Chicago coal hearing: The jobs angle

Among the more frequent topics on the Twitter feed from the marathon hearing on the Chicago Clean Power Ordinance yesterday was that advocates in favor of the measure were unable to get into the room.

Kari Lydersen, who has reported on the ordinance for Midwest Energy News and covered the hearing for the Chicago News Cooperative, reports that Midwest Generation, the company that owns the two power plants that the ordinance would cover, bused in dozens of employees (estimates range as high as 300) from outside the city to attend the hearing. This photo shows a section of the council chambers filled with the workers:

Photo by Kelly Pope via Twitter, used with permission.

Meanwhile, activists who were unable to get into the hearing were protesting loudly outside:

Midwest Generation has said the ordinance, which would require reductions in particulate matter and carbon dioxide, would effectively require the Fisk and Crawford plants to shut down. The two plants employ about 185 workers, only about one-fifth of whom live in Chicago, according to the Chicago News Cooperative.

Proponents countered that meeting the ordinance’s provisions by converting the plants to natural gas would actually create additional jobs.

But it’s a moot point for now, as the council has decided not to vote on the ordinance. The matter is now in the hands of a new city council and Mayor-elect Rahm Emanuel, who takes office in mid-May.

3 thoughts on “Chicago coal hearing: The jobs angle

  1. The two most galling aspects of supporters being shut out of the hearing were:

    #1 – Nearly all of these workers were from Will County or other plants. They don’t live in Chicago, they don’t work in Chicago, yet they prevented true blood Chicagoans from being represented in their own council chambers.

    #2 – Their means. They literally formed a “wall” blocking off the entrance like a football team. This is conduct unbecoming of a city hall hearing and should have been prevented by officials.

  2. For a long time, this has been standard operating procedure used against the environmental community at hearings. Projects or legislation related to energy projects, mining, and ATVs seem to incur this a lot.

  3. i have a photo of the balcony–also crammed with midwest gen workers (we weren’t permitted entry–at 9:45 am). for want of being represented in the chamber, i was calling rugai’s city hall office during strong chants. then i made it into the chamber, with a seat. when i asked about seats that had been long empty near me (only the jackets of the workers in the next seat), the midwest gen workers would say “he’s in the bathroom!” “been an awful long time in that bathroom!” i’d say. then i’d try my best to signal the security guard in the chamber to get those seats filled with those remaining in the hall.

    the whole thing felt like a sham, a circus. i ain’t happy.