Clean Power Advocates Visually Illustrate Fatalities from Chicago’s Coal Plants
Ask Mayor Emanuel, City Council to Move Chicago Off Coal
On Wednesday, February 15th, supporters of the Chicago Clean Power Coalition gathered in the City Council Chambers to call attention to the fatalities caused each year by the coal pollution from the Fisk and Crawford coal plants, located in the Pilsen and Little Village neighborhoods respectively. Local community members, environmental justice advocates, parents, students, environmentalists, public health experts, and labor representatives urged Mayor Rahm Emanuel to follow through with his commitment to clean up air pollution in Chicago by setting immediate retirement dates for the city’s two dirty coal plants.
Forty-two supporters stood inside the City Council chambers, wearing brightly colored shirts with the message: “I am 1 of 42… Are you next?” Each person represented one of the forty-two people who studies say die prematurely each year due to pollution from Chicago’s coal plants.
Clean Power supporters commended Mayor Emanuel on his commitment to address pollution from the plants, and while progress has been made by the Mayor to bring all the stakeholders to the table, community members are still awaiting a solution to this unresolved issue. Residents of the Little Village and Pilsen neighborhoods have been fighting pollution from the plants for decades, having supported the Clean Power Ordinance. The Ordinance would require the plants to significantly reduce their emissions of soot and carbon dioxide or else shut down.
Meanwhile, the Coalition and community members point to the on-going health impacts resulting from the plants’ operation and the urgency of finding a resolution to the problem. Pilsen resident and community activist, Rosalie Mancera said, “It is easy to tell our community to wait, but coal is killing our people. There is no more time to waste.”
“We call on him to finish the work he has begun, and to not delay any further. We are here to ask that Mayor Emanuel and Edison International’s Midwest Generation commit to retiring these coal plants immediately,” a supporter of the Coalition said on Wednesday.
Numerous studies have shown that the pollution from coal plants like Fisk and Crawford contributes to higher numbers of asthma attacks, especially in children, as well as more heart attacks, hospitalizations and early deaths. “It’s tragic that pollution from the two old coal plants operating in Chicago is still killing over 40 people every year,” said Brian Urbaszewski, Director of Environmental Health at Respiratory Health Association of Metropolitan Chicago. “And in the last decade, the asthma rate for African-American children has risen 50 percent. Thousands of tons of pollution continue to billow from these stacks. Chicago must protect these children now.”
Clean Power Coalition supporters and organizers continue to call attention to a pollution crisis that results in the release of 45,000 tons of pollution a year and that over an eight year span has cost Chicagoans more than $1 billion in health care and environmental damage. On Wednesday, the message from the Coalition was clear: We cannot wait any longer. It’s time to move Chicago off coal.
Eco-Justice Collaborative is a founding member of the Chicago Clean Power Coalition. Watch our website for updates as we enter the last phases of this campaign!