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.
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.
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.
This 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!
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. http://a.ran.org/ad
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.
- 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.
Bank Of America Sponsors Marathon That Runs Past Chicago's Dirtiest Coal Plant, Which Also Happens To Be Funded By Bank Of America
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.