Victory for clean air and healthy lungs!
After years of work by Respiratory Health Association, our Clean Power Coalition partners, the Chicago City Council and Mayor Rahm Emanuel, we saw several high-impact clean air victories in 2012. Dominion Inc.'s State Line coal power plant, which operated mere feet from Chicago city limits in northwest Indiana, was permanently closed in March. In August, Midwest Generation, LLC, closed their two coal-fired power plants in Chicago. Two of Chicago's notorious coal-fired power plants, Fisk in Pilsen and Crawford in Little Village, were also both permanently retired.
The Fisk and Crawford plants were the two single largest sources of air pollution in Chicago and emitted thousands of tons of sulfur dioxide (SO2) and nitrogen oxides (NOx) every year, which led to the formation of ozone smog and fine particle pollution (soot). According to a 2010 Clean Air Task Force report, pollution from the two plants was responsible for an estimated 42 deaths, 66 heart attacks and 720 asthma attacks annually. Their closure is a major victory for the public health and environmental health of all Chicagoans!
Our work continues
Respiratory Health Association continues to work with many partners to significantly reduce air pollution from power plants. Four other coal power plants still operate in the suburbs of Chicago in Lake and Will Counties and continue to degrade air quality in the region. All of these plants were built before the Clean Air Act was passed in 1970, and have avoided installing necessary modern pollution controls for decades. Many more large coal power plants still operate in Illinois outside, but upwind of, the Chicago area.
We were also previously active in supporting successful Illinois EPA efforts to implement strong state pollution regulations for power plants. State rules finalized in 2006 are drastically reducing pollution from many coal-fired power plants in Illinois from now until 2018. Since 2008, two older coal plants in the Chicago suburbs have already decommissioned three smaller coal-fired electricity generating units, as required by state regulations.
More clean air efforts
Due to Illinois state pollution rules enacted in 2006, as well as new federal EPA rules, coal plants throughout Illinois will have to begin adding significant pollution controls or start planning to cease operations during the next few years. Several proposals to build new coal power plants in Illinois have been defeated over the last several years.
Respiratory Health Association also supports efforts to increase the use of clean, nonpolluting sources of energy in Illinois, such as energy efficiency, wind power generation and solar power. Our current efforts include ensuring successful implementation of a state law that requires getting 25 percent of electrical power from clean renewable energy by 2025. One example is wind generation, and Illinois added more wind generation than all but one other state in 2011!
As a founding member of the Chicago Clean Power Coalition, Respiratory Health Association strongly supported efforts by the City of Chicago to buy electricity on behalf of approximately 900,000 customers in the city in late 2012. The contract the city signed, which runs through mid-2015, guarantees that none of the electricity will be bought from coal-fired power plants. We continue to support efforts at the local, state and federal level to advance and increase the use of non-polluting energy sources in Illinois.
For more information, contact Brian Urbaszewski: