After a campaign of more than a decade, the Fisk and Crawford coal plants, two of the oldest and dirtiest coal-fired power plants in the country, will be closing down in 2012 and 2014 respectively. Residents have denounced the harmful impacts of coal pollution for years, demanding that the plants’ owner, Midwest Generation, either clean up or shut down. This historic announcement is the result of an agreement between Midwest Generation, the Clean Power Coalition, and the City of Chicago. Pilsen Alliance is a Coordinating Committee member of the Clean Power Coalition.
“This is a great victory for all residents, but very special for those who fought hard to make it happen” said Rosalie Mancera of Pilsen Alliance. “Thanks to our neighbors and allies we won’t have to live with a health ticking bomb in our back yard.”
An important component of the agreement is the creation of a Community Advisory Council to deal with the future of the sites, including finding ways to clean it up and develop it. Mayor Rahm Emanuel will play a leadership role in the effort to remediate the sites. The Council will also have input in Midwest Generation’ community involvement program, including monetary donations.
“Our next task is to make sure that the sites are cleaned and developed with community residents in mind,” Mancera said. “Whatever it is that happens, we have to make sure it doesn’t mean more working families displaced from Pilsen.”
The health hazard posed by these plants has been scientifically calculated. The Clean Air Task Force found in 2010 that pollution from Fisk and Crawford causes 42 premature deaths, 66 heart attacks and 720 asthma attacks each year. One in four Chicagoans lives within a three-mile radius of the smokestacks.
The Chicago Clean Power Coalition is a group of organizations fighting for clean air, including Environmental Law and Policy Center, Greenpeace, Illinois Student Environmental Coalition, Respiratory Health Association of Metropolitan Chicago, Doctor’s Council SEIU, Sierra Club, and others