Chicago for Clean Power

posted by Rainforest Action Network

Guest blogger, Liz Nerat from RAN Chicago, writes about their campaign work to pass a Clean Power Ordinance and retire Fisk power plant  in Chicago:

RAN Chicago and their heart propsAt 8:00am on an unseasonably warm day in Chicago for the middle of February, RAN Chicago, along with allied student groups from around the city, rallied outside the doors of City Hall’s LaSalle entrance, loaded out our cornucopia of assorted, neon-candy colored, Valentine’s Day themed props.

The props included a Pepto-bismol toned kiosk, three paper machê two-foot-wide “candy” hearts with the words, “arsenic,” “mercury” and “CO2” painted across the fronts, a cardboard coal plant mimicking our local coal plant, Fisk, cardboard gas masks, Clean Power Coalition signs and two large banners.  The kiosk advertised the Toxic Tours that collaborating group Little Village Environmental Justice Organization (LVEJO) leads people on that gives them a glimpse of the devastating coal plant, plastic manufacturing and waste management factories that riddle their streets in places once promised to be community centers or parks.

El Vejo MemoriaOnce inside there was a press conference where more than 200 civilian proponents of the Clean Power Ordinance stood along with, several reporters, news stations and photographers asking all the brightly clothed individual what it was all about.  Kimberly Wasserman (Director of LVEJO) spoke, along with Alderman Moore.  As they spoke there was a 30-second moment of silence where LVEJO began a memorial for the 30 people in their community who died since the first talk of the Clean Power Ordinance last March.  LVEJO members wore respirator masks and stood around mock tombstones holding a banner that read, “30 More Died While We Waited for Our Hearing.”

Fisk Power Plant, ChicagoAfter the press conference the Ad Hock Hearing began.  The council room was full, more than 250 were seated and standing as we listened to the testimony of nearly 40 citizens of frontline communities, health professionals, and concerned citizens all speaking against the two coal plants wherein the shadows of which Chicagoans are forced to reside.

Speaker after speaker went to the podium, spoke from both their hearts and scientific facts and drove home to the aldermen listening that coal power is not a sustainable solution.  The aldermen were visibly effected. It seems as though they too understood the gravity of the situation that we all, as citizens of Chicago, live in.  We can not go on like this.  Something drastic has to change.  And from the tone of the hearing, the steadfast and often humorous tone of the pre-rally, and the sheer numbers of people who turned out it is becoming more and more apparent that change is here, that change is happening.  We are standing up for our rights, not only as Citizens of Chicago, but as human beings, and we’re speaking in a voice too strong and urgent for the unsympathetic officials of this city to ignore any longer.

For more information on the plants and community:

-Liz Nerat, RAN Chicago