WBEZ | power plants http://www.wbez.org/tags/power-plants Latest from WBEZ Chicago Public Radio en Obama hints at big climate move that could hit Illinois emitters http://www.wbez.org/blogs/chris-bentley/2013-06/obama-hints-big-climate-move-could-hit-illinois-emitters-107799 <p><div class="image-insert-image "><div class="image-insert-image "><div class="image-insert-image "><a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/nicksuydam/3271556351/" target="_blank"><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/powerton-coal-by-nick-suydam.jpg" title="Trains sit at the south end of the yard in Powerton, Ill., near the power plant. Powerton's coal plant was the second biggest greenhouse gas emitter in Illinois, according to EPA data. (Flickr/Nick Suydam)" /></a></div></div></div><p>President Barack Obama&rsquo;s senior officials this week let on that <a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2013/06/20/science/earth/obama-preparing-big-effort-to-curb-climate-change.html?ref=earth" target="_blank">he would attempt to limit carbon dioxide emissions from existing power plants</a>, in what would be the most significant action addressing climate change by his administration to date. (Although <a href="http://grist.org/climate-energy/the-obama-climate-move-that-nobody-noticed/" target="_blank">an under-the-radar tweak to how the government computes the cost of carbon</a> deserves a nod, as do improved fuel economy standards.)</p><p>It&rsquo;s something <a href="http://www.nrdc.org/air/pollution-standards/" target="_blank">environmental groups</a> and <a href="http://grist.org/climate-energy/obama-can-tackle-carbon-and-doesnt-need-congress/" target="_blank">climate hawks have increased calls for</a> since the President won reelection in a race that, it should be noted, <a href="http://green.blogs.nytimes.com/2012/10/23/the-issue-that-dare-not-speak-its-name/" target="_blank">avoided explicit mention of the issue for the first time since 1988</a>. It&rsquo;s also likely to further polarize Republican lawmakers and carbon-intensive industries, who will probably mount legal challenges.</p><p>Nevertheless, remarks by Obama&rsquo;s top aide on climate change, Heather Zichal, <a href="http://www.eenews.net/stories/1059983178" target="_blank">indicate he might frame the issue as a post-partisan one</a> and attempt to &ldquo;depoliticize&rdquo; an issue the President <a href="http://www.wri.org/press/2013/06/wri-statement-berlin-pres-obama-calls-climate-change-global-threat-our-time" target="_blank">has called</a> &ldquo;the global threat of our time.&rdquo;</p><p><a href="http://www.epa.gov/climatechange/ghgemissions/usinventoryreport.html" target="_blank">Electricity generation accounts for roughly a third of U.S. greenhouse gas emissions</a>, according to the Environmental Protection Agency. So if Obama wants to circumvent the currently deadlocked legislative path to reining in carbon dioxide emissions, tackling existing power plants is a good place to start.</p><div class="image-insert-image "><a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/thomas-merton/4883559607/"><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/coal-train-by-contemplative-imaging.jpg" title="A CWEX coal train, left, stretches into the distance near the La Fox Metra station in Kane County. (Flickr/Ron Zack)" /></a></div><p>Which power plants in Illinois are the biggest greenhouse gas emitters? According to <a href="http://ghgdata.epa.gov/ghgp/main.do" target="_blank">the EPA&#39;s Greenhouse Gas Inventory</a>, with 2011 (the latest verified data available) emissions in metric tons of CO<sub>2</sub> equivalent in parentheses:</p><p>1.&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; Baldwin Energy Complex, a coal and oil plant in Baldwin, Ill. (12,815,215)</p><p>2.&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; Powerton, a coal plant in Pekin, Ill. (10,871,825)</p><p>3.&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; Joppa Steam, a coal plant in Joppa, Ill. (8,036,531)</p><p>4.&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; Newton, a coal plant in Newton, Ill. (7,284,487)</p><p>5.&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; Joliet 29, a coal plant in Joliet, Ill. (6,000,070)</p><p>As for the Chicago region&rsquo;s biggest emitters, <a href="http://chicagoist.com/2013/01/13/carbon_caravan_a_tour_of_the_areas.php#photo-1"><em>Chicagoist</em>&#39;s Josh Mogerman has a good round-up here</a>.</p><p>In the absence of comprehensive climate legislation, <a href="http://www.wbez.org/blogs/chris-bentley/2013-02/environmentalists-protest-keystone-xl-pipeline-105576">environmentalists have made their most visible cause stopping the Keystone XL pipeline</a> &mdash;&nbsp;an issue that has <a href="http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2013-06-17/obama-s-keystone-silence-is-driving-green-activists-away.html">split the President&#39;s own policy group, Organizing for Action</a>. Next month&rsquo;s expected action could help mend the rift, or widen it further.</p><p><em>Chris Bentley writes about the environment. Follow him on Twitter at <a href="http://www.twitter.com/Cementley" target="_blank">@Cementley</a>.</em></p></p> Fri, 21 Jun 2013 11:22:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/blogs/chris-bentley/2013-06/obama-hints-big-climate-move-could-hit-illinois-emitters-107799 Group pushes for soil tests around power plant http://www.wbez.org/news/group-pushes-soil-tests-around-power-plant-103117 <p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/Fisk_station_Vance.jpg" style="margin: 4px 0px 0px; float: left; height: 225px; width: 300px; " title="Midwest Generation in August shut down its Fisk Station, built in Chicago’s Pilsen neighborhood in 1903. (Flickr/Steven Vance)" /></p><p>A company that is decommissioning Chicago&rsquo;s last two coal-fired power plants insists there are no hazards on either site, but a neighborhood group is pressing for soil tests and for disclosure of the results.</p><p>Midwest Generation, a subsidiary of California-based Edison International, shut down its Fisk and Crawford stations in August. The company says it is talking with about two dozen potential buyers of the sites.</p><p>A task force set up by Mayor Rahm Emanuel&rsquo;s office reported last month that the sites could now be used for light manufacturing and could offer public access to the nearby Chicago River.</p><p>But a report coming out Saturday says residents of the city&rsquo;s Pilsen neighborhood, where Fisk stands, want something done first.</p><p>&ldquo;Their number-one concern was, &#39;How is that site going to get cleaned up, how do we know it&rsquo;s not going to be a danger in the future, and how do we know what&rsquo;s there right now in terms of pollution and contamination?&#39; &rdquo; said Jerry Mead-Lucero, organizer of the Pilsen Environmental Rights and Reform Organization, which held neighborhood forums and surveyed residents.</p><p>Midwest Generation President Douglas McFarlan said the public has nothing to fear about coal, ash and liquid fuel that his company and its predecessors stored near the plants. &ldquo;There&rsquo;s nothing inherently dangerous at the sites,&rdquo; he said.</p><p>McFarlan said Midwest Generation would comply with environmental regulations and said any cleanup would depend on the interests of the buyers.</p><p>Fisk was built in 1903. Crawford, which stands in the Little Village neighborhood, began operating in 1924.</p><p>The closings resulted from falling energy prices and federal clean-air enforcement that required retrofitting the plants. Activists had campaigned for more than a decade to close the generators or curb their harmful emissions, which included soot and carbon dioxide, a contributor to global warming.</p></p> Fri, 12 Oct 2012 18:31:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/group-pushes-soil-tests-around-power-plant-103117 Committee to find new uses for Fisk, Crawford land http://www.wbez.org/news/committee-find-new-uses-fisk-crawford-land-98556 <p><p>A new committee put together by Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel is trying to find new uses for land currently held by two local coal-fired power plants slated to close in the next two years.</p><p>Last February Midwest Generation agreed to shut down its Fisk plant, in the Pilsen neighborhood, and its Crawford plant in Little Village. Advocacy groups and community activists had been fighting for the closures for a decade.</p><p>Nelson Soza is a member of the new committee, and heads the Pilsen Alliance. He won't say what's been talked about in the meetings, but he said everyone seems to have similar goals of what the land could be used for.</p><p>"Certainly we want something that's hopefully will replace the jobs that are going to be lost, we want these to be green jobs or healthy jobs at least," Soza said.</p><p>Soza said he doesn't want the spaces to become future shopping malls, and housing is also likely off the table.</p><p>The committee also includes additional community members, a representative from Midwest Generation, two aldermen, one representative from labor, one representative from ComEd, and one economic development representative from City Hall. The group will be scheduling public hearings within the coming weeks to get community input.</p></p> Wed, 25 Apr 2012 11:57:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/committee-find-new-uses-fisk-crawford-land-98556 New air pollution report calls Illinois one of the 'Toxic 20' http://www.wbez.org/story/new-air-pollution-report-calls-illinois-one-toxic-20-89426 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/story/photo/2011-July/2011-07-20/NRDCchart.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>A new report jointly released from the <a href="http://www.nrdc.org/media/2011/110720.asp">National Resources Defense Council</a> and Physicians for Social Responsibility puts Illinois in the so-called "Toxic 20" for state air pollution levels. The report named Illinois's 17th worst in the nation for toxic air pollution released from electricity-generating power plants.</p><p>"Illinois is a big industrial state with a...diversified economy...," said Dan Lashof, Climate Center director with the NRDC. "These emissions are substantial, and should be controlled. Illinois has taken some steps to reduce emissions, otherwise it might rank even higher, but...there continue to be a number of power plants and other sources that don't have any pollution controls in place for these toxic chemicals, and that needs to change."</p><p>Dr. Lynn Ringenberg of Physicians for Social Responsibility cited a report released last year by the National Association of Nurses that put the responsibility of increased asthma rates in children on the shoulders of power plant companies. "The pediatric asthma prevalence for the state is (200,000) to 300,000 kids, with close to 20,000 that had ER visits last year, so that's pretty significant," she said. "You're in the top six, seven, in the country with asthma prevalence."</p><p>According to the report, entitled “<a href="http://docs.nrdc.org/air/files/air_11072001a.pdf">Toxic Power: How Power Plants Contaminate Our Air and States</a>”, power plants released 5.6 million pounds of chemicals in Illinois in 2009. They emitted 23 percent of state pollution and one percent of all toxic pollution of all power plants nationwide. Almost half of all the air pollution reported from industrial sources in the U.S. comes from coal and oil power plants. The report ultilized Environment Protection Agency data for its findings.</p></p> Thu, 21 Jul 2011 10:00:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/story/new-air-pollution-report-calls-illinois-one-toxic-20-89426 New EPA standards could hit Illinoisans' wallets http://www.wbez.org/story/new-epa-standards-could-hit-illinoisans-wallets-88911 <p><p>The United States Environmental Protection Agency has set new standards for power plants that could affect Illinois residents' walllets. The new Cross-State Air Pollution Rule is an attempt by the EPA to improve air quality by requiring plants to install or upgrade pollution control equiptment.</p><p>Phil Gonet, president of the Illinois Coal Association, said the new rules will come with a cost.</p><p>"Well, it's gonna have a negative impact on consumers, I mean this pollution control equipment is not cheap -- and I don't think EPA recognizes that when they impose these rules," Gonet said. "I mean, consumers are gonna pay higher costs of electricity."<br> <br> Dave Kolata, executive director of the Citizens Utility Board, disagrees. He said Illinois residents won't see a rate hike in the short term. If anything, he said residents might see an increase further down the road, but only if other energy saving policies aren't put into place.<br> <br> The Cross-State Air Pollution Rule is a replacement of the 2005 Clean Air Interstate Rule. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit ordered EPA to revise the CAIR in 2008. The EPA estimates the new standards will cost $800 million annually after 2014, in addition to the $1.6 billion per year in capital investments from CAIR.</p><p>The new standards will be implemented in 28 states by 2012. The EPA estimates that these changes will reduce sulfur dioxide emissions by 73 percent and nitrogen dioxide emissions by 54 percent from 2005 levels.</p></p> Fri, 08 Jul 2011 20:42:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/story/new-epa-standards-could-hit-illinoisans-wallets-88911 Solis hangs on in 25th after power plant flip-flop http://www.wbez.org/story/25th-ward/solis-hangs-25th-after-power-plant-flip-flop-84808 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/story/photo/2011-April/2011-04-06/1Solis.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>Chicago Ald. Danny Solis hung on in his 25th Ward runoff Tuesday. But the defeated candidate says he too has reason to celebrate.<br> <br> Solis did not support a proposal for the city to regulate emissions from coal-fired power plants — he didn't, that is, until he fell short in the election’s first round and landed in the runoff.<br> <br> Solis says he needed to get in tune with constituents upset about the Fisk Generating Station, a coal-fired plant in Pilsen, a largely Mexican neighborhood in the ward. The flip-flop seems to have sealed his reelection.<br> <br> “I am committed to passing the Clean [Power] Ordinance in the city of Chicago,” Solis told his supporters Tuesday night after winning about 54 percent of the runoff vote.<br> <br> The losing candidate, Cuahutémoc Morfin, took credit: “We made him come to the right side of the issue in the environmental issue, which is the coal plant here, which pollutes the air that we breathe.”<br> <br> With Solis behind the power-plant proposal, it has a better chance of passing the City Council.</p></p> Wed, 06 Apr 2011 08:14:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/story/25th-ward/solis-hangs-25th-after-power-plant-flip-flop-84808