Huge Victory in Chicago

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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For the past year, we have demanded that Bank of America stop bankrolling outdated, dirty plants like Fisk and Crawford.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.