Chicago Clean Power Ordinance Introduced with Backing of New City Council!

Chicago Clean Power Ordinance Introduced with Backing of New City Council!

Support from 31 cosponsors means progress for cleaner air in Chicago

The Chicago Clean Power Ordinance was introduced today with enough votes to pass City Council. Aldermen Joe Moore and Daniel Solis announced that the ordinance has 31 cosponsors, a majority of the city council including 7 newly elected aldermen. The ordinance, which would drastically reduce pollution from the Fisk and Crawford coal plants, is backed by a grassroots campaign of over 60 community, health, labor and environmental groups from across the city.

“The coal burned at these plants is mined in Wyoming, the power is sold out of state, the profits go to a company in California, and Chicago is left with one thing – the pollution,” said Aldermen Joe Moore. “This is the year Chicagoans will win the right to breathe clean air.”

“There is no doubt, that these coal power plants need to be cleaned up immediately to protect the fundamental health and safety of our communities. I am proud to have played a leading role in sponsoring the Clean Power Ordinance. I thank my 31 colleagues for joining me in support of this important ordinance.” said Alderman Danny Solis.

Mayor Emanuel has also shown support for the Clean Power Ordinance. The Mayor stated that “Midwest Generation must clean up these two plants,” and in a recent online town hall he told constituents “I’m for the clean power ordinance.”

The Fisk and Crawford coal plants are owned by Midwest Generation, a subsidiary of the California-based Edison International. 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 live within a three-mile radius of the smokestacks.

The Clean Power Ordinance was first introduced in April 2010. The measure gained support from a majority of the City Council but was denied a formal committee hearing until April 2011, when a vote was deferred to the current administration.

During that year of delay, Midwest Generation’s Fisk and Crawford plants pumped over 10,000 tons of sulfur dioxide, 2,500 tons of nitrogen oxides and 4.6 million tons of carbon dioxide into Chicago’s air. One year of pollution from Fisk and Crawford creates health damages cost the public over $120 million, according to the National Research Council.

“Air pollution from these plants takes a toll on everyone living around them, and it impacts kids, the elderly and people living with lung disease the most,” said Robert Cohen, MD. “The CDC recently announced that 1 in 6 black children has asthma – an astounding 50 percent increase of prevalence in the last decade. We cannot continue putting our children at risk because of these dirty, old coal plants.”

Midwest Generation has made no secret of its attempts to fight the Clean Power Ordinance. The company paid environmental consultants to challenge the health cost findings of the National Research Council, enlisted the help of 6 lobbyists and a public relations firm to influence members of the City Council. Midwest Generation generated $357 million in revenue in 2010 but has resisted installing additional pollution controls on its coal plants. According to its SEC filings, the company plans to defer decisions about installing pollution controls for the “maximum time available.”

The Chicago Clean Power Coalition, a grassroots campaign with no full-time staff, has gained the support of Aldermen and the public by relying on recent scientific research on the health damage caused by coal plant pollution and the personal experience of citizens who live near the plants.

EJC is a founding member of the coalition.  Visit the Chicago Clean Power Coalition’s website for more.

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