Residents of Pilsen and Little Village have been fighting for more than ten years to shut down the Fisk and Crawford power plants and finally end coal pollution in the neighborhoods for good.
A study conducted by the Clean Air Task Force determined that air pollution from the Midwest Generation-owned Fisk and Crawford plants leads to more than 40 deaths, 720 asthma attacks and 66 heart attacks each year.
In their latest effort in their campaign to shut down the coal plants, the Chicago Clean Power Coalition and about 100 supporters delivered petitions to Mayor Emanuel this morning, on Friday, Dec 2.
This isn’t the first time that community members concerned about the coal plants have brought petitions directly to Mayor Emanuel; environmental groups delivered a petition with more 6,000 signatures this past September. However, the petition delivered today was unique because it was made up of over 800 photographs of residents that are directly affected by the coal pollution.
The photos were delivered to the mayor’s office on an eight foot-tall wall along with a letter that commended Mayor Emanuel for his commitment to clean air but requested that he work with the coalition and Edison International, the company that owns Midwest Generation, to set retirement dates for the coal plants by the end of the year.
The photographs in the petition featured children, families and other Chicagoans holding up signs that said “I have the right to breathe clean air.”
“We wanted to do something to represent the affected people visually, because a lot of these people aren’t able to make it out to city hall. They have jobs and kids, they have things to do every day, so one of our volunteers decided to do a photo petition,” explained Greenpeace Senior Field Organizer Edyta Sitko.
Sitko said that they asked people to submit photo petitions with messages directed at the mayor and the owners of Midwest Generation, and in less than 2 months they had received 800 photographs.
On Monday, Sitko and other Greenpeace organizers will fax all 800 photo petitions individually to the Midwest Generation headquarters in California.
“The point is the people who own these coal plants are in California,” Sitko said. “We wanted them to be able to see the faces that their business affects every single day. I think that is what the crux of our campaign is about: the people in Chicago who are standing up and demanding the right to breathe clean air.”
Check out more photographs from the petition at the Clean Power Coalition website.
Read more: Pilsen continues to fight for clean air