Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Congressman Gutierrez calls on City of Chicago to support the Clean Power Ordinance...

Congressman Gutierrez calls on City of Chicago to support the Clean Power Ordinance as coal continues to haunt Latinos in Chicago

On Wednesday Congressman Gutierrez joined the rapidly growing list of supporters for the Clean Power Ordinance, a measure that would reduce the pollution at the Fisk and Crawford coal plants in Chicago.

"For years I have looked at the smoke billowing out over my Congressional District and known that something was not right, which is why I have been a supporter of the ordinance and supportive of the advocates fighting for the community's health and safety," Rep. Luis V.Gutierrez said. "Children in Chicago face a lot of barriers to their success and the very air they breathe should not be one of them, so I urge the city to take action on this matter and to do so quickly."

In the midst of Mayor Daley’s departure from City Hall, national and local Latino leaders are rallying to demand all politicians stand with the people and not polluters. For years, the Pilsen and Little Village communities have lived in the shadow of the Fisk and Crawford coal power plants. With Congress' lack of action on a climate bill, local communities are demanding city government take action to protect their health and environment. The ordinance that was introduced last April will be heard in a joint hearing with the Environmental and Health Committee, Thursday, April 21st.

“The Little Village Community is proud to have the support of Congressman Gutierrez. Our community has been fighting forClean Air for over eight years and we are excited that we havethe support of Washington DC,” said Kim Wasserman Coordinator for the Little Village Environmental Justice Organization.

“Increasingly many Latinos are being forced to migrate because of the effects of global warming in their countries of origin. They move to communities like Pilsen where they suffer from respiratory illness from the same power plants that cause global warming. It is time that we end this cycle of destruction of our health and the environment” said Claudia Lucero, president of Durango Unido and a member of the Pilsen Environmental Rights and Reform Organization.

The Center for American Progress recently released a study that states that “two thirds of Latinos in the United States live in areas that do not comply with federal standards for air quality and Hispanics are three times more likely than whites to die from asthma.” Leslie Fields, the National Environmental Justice Director for the Sierra Club says that, “Across the U.S. we see communities of color disproportionately impacted by pollution, particularly from coal plants. We want to thank Congressman Gutierrez for his support in this environmental justice challenge.”

In a recent response to Republican efforts to gut EPA regulations, a coalition of environmental and Latino organizations, led by Voces Verdes, issued a statement pointing out the fact that Latino communities are highly impacted by air pollution. In their press statement the coalition explained that Latino children are “60% more likely to develop asthma than non-Hispanic white children.” And that “Latinos are also three times as likely to die of asthma as white non-Hispanics.” The pollution from the Fisk and Crawford coal plants bringthese statistics to life for the Pilsen and Little Village communities.“These old coal plants are relics, and they are responsible for increased asthma attacks, heart attacks, and even premature death. It is time for the City of Chicago to do something about it,” said Joel Africk, President and CEO of Respiratory Health Association of Metropolitan Chicago. “We welcome Cong. Gutierrez’ support in this life-saving effort.”

The Pilsen Environmental Rights and Reform Organization (PERRO), the Little Village Environmental Justice Organization (LVEJO), SierraClub of Chicago and many other organizations have been working withcommunity members from Chicago to get the Chicago Clean Power ordinance heard and passed. The 2010 Clean Air Task Force report “The Toll from Coal” stated that the pollution from Fisk and Crawford contribute to 42 deaths, 66 heart attacks, 720 asthma attacks, 31 hospital admissions and 26 cases of chronic bronchitis each year. As Mayor Daley prepares to leave his legacy as Mayor of the City of Chicago we join the Congressman in calling on him to see this ordinance pass for the health of our communities and the City of Chicago.

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