Old Coal Plants Like Chicago’s Fisk and Crawford Are Stopping The American Renewal

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The US is facing an incredible amount of challenges: rising health care costs, crumbling infrastructure from coast to coast, and a stumbling economy, leaving millions out of work.

In Chicago, the Crawford plant in Little Village, and the Fisk plant in Pilsen, both owned by Midwest Generation, bring the problems of public health, the economy, and infrastructure into sharp focus and demonstrate that there is a better path that can help renew the country — a switch to a clean, green energy economy.

Let’s start with how coal affects the economy. In 2011, Harvard published a report that found that “the life cycle effects of coal and the waste stream generated are costing the U.S. public a third to over one-half of a trillion dollars annually.” The study doesn’t even deal with the climate change; its estimate is just about public health. After all, every year, coal kills 24,000 Americans from associated health effects caused by coal plant pollution. And mercury from our 650 or so plants annually poisons 300,000 infants across the country.

Fisk and Crawford combined cost neighboring communities $127 million per year in hidden health damages, according to a report released in October, 2010 by the Environmental Law and Policy Center. The Clean Air Task Force found that air pollution from Fisk and Crawford causes more than 40 deaths, 720 asthma attacks and 66 heart attacks annually. Particulate matter from the Fisk and Crawford coal-fired power plants impairs visibility and contributes to lung cancer, heart attacks, premature deaths, acute and chronic bronchitis, emergency room visits, asthma and other respiratory illnesses.

The problems at Fisk and Crawford are mirrored across the country in communities affected by coal-fired power plants. Those who live closest to these plants bear the heaviest brunt.

That’s why LVEJO, Rising Tide, RAN Chicago and other groups are calling for the closure of Chicago’s two toxic coal-fired power plants, but thus far justice has escaped the communities around these plants. Action now would protect the community and create new green jobs, and, perhaps most importantly, serve as an example for communities and policymakers across the country that we don’t need 19th century technology to power our communities any more.

You can take action here.

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