PRESS CONFERENCE: Little Village community responds to Sale & Proposed Redevelopment of Crawford Coal Power Plant

Kimberly Wasserman For Immediate Release 2/14/2018

Little Village Environmental Justice Organization

2445 South Spaulding Avenue, Chicago, IL

Office: 773.762.6991 | Cell: 708.793.7210

WHAT: Press Conference: Little Village community responds to Sale & Proposed Redevelopment of Crawford Coal Power Plant

WHEN: Thursday, February 15, at 9:30am

WHERE: City Hall, 121 North LaSalle Dr, 2nd Floor

From Coal to Diesel, The Little Village that Can

CHICAGO, IL On Thursday, February 15th, 2018 the Little Village Environmental Justice Organization (LVEJO) will be joined by local and national Allies will host a Press Conference at City Hall to demand:

  • An immediate meeting with Hilco and Mayor Emanuel’s office
  • Full information on the site conditions, including an assessment of the current status of the coal plant building and surrounding facility, that is shared with the Little Village community in culturally relevant ways
  • Adequate time to share information with the community for meaningful engagement and public deliberation to ensure the future of the site aligns with community priorities

LVEJO is disappointed that Hilco has already publicly proposed a plan and are pushing it forward without the involvement of our community as stipulated in the original Guiding Principles for site redevelopment agreed to with former coal plant owner, Midwest Generation. Roberto Perez, Managing Partner, President, Hilco Redevelopment Partners: “This location and current zoning classification offers great potential to serve as a last-mile distribution and logistics facility given its proximity to such a significant population center.” This top-down decision to plan for a diesel-intensive logistics center or distribution facility threatens to undermine the life-saving improvement in air quality won by the shut-down of the Crawford coal plant. Indeed, our community came together to close down Crawford and fight for the right to breathe precisely because we lost 40 community members prematurely every year, had over 2,800 asthma attacks and over 550 emergency room visits annually due to the pollution that the Crawford coal power plant released.

Sitting on 72 acres of land, LVEJO believes there is a significant opportunity to transform the site into a campus that meets multiple needs identified by the community, and is a source of pride.  It may seem like an unattainable dream—and there are certainly many obstacles—but with deep community support we truly believe that the just transition of Crawford is possible.  

“We need the City of Chicago to do the right thing and uphold its promise and duty to protect the people of Chicago. I fully support the just transition of the Crawford Plant in Little Village and LVEJO’s plan for the site. LVEJO and the City of Chicago crafted guiding principles for the transition of the Crawford site and it is shameful for the City of Chicago to behave like they have amnesia and completely abandon those principles. Rahm Emanuel et al., we demand that you do the right thing and stop putting our families at perpetual risk of contamination.” —Olga Bautista, Southeast Side Coalition to Ban Petcoke

LVEJO asserts that the siting of a diesel intensive logistics center or distribution facility at the former Crawford coal plant is a violation of the longstanding struggle for environmental justice in Little Village. Diesel emissions are well known to be hazardous to human health, as nitrogen oxides contributed to the formation of ground level ozone, which irritates the respiratory system, causing coughing, choking, and reduced lung capacity. Groups at particular risk include workers in diesel industries, such as trucking and rail, and communities located near major sources of diesel pollution, such as ports and freeways.

Weighing in on the health impacts: “Hilco’s proposed warehouses in Little Village would worsen environmental injustices in a community that is already dealing with hundreds of diesel trucks a day polluting its air,” says JC Kibbey, Midwest outreach and policy advocate for the Climate & Energy program with the Union of Concerned Scientists. “We encourage elected officials and businesses to instead listen to and work with community organizations like LVEJO to create long-term sustainable solutions, from leveraging the Future Energy Jobs Act to expand solar energy to electrifying the truck fleet already operating in Little Village.”

LVEJO has a holistic vision for the redevelopment of the Crawford Site: “We see this as an opportunity for a just transition to a new economy which means that community members are deeply involved in the redevelopment process, and that the site eventually becomes a catalyst of improved health, job access, and other economic activities that benefit long-time residents,” states Kimberly Wasserman, Executive Director at the Little Village Environmental Justice Organization.  

Jobs are used as a carrot on a stick to pacify the community into agreeing to more pollution, but the jobs at logistics facilities are temporary. Allies like Susan Hurley, Executive Director at the Chicago Jobs with Justice, stand with LVEJO, sharing, “We support LVEJO in demanding high standards for sustainability, [Little Village] deserves living wage union, and non polluting industry. We should honor and realize the vision of residents who have fought so hard for a better future for their families.”

“Pilsen Alliance supports LVEJO, among other community groups that have been advocating for years for a transparent and inclusive process in the redevelopment of the Fisk and Crawford plant. There have been many promises made to our communities in the Southwest side in regards to these 70 acres of land, and this is the opportunity to develop a project that is inclusive and fair for our communities.“ —Byron Sigcho, Director at Pilsen Alliance

“LVEJO mobilized the Little Village communities to close the plant, and they mobilized the community to articulate what redevelopment should look like,” said Anne Evens, CEO of Elevate Energy. “Community engagement is as important now as it was back then, and the success of any redevelopment strategy will hinge on that engagement.”

“When the residents of Little Village came together to fight and ultimately close the Crawford coal plant, they did so in hopes of replacing something that was polluting their community with something that benefits their community,” said Jack Darin, Director of the Sierra Club, Illinois Chapter.  “The Little Village Environmental Justice Organization and other neighborhood residents deserve to be included in planning the future of the Crawford site. They need information about the current conditions of the property, any plans Hilco and the City have for it, and the time to discuss and influence those plans to ensure that any future use of that site are in line with the goals the community have set for it.”


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