Chicago coal plant ordinance has votes to pass

The Fisk Generating Station is one of two plants targeted by the proposed Clean Power Ordinance.

A proposed city ordinance that would require drastic emissions reductions from two coal plants in Chicago has the votes it needs to pass the city council, according to backers of the proposal.

The Chicago Clean Power Coalition says in a news release that the Clean Power Ordinance now has 26 co-sponsors, as well as commitments from other aldermen. That would give the ordinance more than enough votes to clear the 50-member city council.

A committee hearing – a necessary procedural step to move the ordinance to a full council vote – has been set for April 21.

One of those new co-sponsors is alderman Danny Solis, who represents the ward where one of the coal plants is located. Solis had resisted scheduling a committee hearing for the ordinance, but pledged to support it after facing a runoff vote with a community activist in February’s municipal election. Midwest Generation, which operates the two power plants, had donated more than $50,000 to Solis’s campaigns over the past decade.

An earlier committee hearing on the ordinance, scheduled for February 14, was abruptly called off. An ad hoc hearing, in which proponents of the ordinance testified in the city council chambers, was held instead.

Midwest Generation has said the ordinance would force the power plants to shut down.

Mayor-elect Rahm Emanuel has not explicitly backed the Clean Power Ordinance, but said in a campaign questionnaire that “Midwest Generation must clean up these two plants, either by installing the necessary infrastructure to dramatically reduce the pollution they emit, or by converting to natural gas or another clean fuel.”

Backers are pushing for current Mayor Richard Daley to approve the ordinance before he leaves office in mid-May. The final council meeting under Daley’s administration takes place May 4.

Photo by reallyboring via Creative Commons

3 thoughts on “Chicago coal plant ordinance has votes to pass

  1. When Xcel Energy converted its Riverside plant in Minneapolis and its High Bridge plant in Saint Paul from coal to natural gas, they neary doubled the power output from these aging facilities while cutting emissions significantly. Xcel recently announced plans to complete the final stage of convering the Black Dog plant in Burnsville to natural gas.

    If it works in Minneapolis, Saint Paul and Burnsville, why not Chicago?

  2. As important as the presumed closure of these two plants is the outcome that local action can be effective. I too wonder about the conversion to gas, but recent articles indicate that natural gas is more polluting than thought even a few months ago. The reductions from it may be incremental, not dramatic, and we really need the federal energy planners and industries to engage in something beyond small increments.

  3. I have been confined to home for 3weeks after spending a week in the hospital because polluted air makes it difficult for me to breathe. I am living with oxygen 24 hours a day.

    The technology exists to clean up the emissions, and there are too many people like me who suffer as a result of them – – what reasoning can justify not reducing these sickening emissions?