Groundbreaking City Ordinance Would Cut Pollution from Chicago Coal Plants

Posted: 4/13/2010

Clean Power Ordinance Would Make Chicago First City to Regulate Coal Plant Pollution

Chicago - Alderman Joe Moore unveiled an ordinance today that would significantly reduce soot and greenhouse gas pollution from Chicago's coal plants. The Clean Power Ordinance, co-sponsored by Alderman Sandi Jackson (7th), Alderman Toni Preckwinckle (4th) and Alderman Gene Schulter (47th) and supported by a coalition of more than 30 business and nonprofit groups, would make Chicago one of the only cities in the nation to regulate pollution from coal plants.

"We're asking these plants to do business in a way that does not endanger the health of Chicago's citizens," said Alderman Moore. "I'm asking my fellow council members to protect public health and improve Chicagoan's quality of life by voting for the Clean Power ordinance."

"The City Council has the authority and the responsibility to protect the health and welfare of Chicagoans," said Faith Bugel, Senior Attorney for the Environmental Law & Policy Center. "This ordinance gives them a chance to do just that."

Researchers from the Harvard School of Public Health have found that Chicago's two coal plants, the Fisk plant in Pilsen and the Crawford plant in Little Village, are responsible for as many as 41 premature deaths, 550 emergency room visits and 2,800 asthma attacks annually.

"Every day we delay cleaning up these coal plants is a day someone goes to the emergency room," said Brian Urbaszewski, Director of Environmental Health Programs for the Respiratory Health Association of Metropolitan Chicago. "This ordinance can move us forward to cleaner power and healthier air."

The Fisk and Crawford plants belch out approximately 2.8 million pounds of soot and 5 million metric tons of carbon dioxide each year - nearly 2 tons for each of Chicago's 2.9 million residents.

"Little Village Environmental Justice Organizations (LVEJO) and the Little Village Community are very proud to support the Clean Power Ordinance," said Kim Wasserman, Coordinator of LVEJO, "Our communities have lived in the shadow of these dirty plants for far too long."

The Fisk and Crawford plants were built in the early 1900's and are still operating equipment that dates back to the late 1950's. Because of their age, these coal plants are subject to more lenient federal pollution regulations than more modern plants. Both plants are currently being sued by the U.S. Department of Justice and the Illinois Attorney General for illegally avoiding tighter regulations and even violating some of the relaxed standards they are required to meet. The Clean Power Ordinance would require the plants to install modern pollution controls that would greatly reduce particulate matter pollution from these plants.

The ordinance would create "rate based" limits for particulate matter and carbon dioxide, setting a threshold for how much pollution the plants can create per unit of energy produced. The limits on particulate matter are equivalent to those set for new coal plants being built today. The limits on CO2 are equivalent to the pollution from a natural gas plant. The Fisk and Crawford plants would have one and two years, respectively, to phase in required pollution controls for particulate matter and up to three and four years, respectively, to reduce CO2 emissions.

"Some say that we should leave these acts to the federal government," said Wasserman, "The federal government was recently struck a blow in the case against Midwest Generation sighting the government has passed the statue of limitations. This is a clear sign to cities and states across the US that we must be involved in the battle against climate change. With the new administration they are fighting what they can and we must do the same to support their efforts. The City of Chicago is taking bold steps in tackling air pollution and Little Village is behind them 100%."

Chicago has pledged to become the greenest city in the nation. This ordinance would help the city meet those goals and lead the nation on a path to cleaner air and cleaner energy.

Chicagoans are encouraged to visit to learn more and to ask their alderman to support the clean power ordinance.


The Chicago Clean Power Ordinance is supported by: 8th Day Center for Justice, 49th Ward Green Corps, Action Now, American Renewable Energy and Power LLC, Blacks in Green, Buddhist Peace Fellowship, Citizen Action / Illinois, Citizens Committee for a Clean Blue Island, Collective Consciousness Movement, Eco-Justice Collaborative, Energy Action Coalition, Environment Illinois, Environmental Law & Policy Center, Faith in Place, Gaia Movement USA, Green Guy Solutions, Greenpeace, Little Village Environmental Justice Org., Loyola University - SEA, Natural Resources Defense Council, Nuclear Energy Information Service, Peace Productions, Physicians for Social Responsibility, Pilsen Environmental Rights & Reform Org., Radio Arte, Rainforest Action Network, Resource Center, Respiratory Health Association of Metropolitan Chicago, Southeast Environmental Task Force, Sierra Club, SolAir Works, Inc., Topless America, Urban Sustain, Wellington Avenue UCC