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Does Greenpeace Cause More Harm than Good?

The effort to shut down Chicago’s two coal plants literally climbed to new levels on Tuesday, as eight activists from environmental watchdog group Greenpeace scaled the smokestack of the coal-fired Fisk Generating Station power plant.

The activists spent most of Tuesday and Wednesday morning hanging from the 450-foot high smokestack, while painting the phrase “Quit Coal” in giant letters.  The eight were later arrested and charged with felony criminal damage to property.

Eight more Greenpeace activists worked to halt the approach of a coal barge at the city’s other major power plant. The activists dropped off a bridge near the Crawford coal plant, and unfurled a banner with “We Can Stop Coal” written in both English in Spanish.

While the scene was hectic at Fisk, it was nothing compared to the chaos at Crawford.  Traffic was backed up for miles. Dozens of police cars, fire trucks, and ambulances lined the street, where ornery officers barked at the press to stay on one side of the street. Meanwhile, the activists dangled below the bridge, preventing a coal barge from passing for hours.

The action was part of an ongoing campaign led by Greenpeace and other national and local environmental groups, focused on cleaning up air pollution by replacing both of Chicago’s coal plants with clean energy.

According to Greenpeace, coal fired power plants kill between 13,000 and 34,000 people a year.  That staggering figure includes the 42 Chicagoans who die as a result of pollution from Fisk and Crawford.  And according to a report from the Clean Air Task Force, residents are at risk for heart disease, cancer, and respiratory illness because of pollution from these plants.

“Some may question these aggressive tactics,” said SparkLight Communications President Joseph LaMountain.  “But Greenpeace has carved a unique niche with their ability to draw the spotlight onto issues they care about.  This is critical for the success of any movement and their actions, no matter how outlandish you may find them, have been essential to the environmental community’s success.”


One Response

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