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.