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Tuesday, May 24, 2011, 2:51 pm

Greenpeace Activists Scale 455-Ft. Smokestack to Shut it Down

By Minjae Park

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Eight Greenpeace activists climbed a 455-foot smokestack at the Fisk power plant in Chicago's Pilsen neighborhood on Tuesday, demanding that it be shut down, along with Crawford, another plant in Chicago.

Once atop, they displayed banners that read, “QUIT COAL.” Here's the video Greenpeace released today:

The activists started climbing at dawn and timed their protest to coincide with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s daylong hearing on mercury and air toxics standards, held in a hotel two miles away from the plant.

Since 2003, environmental groups and the Illinois Attorney General have been challenging the EPA’s operating permits granted to Fisk, Crawford and other coal-burning plants. Because they were built before the 1970 Clean Air Act, these plants are subject to laxer environmental standards than newer plants.

None of the power generated by Fisk and Crawford, which are run by Edison International’s Midwest subsidiary, stays in Illinois.

Instead, Chicagoans are left with particulate matter, which causes soot and smog, that puts them at risk of respiratory illnesses and death. The National Research Council estimates the health and environmental costs to Chicago to be in excess of $127 million each year.

According to Greenpeace, “Together, Fisk and Crawford generate about 18 times the emissions of O’Hare airport’s ground operations and equal two-thirds of the CO2 emissions generated by all modes of transportation in Chicago.”

For more on what activists are doing to shut down the plants, check out Fighting the Cloud Factory, Contributing Editor Kari Lydersen's 2009 interview with Marisol Becerra, who works with Little Village Environmental Justice Organization (LVEJO), a grassroots group fighting to win healthier conditions in the Mexican-American neighborhood adjacent to Pilsen.

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