The Chicago Clean Power Ordinance, which failed to pass the City Council under Mayor Richard M. Daley, is coming back this week – with a sponsor who may guarantee its adoption.
This Thursday at 9:15 a.m., on the 2nd floor of City Hall, Ald. Joe Moore, the ordinance’s original sponsor, will hold a press conference with Ald. Danny Solis to reintroduce the measure. Solis’s 25th Ward includes the Fisk Generating Station, one of two coal-burning plants that would be required to switch to natural gas if the Clean Power Ordinance is adopted.
Solis’s support is significant because he has taken $50,000 in campaign contributions from Fisk’s owner. Until this year, Solis opposed the Clean Power Ordinance, on the grounds that regulating smokestack emissions was the job of the state and federal governments. But then Solis was forced into a runoff with Cuauhtemoc Morfin, an environmental activist who declared that the ordinance was “one of my priority issues and it should be a priority issue for the current alderman.” Solis switched his position, and won the election.
Last year, the ordinance won the support of longtime opponent Ricardo Munoz, who represents the Crawford Generating Station, the other plant affected by the ordinance. Since aldermen usually defer to each other on ward matters, Solis and Munoz are key sponsors. But in April, Ald. Virginia Rugai, chair of the Energy, Environmental Protection and Public Utilities committee, refused to call for a vote on the Clean Power Ordinance. Rugai is now retired from the Council, and clean air is under the jurisdiction of the new Health and Environmental Protection Committee, chaired by Ald. George Cardenas, a co-sponsor of the ordinance.
While not specifically endorsing the ordinance, Mayor Rahm Emanuel has indicated his support for cleaning up the two plants, whose emissions have blamed for causing asthma, bronchitis, lung cancer and other respiratory ailments.
“Midwest Generation must clean up these two plants, either by installing the necessary infrastructure to dramatically reduce the pollution they emit, or by converting to natural gas or another clean fuel,” the mayor said in a statement earlier this year. “I will work closely with State and Federal regulators and the City Council to make sure it happens.”
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