Note: Originally published here
Without any input from the community, developers recently unveiled plans to demolish the Crawford coal plant and market it for use as a distribution center, that would add tons of dirty truck exhaust into the community. When the decades-long fight to close Chicago’s Crawford and Fisk coal plants came to an end, the Little Village community was promised a seat at the table for an open process to determine the best future use of the site. So far, the process and outcome seem far from what they were promised.
A fleet of dirty diesel trucks running through their neighborhood is the opposite of what residents expected after of years of fighting to shut down a coal plant.
As we have seen in other communities faced with harmful pollution from diesel truck traffic, including the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach, California, the community of Little Village here in Chicago is right to demand better. The diesel exhaust that will come from the thousands—if not millions—of trips from heavy trucks is devastate the community’s air quality. These heavy trucks emit harmful smog-forming and toxic air pollution that damages our lungs, contributes to heart disease and cancer, and darkens the skies.
The mostly minority and working class community expected that the City of Chicago would use the opportunity presented by the closing of the coal plant to bring definite environmental and economic benefits to Little Village. The residents who are working hard to build a thriving community in Little Village should be included in a clear and open process to determine the future of a shuttered coal plant site that plagued the community for so long.
Community groups, together with organizations like NRDC, are leading efforts to modernize and transform areas like Pilsen, Little Village, and Calumet where homes, schools, playgrounds and places of worship exist next to industrial areas. The residents of Little Village are right to demand that the same health threatening mistakes made at the former Crawford coal plant are not repeated.