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Pollution Problem: Fisk and Crawford Coal Plants Impact Not Limited to Chicago

By JoshMogerman in News on Jan 22, 2012 9:00PM

West Wing Blowing III (Fisk Coal Plant) [swanksalot]

Pollution. It’s a local issue. It's a global issue. Nowhere in Chicago does that seem clearer than in Pilsen and Little Village where the smokestacks for two of the nation’s oldest coal plants loom. A couple weeks back we dug through new data to identify some of the polluters "leading the way" on a bevy of toxic substances dumped locally. The Trib’s excellent environment reporter Michael Hawthorne follows that up today with a look at which local facilities are making the biggest impacts globally, via carbon pollution. And guess which facilities dominate both lists…

According to the Trib, Midwest Generation, which operates the Fisk Generating Station in Pilsen and Crawford Generating Station in Little Village stands as Illinois’s biggest corporate carbon polluter. Those coal plants, along with four others the company operates in the state, emitted greenhouse gasses comparable to 6 million cars. Given the state’s energy mix, this is particularly damning:

Three coal-dependent energy companies are responsible for more than 60 percent of the greenhouse gases from big sources in Illinois, which despite generating more nuclear power than any other state ranks seventh nationally in total emissions. Indiana is second, after Texas.
As we noted after looking at the EPA’s Toxic Release Inventory data for Cook County, the Chicago plants do a number on the communities surrounding them too, near the top of the list for releases of toxic barium compounds, hydrochloric acid, hydrogen fluoride, lead compounds, mercury compounds, sulfuric acid and both stand as one of the few dioxin emitters left in the area.

So, we have to ask… What happened to the City Council’s push to advance the Clean Power Ordinance? And, what of the locally brokered deal to address Chicago’s coal plants that seems to have been squashed by Michael Madigan? Given the General Assembly’s current appetite for pushing coal projects around established regulatory processes and onto ratepayers statewide, we thought there might be some appetite to do something to relieve the growing pollution burden in Illinois.