean Power Ordinance. This precedent-setting city law would require Edison International’s Fisk and Crawford coal plants to drastically reduce soot and CO2 emissions – forcing either costly retrofits or the closure of these aging plants.
While press conferences aren’t always the most exciting affairs, today’s announcement marks a major milestone in the effort to hold the coal industry accountable for its toxic legacy.
Fisk and Crawford are some of the oldest coal plants in the country, located in the heart of Chicago. More people live near these two plants than any other coal plants in the country, and the pollution is contributing to premature deaths, heart disease, asthma attacks, and climate change. Edison International, the owner, has elected to put its short-term profits ahead of the lives of Chicago residents.
That’s about to change.
For almost ten years, citizens have been standing up to this company and demanding their right to clean air. Recently, Greenpeace activists scaled the Fisk smokestack to paint the message “Quit Coal,” while another team of activists blocked a coal shipment heading to the Crawford plant. From petitions to direct action, the people of Chicago have made it clear that coal has no place in their city.
When the Clean Power Ordinance was originally introduced last year, only nine Aldermen stepped up as co-sponsors. Today, 31 Aldermen have put their name behind this bill, just a few votes shy of a two-thirds majority in City Council. That didn’t happen by accident. Because of the tireless work of citizen-activists, tackling coal pollution is now a priority issue in Chicago.
Edison International has the moral obligation to close Fisk and Crawford. Corporate profits shouldn’t cost lives. Until then, the City of Chicago and Mayor Emmanuel must hold this company accountable and set strict limits for coal plant pollution.
Today’s announcement demonstrates that when people fight with conviction and determination, our leaders have to listen.
UPDATE: The momentum keeps on building! Since this morning, three more aldermen have joined the fight, bringing our total co-sponsors to 34.