Communities in Illinois have been fighting coal pollution for years, recently scoring a huge victory when Edison International agreed to shut down the Fisk and Crawford coal plants in Chicago. Unfortunately, Edison still operates a fleet of aging coal plants in IL, with no confirmed plans to shut them all down.
While many residents live a literal stones throw away from Edison smokestacks, the executives with the power to decide the fate of these plants live hundreds of miles away, in Southern California.
Today, Illinois residents were able to bring their message directly to Edisons home turf.
This morning, Edison International executives and top investors gathered at the San Gabriel Hilton for their annual shareholder meeting. If youve never been to one of these meetings, know that CEOs engineer these things to show the company in its best light to assure the public that everything is under control, the company is a sound investment, and profits are stable.
However, for those most impacted by coal plant pollution, this meeting became an opportunity to directly communicate with the people holding their lives in the balance. And Greenpeace and our partners at the Sierra Club were on hand to make sure that investors understood what a dangerous investment coal plants are both for the people breathing in toxic pollution, and for Edison Internationals balance sheets.
While a large crowd rallied outside the Hilton, community members from Citizens Against Ruining the Environment (CARE) -who live down the street from Edisons Will County coal plant - confronted executives inside the meeting. They shared stories from their neighbors who are suffering from asthma and other severe health problems, stories CEO Ted Craver may never hear from his office in California. And they hand delivered over 6000 petition signatures calling for Edison to go coal-free.
Financial analysts from Fitch to Morningstar have written on the financial risks plaguing Edisons coal fleet. These plants are not profitable in todays energy economy. Even Mr. Craver will admit that there is a rocky road ahead for merchant coal power in the Midwest. However, even if these plants were raking in cash, Edison executives have a moral obligation to protect public health and the environment. And that means shutting down some of the oldest and dirtiest coal plants in the country.
Real change happens when people speak truth to power. And today, those in power at Edison International had to hear, firsthand, the difficult truth about how their coal plants are hurting people and profits.
Greenpeace is calling on Edison International to:
- Make no new investments in coal-fired power plants
- Set retirement dates for the rest of your Illinois coal fleet by the end of the year
- Commit all future Edison Mission Energy investments to renewable energy and energy efficiency projects and not coal
Add your voice here.
Kelly Mitchell is the Climate and Energy Campaign Director for Greenpeace, based in Chicago. Since 2006, she has worked with activists and organizations across the country to confront corporate polluters and transform U.S. energy policy. She currently leads Greenpeace's campaign for an economy powered by 100 percent renewable energy, pushing some of the largest companies in the world to embrace wind and solar and working alongside communities to develop a just and democratic energy system.