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The Fisk Generating Station is one of two plants targeted by the proposed Clean Power Ordinance.

A proposed city ordinance that would require drastic emissions reductions from two coal plants in Chicago has the votes it needs to pass the city council, according to backers of the proposal.

The Chicago Clean Power Coalition says in a news release that the Clean Power Ordinance now has 26 co-sponsors, as well as commitments from other aldermen. That would give the ordinance more than enough votes to clear the 50-member city council.

A committee hearing – a necessary procedural step to move the ordinance to a full council vote – has been set for April 21.

One of those new co-sponsors is alderman Danny Solis, who represents the ward where one of the coal plants is located. Solis had resisted scheduling a committee hearing for the ordinance, but pledged to support it after facing a runoff vote with a community activist in February’s municipal election. Midwest Generation, which operates the two power plants, had donated more than $50,000 to Solis’s campaigns over the past decade.

An earlier committee hearing on the ordinance, scheduled for February 14, was abruptly called off. An ad hoc hearing, in which proponents of the ordinance testified in the city council chambers, was held instead.

Midwest Generation has said the ordinance would force the power plants to shut down.

Mayor-elect Rahm Emanuel has not explicitly backed the Clean Power Ordinance, but said in a campaign questionnaire that “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.”

Backers are pushing for current Mayor Richard Daley to approve the ordinance before he leaves office in mid-May. The final council meeting under Daley’s administration takes place May 4.

Photo by reallyboring via Creative Commons

Ken Paulman

Ken is the director of the Energy News Network at Fresh Energy and is a founding editor of both Midwest Energy News and Southeast Energy News. Prior to joining Fresh Energy, he was the managing editor for online news at Minnesota Public Radio. He started his journalism career in 2002 as a copy editor for the Duluth News Tribune before spending five years at the Spokesman-Review in Spokane, Washington, where he worked as a copy editor, online producer, features editor and night city editor. A Nebraska native, Ken has a bachelor's degree from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln and a master's degree from the University of Oregon. He is a member of the Society of Professional Journalists and Investigative Reporters and Editors.

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