Report Finds Chicago Coal Plants Caused Up To $1 Billion in Health Damages Since 2002

Environmental Law & Policy Center Examines High Public Costs of Pollution from Fisk and Crawford Coal Plants

Chicago – Pollution from Chicago’s two coal plants has created up to $1 billion in health and related damages in the last 8 years, according to a report released today by the Environmental Law & Policy Center (ELPC). The report uses data from the National Research Council that found that particulate matter, or soot, from the Fisk and Crawford coal plants in Chicago created $127 million in health and related damages in 2005. Using that model, ELPC analyzed pollution emissions data and found that the two plants have created between $750 million and $1 billion in public health damages since 2002.

“The public can’t afford the huge health costs from the Fisk and Crawford coal plants in Chicago neighborhoods.” said Howard Learner, Executive Director of the Environmental Law & Policy Center. “It’s time for Midwest Generation to be socially responsible and clean them up or shut them down.”

Chicago’s Fisk and Crawford coal plants are located in more densely populated areas than any other coal plants in the nation. The plants are still running equipment built between 1958 and 1961 and the plant’s owner, Midwest Generation, has not installed modern pollution controls such as scrubbers.

ELPC’s report, titled Midwest Generation’s “Unpaid Health Bills”: The Hidden Public Costs of Soot and Smog from the Fisk and Crawford Coal Plants in Chicago” examines recent scientific research on the health effects of soot and smog pollution from coal plants. A variety of authoritative scientific panels have found that particulate matter pollution from coal plants harms public health, causing premature death, heart attacks, cardiovascular and respiratory disease and other problems. The economic impact of these health problems is borne by the public.

The report adds new information to the debate on how Chicago’s coal plants should be operated and regulated. ELPC and other community health and business groups have advocated for reducing pollution from the Fisk and Crawford coal plants for years. The groups are currently supporting the Chicago Clean Power Ordinance, which would require Fisk and Crawford to drastically reduce particulate matter and carbon dioxide pollution within 3-4 years. A federal lawsuit also alleges that Midwest Generation’s coal plants have violated provisions of the Clean Air Act.

“Soot and smog from Chicago coal plants is making us sick and costing us millions.” Said Learner, “Cleaning them up is the right thing to do for our environment and our economy.”

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