CHICAGO - Midwest Generation, a subsidiary of Edison International, will retire its Fisk and Crawford coal plants, two of the oldest and dirtiest coal-fired power plants in the nation. This agreement marks an historic victory for a decade-long grassroots campaign to protect Chicago residents from the harmful impacts of coal pollution. According to agreements signed by Midwest Generation, the Clean Power Coalition, and the City of Chicago, the Fisk coal plant in Pilsen will shut down in 2012 and the Crawford coal plant in Little Village will shut down by 2014.
“Today’s victory demonstrates that people shouldn’t have to tolerate toxic polluters in their backyard,” said Rosalie Mancera of Pilsen Alliance. “By working with our neighbors and elected officials, Chicagoans have finally won the right to breathe clean air.”
For over ten years, thousands of Chicago residents have called on government officials and Midwest Generation to shut down the Fisk and Crawford plants. Community organizations in Pilsen and Little Village joined with environmental, health, faith, and labor groups to form the Clean Power Coalition, launching a groundbreaking grassroots campaign to make Chicago a coal-free city. In the last year, thirty-five aldermen and Mayor Rahm Emanuel took on the cause.
“For over ten years our communities have been fighting for the right to breathe clean air, clean land and clean water. Today we are ending over 100 years of pollution for profits and showing the power of community,” said Kimberly Wasserman of LVEJO. “Hopefully, this is the first of many victories in Illinois, as citizens and politicians come together to hold corporate polluters accountable and usher in a clean energy future.”
The agreement also called for the creation of a community advisory council to address issues such as the toxicity and future use of the sites.
“Fisk and Crawford have been polluting Chicago neighborhoods for over 100 years,” said Jerry Mead-Lucero of PERRO. “Our work is not over when the plants close. Midwest Generation and the City of Chicago must continue working to ensure these sites are properly cleaned up and returned to safe, productive use for our communities.”
The retirement of Fisk and Crawford will deliver substantial public health benefits. Researchers from the Clean Air Task Force found that pollution from Fisk and Crawford causes 42 premature deaths, 66 heart attacks and 720 asthma attacks each year. One in four Chicagoans lives within a three-mile radius of the smokestacks.
The Chicago Clean Power Coalition is a growing group of organizations fighting for clean air, including: Chicago Youth Climate Coalition, Eco-Justice Collaborative. Environmental Law and Policy Center, Environment Illinois, Greenpeace, Faith in Place, Illinois Student Environmental Coalition, Little Village Environmental Justice Organization, Nuclear Energy Information Service, Pilsen Alliance, Pilsen Environmental Rights and Reform Organization, Protestants for the Common Good, Rainforest Action Network Chicago, Respiratory Health Association of Metropolitan Chicago, Doctor’s Council SEIU, Sierra Club, and the Southeast Environmental Task Force.
In response to today’s news, members of the Chicago Clean Power Coalition said:
"Those of us who serve patients from the communities most affected by the emissions from these coal plants are thrilled that, soon, these threats to the health of the public will no longer exist. Future generations of our fellow Chicagoans will live with cleaner air and less damage to their respiratory health. Not only will this save money from fewer medical visits to doctor's offices and emergency rooms, but this agreement will save lives. The physicians at Doctors Council SEIU thanks the Coalition, the Community, Alderman Solis and Midwest Generation for working together to put the health of the communities first in agreeing to close Fisk and Crawford for good."
Ravi Grivois-Shah, MD MPH, Doctor’s Council SEIU
“This is a major victory for the people of Chicago! With the closure of the Fisk & Crawford coal plants, our city takes a bold step away from dirty energy and the harm it brings to human health, while at the same time opening the way for a clean energy future. We look forward to working with community groups and the City to ensure that these sites are cleaned up and restored for safe, productive uses."
Pam Richart, Eco Justice Collaborative
“Chicago families have spoken: We have the right to breathe clean air, and we aren’t willing to tolerate old, dirty coal plants in Chicago neighborhoods that harm our health and foul our air,” says Faith Bugel, Senior Attorney with the Environmental Law & Policy Center (ELPC). “This victory means cleaner air, cleaner water, cleaner energy, and a safer environment for us all.”
“This is a victory for the people of Chicago, who have demonstrated that grassroots activism is more powerful than the special interests of corporate polluters. We hope other communities across the country will find new inspiration to stand up for their right to clean air and a safe climate. “
Kelly Mitchell, Greenpeace Coal Campaigner
"Today's announcement means that the residents of Chicago will breathe cleaner air and live healthier lives for generations to come. This is a victory not only for those who have worked so hard over the past decade, but also for the youth who will grow up in a better environment." Laura Knezevic, ISEC
“Today is a great victory for the hundreds of thousands of people in the Chicago area living with lung disease and their families,” said Brian Urbaszewski, Director of Environmental Health at Respiratory Health Association of Metropolitan Chicago. “Pollution from the Chicago coal power plants has harmed too many people for far too long. Eliminating soot and smog from the plants will allow all Chicagoans to breathe easier.”
"Chicagoans can breathe easier thanks to Mayor Emanuel's leadership in closing these old, polluting coal plants, " said Jack Darin, Director of the Sierra Club, Illinois Chapter. "Mayor Emanuel knows that moving Chicago from coal to clean energy works for all of us, and we applaud him for his efforts to bring cleaner air to Pilsen, Little Village, and all of Chicago.