UPDATED: 4/27/2011 1:08 PM
Picture a brand new coal-fired power plant adjacent to the Loop, black smoke from its stacks drifting right into the Chicago Board of Trade just three blocks north. If that sounds far-fetched, it is. But plenty of people seem to be up in arms about it.
South Loop residents have been reporting receiving a pamphlet, ostensibly from Midwest Generation power company, touting the May groundbreaking of the Harrison Generating Station, to be located at Harrison and Wells. Trouble is, there is no such thing. According to the company and 2nd Ward Ald. Bob Fioretti’s office, the new power plant is a hoax.
A group calling itself Citizens United Against Loop Coal called for a lunch-hour protest Wednesday. Dozens of commenters on South Loop blog Sloopin and on other sites online are expressing concern at what they take to be a genuine proposal to build a coal-burning plant in the heart of their neighborhood.
Wherever the prank originated, it comes amid an intense political fight over coal power in Chicago. Midwest Generation owns the Fisk and Crawford stations, located in Pilsen and Little Village, which are targeted by the proposed Clean Power Ordinance. That measure had a City Council hearing last week. The pamphlet distributed to South Loop residents features the Midwest Generation logo and contains copy that appears satire-tinged, such as, “Our South Loop plant will feature a green roof,” above a photo of nuclear-plant cooling towers.
“I have no idea what they’re talking about,” wrote Midwest Generation spokesman Charley Parnell. He added that an executive named in a letter that accompanied the pamphlet does not work for the company. Parnell cited protests last week at the Crawford plant, where police arrested several activists. “Given the arrests we had last week, I would not put anything past these people,” he said.