Coal combustion produces carbon dioxide pollution, which is a leading cause of climate change. Coal plants also produce smog, soot, acid rain, the neurotoxin mercury, and ground water contamination from coal ash. All this means coal-fired power plants are the leading cause of public health concerns in many communities.
The bottom line is coal is less competitive than natural gas and clean energy alternatives like wind and solar, which have boomed across the Midwest. Coal plant operators are facing the choice between shutting down their plants or bringing them up to modern pollution control standards to protect public health and the environment. The costs to public health are too high to do otherwise.
What is ELPC Doing?
- ELPC and our grassroots coalitions across the Midwest take on old, dirty coal plants, requiring them to clean up or shut down. After we helped pass a strong air quality standard for Illinois in 2006, Chicago’s Fisk & Crawford plants found they were unable to clean up, so they shut their doors in 2012.
- Our policy and legal experts fight the Trump administration and coal lobbyists to ensure Clean Air Act standards are actually enforced. Under these standards, modern pollution-control technologies have proven effective when installed, reducing toxic air pollutants like mercury, lead, and arsenic.
- We serve as watchdogs of local and federal EPA. For example, when Illinois’ Dynegy coal plants struck a back-door deal with Governor Rauner’s EPA to double allowances for pollution emissions at their dirtiest downstate plants, ELPC shone a light on this corruption to protect the public.
- ELPC’s financial analysis and political savvy are crucial tools to deter Midwestern communities from continued investment in unnecessary or wasteful coal plants, that often come at a very high price to local consumers. The Midwestern economy depends on positioning ourselves to develop the energy of the future, not the past.
- Clean water legal experts fight to protect Midwestern communities from coal contamination. For example, we stopped the S.S. Badger from dumping coal ash directly into Lake Michigan in 2015 and reduced the risk of coal ash ponds in the Lemont area in 2012. In 2019 we joined a coalition of Illinois environmental groups to protect communities from Coal Ash.
Coal – National Geographic Resource Library
Coal Ash Illinois SB9 factsheet May 2019 [PDF]
Plunging prices mean building new renewable energy is cheaper than running existing coal – Forbes (12/3/18)
Pollution could increase as Rauner EPA moves to rescue coal plants – Chicago Tribune (9/27/17)