EPA hears testimony on coal power pollution

May 25, 2011

(WBEZ/Jennifer Brandel)
Chicago area resident Margaret Nelson sang her testimony for clean power.
(WBEZ/Jennifer Brandel)
The Environmental Protection Agency took public testimony all day Tuesday.

Coal power plants in Illinois might have to reduce emissions to meet new federal standards proposed by the Environmental Protection Agency.

Midwesterners who testified at a public hearing in Chicago Tuesday afternoon were overwhelmingly in favor of the proposed EPA plan. Chicago area resident Margaret Nelson voiced her approval through singing a song.

"What in ignorance we have damaged, we will work now to repair," she sang. "To the coming generations, leave an earth that's green and fair."

The proposed rule would require reduced emissions of heavy metals including mercury, arsenic and acidic gases, among others.

Studies by the Harvard School of Public Health have linked pollution from Chicago's Fisk and Crawford coal plants to 40 deaths and 2,800 asthma attacks annually. The plants are located on Chicago's Southwest Side and still use generating units built between 1958-1961.

More EPA hearings are taking place this week in Philadelphia and Atlanta.