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Coal Plants Shut Down

Energy
Coal Plants Shut Down

Phil Radford

Earlier this week, Edison International announced that they would shut down the Fisk and Crawford coal plants—a victory for the books! After ten years of gritty and determined grassroots work, communities in Chicago triumphed over the corporate polluter in their back yard. On the same day, citizens in Ohio, New Jersey and Pennsylvania celebrated the announcement that Houston-based GenOn would shut an additional seven plants, including the Portland Generating Station where Greenpeace worked with NJ and PA residents to demand clean air for their community

The Chicago Sun-Times sums up the day brilliantly in their editorial, Credit grass-roots effort for victory over pollution.

It was encouraging to see Mayor Emanuel step up and engage in negotiations to shut down Fisk and Crawford. Responding to public pressure, he demonstrated leadership that is all too lacking at all levels of government. Corporate polluters have bought their way into the hearts of congressmen and regulators, leaving the task of holding the coal industry accountable to grassroots organizations across the country.

But it should not have to take a ten-year campaign to close century-old coal plants. People shouldn't be forced to sacrifice their time and energy—let alone their health—to secure clean air and water for their communities.

Energy companies like Edison International need to take responsibility for the communities they poison.

Edison International CEO Ted Craver announced the retirement of Fisk and Crawford on an investor call with little fanfare. In agreeing to close the plants, Edison executives are saving 42 lives every year. They are telling local Chicago communities that hundreds of asthma attacks and heart attacks will no longer be triggered by the pollution Fisk and Crawford spew into the air. And yet, the decision was packaged in the language of "financial discipline" and "impairments."

Besides Fisk and Crawford, Edison operates four coal plants in Illinois, as well as the dirtiest coal plant in America, the Homer City Generating Station in Pennsylvania. We hope that the good news on the Fisk and Crawford shutdowns signal a sea change for the company—a chance for them to live up to their own rhetoric on clean energy leadership.

On the investor call, Ted Craver indicated that Waukegan Generating Station and Homer City may not be part of their coal fleet for much longer. That's encouraging news. Now, we need a real commitment from them to shut down those plants and bring clean air to communities throughout Illinois and Pennsylvania.

In the meantime, we'll be celebrating the hard-fought and long-overdue victory in Chicago. When communities come together and demand change, incredible things can happen. This clip from Pilsen resident and Pilsen Environmental Rights and Reform Organization member, Leila Mendez, captures the beauty and sacrifice of this monumental moment.

Former U.S. Sec. of Energy Ernest Moniz listens during the National Clean Energy Summit 9.0 on October 13, 2017 in Las Vegas, Nevada. Isaac Brekken / Getty Images for National Clean Energy Summit

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Amid reports that oil industry-friendly former Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz remains under consideration to return to his old post in the incoming Biden administration, a diverse coalition of environmental groups is mobilizing for an "all-out push" to keep Moniz away from the White House and demand a cabinet willing to boldly confront the corporations responsible for the climate emergency.

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Climate change can evoke intense feelings, but a conversational approach can help. Reed Kaestner / Getty Images

Anger, anxiety, overwhelm … climate change can evoke intense feelings.

"It's easy to feel dwarfed in the context of such a global systemic issue," says psychologist Renée Lertzman.

She says that when people experience these feelings, they often shut down and push information away. So to encourage climate action, she advises not bombarding people with frightening facts.

"When we lead with information, we are actually unwittingly walking right into a situation that is set up to undermine our efforts," she says.

She says if you want to engage people on the topic, take a compassionate approach. Ask people what they know and want to learn. Then have a conversation.

This conversational approach may seem at odds with the urgency of the issue, but Lertzman says it can get results faster.

"When we take a compassion-based approach, we are actively disarming defenses so that people are actually more willing and able to respond and engage quicker," she says. "And we don't have time right now to mess around, and so I do actually come to this topic with a sense of urgency… We do not have time to not take this approach."

Reporting credit: ChavoBart Digital Media
Reposted with permission from Yale Climate Connections.

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