How to Quit Coal in 30 Seconds

Beautiful time-lapse footage of activists painting "Quit Coal" on the smokestack of Chicago's Fisk coal-fired power plant.

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Update 7:45 am CT 5/25/2011: After over 26 hours, and painting “Quit Coal” in giant letters, activists occupying the smokestack of Chicago’s Fisk coal plant have decided to come down. The demand that Edison International close down Fisk and Crawford coal plants continues.

Update 7:30 am CT 5/25/2011: Yesterday, after stopping a coal barge from delivering coal to Chicago’s Crawford coal plant by rappelling off Pulaski Bridge, eight activists were arrested.

Update 5:09 PM CT 5/24/2011:
The banner hang off the Pulaski Bridge has blocked a coal barge. Dangling above the water, the presence of the activists prevented the coal barge from passing.

Update 4:54 PM CT 5/24/2011:
Greenpeace activists have rappelled off the Pulaski Bridge, near the Crawford coal plant in the neighborhood of Little Village. They are displaying a banner that said “We can stop coal” and “Nosotros podemos parar el carbόn.”  

From the bridge, the activists proclaimed to Edison International that people have the right to choose clean energy for their communities.  They demanded that Edison International shut down the Fisk and Crawford plants.

Update 4:00pm CT 5/24/2011:
After scaling the smokestack at Chicago’s Fisk coal plant, and occupying its elevated platforms for 10 hours, activists began painting the stack.

It's time to Quit Coal Chicago

The morning of May 24, 2011, before dawn, eight Greenpeace activists climbed the 450 foot smokestack at the Fisk power plant in Chicago. They are now staying up there to demand its operator shut down the dirty, dangerous Fisk and Crawford coal plants.

Running for more than 50 years, the Fisk and Crawford plants are among the oldest in the United States. More people, nearly one in four Chicagoans, live in range of these plants than any other coal plant in America.

Coal fired power plants kill between 13,000 and 34,000 people a year from for heart disease, cancer, and respiratory illness. That staggering figure includes 42 Chicagoans impacted by Fisk and Crawford. That’s why the communities surrounding the plants in Pilsen and Little Village, have been working to shut down these plant for years.

Its time its operator, Edison International, respect Chicago’s right to healthy communities and do just that.

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Greenpeace activists install model windmills on the Michigan Avenue bridge over the Chicago River in downtown Chicago.

Chicago Police inspect Greenpeace installed

Image | April 21, 2009 at 19:00

Chicago Police inspect Greenpeace installed model windmills on the Michigan Avenue Bridge over the Chicago River in downtown Chicago

Chicago Police inspect Greenpeace installed

Image | April 21, 2009 at 19:00

Chicago Police inspect Greenpeace installed model windmills on the Michigan Avenue Bridge over the Chicago River in downtown Chicago

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Ten years ago, communities in Chicago began speaking out against the health impacts of the Fisk and Crawford coal-fired power plants. A study released in 2001 by the Harvard School of Public Health confirmed that Fisk and Crawford were responsible for over 40 premature deaths and hundreds of asthma attacks every year. Other Studies, including one by the Clean Air Task Force in 2010 reaffirmed this continuing injustice.

In the decade since, community groups in Pilsen and Little Village, where the two coal plants are located, have been fighting back. When a city ordinance was introduced in 2006 to limit nitrogen and sulfur emissions, hundreds of residents in affected neighborhoods got involved, but the ordinance never got out of committee. In October 2009, Greenpeace and over 50 community groups and 500 people marched on the Fisk plant demanding it's closure. During the demonstration 8 activists were arrested for blockading the road leading to the plant. Six months later, in April 2010 Alderman Joe Moore introduced a the Chicago Clean Power Ordinance to drastically reduce emissions from both Fisk and Crawford.

Over the next year 56 organizations, including Greenpeace, organized thousands of residents in Chicago to demand the Clean Power Ordinance (CPO) be passed as the minimum the City of Chicago can do to protect residents from the plants' harmful emissions. After over a year of events, community meetings, lobbying of City Council members, and local, and national media coverage, the CPO finally made it to a hearing. On April 20th, the day before the hearing, six Chicago residents scaled the huge pile of coal at Crawford and demanded the plant be shut down. Unfortunately, the next day the Chicago City Council decided to postpone a vote on the Ordinance, claiming the issue needed more scrutiny.

Since the Clean Power Ordinance was introduced just over a year ago, the Fisk and Crawford have been responsible for as many as 720 asthma attacks, 66 heart attacks and 42 deaths. How many more people will die or become sick before city officials decide enough is enough?