Chicago coal plant ordinance has votes to pass

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

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