Posts tagged coal
Yesterday, over 45,000 runners from all 50 states and more than 100 countries participated in the Bank of America Chicago Marathon 2011. The event promotes health and fitness in the Chicago area and is greatly supported by the Bank of America.
Ironically, Bank of America is also a major contributor to coal powered plants. It is the lead financer to Fisk power plant, located in Chicago. This plant emits many pollutants that cause asthma and other respiratory problems to those nearby.
As runners passed this power plant on the race course, they were also met with environmental activists looking for change. Activists held banners and posters supporting the shut down of Fisk power plant and the end of coal in Chicago. They hoped their signs would help persuade Bank of America to stop financing coal powered plants. Others held masks and joined the race as protesters to the Fisk power plant pollution. Participants included Greenpeace, Rainforest Action Network, and residents of the Pilsen community.
By the end of the year, atleast two Illinois coal power plants will be shut down. The Meredosia and Hutsonville energy centers are both owned by Ameren Energy Resource Company. These plants are closing because they are unable to abide by the EPA’s Cross-State Air Pollution Rule (CSAPR) which was issued in July of this year.
CSAPR calls for emissions reductions of 73% for sulfur dioxide and 54% for nitrogen oxide (from 2005 levels). Ameren Energy could have constructed and implemented pollution controls in order to keep the plants operating, but decided it was too expensive. Both plants are old and heavy polluters. Meredosia, for example, ranked 70th on list of most polluting power plants in terms of coal waste. Sierra Club has been calling for their shutdown for years.
There will be 90 jobs lost, however, the company hopes to reassign every position at another site. This could include the new full-scale oxy-combustion coal-fired plant that will capture and store carbon dioxide. This plant will be located in the Meredosia Energy Center and is the first of its kind. The CO2 will be pumped underground to a storage facility elsewhere.
More information can be found at: The State Journal-Register.
These days there is a lot of talk about coal power plants. When the Clean Power Ordinance started to gain momentum, the negative effects of coal plants received more media attention. There has been much publicity on the particulate matter and CO2 released by Fisk and Crawford power plants, but what other emissions should we be worried about?
PM – Particulate Matter is covered under the Clean Power Ordinance. Fisk and Crawford will be required to reduce their PM emissions to 0.015 lbs/MMBtu, a substantial decrease! This is very important, because particulate matter is a key factor causing premature deaths, chronic bronchitis, heart attacks, and other respiratory illnesses.
CO2 – Carbon Dioxide will be monitored under the Clean Power Ordinance. The two power plants must reduce their CO2 emissions to 120.36 lbs/MMBtu. Carbon dioxide is famous for causing global warming. In past years, Fisk and Crawford power plants have emitted a combined total of 5,084,187 tons of CO2 in one year!
SO2 – Sulfur Dioxide is covered under the Clean Air Act. The Clean Power Ordinance does not regulate SO2 emissions, so they can remain at current federal limits. However, emission standards today are still harmful. SO2 is responsible for many respiratory illnesses including asthma attacks. It also has negative effects in the environment causing acidic deposition in our forests and waterways. Fisk and Crawford power plants emitted a combined total of 13,970 tons per year in past years!
NOx – Various oxides of nitrogen are not included in the Clean Power Ordinance but are currently covered by EPA laws. This is essential because NOx emissions can cause premature mortality and decreased pulmonary function. They are also extremely detrimental to the environment – responsible for the increase in algae blooms in our waterways. Fisk and Crawford power plants emitted a combined total of 3,673 tons of NOx per year in past years.
Hg – Mercury emissions in Illinois are regulated more stringently than they are on a federal level. The Clean Power Ordinance will not change this regulation. The largest source of man-made mercury is from coal burning power plants. Mercury is a very dangerous hazardous air pollutant when children are exposed prematurely. It causes IQ loss, development problems, and affects the human nervous system. Mercury is capable of entering our environment, depositing itself in waterways, and bioaccumulating in the fish we consume. In 2005, Crawford power plant emitted 145 pounds of mercury.
These five pollutants are five reasons why we should be concerned about power plants. Though many more go unnamed. The Clean Power Ordinance will help greatly in reducing some of these emissions. Also on its way is the EPA’s new proposed toxics law which promises to make more stringent emission limits on all of the above pollutants to help make Illinois’ air much safer to breath!
On September 20th, students lined up to present a petition with over 5,000 signatures to Mayor Emanuel Rahm. The petition was written to support the passing of the Clean Power Ordinance for Chicago. This ordinance would greatly reduce the SO2 and CO2 emissions from Fisk and Crawford power plants located in the Chicago area.
One hundred Chicagoans were present for the delivery. In addition to handing over the document, they also presented a poster of Mayor Emanuel Rahm as a superhero saving his city from the pollution caused by coal plants. The group lined up that morning across the street from City Hall. Each individual held a sign; each a piece of the message to Mayor Rahm. Together, the group formed a human billboard clearly displaying their support for the Clean Power Ordinance. Mayor Rahm has expressed a negative attitude towards coal power plants which many hope will translate over to the action of passing the Clean Power Ordinance.
Image Credit: Clean Power Chicago
The Chicago Tribune recently ran the story “Power company holds off on cleaning up Chicago-area coal plants,” reporting that Midwest Generation has held off on upgrading pollution controls at the Little Village and Pilsen neighborhood coal-burning power plants. These are just two of six coal plants owned by the company.
The Fisk plant was built in 1903 and the Crawford plant in 1924. These coal-fire plants emit harmful pollutants into the air, including sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxides. They are the source of toxic mercury that contaminates fish in the Great Lakes and other waterways, making coal-burning power plants harmful for both nearby residents as well as farther-reaching areas. Their effect can be found not only in humans, but in animals, land and water.
The Chicago Fisk and Crawford power plants sell their power to Pennsylvania, providing only a little power for Chicago during spikes in demand but putting vulnerable populations at risk for health problems such as asthma.
The Chicago Clean Power Coalition provides information about the plants and the Chicago Clean Power Ordinance, which seeks to address carbon and particulate emission.
Over 35 students from five different Chicago-area schools joined 200 other Chicago residents Valentine’s Day morning at an ad-hoc hearing in City Hall for the Chicago Clean Power Ordinance. The Chicago Clean Power Ordinance would effectively shut down the Fisk and Crawford coal fired power plants in Pilsen and Little Village, whose soot emissions cause over 40 premature deaths per-year, and whose yearly carbon out-put equates to the emissions of 875,000 automobiles.
After 8 months of road-blocks to an official hearing before the Health and Energy Committees, the Chicago Clean Power Coalition resolved not to let Mayor’s Daley’s efforts to stall the Ordinance prevent the people’s voices from being heard. Alderman Moore, the Ordinance’s sponsor, heard over three hours of testimony from parents, doctors, citizens, scientists, lawyers, researchers, activists, and students. Before the hearing, students handed out Valentine’s Day candy and information about the Ordinance to people outside of City Hall.
From the Environmental Law & Policy Center: An ad hoc City Council hearing on the Chicago Clean Power Ordinance drew hundreds of supporters on February 14th as physicians, economists, attorneys and community members made the case for the ordinance, which would clean up pollution from two coal plants in Chicago. Alderman Joe Moore, chief sponsor of the Clean Power Ordinance, convened the hearing after Daley Administration allies in the City Council postponed a planned City Council hearing for that date.
The Clean Power Ordinance is co-sponsored by 16 Aldermen and backed by the Chicago Clean Power Coalition, an alliance of over 50 health, community, labor, environmental and business groups. The ordinance was introduced in April 2010 and was referred jointly to the City Council’s Committee on Health and the Committee on Energy, Environmental Protection and Public Utilities. After months of delay, a Health Committee hearing was set for Feb 14th. However, Moore was informed that the hearing would be delayed indefinitely.
A 2010 report released by the Clean Air Task Force stated that the Fisk plant in Pilsen and the Crawford plant in Little Village are responsible for over 40 deaths and 720 asthma attacks annually. According to a 2010 research from the National Research Council and the Environmental Law & Policy Center, the coal plants are also responsible for over $127 million in public health costs every year.
“Chicago is still the asthma epicenter of the country. Our asthma hospitalization rate is nearly double the national average and as many as 44% of children have asthma in some Chicago neighborhoods,” said Brian Urbaszewski, Director of Environmental Health Programs at Respiratory Health Association of Metropolitan Chicago.
What: Rally to stop coal pollution
When: Monday, November 1, 2010 (Dia de los Muertos), see flyer for more details
Where: Pilsen– see map