CPLC Sends Heartfelt ‘No Coal’ Message to NRG

No coal heart_crop2_docsize
Clean Power Lake County team members are asking NRG to stop using coal at its lakefront plant in Waukegan. [Photo by Karen Long MacLeod/courtesy of Clean Power Lake County Campaign]

Why would nine Clean Power Lake County Campaign team members tromp through the snow in subzero temperatures at Waukegan’s lakefront on Valentine’s Day, armed with two heart-shaped candy boxes and one gallon of pink lemonade? It’s not because they are gluttons for punishment (though some might argue that they are). In fact, it was because they wanted to send a heartfelt anti-coal message to David Crane, CEO of New Jersey-based NRG Energy, which owns the coal coal-fired power plant in Waukegan.

The message: No coal.

The burning of coal is one of the main reasons Northeastern Illinois fails to meet minimal federal air quality standards for ozone smog and particle pollution. This endangers not only Waukegan residents but also the more than 8 million people living in the region.

The coal-fired Waukegan plant is of particular concern because it emits more sulfur dioxide and mercury than any other factory or facility in Lake County, according to the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency.

The risks are real: Pollution from the Waukegan coal plant resulted in 34 premature deaths, 570 asthma attacks and more than 50 heart attacks, according to “The Toll from Coal,” a 2010 Clean Air Task Force report.

The burning of coal poses additional risks. Coal ash contains toxic heavy metals such as arsenic, lead and selenium that pollute groundwater at the lakefront site of the Waukegan plant. Numerous studies link heavy metals with increased risk of cancer, learning disabilities, neurological disorders, birth defects, asthma and other illnesses.

The annual health costs of air pollution from the Waukegan coal plant exceed $86 million, according to a 2010 National Research Council study that applied an economic model to air pollution statistics.

No wonder 26 state and local public officials from the Illinois State Legislature and the Lake County Board and more than a dozen Lake County, Illinois, physicians have asked NRG to establish a clear transition plan for the coal plant and to explore clean energy options.

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Join Hands Across the Sand to Call for Clean Water and Clean Power

NRG Energy’s recent decision to continue burning coal at its plants in Waukegan, Pekin, and Romeoville, Illinois, condemns the surrounding communities to more years of deadly air and water pollution.

On Sunday, September 28, community leaders who live next to these plants will join forces at Waukegan Municipal Beach in Waukegan, Illinois, to demand a fossil fuel-free, clean energy future for their communities.

The event, hosted by the Clean Power Lake County Campaign, will kick off at 2 p.m. with a beach clean-up. Afterward, at approximately 2:45 p.m., community leaders and environmental experts will share their hopes for a cleaner, healthier future.

Scheduled speakers include Dulce “Candy” Ortiz and David Villalobos, Clean Power Lake County; Ellen Rendulich, Citizens Against Ruining the Environment (CARE); Tracy Fox, Peoria Families Against Toxic Waste; and Faith Bugel, Environmental Law & Policy Center.

We will stand together on Waukegan’s beach to send a clear message that our communities are ready for a healthy clean energy future.

Will you stand with us?

Event Summary

What: Hands Across the Sand: Solidarity for Clean Water and Clean Power

Where: Waukegan Municipal Beach, 201 Sea Horse Drive, Waukegan, IL 60085 (parking fees will be waived; park in North Lot by the beach)

When: Sunday, September 28, 2014, 2 p.m. to 3:30 p.m.

RSVP and questions: Christine.nannicelli@sierraclub.org

 

A letter by David Villalobos, recruiting chair for the Clean Power Lake County campaign, appeared in the August 26, 2014, edition of the Lake County News-Sun.

Less Coal Pollution Is Still
Coal Pollution

A couple of weeks ago, NRG Energy announced plans for the future for its coal-burning power plant in Waukegan, my community, and it is a bleak future.

Although NRG is looking for praise for reducing coal pollution in Illinois — in part by installing legally required emission controls at the Waukegan plant and in part by upgrading or closing plants in other communities — the glaring fact remains that NRG’s decision will subject Waukegan to coal pollution and the wide-ranging health risks associated with coal pollution for years to come. Somewhat less coal pollution is still coal pollution. Only by completely eliminating the burning of coal can we end coal pollution for my community of Waukegan.

We must keep NRG’s decision in perspective: It is a step forward for Illinois, but it is the smallest step forward for Waukegan considering NRG’s financial resources and its branding as a company that “supports clean energy resources and technologies critical to our transition to a sustainable, low carbon society.”

We must continue to work with NRG to ensure a clean, healthy future for the lakefront and the city of Waukegan as a whole.

Source: Lake County New-Sun