Chicago coal hearing: The jobs angle

Among the more frequent topics on the Twitter feed from the marathon hearing on the Chicago Clean Power Ordinance yesterday was that advocates in favor of the measure were unable to get into the room.

Kari Lydersen, who has reported on the ordinance for Midwest Energy News and covered the hearing for the Chicago News Cooperative, reports that Midwest Generation, the company that owns the two power plants that the ordinance would cover, bused in dozens of employees (estimates range as high as 300) from outside the city to attend the hearing. This photo shows a section of the council chambers filled with the workers:

Photo by Kelly Pope via Twitter, used with permission.

Meanwhile, activists who were unable to get into the hearing were protesting loudly outside:

Midwest Generation has said the ordinance, which would require reductions in particulate matter and carbon dioxide, would effectively require the Fisk and Crawford plants to shut down. The two plants employ about 185 workers, only about one-fifth of whom live in Chicago, according to the Chicago News Cooperative.

Proponents countered that meeting the ordinance’s provisions by converting the plants to natural gas would actually create additional jobs.

But it’s a moot point for now, as the council has decided not to vote on the ordinance. The matter is now in the hands of a new city council and Mayor-elect Rahm Emanuel, who takes office in mid-May.

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