An grassroots campaign  to win aldermanic support for the Chicago Clean Power Ordinance had its first victory yesterday when Ald. Ricardo Munoz (22nd) signed on as a co-sponsor. Meanwhile the other alderman representing a ward containing a coal plant, Ald. Danny Solis (25th), faces a protest outside a fundraising dinner tonight.
Solis has not endorsed the clean power ordinance, which would raise standards for emissions of carbon dioxide and particulates.
A press conference at 6:30 p.m. (Wednesday, August 4) and a “people’s dinner” outside Alhambra Palace Restaurant, 1240 W. Randolph, will highlight the group’s charge that Solis is “more concerned about his campaign donors than the health of neighborhood residents,” said Jerry Mead of the Pilsen Environmental Rights and Reform Organization .
He said that Midwest Generation has been a major contributor to Solis’s campaigns.
Midwest Gen’s two Chicago plants, Fisk in Pilsen and Crawford in Little Village, cause premature deaths, ER visits and asthma attacks, and contribute to lung cancer and respiratory disease, according to the Chicago Clean Power Coalition . The two plants are located in more densely populated areas than any other coal plants in the nation.
They are also among the largest sources of carbon emissions in the city, emitting 5 million metric tons – the equivalent of 872,000 cars – in 2007, according to the coalition.
In 2003 voters in a precinct near Fisk voted by nearly 90 percent in favor of tougher emission standards, Mead said.
In recent weeks PERRO and others have been petitioning residents at neighborhood festivals and churches. “The response has been really good,” Mead said. “It’s clear that people really favor the ordinance.”
Munoz announced his support for the ordinance Tuesday morning, citing congressional inaction on climate change and health concerns in his ward.
“For over eight years our communities have fought to clean up these plants, and we are glad Ald. Muñoz is responding to our cries for clean air,” said Kimberly Wasserman of Little Village Environmental Justice Organization .