Chicago’s Growing Clean Power Campaign Becomes Ground Zero for National Environmental Groups

Jeff Biggers Jul 16, 2010

How green is Chicago?

Thanks to a growing ward-by-ward grassroots campaign for clean energy, the Windy City has attracted the attention of national environmental and citizens organizations to ask that very question.

On Thursday, July 15th at Dvorak Park, Alderman Joe Moore and Dorian Breuer, of the Pilsen Environmental Rights & Reform Organization, will be joined by an unusually broad coalition of fellow aldermen, clean energy and health care activists, and over 50 Chicago organizations, along the Sierra Club‘s Executive Director Michael Brune and Greenpeace National Climate Director Damon Moglen to call on Mayor Daley and the Chicago City Council to adopt the nationally acclaimed Clean Power Coalition energy platform.

Thirteen aldermen have signed onto Moore’s breakthrough Clean Power Ordinance, which calls for reducing pollution at the city’s two notorious coal-fired plants by 90 percent.

With one of the worst asthma rates in the nation, the Fisk Generation Station in Pilsen and Crawford Power Plant in Little Village–where nearly 50,000 tons of toxic pollution have led to atrocious health care rates over the past three years–were built before the invention of the Model T.

The CO emissions from the two plants are equivalent to the pollution of nearly 875,000 cars.

Over the past seven years, the Little Village Environmental Justice Organization (LVEJO)has been leading “toxic tours” for researchers, journalists, politicians and city officials. LVEJO notes:

According to a report compiled by the Respiratory Health Association of Metropolitan Chicago, Chicago ranks second among all cities in the country adversely affected by power plant pollution, leading to 855 premature deaths, 848 hospitalizations, 1,519 heart attacks and 23,650 asthma attacks. The report also states that according to EPA officials, fine particle pollution from power plants shortens the lives of 1,356 Illinoisans every year, citing Crawford and Fisk as two main pollutants.

Today’s press conference brings Chicago’s leading clean energy effort to the forefront of several national campaigns to transition away from fossil fuels. Says Lan Richart, with the Eco-Justice Collaborative:

The decisions by the national offices of Sierra Club and Greenpeace to make the Chicago Clean Power Campaign a priority are signs that not only is the campaign gaining momentum, but it is part of a growing recognition across the country that our addiction to fossil fuels is literally killing us. The on-going oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, the recent mining disaster in West Virginia, the destruction of the Appalachian mountains by mountaintop removal coal mining and the poisoning of our air in Chicago should shake us to the core. How loud must our wake-up call be before we act?
We are calling on Mayor Daley and the members of the Chicago City Council to demonstrate that they are serious about making Chicago a green city. Right now the Clean Power Ordinance is bottled up in the Rules Committee. With the entry of the national offices of Greenpeace and Sierra Club into the campaign, we are sending a message to our city leaders that the public call to clean up the power plants is growing and the issue is not going to go away.

For more information, visit the Clean Power Campaign.

This article originally appeared on The Huffington Post.

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