Major Coal Victory for Chicago Youth Organizers

0810 IMG_7838The Will Steger foundation would like to acknowledge and congratulate all of the youth organizers involved in the Chicago Clean Power Coalition on the announced closing of the Crawford and Fisk coal plants. Little Village Environmental Justice Organization (LVEJO) and the Illinois Student Environmental Coalition (ISEC) have been deeply involved in the Coalition and spent countless hours testifying at the State Legislature, organizing in front-line communities, documenting the public health impacts of both plants, and drawing public support for an end to these big polluters. LVEJO, an environmental justice organization based in the Little Village neighborhood on Chicago’s south side, released the following press release.

[important title=Historic Victory won with Retirement of Chicago’s Two Coal Plants]

A decade-long grassroots campaign against two of the oldest and dirtiest coal-fired power plants in the nation

What:  Today, Midwest Generation, a subsidiary of Edison International, announced the retirement of its Fisk and Crawford coal plants, two of the oldest and dirtiest coal-fired power plants in the nation. The announcement marks a historic victory for a decade-long grassroots campaign to protect Chicago residents from the harmful impacts of coal pollution. According to an agreement signed by Midwest Generation, the Clean Power Coalition, and the City of Chicago, the Fisk coal plant in Pilsen will shut down in 2012 and the Crawford coal plant in Little Village will shut down by 2014.

When: Thursday, March 1st

Where:  Cermak and May St, Chicago, Dvorak park across from the Fisk Coal Power Plant Who:  Little Village Environmental Justice Organization, member of Chicago Clean Power Coalition

Background: For over ten years, thousands of Little Village residents have called on government officials and Midwest Generation to shut down the Fisk and Crawford plants. Community organizations in Pilsen and Little Village joined with environmental, health, faith, and labor groups to form the Clean Power Coalition, launching a groundbreaking grassroots campaign to make Chicago a coal-free city. In the last year, thirty five aldermen and Mayor Rahm Emmanuel joined on the cause. The agreement also calls for the creation of a community advisory council to address issues such as the toxicity and future use of the sites. This is a major victory for the residents of the Pilsen and Little Village communities.

“For over ten years our communities have been fighting for the right to breathe clean air, clean land and clean water. Today we are ending over 100 years of pollution for profits and showing the power of community. This fight was more than just about a right to breath, this continues with ensuring the land left behind is properly cleaned to avoid leaving our community with another contaminated piece of industrial land and another struggle for environmental justice in Little Village”says Kimberly Wasserman of LVEJO.

The retirement of Fisk and Crawford will deliver substantial public health benefits. 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 Chicago Clean Power Coalition is a growing group of organizations fighting for clean air, including: Chicago Youth Climate Coalition, Eco-Justice Collaborative. Environmental Law and Policy Center, Environment Illinois, Greenpeace, Faith in Place, Illinois Student Environmental Coalition, Little Village Environmental Justice Organization, Nuclear Information Service, Pilsen Alliance, Pilsen Environmental Rights and Reform Organization, Protestants for the Common Good, Rainforest Action Network Chicago, Respiratory Health Association of Metropolitan Chicago, SEIU, Sierra Club, and the Southeast Environmental Task Force.


Across the Midwest, youth organizers are hard at work challenging dirty polluters, and calling for investment in clean energy alternatives. Their tireless efforts have closed coal plants on numerous campuses across the region and challenged administrators to transition to realistic clean energy alternatives. We salute these young leaders for their amazing work, and stand proud of Chicago as it transitions to a cleaner future for all.


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