Victory for Decade-Long Chicago Grassroots Effort as Fisk & Crawford Coal Plants to Shut Down by 2014
In a victory for the environment and for hundreds of thousands of people who live nearby, two dangerously-polluting Chicago coal power plants will be shuttered by the end of 2014.
Environment News Service reports that Fisk Station and Crawford Station, two of the oldest and most polluting coal-fired power plants in the United States, will be closed as a result of an agreement with Mayor Rahm Emanuel and the City of Chicago. Instrumental in the fortuitous outcome were dozens of community and activist groups– some 60 in all– that came together with the common goal of closing the plants.
Midwest Generation, the Edison International subsidiary that operates the plants, announced last Wednesday that the Fisk Station, which is located in the Pilsen neighborhood, would close by the end of this year. Crawford Station, in the Little Village neighborhood, will be closed by the end of 2014.
A 2010 report by the Environmental Law and Policy Center found that pollution from the two plants is estimated to have cost as much as $1 billion in health and environmental damages in the last 10 years. Other studies have shown that pollution from such plants causes an increase in asthma, particularly in children, and more heart attacks, hospitalizations and early deaths.
Last December, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) found that the air in part of Pilsen contained unsafe levels of lead, which causes brain damage.
Midwest Generation has decided that it is better off closing the plants than attempting to clean them up.
“Conditions in the power market simply do not give us a path for continuing to invest in further retrofits at these two facilities,” Edison president Pedro Pizarro said.
That’s great news for Chicago.
“Midwest Generation has made an important and appropriate decision today, which will be good for the company, the city, and the residents of Chicago,” Mayor Emanuel declared.
“I committed during the campaign to work with all parties to address community concerns about the plants, and today’s announcement puts us on a more sustainable path for these neighborhoods. I acknowledge aldermen Moore, Solis and Cardenas for their work on this issue, and the community groups who helped to ensure all voices were heard in the process,” he added.
Environmental groups also hailed the news. Chicago resident and Greenpeace coal campaigner Kelly Mitchell called the agreement “a historic victory for the people of Chicago, who have demonstrated that grassroots activism is more powerful than the special interests of corporate polluters.”
“The Fisk and Crawford coal plants have loomed over the City of Chicago for a hundred years, fueling climate change and exposing families to dangerous levels of soot, sulfur dioxide, and nitrogen oxide,” Mitchell is quoted in Environment News Service. After a groundbreaking 10-year grassroots campaign to shut down these archaic plants, Chicagoans have reclaimed their right to clean air.”
“We hope other communities across the country will find new inspiration today to stand up for their right to clean air and a safe climate,” she added.
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