2016-08-27 CPLC Press Release

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Clean Power Lake County Campaign Hosts Third Annual Beach Cleanup in Waukegan

Local Citizens Impacted by NRG Coal Plant Affirm Positive Vision for a Cleaner Waukegan

WAUKEGAN, ILLINOIS (August 27, 2016)—More than 100 Lake County residents came together today at Waukegan’s municipal beach to celebrate the lakefront, to reaffirm their positive vision for a revitalized community, and to restate their determination to continue moving toward a #CleanWaukegan.

From senior citizens to toddlers, these citizens swept the beach near NRG Energy’s coal-fired power plant as part of Clean Power Lake County’s third annual beach cleanup.

“The lakefront is a key component to the revitalization of Waukegan and has the ability to be an economic engine for Waukegan,” said Waukegan Fourth Ward Alderman David Villalobos.

Revitalization projects—based on an award-winning 2003 master plan by Skidmore, Owings, and Merrill—are finally starting to happen at the lakefront, Villalobos added. For example, contractors recently began demolishing the BRP building, adjacent to the beach, to open up 4 acres for public use. Bay Marine started construction of a 40,000-square-foot harborfront showroom for high-end boats. And just this week, the South Sheridan Revitalization Project unveiled a proposal for residential and mixed-use structures along the southern lakefront.

Such revitalization cannot come a moment too soon for the youngest residents of Waukegan and Lake County.

“I have a vision for Waukegan, the city I want to call home for my whole life,” said Daniela Lopez, a 16-year-old junior at Waukegan High School. “It is a city that becomes a true green town by embracing clean energy—because we all deserve to breathe clean air and drink clean water. Clean water and clean air are not privileges but rights for everyone!”

Standing in the way of the complementary visions of lakefront revitalization and clean energy development is the Waukegan coal plant, which was named one of the nation’s worst environmental justice offenders in a 2012 NAACP report.

Members of the Clean Power Lake County campaign have asked Waukegan Mayor Wayne Motley and the City Council to convene a task force to address the future of the coal plant site. They say certainty about the site’s future is key to opening up meaningful options for lakefront development and economic growth.

To promote clean energy opportunities, Clean Power Lake County this spring hosted a forum where Lake County officials could discuss ways to bring good-paying clean energy jobs to this area.

In addition, Clean Power Lake County volunteers recently met with elected officials in Springfield to urge prompt passage of the bipartisan Illinois Clean Jobs Bill (HB 2607/SB 1485), which will create an estimated 32,000 new jobs annually. They also offered public testimony on the U.S. EPA’s Clean Energy Incentive Program, which prioritizes clean energy opportunities and savings for low-income communities.

Nearly eight in 10 Waukegan voters favor increased production of electricity from solar energy, according to a poll released in January by the Sierra Club. For full poll results, go to sierraclub.org/waukegan.

Beginning next month, Clean Power Lake County will hold a series of house parties to help residents learn more about the health risks associated with coal plant pollution as well as opportunities to help revitalize Waukegan’s lakefront. For information on house parties, contact Celeste Flores at celeste.flores@sierraclub.org or 502-395-8683.

About the Clean Power Lake County Campaign

The Clean Power Lake County Campaign aims to bring community members together to build a just future based on clean air, clean water, and a revitalized lakefront in Lake County. The coalition consists of Christ Episcopal Church of Waukegan, Environmental Law & Policy Center, the Exchange Club of North Chicago, Faith in Place, Father Gary Graf Center, Incinerator Free Lake County, Lake County Bike Project, League of Women Voters-Lake County, Moms Clean Air Force-Illinois, Most Blessed Trinity Parish of Waukegan, NAACP-Lake County Branch, Organizing for Action-Lake/McHenry Chapter, Respiratory Health Association, Sierra Club Woods & Wetlands Group, and Waukegan Community Church.