Lake County Leaders Gather Celebrate President Obama’s Clean Power Plan

Lawndale News Chicago's Bilingual Newspaper - Business

By: Ashmar Mandou

Local public officials with the help of environmental justice organizations gathered onto Waukegan lakefront near NRG Energy’s coal-fired power plant to celebrate the release of the Obama Administration’s first national carbon pollution protections. The Clean Power Plan allows each state the opportunity to develop its own plan to reduce carbon pollution from power plants and ramp up clean energy. The gathering was hosted by The Clean Power Lake County Campaign.

The NRG plant was named one of the nation’s worst environmental justice offenders in a 2012 NAACP report. The Clean Power Lake County Campaign urged public officials for years to plan a conscientious transition away from coal to secure clean energy opportunities in Lake County. The Clean Power Plan help creates urgency and affirms those calls to action.

Lawndale News Chicago's Bilingual Newspaper - Business

“Our elected officials and our City Council need to make sure our community is put first as conversations move forward to evaluate our energy system in Illinois,” said Waukegan Fourth Ward Alderman David Villalobos. “In the hopes of making a positive impact for Waukegan, I will be circulating a sign-on letter with my colleagues in the City Council that will be addressed to Governor Rauner and the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency that calls on them to include communities like ours in their decision-making process and to ensure our compliance plan with the Clean Power Plan puts communities like Waukegan first.”

A 2014 Lake County Health Department study showed that over 30 percent of children surveyed in Waukegan were diagnosed with asthma or had symptoms of asthma, which is three times the national average for childhood asthma. “What we learned in Pilsen and Little Village—the neighborhoods polluted by the Fisk and Crawford coal-fired power plants—is that big polluters will continue to pollute egregiously unless they are held accountable,” said Kim Wasserman-Nieto, Director of the Little Village Environmental Justice Organization. “Waukegan and Little Village in Chicago will need to work together to seize the opportunities of the Clean Power Plan and make sure cleaner air and clean energy jobs come to the communities that need it most.”

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