Chicago Clean Power Ordinance Introduced with Backing of New City Council

Support from 31 co-sponsors means progress for cleaner air in Chicago

Aldermen Danny Solis (20th Ward) and Joe Moore (49th Ward) announced today that 31 City Council members have signed on as co-sponsors of the Chicago Clean Power ordinance.  Solis and Moore plan to reintroduce the ordinance at today’s City Council meeting.  An ordinance requires 26 votes to become law.

ELPC has been working to pass the ordinance, which would drastically reduce pollution from the Fisk and Crawford coal plants. ELPC is part of a citywide grassroots coalition of over 60 community, health, labor and environmental groups. Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel indicated strong support for the goals of the ordinance, stating that “Midwest Generation must clean up these two plants.”

The Clean Power Ordinance has steadily gained aldermanic co-sponsors since it was first introduced in April 2010.  Despite  this growing support, the measure was denied a formal hearing for over a year and ultimately was deferred to the new City Council and mayoral administration.  The ordinance that Solis and Moore will introduce at today’s meeting is identical to the original measure.

The ordinance is directed at Chicago’s two remaining coal-fired power plants–Fisk and Crawford.  The plants are owned by Midwest Generation, a subsidiary of the California-based Edison International.  Researchers from the Clean Air Task Force found that pollution from Fisk and Crawford causes 42 premature deaths, 66 heart attacks and 720 asthma attacks each year. One in four Chicagoans live within a three-mile radius of the smokestacks.

“The coal burned at these plants is mined in Wyoming, the power is sold out of state, the profits go to a California company, and we in Chicago are left with one thing–the pollution,” said Aldermen Joe Moore. “This is the year Chicagoans will win the right to breathe clean air,” Moore added.

“There is no doubt that these coal power plants need to be cleaned up immediately to protect the fundamental health and safety of our communities. I am proud to have played a leading role in sponsoring the Clean Power Ordinance. I thank my 31 colleagues for joining me in support of this important ordinance.” said Alderman Danny Solis.

Since the ordinance was first introduced in April 2010, the Fisk and Crawford plants pumped over 10,000 tons of sulfur dioxide, 2,500 tons of nitrogen oxides and 4.6 million tons of carbon dioxide into Chicago’s air.  According to the National Research Council, the pollution from Fisk and Crawford results in over $120 million a year in health-related costs.

“Air pollution from these plants takes a toll on everyone living around them, and it impacts kids, the elderly and people living with lung disease the most,” said Robert Cohen, MD. “The CDC recently announced that 1 in 6 black children has asthma–an astounding 50 percent increase of prevalence in the last decade. We cannot continue putting our children at risk because of these dirty, old coal plants.”

Midwest Generation has made no secret of its attempts to fight the Clean Power Ordinance. The company paid environmental consultants to challenge the health cost findings of the National Research Council, enlisted the help of 6 lobbyists and a public relations firm to influence members of the City Council. Midwest Generation generated $357 million in revenue in 2010 but has resisted installing additional pollution controls on its coal plants. According to its SEC filings, the company plans to defer decisions about installing pollution controls for the “maximum time available.”

The Chicago Clean Power Coalition, a grassroots campaign with no full-time staff, has gained the support of Aldermen and the public by relying on recent scientific research on the health damage caused by coal plant pollution and the personal experience of citizens who live near the plants.

Clean Power Ordinance Cosponsors as of 7/28/11

Ward    Alderman        Status

1.               Moreno          Cosponsor

2.               Fioretti          Cosponsor

3.               Dowell           Cosponsor

4.               Burns            Cosponsor

5.               Hairston         Cosponsor

7.               Jackson        Cosponsor

8.               Harris            Cosponsor

9.               Beale             Cosponsor

12.             Cardenas      Cosponsor

15.             Foulkes         Cosponsor

18.             Lane             Cosponsor

20.             Cochran        Cosponsor

22.             Munoz           Cosponsor

24.             Chandler       Cosponsor

25.             Solis              Lead Sponsor

26.             Maldonado    Cosponsor

27.             Burnett          Cosponsor

28.             Ervin              Cosponsor

30.             Reboyras      Cosponsor

32.             Waguespack Cosponsor

33.             Mell                Cosponsor

34.             Austin            Cosponsor

35.             Colon             Cosponsor

37.             Mitts               Cosponsor

43.             Smith             Cosponsor

44.            Tunney           Cosponsor

45.            Arena             Cosponsor

46.            Cappleman     Cosponsor

47.            Pawar             CoSponsor

48.            Osterman       Cosponsor

49.            Moore             Lead Sponsor

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