Pages tagged "chicago"

Closing Chicago's Toxic Cloud Factories

Last month I was in Chicago to attend the U.S. Climate Action Network’s national meeting. The keynote speaker was Gina McCarthy, head of the Environmental Protection Agency. Her speech focused on the agency's recently proposed carbon pollution standards, the first-ever rule to limit carbon pollution from power plants. 

Gina made her presentation standing alongside this image, which made me smile:  

It’s an image I know well because it depicts a protest that Rainforest Action Network organized in 2011, along with our friends at Little Village Environmental Justice Organization and some bold Chicago activists. 

One morning, very early, we showed up at the Crawford Power Plant and climbed on top of a giant pile of coal to display a giant banner that reads "CLOSE CHICAGO’S TOXIC COAL PLANTS":

Our direct action that cold April morning was part of a multi-year campaign involving a huge coalition of Chicagoans to put pressure on the city of Chicago and the utility company, Midwest Generation, to retire their deadly "cloud factories".

Crawford was one of the last two remaining urban coal-fired power plants in the United States and their pollution was responsible for more than 40 deaths, 720 asthma attacks and 66 heart attacks annually.

I use the past tense because, thankfully, this coal plant has now been retired. And there is even better news: an exciting plan being formulated by a community/city partnership to regenerate the coal plant site with businesses that will offer good jobs to the local community in Little Village.

It is an inspiring example of what can happen when communities organize for a better future. But we still have more to do. We need to retire the remaining 356 coal plants in the United States, reduce our energy demands through efficiency measures and rapidly accelerate our transition to clean, renewable energy generation.

Please help make this a reality by taking action today! Send your comment to the EPA to demand a strengthened carbon emissions rule.

Communities Speak Out Against Coal Plants

This morning, the EPA announced limits on carbon pollution from power plants. That's a welcome step in fighting climate change—and it wouldn't have happened without communities speaking out against coal plants. Here at RAN, we're proud of the role our network of friends and activists has played in building pressure over the last several years.


Stop TXU! Activists stage protests against financial institutions linked to Texas utility company TXU’s controversial plans to build 11 new coal-fired power plants as part of an expansion strategy that would make it the single largest corporate greenhouse gas emitter in the Unites States. Winter 2007. Photo: Andrew Stern.



University of Kentucky Fossil Fools Day. Students raise a wind turbine atop a coal mound as part of an action for Fossil Fools Day at University of Kentucky. April 1, 2008.



Wise Coal Action. Virginia residents and anti-coal activists form a blockade to disrupt the construction of Dominion's Wise County Coal-Fired Power Plant. September 2008.



Capitol Climate Action. Thousands of activists surround the Capitol Coal Plant in Washington DC to demand its retirement. March 2009.



Duke Energy's Cliffside Coal Plant. RAN activists holding a banner in front of Duke Energy's Cliffside coal plant in Cliffside, North Carolina. The banner action coincided with the release a new report, The Principle Matter: Banks, Climate & The Carbon Principles. January 2011.



Crawford Coal Plant Banner. Six activists with the Little Village Environmental Justice Organization (LVEJO), Rising Tide North America, Rainforest Action Network (RAN) and the Backbone Campaign climbed the fence to Midwest Generation’s controversial Crawford coal plant in Little Village. The activists unfurled a 7' x 30' banner atop a 20-foot tall sprawling coal pile that feeds the power plant, which reads: "Close Chicago's Toxic Coal Plants." April 2011.



Stand with Pat: Tell BofA to Stop Funding Coal. Grandmothers Pat Moore and Beth Henry and seven others were arrested outside of four different Bank of America branches in Charlotte, NC delivering a simple yet urgent message to the bank: they must STOP funding coal. November 2012. Photo: © Paul Corbit Brown.

EPA Announces Rules to Limit Carbon Pollution: RAN Responds

This morning, Gina McCarthy, head of the EPA, announced new carbon pollution standards for power plants, the centerpiece of President Obama’s Climate Action Plan.

We welcome the Environmental Protection Agency’s proposal to limit carbon pollution from power plants.

Power plants are the single largest source of carbon pollution in the United States. Setting the first-ever federal limits on carbon pollution is an essential and long overdue step to address global warming.

Communities across the nation are already seeing and feeling the impacts of global warming, from increased health risks like asthma attacks and lung disease, to devastating extreme weather events like Superstorm Sandy and wildfires across the American West. The science is clear: inaction will only increase these deadly and costly threats.

Coal FumesThis is exactly why communities from Chicago to North Carolina, from New England to New Mexico, are fighting to shut down the polluting power plants in their neighborhoods.

To be clear, the proposed carbon pollution standard is just one step. To keep our climate stable, we must rapidly shift our energy production away from the highest-polluting fossil fuels and accelerate our transition to truly clean, renewable energy generation.

The proposed rule is not yet enough to slow global warming and not yet enough to inspire the world to make the necessary deep cuts in climate pollution. That is why we will be working hard the next year to include much deeper cuts in the final rule.

We stand with the majority of Americans who want to see strong action from the government to address global warming and set limits on carbon pollution from power plants.

RAN fights climate change by taking fast, impactful action against dirty energy. Join us by becoming a Dirty Energy Rapid Responder!

Breaking: Global Day of Action Underway!

GDoA_chicagoWe’re winning. Because of you, PepsiCo is reeling. Over 300,000 of you have demanded PepsiCo cut Conflict Palm Oil from its products.

Today, our Global Day of Action to Cut Conflict Palm Oil is sweeping the world, ratcheting up the pressure for PepsiCo to break its ties to deforestation, human rights abuses and climate pollution. A moment ago, RAN unfurled a massive 60 foot banner exposing the impacts of Conflict Palm Oil at the Sweets and Snacks Expo in Chicago.

From the rainforests of Indonesia and Malaysia to cities across Australia and the UK, to the beaches of San Francisco and Brazil, students, families and ordinary people have organized themselves in droves today to send a clear and united message to PepsiCo and its peers: the time to eliminate Conflict Palm Oil from your products is now.

PepsiCo is scrambling—the fact that the snack food giant released a new palm oil commitment just a few days ago is evidence of this. But, it’s not strong enough and lacks safeguards on human rights and a binding, time bound action plan to cut Conflict Palm Oil. NOW is the time to give PepsiCo the final push for real change for forests and the communities that depend on them.  We have PepsiCo's attention.

Now here's how we win:

1. Let’s take over Pepsi’s Facebook page. Cut and paste this message as a comment: #PepsiCo, cut Conflict Palm Oil! The power is #InYourPalm.

2. Let’s make our voice heard on Twitter: Hey @PepsiCo, I can’t stand by brands that use Conflict #PalmOil. The power is #InYourPalm

3. Let’s talk to the people who represent PepsiCo: (+1)(914) 253-2000 Here is a guide to what you can say: “Hi, my name is [your name]. I’m taking part in the Global Day of Action. It concerns me that your company cannot guarantee that it is not using Conflict Palm Oil in its products. PepsiCo must demand responsible palm oil from its suppliers and eliminate Conflict Palm Oil from its products. PepsiCo’s taken a step in the right direction by releasing a new palm oil commitment, but a statement of intent is not the same as a binding, time bound responsible palm oil policy. For PepsiCo to meet consumer expectations, it must adopt an action plan to eliminate Conflict Palm Oil from its products that includes full traceability of palm oil back to its source and independently verified safeguards for human rights, forests and peatlands.Thank you” 

Because of YOU we have built a movement to cut Conflict Palm Oil from our food supply. We're just getting warmed up—thanks for being a part of this. 

Training for the Keystone XL Pledge of Resistance

KeystonePledge               When the going gets tough, the tough get going. Throughout the summer, Rainforest Action Network, CREDO, and the Other 98% will be leading nationwide trainings in dignified, nonviolent civil disobedience. These trainings will support the more than 60,000 people eager to take action to stop the construction of the Keystone XL pipeline. Our trainers will be traveling across the country and stopping in 25 cities throughout July, including Chicago, Houston, Tampa, and Boston. It will take hundreds of activist leaders to plan, lead and train others – so they can participate in local civil disobedience actions, in their hometowns. As a result of these trainings, all participants will be ready to organize unified demonstrations to push President Obama to reject the Keystone Pipeline, once and for all. We are training people from all walks of life, who are bound by one common thread -- they recognize that climate change is not a distant concept, but a pressing threat to our health and our country. To give you a picture of the kinds of people who have signed up for trainings this summer, we are talking about everyday people. Mothers, fathers, grandparents, children, people of faith, people who worked for the President, all willing to put their bodies on the line to push their President to stand on the right side of history -- and reject the dangerous Keystone XL pipeline. This pledge has shown us that people are ready for their government to take bold and ambitious action to address climate change, and they are willing to take bold action to get it. Will you join all of us this summer? To take the Pledge of Resistance, please click here.

Huge Victory in Chicago

I just got word today that the City of Chicago has struck a deal with Midwest Generation and plans to close its two dirty coal-fired power plants: the Fisk plant by December and the Crawford plant by the end of 2014. This is a tremendous victory for the communities that have been fighting for clean air in Chicago for many years and is also a significant milestone in the struggle to shut down coal fired power plants across the country.  I know that many people will be popping well-deserved champagne bottles in Chicago tonight! The Fisk and Crawford plants are located in some of the most densely populated urban areas in the country, the Pilsen and the Little Village neighborhoods of Chicago, respectively. These plants have been spewing toxins into the air in these neighborhoods — making "residents prisoners in their homes", as CBS Chicago put it — and polluting the Chicago area for decades. Closing both of these plants is a tremendous victory for environmental justice. It is also a testament to the struggle of thousands of people at community-led organizations that have been fighting to close these plants for years, including LVEJO in Little Village and PERRO in Pilsen, as well as the Chicago Clean Power Coalition of 50+ organizations, which includes our own RAN Chicago chapter. Read the coalition press statement here. For the past year, we have demanded that Bank of America stop bankrolling outdated, dirty plants like Fisk and Crawford. The closure of these two high profile and controversial plants in the third-largest city in America should be a warning to Bank of America that coal's days are numbered. Instead of investing in a dying coal industry that exacerbates climate change and endangers public health, Bank of America needs to immediately adopt a meaningful policy that shifts its investments away from coal plants and towards truly clean, green renewable energy. RAN members and activists in Chicago have been calling out Bank of America for bankrolling Fisk and Crawford and other dirty, polluting coal-fired power plants around the country. Together, we have sent thousands of emails demanding that the plants be shut down, attended hundreds of hours of coalition meetings, signed petitions, and took bold action to draw attention to the dirty plants.  Many thanks to all of you for your part in this historic victory, and lets keep up the pressure on Bank of America to ensure many more victories to come. Here are some photos of protests and actions targeting the dirty Fisk and Crawford coal plants through the years: Banner hang at Crawford coal-fired power plant in ChicagoRAN Chicago and their heart props outside Chicago City HallEl Vejo Memoria during Clean Power Ordinance meetin in Chicago City HallFisk Power Plant in Chicago  Chicago environmental justice groups protest coal-fired power in their cityRAN activists hold up banner outside Fisk coal-fired power plant during Chicago MarathonActivists run in gas masks outside Fisk coal-fired power plant during Chicago MarathonFrom top:
  • Six activists with the Little Village Environmental Justice Organization (LVEJO), Rising Tide North America, Rainforest Action Network (RAN) and the Backbone Campaign climbed the fence to Midwest Generation’s controversial Crawford coal plant in Little Village and unfurled a 7’ x 30’ banner atop a 20-foot tall sprawling coal pile that feeds the power plant, which reads: “Close Chicago’s Toxic Coal Plants.” Photo by Liz Nerat.
  • Activists hold a sign that says "Si al pueblo, no al carbon" — "Yes to community, no to coal" in Spanish — at the Crawford coal-fired power plant. Photo by Liz Nerat.
  • Four-photo montage, clockwise from top left: 1.) RAN Chicago along with allied student groups from around the city rally outside the doors of Chicago City Hall’s LaSalle entrance holding a cornucopia of assorted, neon-candy colored, Valentine’s Day-themed props. 2.) LVEJO members wear respirator masks and stand around mock tombstones holding a banner that reads, “30 More Died While We Waited for Our Hearing” to protest the slow pace of the city's meetings on the Clean Power Ordinance. 3.) The Fisk smokestacks can be seen over a playground in the Pilsen neighborhood of Chicago. 4.) RAN Chicago joins local Chicago environmental justice groups LVEJO and PERRO for a mock “Energy Election” and rally to shut down the city’s two coal-fired power plants
  • Activists challenge Bank of America's underwriting of Chicago's dirty coal plants at the Chicago Marathon by holding a banner outside the Fisk coal-fired power plant that reads, "Bank of America: Racing to pollute Chicago".
  • Activists run in the Chicago Marathon wearing fake gas masks to protest Bank of America's underwriting of the coal industry.

Chicago's Week Of Action Against Bank Of America

[caption id="attachment_17225" align="alignleft" width="300" caption="Reverend Billy protesting outside the BoA building in Chicago."][/caption] Last week, RAN teamed up with Pilsen Environmental Rights and Reform Organization, Occupy Chicago, and Reverend Billy for a week of action against B of A highlighting the bank's $4.3 billion dollars invested in the coal industry and its impacts on local communities in Chicago. The week started out with a visit to Bank of America's regional office in downtown Chicago with Reverend Billy. At 5 p.m., just as BoA employees were leaving for the day, protesters held a special sermon led by the good Reverend while informing employees and passersby of the bank's investments in dirty coal. On Saturday, a number BoA customers entered a bank branch in the heart of Chicago's Pilsen neighborhood and closed their bank accounts. This particular branch was very symbolic for the account closings since it is located only a few blocks from the highly controversial Fisk coal-fired power plant. After their money was withdrawn, a press conference was held outside of the bank, where Pilsen residents and RAN activists further explained the bank's ties to the coal pollution poisoning the community. Pilsen To top the day off, activists and community members marched 3 miles in 15 degree weather from Pilsen to the downtown offices of Midwest Generation, the owner of the Fisk coal plant. After a week of direct action in Chicago, BoA heard our voices loud and clear, but it is going to take a lot more than just Chicago to win this fight. We need all of you involved in this. Please take the pledge to close your account or boycott BoA ATM's. Check out this video highlighting our work in Chicago: [youtube RcJdr5kQ4dU 550]

VIDEO: Climate Killer Bank Of America Feels The Heat From Coast To Coast

[caption id="attachment_17081" align="alignleft" width="300" caption="Climate activists chained to wind turbine on lawn at Asheville BoA branch. Photo Credit: Mountain Express."]Asheville BoA protest[/caption] From coast to coast, the heat is on Bank of America for its bad practices. Yesterday, a second action in the past two weeks took place in Bank of America's home state of North Carolina, resulting in multiple arrests at a BoA branch, this time with Appalachian residents fed up with the company and its insistence on bankrolling the coal industry. If the protest sounds familiar, its because the actions against the bank have become commonplace across the nation in the past few months. Pointing to better energy alternatives than continuing to rely on coal, six activists were arrested in Asheville after a professor and student chained themselves to a symbolic wind turbine on the lawn of a local BoA branch. Over 60 people converged on the local branch to support the action and encourage customers to close their accounts. The two read their statement aloud to bank managers to explain their actions: "Today we gathered in solidarity to call on Bank of America to stop funding the deadly coal industry, which poisons our air and water with pollution, destabilizes the climate with carbon dioxide emissions and destroys Appalachian communities with mountain top removal mining." The awesome action today in Asheville was inspired in part by RAN's Not With Our Money for Coal action last month at BoA headquarters in Charlotte. Check out this great video that shows eight protesters getting arrested when they demanded BoA divest from coal, right at the front doors of the company’s iconic headquarters skyscraper in uptown Charlotte: [youtube AJkZymVImi4 550] The momentum is building against BoA outside of North Carolina, as well. In November alone, hundreds of protests at Bank of America branches have been reported, many of them focused on the ill effect of coal investments on the environment and human health. Just over a month ago, in Portland, Oregon, a group of activists from Portland Rising Tride dressed up as zombies and resurrected the first ever Undead Zombie Army Against Coal, marching from Occupy Portland to two Bank of America branches. The group also produced this hilarious and informative video: [youtube QXI8z5JxIdE 550] Also in Oregon, a broad climate coalition brought together a large crowd in Eugene and hosted a lively march and rally focused on BoA investments into coal export terminal developments on the West Coast. Check out this great video to feel the gravitational pull for the 99% that are standing up against big banks and climate change, all over. [youtube DBU2LhN3thU 550] In St. Louis, Washington State University students staged a loud protest at a BoA branch on campus, while students closed their accounts with the bank. In Chicago, steady bank protests and broad coalition account closure pushes dotted November's calender with a myriad of well-attended protest actions. While some activists were symbolically closing bank branches due to "climate crimes," others were unfurling a large banner from a central train platform that read, "Bank of America Funding Coal: Giving Pilsen Asthma." Standby for more, Bank of America.

Greetings From The Bank Of America Chicago Marathon Health & Fitness Expo!

Greetings from the Bank of America Chicago Marathon Health & Fitness Expo! I’m here manning a booth with RAN Chicago volunteers to get the word out about Bank of America’s financing of the filthiest polluting coal plants in Chicago. That’s right, when 45,000 runners join the Bank of America-funded Chicago marathon this weekend, the route will take them past one of the city’s dirtiest coal plants, the Midwest Generation Fisk plant. Which, as it happens, is also financed Bank of America. Aren’t you tired of Wall Street banks thinking that sponsorships, fancy ads and commercial gimmicks can buy our favor at the same time that they raise fees, foreclose on homes and fund air pollution? You’re not alone. We’ve met with many folks at this event who agree and are eager to send a strong message to Bank of America that they want to see the bank quit underwriting the coal industry. Many have signed cards pledging that they will close their BoA bank accounts and boycott BoA’s ATMs if the bank doesn’t act swiftly. These people fall into three main categories: Residents of Chicago who are already concerned about their local, dirty coal plants. Chicago is the only major metropolitan area with not only one, but two polluting coal plants within the city limits. The impact of these toxic coal plants is very real. Coal-fired power plants kill between 13,000 and 34,000 people a year — that's one person every 15 minutes. That staggering figure includes the 42 Chicagoans who die as a result of pollution from the city’s two coal plants. Nurses, doctors and other people health-sector workers. This community has firsthand experience responding to respiratory illnesses. In fact, many participants in this race are running to raise awareness about lung conditions and thanked us for raising awareness with them. People who are fed up with bank-fee-hikes. Many have come to our booth to communicate that they are already considering cancelling their BoA accounts because of the bank’s exorbitant charges. Learning about bank-financed pollution gives them one more reason. We’ve had a few double-takers: folks approaching our booth wondering if we are Bank of America...? And then giving us a smile when they realize that we’re actually here because we care about how Bank of America uses all of our money. Sponsoring marathons is no substitute for actually being a responsible corporate citizen. Now more than ever, we need banks to show leadership. Bank of America can start right now by ending its financing of Chicago’s coal plants — helping to protect the health of our communities and our climate. We will settle for nothing less.

Bank Of America Sponsors Marathon That Runs Past Chicago's Dirtiest Coal Plant, Which Also Happens To Be Funded By Bank Of America

Bank of America: Not One More Dollar On CoalSponsoring local community events is a tried and true PR maneuver for corporate polluters who otherwise would find it hard to get much sympathy from the communities they're poisoning. Bank of America may not be directly involved in business operations that cause pollution, but it is certainly bankrolling them. And so it seems the Bank of Coal is sponsoring the Chicago marathon this weekend — but that sponsorship doesn't come anywhere close to making up for the damage done to the environment of Chicago or the health of Chicagoans by the coal plants Bank of America is funding. Here's what's really ironic about this situation: While you can easily imagine why Bank of America would want to sponsor a health-oriented event such as the Chicago marathon, the race route goes right by the Fisk coal-fired power plant. Bank of America, the largest funder of coal projects in the US, provided nearly $70 million to the company that owns the Fisk and Crawford coal-fired power plants — which together are responsible for the pollution that causes the deaths of 42 Chicagoans every year. Sponsorship FAIL. Here's our full press release on this bitterly ironic state of affairs:
Rainforest Action Network finds Bank of America Contributes Millions to Chicago’s Dirtiest Coal Plants Marathon Sponsor Accused of Financing Pollution of Chicago’s Air CHICAGO—This weekend when 45,000 runners join the Bank of America-funded Chicago marathon, the route will take them past one of the city’s dirtiest and most controversial coal plants, the Midwest Generation Fisk plant, which is also financed by the bank. The environmental group Rainforest Action Network has found that just last year Bank of America provided $66 million in financing to Edison International and its subsidiary Midwest Generation. Bank of America last week touted a company-funded report by the University of Illinois’ Regional Economics Applications Laboratory that estimated that the annual marathon event produced $171.5 million in business activity. However, this number barely makes up for the cost of hidden health damages from Chicago’s coal plants, which according to a report released by the Environmental Law and Policy Center have reached around $127 million per year. “While Bank of America is touting the economic benefits of its marathon sponsorship, its core business practices are causing a drag on Chicago’s public health and the economy. The Bank of America marathon should be about supporting physical health and Chicago’s future. Sadly, as the lead financier of Chicago’s toxic coal plants, Bank of America is doing far more to keep the city’s air polluted, asthma rates up and coal plants standing,” said Amanda Starbuck, energy and finance program director for the Rainforest Action Network. Chicago is the only major metropolitan area with not only one, but two polluting coal plants within the city limits. The Fisk and Crawford plants, both owned by Midwest Generation and financed by Bank of America, are located in the Pilsen and Little Village neighborhoods. This weekend’s marathon will run right by the Fisk plant in Pilsen. Coal fired power plants kill between 13,000 and 34,000 people a year--as many as one person every 15 minutes. That staggering figure includes the 42 Chicagoans who die as a result of pollution from Fisk and Crawford. According to a report from the Clean Air Task Force, residents are at risk for heart disease, cancer, and respiratory illness because of pollution from these plants. “Sponsoring marathons and funding billboard ads is Wall Street’s failed model for good corporate citizenship. Our standards for what the country needs from banks is much higher. Now more than ever, we need banks like Bank of America to showleadership in protecting the health of our economy and our communities,” continued Starbuck. In addition to the toxic pollution, coal fired power plants are the biggest single source of global warming pollution in the United States, which will cause sea level rise and extreme weather, as well as droughts and lower crop yields. Together, Fisk and Crawford generate about 18 times the emissions of O’Hare airport’s ground operations and equal two-thirds of the CO2 emissions generated by all modes of transportation in Chicago.

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