Coal fire plants are notorious for emitting harmful gases into the atmosphere. In the past decade, as the world has begun to stray away from fossil fuel energy sources, two power plants in Chicago have received a lot of heat from their local communities, particularly thanks to the efforts of the Chicago Clean Power Coalition.
Last May, eight Greenpeace activists climbed 450 feet to the top of the smokestack Chicago's Fisk coal-fired power plant to protest its operation around the same time that the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) held a hearing to review new mercury and pollutant limitations at coal plants, according to the Environmental News Service. After residents filed lawsuits against the two plants, Mayor Rahm Emanuel and other city leaders began to negotiate with Midwest Generation, the company that operates both the Fisk and Crawford coal plants.
Last week, Emanuel warned Midwest Generation that they need to either find a solution to cut pollutant emissions or he would order that both plants be shut down. Since no solution was presented, Emanuel stuck to his word, and both plants will close in the next two years – the first of which, Fisk, by December 31.
"This is a major victory for the people of Chicago," Pam Richart of the Eco Justice Collaborative said. "With the closure of the Fisk and Crawford coal plants, our city takes a bold step away from dirty energy and the harm it brings to human health, while at the same time opening the way for a clean energy future. We look forward to working with community groups and the city to ensure that these sites are cleaned up and restored for safe, productive uses."
Kelly Mitchell, a Greenpeace activist, said that she and her organization hope that other cities and towns will see that Chicago is going green and follow its lead.