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Closing the Cloud Factories

Closing the Cloud Factories

Lessons from the fight to shut down Chicago’s Coal Plants
Book reading and discussion with author / journalist Kari Lydersen

The closing of Chicago’s coal plants is a fascinating story on many levels, a story that continues two years after the historic shutdown.

Join EJC and other organizations who participated in the campaign to close Chicago’s coal plants  to hear author / journalist Kari Lydersen reads from her latest book:  Closing the Cloud Factories: Lessons from the fight to shut down Chicago’s Coal Plants (Monday June 16 , at 7:30 pm).

This book documents the stories of neighborhood activist and their years-long struggle against two of the city’s biggest polluters. A discussion will follow selected readings.

Closing the Cloud Factories Release June 16

Click for Flier – Closing the Cloud Factories Release June 16

About Closing the Cloud Factories:
At the turn of the millennium, the Fisk and Crawford power plants in Chicago had declined from workhorses of the Industrial Revolution to arcane relics—more notorious for polluting the nearby Pilsen and Little Village neighborhoods than for providing electricity.

Author, journalist, and Pilsen resident Kari Lydersen tells the story of how a fragmented coalition of neighborhood activists, national environmental groups, and city leaders came together to close the coal plants down for good. Richly detailed and expertly reported, The Cloud Factories chronicles a groundbreaking victory in the environmental and social justice movements, and how neighborhood activists helped spearhead a cause that resonated worldwide.


In 2009, Eco-Justice Collaborative re-invigorated a campaign by community groups and environmental organizations that had stalled after a ten-year fight. This included building a coalition of diverse groups with representation from the faith, health and environmental communities; businesses; students; attorneys; labor; and more.  By the end of the campaign over 60 groups had signed on to be part of the Chicago Clean Power Coalition.  About 20 of these organizations became what was known as the coordinating committee. These groups led the way, meeting continuously to strategize in a political landscape that was unyielding.

The coordinating committee drew upon the expertise and resources of those in the coalition to carry out a vigorous campaign that included awareness-raising and education; lobbying; media work and social media networking; public meetings and hearings; and direct action.   They focused their message on the impacts Fisk and Crawford had on the health and well-being of residents Pilsen and Little Village where the plants were located.  After a two and one-half year fight and a change in administration, the plants were closed down and initiatives for cleaning up and reusing the sites were launched by the City of Chicago, with input by Pilsen and Little Village.

An Artist’s View of Today’s Realities

An Artist’s View of Today’s Realities

These 29 drawings by Polish artist Pawel Kuczynski were featured recently by Distractify and forwarded to us by a friend. They will provoke thought and discussion about the realties of our world today.

This artist has worked in satirical illustration since 2004, and specializes in thought-provoking images that make his audience question their everyday lives. His subjects deal with everything from social media to politics to poverty, and all have a very distinct, powerful message.

Even if you don’t agree with some of these messages, it’s hard not to appreciate the creativity involved!

Here are a few of our favorites:




Click here for all 29 images.

And be sure to check out Pawel Kuczynski’s website here! Pawel has been awarded more than 100 prizes and distinctions. This includes the “Eryk” * prize from Association of Polish Cartoonists, which he won in 2005, as well as a record number of awards in international competitions.


These Are Not My Problems

These Are Not My Problems

A Social Justice Visualization and Journey
( a Gallery show aimed to re-claim humanity)
Opening Night, May 10, 2014 noon to 7pm

These Are Not My Problems

Eco-Justice Collaborative will be highlighted by artist Matthew Harlan who will depict our work on mountaintop removal coal mining through his art.

About the Exhibit: A Social Justice Visualization and Journey
Presented by: 8th Day Center For Justice
Location: Lacuna Artists Lofts, Blank Canvas Gallery, 2150 S CanalPort, Chicago IL
Cost: $5 suggested donation (no one turned away)

“Freedom is indivisible, and when one is enslaved, all are not free.” Declared by President John F. Kennedy during his “Berlin Wall” speech, these words—often quoted and re-appropriated—are as relevant today as they were in 1963. As we look at the world, we can neither deny the presence of widespread injustice nor deny how we, as a people, have failed to respond to it. In order to insulate ourselves from injustice, we are taught to distance ourselves from suffering. To protect ourselves from facing oppression, we have allowed ourselves to be washed of its presence around us. It has been the service of many of our institutions to systematically create this distance for us, reinforcing false divisions, and relieving us of our most basic human responsibilities. As we look at the world today, it seems we have forgotten that we belong to one another.

8th Day Center for Justice proudly presents These Are Not My Problems. The exhibition aims to break down the walls that separate everyday people from the awareness of injustice in their midst. These Are Not My Problems humbly invites you to open yourself up to the vulnerability of looking at the world through the eyes of a shared humanity.

Click for info packet.
Organized by: 8th Day Center for Justice and its Young Adult Council
Curated by: JeremyVanCleef

How to Build Effective Resistance

How to Build Effective Resistance

Facing the Realities of Climate Change and Limitless Consumption
In this interview, journalist Chris Hedges says we are emulating all of the mistakes complex societies have made over 5,000 years or more of civilization.  But this time, when our civilization goes down the entire planet is going to go down with us.

We no longer can act as though we can have everything we want, when climate change, depletion of resources, pollution, over population, deforestation and more pose real limits and threats to our existence.

The folly of continuing to allow the fossil fuel industry to determine our relationship to the ecosystem; along with the folly of embracing an ideology of limitless expansion and consumption will certainly lead to our demise.  It is quite clear what the consequences of “staying the course” will be.  Despite that clarity, we can’t find a way to wrest ourselves from the systems and benefits that those of us in the wealthy industrialized world experience.

In today’s world, wrought by social, economic and environmental degradation and injustices, rebellion and resistance is a moral imperative. Our only hope is to build mass movements of descent.  The failure to carry out mass acts of civil disobedience will only ensure that we remain hostages to corporate power.

We need to wrest power back from the rapacious corporate elite that, if left unchallenged, literally will kill us. But, says, Hedges, before we can build effective resistance, we must first grasp our reality.  And as long as we remain complacent by hopes and expectations that technology, market forces, or charismatic leaders will save us from this grave reality, we will not be able to see how dire and catastrophic our current situation is.

To bring about true change, we must first face our current reality and then radically reconfigure our relationship to each other and our ecosystem.

You can access the full transcript of this interview by Paul Jay and the entire 7-part interview by visiting TheRealtyNews.com.

Can Drought Reverse the Chicago River?

Can Drought Reverse the Chicago River?

Local Impact of Climate Change

Water levels on Lake Michigan are the lowest in recorded history. If the level continues to drop, the Chicago River could reverse itself and send untreated sewage into Lake Michigan, says ABC 7 News, Chicago.

Why are the water levels so low? Blame the ongoing Midwest drought. Forty percent of the state of Illinois is still under drought conditions. And as was reported by Reuters last November, Lake Michigan has been hit particularly hard by the drop in water levels.

The Chicago River is 70% sewage. It depends upon gravity to flow away from Chicago’s primary source of drinking water. If that gravity does not work because the lake levels have dropped, the river and all its contaminants will flow directly into Lake Michigan.  More …

Co-Sign Open Letter to Obama

Co-Sign Open Letter to Obama


Co-Sign The Open Letter To Obama Calling For Bold Climate Action!

President Obama has promised action to confront climate change. To do that, he must end the detrimental “all of the above” energy policy of his first term. Please add your name as a co-signer on our open letter urging him to take bold action to confront climate change now.

This is a CREDO / 350.org petition.  Here’s what you will be sending to the White House:

Dear President Obama,

It was with great relief and gratitude that we welcomed, at long last, a clarion call in your inaugural address to “respond to the threat of climate change” — the greatest threat, challenge, and opportunity of our time.

We thank you for these words, because your words are powerful, and necessary for change. But words are not enough. We need action.

Mr. President, you are the first leader in our history who will be judged by what you do — or do not do — to protect your people from the already-begun ravages and disruptions brought about by fossil fuels.

So far, Mr. President, you are failing in the face of our earth heating up, and the damage accelerating.

Just a few months ago, we witnessed New York and New Jersey swallowed up by our still-rising oceans. Our worsening nationwide drought, after the hottest year on record, is clear evidence that our planet is not healing, but is hurtling toward greater climate disruption.

The simple truth is that you will continue failing in the fight against climate change, as long as you continue an energy policy which treats equally the fuels that are hurting us and those that will save us. To meet your call on climate change, your “all of the above” energy policy must end.

Your support for fracking and drilling, coal mines and pipelines, continues to obliterate the progress you could be making with your administration’s gas mileage rule, or your investments in renewable energy. Even if you finally issue a carbon pollution rule that addresses existing sources of pollution, it will mean nothing if you are simultaneously lighting the fuses on carbon bombs by approving the Keystone XL pipeline, Arctic drilling, or fossil fuel export projects.

You must use the power of your office and our federal lands to stop promoting fossil fuel development, and reject these projects outright.

While we recognize that a majority in the House of Representatives are clearly not on the side of science or sanity, you can and must find a way – within Congress or the power of your office – to end fossil fuel subsidies and giveaways, and put a price on all greenhouse gas pollution, so that fossil fuel executives can no longer get rich from the destabilization of our climate, and so fossil-free energy can thrive. If Congress remains in the way, you must fight to change Congress.

You must invest significantly in sustainable sources of energy as part of a plan to rapidly transition our nation from fossil fuels. And these efforts should be coupled with resources to help our cities, states and industries prepare for the damage that climate change is already bringing. (The $50 billion Sandy relief package and the drought’s impacts on food prices are just two painful reminders that the cost of inaction is enormous, and untenable.)

Confronting climate change also happens to be our best opportunity to create the broad-based economic revitalization that your policies have largely failed to achieve. This is not simply an empty trope of idealistic environmentalists, it is the truth.

Mr. President, we are urging you to do as our other Illinois president did when confronted with the great moral issue of his time: to take bold, decisive action to end one great societal ill, changing the economy in the process, and usher in a new era of American freedom, security and prosperity.

This is the moment. We will support you. But you must lead and take action, starting first and foremost with your rejection of the presidential permit required by the Keystone XL pipeline, which is your decision and yours alone.


Becky Bond, Political Director, CREDO
Michael Kieschnick, President and CEO, CREDO
Elijah Zarlin, Senior Campaign Manager, CREDO
Bill McKibben, Co-Founder, 350.org

More Fracking Threats: Radioactive Waste

More Fracking Threats: Radioactive Waste


Support a Moratorium on Fracking in Illinois
A fracking regulatory bill is being drafted in Springfield.  The Illinois state legislature, which has sat on the sidelines as new technologies using high-pressure fracturing techniques to extract natural gas have launched energy booms in long-dormant states, could see a boom of its own in the coming months.  Southern Illinois is already bracing itself and a bill moving through the Illinois General Assembly would create new regulations.

But fracking threatens the air we breathe, the water we drink, the communities we love and the climate on which we all depend. Most recently, a study out of Penn State looking at wastewater, also called flowback, from fracking in the Marcellus shale found high levels of radioactive radium and barium.

“Improper disposal of the flowback can lead to unsafe levels of these and other constituents in water, biota and sediment from wells and streams,” the researchers said.

Pennsylvania resident Randy Moyer, who is suffering from a flurry of health problems he believes are the result of radiation exposure from his work transporting fracking wastefluids. Pennsylvania’s Beaver County Times reports:

Moyer said he began transporting brine, the wastewater from gas wells that have been hydraulically fractured, for a small hauling company in August 2011. He trucked brine from wells to treatment plants and back to wells, and sometimes cleaned out the storage tanks used to hold wastewater on drilling sites. By November 2011, the 49-year-old trucker was too ill to work. He suffered from dizziness, blurred vision, headaches, difficulty breathing, swollen lips and appendages, and a fiery red rash that covered about 50 percent of his body. Read more

Why a Moratorium and not Regulation?
Regulations will not work, particularly for  large-scale energy operations employing poor practices with little oversight. Our state would need an army of regulators at the poorly funded Illinois Dept of Natural Resources in order to enforce any regulations, and without enforcement, regulations are worthless.

A ban on fracking would be the safest long-term approach to protect the health and well-being of Illinois residents, our environment and the future of our state, but a moratorium with a science-based investigative task force and public hearings are reasonable first steps.  That’s what is being proposed by Southern Illinoisans against Fracturing our Environment and many others.

Please Sign this Petition
Take just a moment to read and then sign this well-crafted petition to Illinois Governor Pat Quinn, Senate Pres. John Cullerton,Speaker Mike Madigan, Attorney General Lisa Madigan, and Illinois Legislators, asking for a moratorium on hydraulic fracturing with a science-based investigative task force.

Fracking is a dangerous distraction from the green energy future that we deserve and that we must fund and build. The road to our energy independence is not lined with drilling rigs, but instead lined with conservation, energy efficient buildings, wind mills and solar arrays.

Stop Keystone XL or Game Over for Climate

Stop Keystone XL or Game Over for Climate


Tar Sands Oil – One of the Dirtiest Fuels on the Planet

Producing a barrel of oil from the oil sands produces three times more greenhouse gas emissions than a barrel of conventional oil due to the energy-intensive extraction and refining processes.  The rapid increase in the development of carbon-intensive, unconventional oil “could tip the scales” towards dangerous and uncontrollable climate change.

If we are going to get serious about climate change, opening the spigot to a pipeline that will export up to 830,000 barrels of the dirtiest oil on the planet to foreign markets stands as a bad idea,” said Anthony Swift of the Natural Resources Defense Council.

NASA climate scientist James Hansen has warned that continued tar sands mining would be ‘essentially game over’ for the climate.

Yet, despite concerns about climate change and environmental destruction brought about from tar sands oil, more than half the Senate on Wednesday urged quick approval of the Keystone XL oil pipeline, ramping up pressure on President Barack Obama to move ahead with the project just days after he promised in his inaugural address to respond vigorously to the threat of climate change.

Keystone-and-Ogallala-378x550In addition to concerns over runaway climate change, tar sands oil is one of the dirtiest fuels on the planet.  Here’s what you need to know:

  • Oil sands mining uses twice the amount of fresh water that the entire city of Calgary uses in a year.  It takes three barrels of water to extract one gallon of oil.
  • At least 90% of the fresh water used in the oil sands ends in tailing ponds full of harmful substances like cyanide and ammonia, which has worked its way into neighboring clean water supplies.
  • Tar sands oil extraction has led to the stripmining of the boreal forest, a natural carbon reservoir  home to the rare and threatened woodland caribou and the nesting ground for millions of the ducks and songbirds that wing their way over the United States every year.
  • Indigenous populations in Alberta are most affected.  Communities living downstream from tailing ponds have seen spikes in rates of rare cancers, renal failure, lupus, and hyperthyroidism. In the lakeside village of Fort Chipewyan, for example, 100 of the town’s 1,200 residents have died from cancer.
  • There is a high probability of spills.  TransCanada’s Keystone I pipeline has spilled a dozen times in less than a year of operation.  In summer 2010, a million gallons of tar sands oil poured into the Kalamazoo River in Michigan from a pipeline run by another Canadian company, Enbridge.
  • Refining tar sands oil is dirtier than refining conventional oil, and results in higher emissions of toxic sulfur dioxide and nitrous oxide. These emissions cause smog and acid rain and contribute to respiratory diseases like asthma. Communities near the refineries where the Keystone XL pipeline would terminate, many of them low-income and communities of color, already live with dangerously high levels of air pollution.


Obama Can Stop This

The Obama administration has twice thwarted the 1,700-mile pipeline, proposed in 2008 by Calgary-based TransCanada, despite pressure from Congress to approve it. This is one action the president can take without approval by the House and Senate.

Investing in tar sands oil now will delay investments in clean and safe alternatives to oil, such as better fuel economy requirements, plug-in electric cars fueled by solar power, and smart growth and public transportation infrastructure that give Americans choices other than cars.

President’s Day Rally

Join EJC in DC on February for the Forward on Climate rally.   We need to tell the president he must continue to oppose Keystone XL oil pipeline and take immediate action to solve the climate crisis. We can create jobs with clean energy – such as wind and solar.  This not only will put life back into our economy, but also protect our planet from one of the most carbon-intensive fuels in existence.

Click for details on the rally  …


Join EJC in DC for Forward on Climate

Join EJC in DC for Forward on Climate

Join EJC for the Forward on Climate Rally

Can You Join Us …
for what may be the largest and most important environmental rally in history?

Travel to Washington, DC on Feb. 17, President’s Day weekend for what is expected to be the largest environmental rally to date.  The purpose of this rally is to oppose the Keystone XL tar sands pipeline and to ask for strong climate leadership and carbon standards to control climate pollution.

Here’s what President Obama said in Monday’s inauguration speech:

“We will respond to the threat of climate change, knowing that the failure to do so would betray our children and future generations,” he said. “Some may still deny the overwhelming judgment of science, but none can avoid the devastating impact of raging fires, and crippling drought, and more powerful storms.”

It’s time to pressure the president to hold true to his promise.  This rally will feature critical action, inspiring speakers, and a march to the president’s doorstep to show him that we can’t afford to wait any longer.

What:  Forward on Climate Rally

Who:  You and 20,000+ people who care about our climate

When: February 17th, noon

Where: The National Mall, Washington D.C.  Meet on the mall at noon (details on location to follow).

Why: To tell Barack Obama it’s time to lead in the fight against climate change, beginning with the Keystone XL tar sands pipeline.

Sponsors: 350.org, The Sierra Club and the Hip-Hop Caucus

Why this is Important
We’ve experienced crippling drought, devastating wildfires, and superstorm Sandy. 2012 was the hottest year on record.  But the White House has yet to show leadership in solving the climate crisis.

This rally is an opportunity pressure Obama to deliver early on his promise – renewed at his first White House press conference – to make climate change a personal priority of his second term, by blocking the Keystone XL. His legacy as president will rest squarely on his response, resolve, and leadership in taking this first step to address the climate crisis.

Eco-Justice Collaborative will be taking a group to DC for this rally.  If you are interested, contact Pam by email or call:  773.556.3417.  For more information, including FAQs, visit Forward on Climate.

Expedite Renewable Energy

Expedite Renewable Energy


Take Action Now … Sign this Petition to Congress

We can transition to a cleaner, renewable energy future, but Congress needs to pass the legislation to get us there.

Sign this petition created by Eco-Watch, a cutting-edge news service promoting the work of more than 1,000 grassroots environmental organizations, activists and community leaders worldwide.  EJC is an endorsing organization.

Tell Congress that you want them to pass a renewable energy policy that:

• Mandates an aggressive RES (renewable electricity standard).
• Sets a limit and tax on greenhouse gas emissions, including carbon dioxide (CO2) and methane (CH4).
• Puts an end to subsidies for fossil fuels and nuclear power.
• Provides incentives for renewable energy and energy efficiency projects.
• Modernizes the electrical grid.
• Provides market certainty to accelerate investment in renewable energy.
• Invests in research and development for battery storage and renewable energy technologies.
• Encourages distributed generation to help localize energy generation.
• Defines renewable as non-combustion sources of energy.
• Puts Americans back to work by creating green jobs and a sustainable economy.
• Makes the U.S. a leader in fighting climate change and global warming.
• Puts the health of people and the planet before corporate profits.

This petition is the start of a campaign to address the need for a federal renewable energy policy. This petition can help serve as a basis for bipartisan legislation that members of Congress can introduce in their committees and ultimately on the House and Senate floor.

Signing this petition sends an email to U.S. Sen. Jeff Bingaman (D-NM), chair of the Senate Committee on Energy & Natural ResourcesU.S. Rep. Henry Waxman (D-CA) and the House Energy & Commerce Committee.

Thanks for all you do,


Pam and Lan Richart,
Eco-Justice Collaborative