Christmas came on Leap Day for anti-coal activists. On Wednesday, two Midwestern utilities announced the closure of a total of ten aging coal plants, including two intercity Chicago plants that have long been a focal point for environmental groups.
Midwest Generation announced that it will close Chicago's Fisk Power Plant in 2012 and the Crawford Plant in 2014. Local and national activists have been targeting those two plants for their impacts on poorer city neighborhoods, and new mayor Rahm Emanuel also recently threatened to shut them down. GenOn Energy announced that it is closing eight plants in Ohio, Pennsylvania, and New Jersey because the cost of complying with tougher new pollution rules will be too high.
Greenpeace and the Sierra Club, both of which are running campaigns focused on closing older, polluting plants, were certainly cheered by the news. "The Fisk and Crawford coal plants have loomed over the City of Chicago for a hundred years, fueling climate change and exposing families to dangerous levels of soot, sulfur dioxide, and nitrogen oxide," said Kelly Mitchell, a Chicago-based Greenpeace organizer. "After a groundbreaking ten-year grassroots campaign to shut down these archaic plants, Chicagoans have reclaimed their right to clean air."