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Closing the Cloud Factories: New Book Chronicles Chicago Coal Plant Closures

By JoshMogerman in News on Jun 15, 2014 7:30PM

West Wing Blowing (Fisk Coal Plant) [swanksalot]

For well over a decade a bruising battle was fought over coal plants in Pilsen and Little Village, culminating in the closure of the Fisk and Crawford Generating Stations in 2010. The shuttered plants still loom over the neighborhoods where they chugged on for the better part of a century, going from technological marvels to national controversies.

Fisk and Crawford, situated very close to dense communities, were among the biggest emitters of toxic chemicals in Illinois, making their closure an important moment in the story of environmental justice in America, with community groups leading a coalition that eventually included big green groups and elected officials.

But as a new book by Chicago author and journalist Kari Lydersen makes clear, it was a bumpy ride towards that goal.

Lydersen watched the story closely as a Pilsen resident, covering the battle for the Washington Post who has since conducted interviews with a bevy of the people involved in the campaign to close the plants. Closing the Cloud Factories: Lessons from the Fight to Shut Down Chicago’s Coal Plants documents the effort from an array of perspectives, ripe with juicy Chicago detail.

The book, published by Midwest Energy News and the REAMP network, is available in eBook form for free online. And a release party will be held in Pilsen’s Citlatin Gallery and Theater (2005 S. Blue Island Ave.) Monday night at 7 p.m. The event is free to the public, featuring readings and a community discussion about the legacy that the plant closings have left in their neighborhoods.