Activists Scale 450-ft Chicago Smokestack To Demand End Of Coal Power

This morning, eight Greenpeace activists surprised the city of Chicago by scaling a smokestack at the Fisk power plant and unfurling a banner that read “Quit Coal.” The activists will occupy the smokestack indefinitely.

The protest was part of the organization’s Quit Coal campaign, a national effort to reveal the health and environmental damage caused by a local coal-fired power plant.

These problems are particularly pronounced in Chicago, where 1 in 4 residents live within three miles of the Fisk plant. American Progress reports that approximately 159 million Americans live in areas that violate clean air health standards.

To see a live blog of the protest as it unfolded today, please see Treehugger’s coverage.

A U.S. Department of Health and Human Services report on respiratory hospitalizations in areas near power plants found that emissions are linked to a variety of respiratory problems, including irritation of the airways, difficulty breathing and decreased lung function.

In general, the effect of pollutants is more severe among persons with preexisting respiratory diseases such as asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), persons with cardiovascular disease and older adults and children.

According to the Clean Air Task Force, the Fisk plant is responsible for killing 15 Chicago residents a year, it afflicts thousands more with respiratory illnesses and has cost the city over $1 billion in health care costs since 2002.

Edison International, the company that owns both Chicago power plants, argues that they would no longer be cost-effective if they were required to meet clean air health standards. But this is far from true.

In fact, Edison International has already done it in California where their local subsidiary has become the largest purchaser of renewable energy among American utility companies and has plans to phase out ALL coal power by 2016.

TAKE ACTION: Help Greenpeace gather 30,000 signatures in favor of quitting coal. Tell Edison International CEO Ted Craver to shut down the Fisk and Crawford plants by 2013.

If you support the activists’ actions, join the virtual rally at 8 pm ET tonight (5/24)! See videos from the day and find out what you can do to support clean air and healthy communities in Chicago and around the world!

Related Reading:

Fighting Asthma And Cleaning Up Our Air

Big Coal vs. Nature and History

Retrofitting Coal Plants Considered Risky Investment

New Coal Plants Fail To Provide Promised Jobs

Coal Industry Creates Third-World Conditions In United States Today

Image Credit: Flickr - Eli Beck


Alicia N.
Alicia N6 years ago


Marie W.
Marie W6 years ago

At least install scrubbers on the stacks while working on alternatives.

Karen W.
Karen W6 years ago

well done greenpeace, already a supporter, sign and sent!

Arielle Black-Foley

While that is a badass stunt, I worry about the health of the protesters. I hope this does not negatively impact their health too much.

Ceal T.
Ceal T.6 years ago

Whenever I look outside my back window, I see the Crawford plant there on Pulaski in the distance (the other plant in Chicago owned by Edison International). Smoke billows out of those towers like there's no tomorrow. I sometimes wonder if that's why my allergies get so bad. Guess I'll never know until these plants get cleaned up or another source of cleaner energy is used.

Dan B.
Dan Brook6 years ago

I oppose coal and I support Greenpeace!

Please join me in donating to Greenpeace to help support their amazing work:

Loo Samantha
Loo sam6 years ago

thanks for sharing

Kimberly G.
Kimberly G6 years ago

This must be an old picture - there is no snow here in Chicago right now.

Dale F.
Dale F.6 years ago

Unfortunatly it is not the coal that is the main problem. It is so easy to blame coal and not the operators of the plants or the greed to make money. Coal can be burned cleanly but it costs more. Power plants have been built that can burn coal effectivly and clean but the power companies rather make money and I am sorry the users of electricity don't want higher rates.

Scott Freewheeler

Coal is preferable to nuclear if governments refuse to go green.