Chicago City Council: Shut Down the Fisk and Crawford Coal Plants

by Kelly Mitchell

February 14, 2011

Children playing in Dvorak Park, with the Fisk coal plant in the background.

While our Coal Free Future Tour has focused on coal-fighting communities along the East Coast, there are powerful examples of citizen activism happening across the country. One such example is the fight to shut down the Fisk and Crawford coal-fired power plants in Chicago.

In the heart of that city, the Fisk and Crawford plants stand as monuments to the destructive power of the coal industry. For decades, these plants have pumped out toxic pollutants like SO2, NOx, mercury, and soot. Children living in the Little Village and Pilsen communities surrounding these plants suffer from a 44% asthma rate. According to a Clean Air Task Force study, pollution from Fisk and Crawford kills 40 people every year.

This video summarizes the serious impacts.

Last year, the city took an important step toward closing the plants with the introduction of the Clean Power Ordinance: a bill that would force Midwest Generation (the plants’ owner-operator) to dramatically cut emissions – likely forcing the closure of these relics.

Unfortunately, the Ordinance has sat in Council chambers for nine months, waiting for a hearing and a vote. Behind the scenes, the Daley administration has been wheeling and dealing to block progress. And in that time, 30 people have died as a result of smokestack pollution.

The residents of Little Village and Pilsen, and their allies throughout the city, have decided they won’t wait any longer for a fair hearing. A broad coalition of groups, including Greenpeace, is holding a People’s Hearing today in City Hall. Experts will provide testimony on the impacts of these plants. Community members are lining up to tell their story of how these plants have affected their lives.

The Daley administration cannot delay justice forever. Today, the voices of the people – once silenced – will be heard.

It’s not too late for Mayor Daley and the City Council to get this right. City Council must pass the Clean Power Ordinance and call for the closure of Fisk and Crawford. Chicago’s next mayor must make closing these plants a priority for his or her administration.

Kelly Mitchell

By Kelly Mitchell

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.

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