Chicago Tells Leaders: “Get to work” on Clean air, Climate

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CHICAGO CITIZENS TELL LEADERS:
TIME TO “GET TO WORK!” ON CLEAN AIR, CLIMATE

Chicago Clean Power Ordinance Supporters Rally in Chicago
As One of Over 7,000 Simultaneous Climate Events in 188 Countries

CHICAGOFor the second consecutive year, Chicagoans rallied on the International Day of Climate Action to send a strong message to their leaders: this time, “GET TO WORK!” on clean air and climate change.  The Chicago Clean Power Coalition (CCPC) rally at the Alivio Medical Center in Pilsen drew hundreds of Chicagoans, and is one of more than 7,000 simultaneous actions worldwide conducted as part of the International Day of Climate Action, the largest day of global climate action ever organized.

CCPC organizers called on Chicago Aldermen and Mayor Daley to enact the Chicago Clean Power Ordinance, announced at the 2009 Rally by Ald. Joe Moore (49th), and introduced in April, 2010.  It is designed to reduce harmful air pollution from Chicago’s largest point source of carbon-dioxide (CO2) – the 100 year old Fisk and Crawford coal-fired power plants, in Pilsen and Little Village respectively, owned by Midwest Generation.  To date, fourteen Chicago Aldermen have signed on as co-sponsors of the Clean Power Ordinance.

“We’re here today because people in Chicago are doing their part to fight climate change. We understand that we must break our dependence on coal – now we need our leaders to join the fight” said Edyta Sitko, Greenpeace Field Organizer in Chicago. “Greenpeace is excited to be a part of the Chicago Clean Power Day of Action because as a country we are at a point where we must say ‘enough is enough’. We refuse to allow coal companies like Midwest Generation to determine the future of our communities.”

“We must take the steps necessary to become true advocates for the environment and help all Chicagoans who live with the after effects of the polluting coal plants,” said 32nd Ward Alderman Waguespack, a co-sponsor of the Ordinance.  “As I have stated before, the pollution from coal plant particulates doesn’t stop at ward borders, they go across the entire city, across the Midwest, and across the entire world.  Everyone is affected and everyone, especially elected officials in Chicago, must have concern for the future well being of all our citizens.”

A Harvard School of Public Health study found that emissions from these two plants annually cause 41 premature deaths, 550 emergency room visits and 2,800 asthma attacks. The effects are larger the closer one lives to the plants.  Local residents and activists attribute numerous adverse health effects to the continued operation of the Fisk coal plant in Pilsen, and the Crawford coal plant in Little Village, prompting CCPC organizer groups PERRO* and LVEJO** to actively campaign for the closure of the polluting Fisk and Crawford coal plants.

Both the Alivio Center and the Fisk coal plant are in the 25th ward of Ald. Danny Solis, who has refused to support efforts to pass the Clean Power Ordinance.  A review of campaign donation records by CCPC member group PERRO revealed that Ald. Solis has received  almost $50,000 in contributions since 1999 from Midwest Generation  (Source: online at http://tinyurl.com/solis-midwestgen.)

“It’s time for Ald. Solis and the rest of the Chicago City Council to finally ‘get to work’ for the benefit of the people of Pilsen and Chicago,” notes Jerry Mead-Lucero, of PERRO.  “Ald. Ricky Muňoz (22nd) has the Crawford coal plant in his district, and supports this Ordinance.  What are the rest of Chicago’s Aldermen waiting for?” Mead-Lucero wonders.

“This is an international day of action on climate,” observed Pam Richart of Eco-Justice Collaborative, a Coalition member group. “Urgent action.  Fisk and Crawford are Chicago’s largest stationary sources of global warming pollution – emitting the CO2  equivalent of nearly 875,000 cars.  Their clean-up would be a major step towards reducing Chicago’s carbon footprint.  We don’t have time to wait for state or federal governments – they have failed us before.  Chicago has the home-rule authority to clean up these plants, and should,” Richart asserts.

Government is beginning to move on the clean-air/climate connection.  Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn has already gotten to work, using this day to install photovoltaic cells donated by Chicago-area solar energy firms to the roof of the Governor’s Mansion.   “We must do everything we can to increase our use of solar energy, which will help us protect natural resources and reduce our reliance on traditional energy sources,”  said the Governor.

Back in Chicago CCPC organizers hope that Mayor Daley will want to add a truly monumental contribution to his “green legacy” by supporting and finally signing the Clean Power Ordinance before he leaves office.

“The next mayor of Chicago will ultimately decide whether the city will remain beholden to deadly Model-T-era coal-fired plants or be a national leader in the clean energy future,” maintains energy activist and Huffington blogger Jeff Biggers, who spoke at the Rally.

“Mayor Daley’s support for this Ordinance would be a lasting contribution that would far outlive all the flower planters and trees he is responsible for,” said Angie Viands of Rainforest Action Network Chicago.  “The gift of clean, healthful air would be a priceless parting gift to leave the people of Chicago.”

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The CCPC Event: ( 12:30 p.m., Sunday Oct. 10, 2010; Alivio Medical Center, 966 West 21st Street , Pilsen, Chicago)

The CCPC Rally was the largest International Day of Climate Action event in Chicago.

Speakers from the stage included:

  • Jeff Biggers, energy activist, author of Reckoning at Eagle Creek, and Huffington Post writer
  • Jerry Mead-Lucero, PERRO
  • Edyta Sitko, Greenpeace Chicago
  • Dr. Sarah Pressman-Lovinger, Director of Physicians for Social Responsibility Chicago, and  Huffington Post contributor
  • James Gignac, Sierra Club’s Midwest Director of its National Coal Campaign

Photos and video clips from around the US and world will be available at:  http://www.350.org/en/media

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The Chicago Clean Power Coalitionhttp://cleanpowerchicago.org/ )  consists of: over 50 environmental, community and business organization in Chicago.  It’s coordinating committee consists of:  Eco-Justice Collaborative, Environmental Law & Policy Center, Greenpeace, **Little Village Environmental Justice Organization, Nuclear Energy Information Service, *Pilsen Environmental Rights & Reform Organization , Rainforest Action Network, Chicago, Respiratory Health Association of Metropolitan Chicago,  Sierra Club, Topless America.

Its Mission is to build a clean energy future for Chicago by:

  • Replacing fossil fuel energy with clean, safe and renewable energy sources
  • Promoting energy conservation and efficiency and reduce energy demand in Chicago
  • Promoting green job development centered on conservation, efficiency and clean energy technologies
  • Securing an eco-just and equitable clean energy future

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