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Chicago Residents Hold 24 Hour Vigil in Protest of Nearby Coal Plants

September 28, 2010

CHICAGO, Ill. - Chicagoans living near two coal-fired power plants are holding a 24-hour candlelight vigil to protest the pollution emitted by the facilities. The residents support proposed rules that would reduce the amount of soot and carbon dioxide the plants release into the atmosphere.

Dorian Breuer of the Pilsen Environmental Rights and Reform Organization (PERRO) helped organize the vigil. Citing a recent study, Breuer says the observance also commemorates those whose health has been affected by coal plant pollution.

"We know that they cause around 550 emergency room visits and 2,800 asthma attacks; and the closer you live to the plants, the more acute the effect."

The vigil takes place outside the office of Alderman Danny Solis, whose 25th Ward houses one of the coal-fired plants. Breuer says that's because people in the community - the Pilsen, Little Village and University of Illinois at Chicago neighborhoods - need to know what is going on in their area. He says it will allow them to make informed decisions at the polls.

"His third largest donor is the largest source of pollution that they are breathing in, and that he refuses to support a measure that would clean up that pollution. If they're aware of that, then they will be able to make change in their own benefit."

Although Solis has expressed his reluctance to support the cause, saying cleaning up the plants' emissions is a federal issue, he has agreed to meet with the concerned residents.

An ordinance introduced in April would reduce particulate matter by 90 percent and carbon dioxide emissions by 50 percent over four years' time. The vigil ends Tuesday afternoon, Sept. 28.

Aricka Flowers, Public News Service - IL